CUSD Leading the Way With Next Generation Science Standards

Posted by: District 2 weeks ago

CUSD Leading the Way With Next Generation Science Standards

 As the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are being introduced to the state, our teachers and faculty at CUSD are taking the lead in implementing them into our curriculum. The new standards will align content in a thematic, breaking down the subject into life, physical, and chemical sciences. 

Students will be able to see how the different subjects intertwine and will be more apt to develop critical thinking, inquiry, and communication skills. The material will also be taught in a way that creates a foundation that can be built upon based on knowledge from previous grades. These changes will be seen at all levels, from kindergarten to 12th grade, with the goal of making science more intuitive and engaging for students. Here’s how each of our schools will benefit from NGSS.

 

Elementary Schools 

At the end of last year, CUSD purchased FOSS (Full Option Science System) kits for every grade level at our elementary schools. The kits are aligned with the new standards and are STEM-focused (teaching students science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Students have a hands-on opportunity to learn

life science, physical science, and earth science, and are engaging in the material like never before. From what we’ve seen so far, the kids are absolutely excited to be diving into the FOSS kits; earlier this year we visited a classroom and saw their eyes light up and watched them bounce up and down in anticipation during one of the experiments. 

We’ve also invested in several virtual opportunities to help students build their inquiry and problem-solving skills. Some of these websites and programs include interactive online experiments, labs, activities and videos to go along with the concepts they’re learning in the classroom.

 

Middle School

When NGSS were first introduced a few years ago, our CMS Tritons were among the early adopters. Even though there weren’t any textbooks or instructional material from the state, our teachers jumped right in to create their own curriculum. Using the framework from the standards, they took what they had—labs, content, and assessments—and combined it with additional content and resources to align it to the new standards. So when the state does release their material in the next few years, our students and staff will already be ahead of the game.

Our team is continuing to build on the curriculum they created. Currently, we’re looking for ways to incorporate more STEM content opportunities, like coding and phenomena-based experiments, into the middle school units. CMS teachers are also integrating more technology into their teaching, using Google systems to create interactive science notebooks and online collaborations.

 

High School 

The teachers and staff at CHS went through the NGSS guidelines and decided to teach life science, physical science, and chemistry separately, while incorporating earth science concepts into each class. For instance, biology will have its own earth science piece that’s taught from a biological perspective, and chemistry will have its own earth science units that will correspond to chemistry.

Again, without any state material to support the new standards, our Islander staff and teachers had to create their own curriculum, pulling from online resources and ongoing professional development. San Diego County offers NGSS professional development seminars that are helping our team dive deeper into the standards, labs, and inquiry based opportunities for our students.

A large part of the focus with NGSS at CHS is taking the foundational knowledge the students are learning in the classroom and applying it to real world situations. From guest speakers in the classroom to internships and job shadow opportunities with several San Diego companies, our students will have plenty of chances to see science in action. And like the middle school, our high school teachers are utilizing the power of Google to integrate interactive notes, learning, and collaboration into the new curriculum.

Whether it’s professional growth for our educators or more hands-on learning opportunities for our students, there is so much to look forward to in science this year throughout CUSD!