Practical NGSS: An Assessment Example

I have been trying to think about what exactly an assessment in a NGSS environment would look like.  NGSS should of course cause us not only to be rethinking the how we teach and what we teach, but it should also cause a similar rethink on assessment.  What follows is an example of what NGSS assessment looks like in my class.  Its a first attempt so I would welcome any feedback!


In my 8th grade Life Science class we have been trying to answer the following big question: “How can my knowledge of genetics help feed the world?” We have already answered questions such as “What is rice?” (our model organism for the unit) and “How are traits passed down from generation to generation?”.  We are currently researching how to answer the question from this  mini unit  which is “How do traits and the environment interact?”.  We started off by asking the students what do they think they know about the question and they didn’t know much, but that is OK. This allowed us to generate some questions we should investigate which you can see the image below.

Genetics Project Board Example

ABC (Activity Before Content)

We started off by investigating how the environment might change the frequency of a trait in the environment.  We did a simple activity using a bingo set.  The groups got to pick 4 different colors of chips, but they could only pick up a total of 10 chips.  I would turn the drum so that 5 balls would come out of the shoot and allow a student to pick a number between 1-5.  If the number on the ball they choose was an odd number they lost 1 bingo chip of each color however, if the number was even they were to add a bingo chip of each color.  The goal of this simple activity was twofold.  The first was to introduce the idea that certain traits are more or less frequent in the environment. The second idea is the  frequency of those traits can change. From this very simple model we were able to introduce the ideas of selection, selection pressure, and extinction.  Now that my students had a very basic understanding of how the environment and traits interact we moved on to a more robust model.

The Model

Here is a short animated GIF showing the Bug Hunt Speeds NetLogo model


Net Logo is a program that can be downloaded or run in a browser (the browser is still in Beta and it runs very slowly).  We used the Bug Hunt Speeds Net Logo Model for our investigation. The students played with the model to get used to how it works and the options there are for changes. We worked through some general questions like “What happens if we attack the blue bugs?”.  This allowed the students to see how the data changed.  One of the SEP is data analysis and that is foundational to being able to create proper explanations. I moved around the room asking questions to individual students and group and then we had a class discussion.  This created the opportunities for me to do formative assessment of both students and the class.  However, I want to know what exactly each student knows and whether or not they can be given a scenario, collect data, and make explanations.  In order to do this I created a Google Form.

The Assessment

Here is a link to the Google Form.  Below you can see an image that shows a selection of the type of questions I used.

Example BugHunt Google Form


Because of the go to section option in Google Forms, you can set up a single assessment that will take each member of the group to a different set of instructions and questions.  This allowed me to put my students into groups of 3, each student choose a number, and then when it was there turn to use the computer (we didn’t have enough to go 1:1) they would get “their” questions without seeing the other questions.  This also allows me to compare the answers from all the “1’s” to all the other “1’s”.  My goal in doing this little assessment exercise is to get my students using a model, analyzing data, and creating explanations from data.  I was also able to assess DCIs MS-LS4-4 and  MS-LS4-6.  I would love to have feedback and what you think of my attempt at a 3D assessment.


Final Question

What are you doing different in your assessment to meet the ideals and expectations of NGSS?



Driving Questions Practical NGSS #3

This is the third post in a series on how to break down the Life Science section of NGSS to create a unit.You can read part 1 and part 2 to see previous posts in this series.

As we move on from getting an overview and understanding of the big questions, we need to start thinking of the design of the unit and not just how NGSS is designed.  The questions that are tied to each of the questions are helpful and they can be used, but I wish to suggest a different approach.  I like the idea of having these questions up around the room as the “BIG” Questions of the year.  It will allow you to have a visual to point the students (and yourself) to throughout the year.  We constantly need to be reminding them and ourselves of what we are trying to answer.  However, I’m not sure the questions will really drive a group of students into researching an answer.  That does not mean the questions aren’t important or bad questions, but rather we need to use those to create driving questions.

Driving questions are types of questions that are on the surface very simple questions and yet at the same time are are very complex.  These questions cannot be answered with a yes or a no and they cannot be Googled.  We should be modeling the type of questions we want our students to be asking.  The driving question provides us with a platform to do just that.

Driving questions should cover multiple DCIs and create an environment where the SEP and CCC are an integral part of the unit as opposed to an add-on lab at the end.  These aren’t always easy to come up with so how would you go about creating one?  The first thing you should do when thinking about designing a unit is what do I want the students to understand? The immediate next question should be how will they show their understanding?  This is another strength of the NGSS.  The NGSS gives us our guide both in what they should understand and how they are going to show their understanding!

You can see in the picture below the statement of what the student who demonstrate understanding can do.  This is followed by a 3 pillar (SEP, DCI, and CCC) or 3D approach to support that understanding.

Unnamed image

You will need to collect the individual pieces to make your puzzle.  The NGSS is not designed to be a silo.  In other words just because something isn’t in the Heredity section doesn’t mean you can’t cover it in your unit.  The NGSS is not a curriculum to be followed blindly.  It is a map to learning.  One can get to all the points on a map in any number of ways.

So back to the driving question.  Lets say you want to do a unit on Genetics.  When you open up your NGSS you will notice there isn’t a single section called Genetics. As you do your searching you realize that you have multiple puzzle pieces which all interact with each other and are specifically tied to Genetics.  You have just answered the first question of what do I want my students to understand.  This doesn’t mean you can’t do more than these, but it does mean these are the minimum standard or the ground floor for ALL of your students. As an added bonus NGSS has also given you what counts as evidence for your students understanding.  Now you just need a question that is going to drive the unit.  I like simple questions. Here are a few different ones that I have used in smaller units.  What makes me…me?  This was the driving question for dealing with cell division (mitosis) and sexual reproduction (meiosis).  Why do I look like me? This was the driving question for discussing DNA, replication, transcription, and translation.  My middle school curriculum uses a much larger question: How can a knowledge of genetics help feed the world.  Their question is better than my own because it allows for a larger area of research of interconnected units.

The driving question is going to be key in your new NGSS units.  Take the time to gather the DCIs, plan how the student is going to show understanding(assessment), and put together your learning plan so that you can create a question broad enough to cover all you are trying to teach.  I will leave you with a question for you to think about:

What is your favorite topic to teach and what driving question do you use with that?

The Big Questions Practical NGSS (Part 2)


This is the second post in a series on how to break down the Life Science section of NGSS to create a unit. You can read Part 1 here.

These 4(MS) or 5 (HS) core questions [there seems to be some difference whether you are looking in the print guide or the online version perhaps someone can clarify?? For our purposes here we will be using the 4 core questions found in  Volume 1 The Standards on pgs 103-104.] are the guiding questions we should be using in our planning.  It can’t just be in our planning, because our students perform best when they know what the starting line is and where the finish line is going to be.  The questions not only guide our planning, but when used effectively they become questions our students need to know the answers to.  In future posts I will discuss how to use the questions throughout the unit to help the class stay on track toward their goal, however that is not the goal for today’s post.  The purpose of today’s post is to look at the questions themselves.

The questions

There is of course a progressive unfolding of the Life Science Standards so it makes sense to have slightly different questions as we move up the ladder.  This is another secret strength of the NGSS which I don’t believe gets played up enough.  NGSS is a way for our students to build on their knowledge not for us to rebuild each year.  Since the core practices are the same from K-12, our students over time will come to our classes with a better understanding of how science works, what real science looks like, and therefore have a better conceptual frameworks to hang new information on.  Take a look at the questions for MS and HS and you will see what I mean.

Life Science DCI

As students advance through school the questions become more abstract and general.  This doesn’t limit our teaching to the “new” standards, but rather gives us greater flexibility to meet our students where they are and design lessons and units to allow them to answer the questions.

A Danger Lurking

When any new standards are introduced the rumbling sounds of book presses start up, and books are suddenly “NGSS” aligned almost overnight.  It might only be a new sticker showing up on the book and no significant changes are made either to the planning of units or organization of the book. The appearance given is the publisher has got it all figured out so don’t worry about it.  Because of this tendency, we need to have a better understanding of the questions themselves so we can evaluate materials more effectively. So what exactly are these core questions?

The core questions are just that core questions, but they are not a curriculum.  I believe this is an area where teachers who are expected to teach science according to NGSS without adequate training are almost doomed right from the get go.  These questions can’t be looked at as the “stuff” we talk about in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters while hoping to squeeze in the last little bit in May.  The NGSS is not a national curriculum.  It is the guide however to what, when, and how we should be teaching.  So if these questions are guides, but not curriculum how should we view them?  I believe the answer is in how we create our units.  The core questions are not silos to be kept separate.  They are interconnected like an ecosystem.  If one question is discussed without regards to the others we are at best missing part of the picture , and at worst we are hiding part of the picture from our students.  Our students need to know there are 4 big questions we will be discussing throughout the year, and the questions all impact each other.  Perhaps one way you can do this in your classroom is to have up posters or signs that list out the major questions for your teaching area.  The 4 core questions help us battle the appearance that science is a disjointed series of facts as opposed to a flowing narrative where intersections between “topics” happen all the time.

Next Up

You might be thinking “OK OK I think I understand the vision of progressive unfolding of information, wisdom in keeping our information organized, and having 4 core questions, but I need to plan my next unit.”  That is what I hope to tackle in the next post.  How do we take a topic like Genetics and in light of the core questions start to create a NGSS unit?


Practical NGSS (part 1)

One of the best parts about NGSS is simultaneously its simplicity and complexity.  For example as a Life Science teacher there are only 4 questions (or 5 for HS) that a student in my classroom should be able to answer.  When you first look at the HS Life Science Standards section you might be tempted to say “Is that it? Where are all the standards about my [fill in the blank with your favorite topic]?” This is the genius of the Framework.  We no longer have bits and pieces and individual units, but rather we have unifying questions that link with each other as we seek to develop our students understanding of Life Science concepts.  We know from both research and best practices that starting units off with big questions about our topic instead of stating the topic creates more engagement.  This structure would allow a teacher to have up in their room or on their board these 4 questions all year long and constantly return to them.  It would be a mistake to structure your class so that we answer 1 question at a time.  These questions all work together and therefore we should be able to take our new units and cause our students to see the connections between them.

The 4 questions give us a framework for our students to hang their hats on.  They should be able to tell a classroom visitor what question the class is answering.  Students may not know the full answer right then and there, but they should be able to state the data collected, what they think it means, and a preliminary argument from evidence.  I believe a great check on whether or not the Scientific Practices are being embedded into our students thinking is when a visitor shows up to your class.  What would happen in your classroom if a visitor popped into your class?  Could your students describe the question(s) they are trying to answer, what they have done to answer it, what they are going to do next, and state their answer in  such a way that gives priority to the evidence?

My goal in this series is to describe how a teacher can take a general Life Science topic like Genetics and have NGSS inform us on how to create an NGSS unit.

That time when most of my students failed …


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I think we have probably all been there at some point in our teaching career or if perhaps you are like me you are there at least one time a year.  The saying goes “if the student hasn’t learned than the teacher hasn’t taught.”  I think there is a lot of wisdom in the statement.  Our position as the teacher puts out in front.  We decide when things are brought up, taught, or investigated.  As such then we have a responsibility to create and/or use assessments that accurately test our students knowledge.  If we design faulty assessment then we will get fault results.  However, I don’t want to talk about the design of the assessment.  Perhaps that can be a post for a future time, but I do want to discuss the lead up to the assessment.  One of the most important parts of teaching is formative assessment.  I need to know when my students know something and when they know it.  If I don’t know those basic things than I won’t know when to deliver that summative assessment that allows me to see not only how many terms they have memorized but the use of those terms in action.  The question then is how does that work together in the real life of the classroom.  I would like to give you a “not example.”  I love not examples because it gives us a warning of what to avoid like the sign on the side of the freeway warning us to slow down because there is a sharp turn ahead.

I have been leading my Advanced Biology class through some information about cellular membranes.  We discussed their structure, how things are moved through them via proteins, types of transport, and finally osmosis.  I was moving pretty quickly and the students seem to be able to answer questions and deal with the content, but when we got to the test well the title says it all.  I was disappointed not in my students but how I had failed them. You see one of the core things that the NGSS calls us to do is make and manipulate models.  We did not do this and well the results speak for themselves.  Membranes are hard to pictures. Sure we can use dialysis tubing and discover what affects the rate of diffusion on the solution inside the dialysis tubing or we can show animations of active transport, but those are a far cry from designing and manipulating models.  Those are much more passive activities then the design and manipulation of models.

Here is what I did to attempt to rectify the situation.  First, own the failure. I think its important for those of us in the teaching profession to admit mistakes.  We expect our students to do it so we should to.  Second, I designed a simple modeling activity for them to complete.  Here is a link to the Google Doc that I gave to my students.  The students were given the supplies and asked to describe what each part means.  Once they established for example the marshmallows as the hydrophillic heads w/ 2 toothpicks representing the hydrophobic tails they started designing their membrane model.

Models in development

Models in development

You will notice the pipe cleaners are sitting there but aren’t be used yet.  They needed to use them in a way that will illustrate their shape and function.  I was impressed by the way they were able to design them to meet the expectations.  I did very little talking and my students did most of the talking.  This is what models do.  They start and sustain conversation that leads to better and better models.  When they finished building their models I had them pull out their phones and record how it works together. If you click on this link you can watch an example of one of the groups explanation.

NGSS calls us to act more like scientists in our classrooms and less like traditional students.  Using effective NGSS models creates opportunities for identifying misconceptions, probing understanding, and creating of explanations.

I learned my lesson. Models make a huge difference for my formative assessment process as well as for my students understanding.   We will be adding more modeling activities as we go along.  As for the test well the retake went really well.  The students did a far superior job and mentioned how the modeling helped them get a hold of the concepts.

3 Reasons You Should Not Talk Rules, Policies, or Syllabus on the First Day

Its back to school time all across the country and so begins an annual ritual I would like you to think about… the traditional first day rules, policies, and syllabus being handed out. I think its time to change the tradition.  I know I know but what about the “we have to start out the year on the right foot”, “no smiling until Thanksgiving so they know you are serious”, and all other types of advice you have received over the years? As my wife tells me all the time “just because you have always done it that way doesn’t mean that is the way it should be done.”  Here are 3 reasons I hope will cause you to reflect on your first day practices.

Reason #1

Who says we can’t start the learning until we have given them the rules and regulations for your class.  Jump right in and do something the first day so your students know what to expect in your classroom and then start setting the rules as they come up in the activity.  You want to create credibility and relationships as soon as possible.  Do you think that is best accomplished by giving out a piece(s) of paper?

Reason #2

Students learn and remember better when they are actively involved with an engaging well designed task.  Lets create an environment immediately where students come expecting to do something not expect to have something given to them.  Where is the motivation to get into the learning which will take place in your classroom?

Reason #3

The students have been listening to rules and policies all day or will listen to them the rest of the day why not be different?  Have you seen this blog post? The amount of time our students sit and get is unbelievably high! Why add to culture of passivity? We all want to start with a blast, but is this the way to accomplish that goal?  I don’t believe it is.

So now what?  How can I start my year off differently while still creating the proper culture of learning and simultaneously creating interest and credibility?  Let me suggest using something called Smart Start.  I learned about it a few years ago from Jon Corippo at CUERockstar camp.  I think it is a great way to get the school year off on the right foot.

We did the marshmallow challenge today and it was a great opportunity for my students to work on their Creativity, Collaboration, and Communication skills.  It gave me the opportunity to work on skills that will help us throughout the year as we dive into NGSS and UbD.

How do you handle your first day of school?

#CUERockstar Saugatuck




Last week I had the privilege to help at CUE Rock Star Saugatuck.  If case you are unfamiliar with the awesome conference that is CUE Rock Star you should check out this link.  The conference is hosted by MACUL which is Michigan’s version of CUE.  Both groups aim to help teachers integrate technology into the classroom to help students learn. Each of them have yearly conferences that attract thousands of teachers, admins, and IT staff, but Rock Star is totally different!  Those big conferences are great in their own right, but you can often times feel lost, overwhelmed, or not finding what you are looking for.  Rock Star camps are held all around the country with the motto of “lets treat teachers like they have never been treated before”.  The days are set up for maximum learning impact.  Each day allows you a deep dive in 2 different sessions.  But before I talk about how the sessions impacted me, let me lay out for you what an average day looks like.  Doors open at 9 am and for the next 30 minutes you have opportunity to talk with the faculty and enjoy a light breakfast and coffee.  At 9:30 shred sessions start.  What is a shred session you ask? Well you know how you go to a big conference and you are given a program book/app that has session descriptions that aren’t that helpful… that isn’t the case here. Each faculty member gets up and in 2 minutes or less tells you what is going on in their session and why you should come and learn together.  It’s so much easier to get a read on what the session is going to be like than 50 words in a book/app.  At this point you all break out into your 2 hour sessions where you deep dive with a group of about 10 other teachers into your chosen topic.  Then you get a 2 HOUR LUNCH yes that is right a 2 hour lunch.  The faculty sit right there with you and the conversations continue until the next session starts at 2.  Couldn’t decide which session to attend in the morning don’t worry because all the sessions repeat in the afternoon.  What a great setup this is for gaining understanding of new tools and how to implement it into your classroom!

I was able to help out in a variety of sessions from Chrome extensions, Project Wild activities, STEAM playground, Google helpdesk, and even introduced a few teachers to Google  Classroom and Forms.  As awesome as all of that sounds (and that is just scratching the surface of all the other great sessions) the best thing that comes out of conference like this is the connections you make with people.  In reality the faculty aren’t the Rock Stars but its the attendees who are the Rock Stars.  One goal of this conference is to create the next generation of teacher leaders so they can impact their school and district, and the best way to accomplish the goal is to sit and learn with people on the whole range of tech skills. This gives you the feeling of being in a cohort and not a workshop.  The connections you make from sitting and talking with others will have a far greater impact on your teaching career then a new trick you picked up in a session.

It really isn’t about the technology though its about leveraging the technology to help you reach more kids and impact more lives.  Technology is just a tool in which I create an environment to learn.  Rock Star gave me the chance to share some tools, make some new friends, and learn from some of the best in the field.  If you would like to see some of the amazing resources that were shared this year you can go here.  I would highly recommend you make it to a Rock Star camp near you!

Student Evaluations of Mr. Hubbard’s Life Science Class



I remember the first time I was asked to evaluate a teacher.  It was my freshman year in college.  I had never done one before and I dutifully filled out the bubbles and made comments, but in reality gave little thought to how powerful it is for a teacher.  I continued filling it out those forms while in undergrad and grad school, but I have never really done one about me.  I was reading on Larry Ferlazzo’s website and I came across this article.  I decided to go ahead and create my own anonymous survey modeled after his and after my students took their exams my students evaluated me.  You can see the Google Form I created here.

This class, of all my classes, is the one which is most closely aligned with the NGSS.  A major goal for this class is to embed in their brains the Practices found in the NGSS.  You can see all of my students responses here, but I will just summarize a few of them.

I thought it was really interesting which of the Practices they picked as their favorites.  43% of the class said that arguing from evidence was their number 1 choice.  A close second at 38% was developing and using models.  I would have thought that Asking questions would have been farther up on the favorites list because in their assessment we did that Practice more then any other one.  I was not surprised to see using Math and Computational Thinking as the least favorite practice according to 74% of the class.  This I believe reflects directly back on me.  I am not very strong in Math and I don’t do a very good job modeling that skill set.

One of the questions on their survey that I believe is very crucial to my reflection of this year and to create opportunities for my growth in future years is the question “what could I have done to help you learn this year?”.  Because I made the survey anonymous the students could be very honest in their assessment which is exactly what I wanted.  Here are some things I will work on for next year

“More quizzes leading up to tests, more drawing, more arguments and discussions over the data before saying [the final answer]”.

 I really like the idea of the first one.  Perhaps in another post I will get around to writing out some ideas on assessment, but it’s still rolling around up in my head and I don’t have a good grasp on it yet.  The one on using drawing more often speaks to my need to find ways to get all students involved in communicating.  Clearly this student loved to draw and thought it was helpful to them in understanding difficult concepts.  If there is one student who has a thought pattern like this one well then it stands to reason there are more like him or her.  The last comment is difficult because at some time you have to move on, but at the same time you need to make sure there is a consensus in the class of what the data is saying and whether or not our conclusions are valid.

Perhaps one of the most interesting responses on the survey was their response to how they would change their drawing of a scientist.  During the first week of class I always have them draw what they think a scientist looks like. Inevitably its an older white male with crazy hair, exploding or foaming beakers, and in a lab with no windows.  These are a few of the survey responses that show how the students’ view of scientists has changed

“I would draw a picture of what we did in class, scientists do more than wear lab coats and wear goggles,  just drew him doing chemistry but there is a lot more than that in science, and The scientist doesn’t have to be in a closed up little laboratory. He or she can be anywhere! The scientist doesn’t have to be wearing a lab coat and goggles, and he or she doesn’t have to be using crazy, explosive chemicals. :)”

My two favorite responses were by far these two “Draw our class :)” and “I could draw a picture of myself”.  I know that I have made many mistakes this year, but it is nice to see students changing their view of what a scientist is and does.  Perhaps a student who otherwise would have given up on science as a career might think differently now.

MACUL15 Reflections

I love going to conferences.  I think they are one of the best PD opportunities a teacher can have. I was able to attend #MACUL15 last week as both an attendee and presenter for the first time!  In a gathering of 4000+ educators there are going to be lots of opportunities to learn, connect, reflect and share.

One of the reasons I like conferences is that I get to pick what sessions I want to go to.  Whenever you get to choose the level of engagement goes up and therefore you are more likely to get something out of the session even if its not what you thought it was going to be originally.  Interestingly (at least to me) as much as we want to have choice in when we do PD, what PD is and how we do it, we often times don’t give our students choices in our classrooms.  If we know that choice is important to our level of engagement and effort then how can we give more choice to our students in our classrooms?

One way we can give choice to our students is through designing our lessons to leave room for and encourage choice.  Choice can take many different forms inside the classroom.  It can be simple option you can do this experiment or that one, you choose which battle of WWII to report on, or which book to read.  There is of course larger choices available or should be available to students. Students in an inquiry based classroom (where student questioning drives learning) have much larger freedom in how the learning progresses and therefore I would argue a greater engagement in the subject matter.  Student choice shouldn’t just be limited to directing the flow of the classroom, but needs to show up in the assessment as well.  In a BYOD environment all sorts of options should be on the table.  Why not let them make a video showing their learning?  Why not let them make a prezi?  Why not let them make an animation?  What type of choice are you giving your students today?

A second lesson I learned at #MACUL15 is the importance of being connected.  I am firmly in the teachers need to be connected camp.  How they are connected is not as important to me, but all teachers need to be connected.  We make it much more difficult on ourselves as teachers when we strand ourselves on an island.  Yes we can make it, stay current, and teach well without being connected, but being a connected teacher makes all of those things easier.  One of the best parts of being a connected educator is the support system.  It doesn’t matter if you are the only teacher of your subject at your school or you are lost in a sea of fellow content teachers, being connected gives you the opportunity to see what others are doing, pick the best of what others are doing, and get feedback on what you are doing in your class.

A third lesson I learned at #MACUL15 is the importance of sharing.  I have been to a few other MACUL conferences in the past, but this is the first year I have presented.  It created a totally different feel to the conference.  It is not enough to learn about new tools or try new things in your classroom.  The next and logical step is to share with others.  If we are trying to build up a community of educators attacking and conquering common goals then we need to be sharing with each other.   Sharing doesn’t need to be some overly complicated super professional website, but rather it needs to be simple, direct, and a picture of what you are doing or want to do.  Sharing also isn’t the domain of the “edufamous” where we sit and learn from the supposed “experts”.  Sharing is as much about reflecting on your learning as it is encouraging others to join you on the journey.

Check out this way cool sketchnote by Karen Bosch on George Couros’ opening Keynote at MACUL.  It just makes you think about it another way!


As spring break is coming up I hope you get an opportunity to reflect on your teaching, find conferences to go to (this one is going to be awesome or these ones or these ones or any number of local conferences), and think about how you can give more choice, be a more connected educator, and share with others.

What the NGSS is not

Just the other day I was setting up 2 different labs.  They were both DNA extraction labs.  One was for my 10th graders extracting from wheat germ and the other was a cheek cell extraction for my Seniors.  I was doing the prep work late at night and of course I ran out of supplies and had to run over to Meijer and get some more meat tenderizer.  As I was doing my errand run I started to reflect on the labs and their NGSS implications (or lack thereof)  It seems to me that one part of our implementation of NGSS that can easily go off the track is the end goal or vision of NGSS is NOT to do more labs.   One of the dangers in changing anything in education is to go to one of two extremes.  These extremes are helpfully identified by McTighe and Wiggins in their book Understanding by Design as the “twin sins” of activity and content.  Its easy to show progress when all the students do is follow these steps and get the answer you told them they would find.  Its just as easy to show off how much are kids are “doing” and how active they are in our classes. Neither of these is guaranteeing that our students are learning while doing science.

The vision of NGSS in our classrooms is so much richer then adding some more labs to our curriculum so we can check off some new boxes.  It is a vision which moves our students into the role of scientist.  They are the ones that need to be asking the questions and allowing them the freedom to investigate, collect data, share what it means and argue with others about the data they collected.  Yes this is messy.  Yes this takes more time.  Yes this will not be a linear  or easy to control process.  The rewards of this method are so much greater for the student and the teacher.