The first tool that is essential in calibrating NGSS instruction is colleagues. Collaboration is no longer a luxury, it is essential. As the NGSS asks us to go deeper and farther than we've ever gone in instruction, collaboration can help us get there. Each of us comes to the science classroom with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. None of us is an expert in all of the disciplinary core ideas, but our collective knowledge and experiences make us smarter together.
The second tool for calibration is the evidence statements. Achieve, Inc. has created these statements to help us know the depths at which our students need to be able to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding. They help us know what to look for at specific grade levels when a performance expectation asks our students to "create a model" or accomplish any other task. (Use this link to find evidence statements for every performance expectation in the NGSS.)
Combining these two can make us even better. This year, as I meet with my colleagues in PLC groups, we'll be able to spend time with the evidence statements, calibrating our instruction and activities to meet the depth required in the standards. Then we can evaluate the student responses to see where they fall on a continuum of responses. In this way, we, as teachers, can improve our instruction as we help the students grow in their understanding and practice of science.
How will you calibrate your instruction this year?