Since September, I have been writing about the National Academies report, A Framework for K-12 Science Education. I have shared how these ideas are being welcomed and received by a variety of groups including the Maine Science Teachers Association and business groups. This week I am featuring my first guest blogger, Sarah Kirn, program manager of the Vital Signs program at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Sarah will share with us how the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, one not-for-profit Maine education organization, is internalizing and acting on the ideas and vision of the Framework. Gulf of Maine Research Institute educators find the Framework for K-12 Science Education to be closely aligned with GMRI’s approach to engaging students and teachers with science. Here are Sarah’s thoughts….
From our perspective here at GMRI, Maine has a great foundation on which to advance this vision. Many teachers around the state are already doing many parts of what the Framework envisions – they are utilizing classroom strategies offering students opportunities to explore, investigate, question, and share what they have learned. This approach to teaching and learning is supported by the professional development and programs offered by GMRI and other education not-for-profits. Current standards, however, do not represent exploration and investigation as essential to K-12 science learning. Some teachers even feel like they have to sneak these experiences into their curriculum because our current large scale assessments don’t directly measure students’ skills at asking good questions, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence, and the other science practices (see Chapter 3 of the Framework). Both the Framework and the resulting Next Generation Science Standards will help to clarify and support the role of investigation with the learning of science ideas in Maine classrooms.
So what are we doing with the Framework right now? Our entire education staff is reading and discussing the Framework. We are identifying the ways that our programs currently support teachers and students to fulfill the vision set forth in the document. More importantly, we are discussing ways that we can adapt GMRI’s learning experiences to more effectively help educators engage their students in science learning described by the Framework. And we are following this blog closely and looking forward to providing input on drafts of the Next Generation Science Standards as soon as they are released.
We hope you will join us in bringing the vision of the Framework to reality in Maine.