A week of learning as @NGSS_tweeps

This past week I was honored with the title of “guest tweeter” for @NGSS_tweeps, a rotating account of K-12 science teachers and administrators managed by middle school teacher and NGSS implementer, Patrick Goff.


So after updating the account’s avatar and personal information I got down to sharing with the followers of #ngsschat. Of course you can’t spend a week tied to a dedicated community of NGSS pioneers without learning some things yourself. Here are a few of my week’s takeaways.

What does an NGSS classroom work like?

My own thoughts on everything from identifying and using student-relevant phenomena to utilizing PhET Sims as models in the classroom received lots of RTs and “likes”, but the fact that Monday was also halloween kept #NGSSchat fairly quiet. Still, I got this always-right thoughts from Brian Klaft and Greg Prater:

What does good leadership look like in our science departments? Supervisors? Chairs?

Tuesday’s conversations were more spirited, possibly because so many have their own ideas and opinions on what makes a great leader in schools, whether they are science-oriented or not! Many liked my message about the importance around “growing our people.

The previous week’s @NGSS_tweeps moderator, Cathy Boland spoke up when conversation came around to what NGSS teachers needed evaluators to understand about the shifts taking place in their classroom. Paula Burkhart also had an important message to share…

What does PD to ready teachers/admins for shift to look like?

On Wednesday afternoon I was performing some professional development double-duty, facilitating an elementary methods workshop for teachers in the evening while sharing a few posts on what we were up to through #NGSSchat. As Peabody teachers were challenged to explore matter models and engineer a bridge using materials best suited for their intended job, my #PLN supported my “learn by doing” approach:

How are we using PLNs to better our understanding of NGSS?

I wrapped up my tweeting for the week by bringing my PLN to the Massachusetts Science Teachers Association‘s annual conference, featuring formative assessment guru, Page Keeley. A resident star at NSTA conferences, it was great to meet her in a more local and intimate setting. I even got to share in an extended small group conversation with her about the many different ways probes are being used across grade levels and science disciplines. She shared a dirty secret with a few of us who were willing to spend a little time with her outside of the standard workshops taking place…

I also took in a workshop by Stephanie Burnett from Lab Aides who shared a few of her own experiences as a classroom teacher and pilot facilitator of her organization’s own formative assessments.

As if an all day conference was not enough, I participated in Thursday evening’s regular #NGSSchat hosted by high school science teachers, Fred Ende and Tricia Shelton. It was there that I shared in a great conversation around assessment and advocated for how standards based grading would be an ally to any teacher K-12 looking to shift their instruction and assessment to better meet the NGSS.

Friday featured an icing on the cake experience, visiting a Pine Glen teacher’s fifth grade class where she was facilitating Burlington’s new “Matter and its Interactions” unit. It was thrilling to see students engaged with the Concord Consortium’s matter models page while flipping effortlessly back and forth to their digital notebooks on Explain Everything, recording their observations and drawing comparisons to the own understanding of states of matter and what they observed through the model. Students were engaged, constructing particle models of matter, and constructing explanations with help of some of the models more distinct features. I made sure to share with my PLN, just as I had been advocating for all week long. What a way to head into the weekend!

About MrMusselman

@BurlMAschools Science Specialist and @CambridgeCollg Science Methods instructor. @NSTA Professional Development facilitator and author of "Think Like a Scientist: Investigating Weather and Climate" NSTA Kids ebook.
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