NGSS summer reading

Summer is a great time to get familiar or deepen your familiarity with the Next Generation Science Standards. In the last few weeks many educators across the state have contacted me asking where they can get the standards.  The best resource is the NGSS page.  From this page you can access the standards as well as the NGSS Appendices.  The Appendices include many valuable resources for educators including Appendix D, the equity case studies; Appendix K, the Model Course Mapping for Middle and High School; and Appendices L and M, Connections to CCSS. And don’t forget . . . A Framework for K-12 Science Education continues to be a valuable resource for understanding the intent of the standards.  You can access all of these resource as free downloads.  What a gift!


Grand Challenges in Education

April’s special issue of Science magazine focuses on the Grand Challenges in education.  This is Bruce Alberts’ last month as editor of Science Magazine and it was his choice to make a special issue devoted to science education.
Don’t miss reading this edition. You will need to register in order to access the full text of the articles. As Margo Murphy, a ninth grade science teacher at Camden Hills Regional High notes, “There are lots of ideas in this issue to ponder and add to your own thinking. Bruce Alberts is a true believer in public science education.”

Achieve Releases NGSS!



The Standards are now live.  Achieve released the Next Generation Science Standards today and Maine is proud to have been among the 26 Lead States that participated in the development of these standards.

The timing for this release is PERFECT. Throughout the spring and summer Maine educators can begin to acquaint themselves with NGSS and revisit the Framework for K-12 Science Education. That process should continue throughout next year.  Implementing this vision is a multi-year collaborative effort.  No district will be able to comprehensively and effectively transition to the NGSS over a summer.

I am already looking forward to Fall 2013.  In October both the Maine Science Teachers Association and the Maine Curriculum Leaders will focus their conferences on the NGSS.

You can access the NGSS document at

MCCL considers NGSS

Educators in Maine regularly ask how the development of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will connect with the work being done by the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning (MCCL). I attended the meeting of the MCCL Science group that met last week in Lewiston. What follows is my summary of the work that MCCL has done in science and the MCCL leadership’s picture of where the work is headed in the future.

Over the last two years, the MCCL science group has identified measurement topics for science.  The measurement topics are built from the Maine Learning Results.  In the spirit of plan, do, check and adjust, during the winter and spring of the 2012-2013 school year, the MCCL Science group is refining the current scopes and scales that support the identified measurement topics .

Karen Caprio, Lori Lodge and Linda Laughlin invited me to join their meeting and share information about the Next Generation Science Standards. The MCCL Science Group plans to reconvene this summer after the adoption of the NGSS.  The Cohort is committed to becoming “students” of the Framework and NGSS Science standards. Using this knowledge as a base they will plan for future revisions to the MCCL work to reflect the NGSS.

Science educators participating in the MCCL

Science educators participating in the MCCL

Science educators participating in the MCCL

Science educators participating in the MCCL

A peek into Biddeford Middle School’s NGSS review conversation

Ann Putney from Biddeford Middle School (BMS) reflects on the conversations that the BMS science professional learning community (plc) had while providing feedback on the NGSS. 

From Ann….

As we launched into our review, questions immediately arose about the language of the PEs. “How will the kids understand this?” was Tammy Lavigne’s first question. At BMS, the PE that is currently being worked on in a classroom is required to be posted in the room and discussed with students as the unit progresses. One of Tammy’s great strengths is her knowledge of and focus on 12-and 13-year olds, and how to best match her curriculum to them. The way in which we will communicate Performance Expectations to our charges in more student-friendly language is a question for us in the future. And… we have to remember… this IS still a draft.

Ethan Davis

Ethan Davis

“Our kids could never do that,” was a second comment. We reminded ourselves that we were looking at grade-span endpoints. Maybe the PEs are difficult to achieve at right now at BMS, we agreed, but what if we looked at the NGSS continuum from Kindergarten onward? We began with the Kindergarten standard “Structure and Properties of Matter,” to see what was introduced there. We discovered continuity in the practices, in particular and the cross-cutting concepts that built confidence among our group that a “culture of Science education” would be achieved in a comprehensive implementation of NGSS. This was a key realization for several of us in two ways: 1) that NGSS must be implemented throughout the grades, beginning in Kindergarten, and 2) that the Frameworks vision “that students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in science and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of each field’s disciplinary core ideas” could be fulfilled by implementing NGSS. In other words, if the “culture” exists, yes our students will be able to do this. (A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Cross Cutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. page 2)

Chelsea Brittain, Barbara Burgess, Lori Hickey and Tammy Lavigne

Chelsea Brittain, Barbara Burgess, Lori Hickey and Tammy Lavigne

The NGSS review process has truly been participatory. Biddeford Middle School’s teacher comments are being reviewed along with all comments from ALL states across the nation in order to ensure that the NGSS may be as workable as possible for all stakeholders, including classroom teachers in a small city in Maine.

Many thanks to my colleagues: Chelsea Brittain, Barbara Burgess, Ethan Davis, Lori Hickey and Tammy Lavigne and to BMS Principal Charles Lomonte for providing us with time to complete our review.

Maine posts great input on NGSS

Thank you to everyone who provided feedback on the second and final public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  I am grateful to all of you for the priority you gave to this important effort.

Maine had great participation in the NGSS survey. According to stats released by Achieve, Maine was one of the most active states in the nation based on population.  Bravo!

Achieve expects to release the final document at the end of the first quarter.  Keep reading the Framework!

Also, look for future posts about:

  • NGSS and the Maine Cohort for Customized Learning
  • What the Physical Science Partnership Grant (U Maine RiSE Center) can tell us about implementing the vision of the Framework and the NGSS
  • Practices 5 and 6 and MLTI tools
  • Maine Curriculum Leaders and NGSS implementation

Suggestions for reviewing and providing input to the next public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards

Reviewing the NGSS can be an overwhelming task, particularly if you do not have a significant amount of time to do so. This post provides suggestions that may be helpful to encourage quality input to the standards. Individuals may review only a portion of the standards but collectively many people across the state will have contributed to the review of the entire document.

In your review I encourage you to:

  • remember that standards are an articulation of desired student outcomes; standards are not an articulation of curriculum or instructional methodology; and
  • comment on both specific standards (performance expectations) and broad design features or assumptions.

To pull this off, I suggest three key steps to effectively provide input: 1. Chose a focus; 2. Collaborate and discuss with others (if possible); and 3. Provide input via the NGSS survey.

I.  Choose a focus.

The NGSS is fairly lengthy and may be too much for one individual to review the entire set in the time available. Below are three suggestions for reviewing a subset of the NGSS document. You may want to review the survey questions (see III. below) and the broad design features or assumptions prior to doing your review.

Review the K-12 progression of standards through a particular core idea or topic.

For instance, review all the standards associated with the core idea Physical Science 1: Matter and its Interactions. Through all grades. This would include any standard aligned to PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter; PS1.B: Chemical Reactions; and PS1.C: Nuclear Processes in all grade levels. Alternatively, follow the progression of the topic Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (IRE). This would include all the standards in that topic through the grade spans.

Review the full set of standards (all disciplines) at a particular grade or grade span.

For instance, if you teach 5th grade science, you might review all the 5th grade topics: 5.SPM; 5.MEOE; 5.ESP; 5.SS.  I recommend that you also review the same topics in grades 3 and 4 to understand and consider the progression of learning that leads to the grade 5 standards.

Review a particular discipline (LS, ESS, PS) at a grade span you are knowledgeable about.

For instance, if you are a 6-8 teacher, you might begin by looking at the 6-8 Life Science topics, including Structure and Properties of Matter, Chemical Reactions, Forces and Motion, Interactions and Forces, Energy, and Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation. Please review the similar topics for grades 3-5 to understand and consider the progression of learning that leads to the 6-8 standards.

II. Collaborate and discuss with others (if possible)

Everyone benefits from discussion their thoughts and reactions with others. If you review the NGSS individually, I encourage you to discuss your review with others. As you engage with your colleagues, please discuss both specific standards (performance expectations) and broad design features or assumptions.

The National Science Teachers Association provides one example of how to form study groups to discuss the second draft NGSS.

Whether you review the NGSS individually or with colleagues, the NGSS survey will allow you to indicate whether you are submitting an individual or organizational response.

III. Provide input via the NGSS survey.

Go to to access the survey. Detailed instructions for accessing, completing and submitting the survey will be available there. Please look for the sections of the survey that correspond to the sections you have reviewed. Also look for sections that ask for input on the overall NGSS or broader design features. Each section will have open comment boxes to include your thoughts not solicited in the specific questions.

Please complete the background information to indicate that you represent Maine, and whether you are responding as an individual or representing a group or organization. All responses that are submitted from Maine reviewers will be compiled by Achieve and returned to the Maine Department of Education. This feedback will be important to inform next steps here in the state.

Many thanks to Jake Foster of the Massachusetts DOE for his support with this post.