Teaching K–12 Science and Engineering During a Crisis
Board on Science Education
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
Based on the following reports of the National Academies of Sciences, Medicine, and Engineering:
A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards Science and Engineering for Grades 6–12: Investigation and Design at the Center English Learners in STEM Subjects
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by Grant No. G-20-57849 from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the President’s Committee. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-68194-0
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-68194-4
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25909
Cataloging-in-Publication OR Library of Congress Control Number: 2020949027
Additional copies of this publication are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.
Copyright 2020 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Teaching K–12 Science and Engineering During a Crisis. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25909.
The National Academy of Sciences was established in 1863 by an Act of Congress, signed by President Lincoln, as a private, nongovernmental institution to advise the nation on issues related to science and technology. Members are elected by their peers for outstanding contributions to research. Dr. Marcia McNutt is president.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964 under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences to bring the practices of engineering to advising the nation. Members are elected by their peers for extraordinary contributions to engineering. Dr. John L. Anderson is president.
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BOARD ON SCIENCE EDUCATION
Adam Gamoran (Chair), William T. Grant Foundation
Megan Bang, Learning Sciences, Northwestern University
Vicki L. Chandler, Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute
Sunita V. Cooke, MiraCosta College
Maya M. Garcia, Colorado Department of Education
Rush D. Holt, American Association for the Advancement of Science (retired)
Cathy Manduca, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College
John Mather, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Tonya Matthews, STEM Learning Innovation, Wayne State University
William Penuel, School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder
Stephen L. Pruitt, Southern Regional Education Board
K. Renae Pullen, K–6 Science Curriculum-Instructional Specialist, Caddo Parish Schools, Louisiana
K. Ann Renninger, Social Theory and Social Action, Swarthmore College
Marcy H. Towns, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University
Heidi Schweingruber, Director
Principle 1: Maintain a focus on the Framework’s vision for high-quality science and engineering education
1.a Learning science and engineering is essential for all students at all grade levels
1.b Instruction focuses on student engagement with real-world phenomena and problems
1.c The three dimensions (practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas) need to be integrated during learning and instruction
Principle 2: Prioritize relationships, equity, and the most vulnerable students
Principle 3: Recognize families and communities as critical assets for science and engineering learning
Principle 4: Approach recovery from disrupted learning and adjustment to changing learning environments as ongoing processes that takes time
3 Prioritizing Relationships and Equity
How are relationships between educators and students and among students themselves being built, maintained, and strengthened?
How are relationships being built, maintained, and strengthened among educators, families, and communities?
How are students’ individual needs being met?
How are teachers’ individual needs being met?
How are inequities related to students’ access to broadband, devices, and instructional supports being recognized and addressed?
4 Adjusting Instruction in Changing Environments
How are the assets of each learning environment being leveraged?
Assets of synchronous and asynchronous learning
How are instructional norms and expectations being established?
How can remote instruction support student sense-making and problem solving?
How can educators support student collaboration and discussion in remote environments?
How is student agency being fostered?
How can investigations and design be done in remote environments?
How can technological tools be incorporated effectively?
5 Managing and Modifying the Scope of Content and Curriculum
How can instructional time be used most effectively?
How can instruction be organized to focus on the most conceptually meaningful student work?
How can students build toward more than one science or engineering learning goal at one time?
How can learning be coordinated within and between grade levels?
How can phenomena or solutions to problems be investigated in students’ homes or communities?
How can students build toward more than one academic discipline at one time in elementary school?
Who is involved in planning for and supporting curriculum modifications?
6 Monitoring Learning for Continuous Improvement
How should any unfinished learning from spring 2020 be addressed?
How can remote and online classroom assessment be adjusted to support student learning?
How can students be supported to give and receive constructive feedback from both their peers and their teachers?
How can feedback from families and other stakeholders be gathered and used to inform ongoing improvements?
7 Supporting Collaborations and Leveraging Partnerships
How can teachers be given the time and resources to collaborate and support each other?
How are supportive networks being leveraged?
How are informal learning environments and community partnerships being incorporated?
List of Examples
Box 3-1 Connecting with 1st-Grade Students
Box 3-2 An ESL Teacher, Her Students, and Their Families
Box 3-3 Making a Chemistry Class Accessible to All Students
Box 3-4 Building Relationships and Practicing Self-Care
Box 3-5 Building Community During Remote Teacher Professional Learning
Box 3-6 Social Justice and Racial Equity as the Priority
Box 4-1 Engaging Students in Science Remotely
Box 4-2 Giving Students Choices in Their Work
Box 4-3 Identifying Materials for Investigations
Box 5-1 Focusing on Meaningful Work
Box 5-2 Problem Solving with Seeds
Box 5-3 Community Engagement through Surveys
Box 5-4 Learning Engineering and Language Arts Together
Box 5-5 Science Supporting Literacy for Young Children
Box 6-1 Sharing Student Artifacts
Box 6-2 Using Video for Feedback
Box 6-3 Peer Feedback for Improving Students’ Understandin
Box 7-1 A Virtual Teacher Learning Community
Box 7-2 Twitter Conversations for Learning
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In spring 2020, schools throughout the country were faced with an unprecedented challenge: continue to teach the nation’s K–12 students without having them physically present in the classroom. Never before have such drastic and widespread changes to instruction been required. While remote instruction had long been on the rise, it was the exception rather than the rule. The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that.
States and districts rose to the challenge. They worked overtime to reimagine systems and processes, and teachers were asked to rapidly shift their approaches to instruction and respond creatively to the demands of remote teaching.
As school systems now prepare for the 2020–2021 school year, it is important that the measures implemented on an emergency basis in the spring of 2020 be carefully adapted to reflect acceptable, on-going procedures. As we make this transition, it is particularly important that science instruction receive its due emphasis. Never before has it been clearer that a scientifically literate populace is essential—a populace that can understand data and be able to critically weigh evidence.
This book aims to describe what high-quality science and engineering education can look like in a time of great uncertainty and to support science and engineering practitioners as they work toward their goals. It is designed to leverage the portfolio of work produced by the Board on Science Education (BOSE) at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide insights and guidance on how to maintain high quality K–12 science education in the face of the many challenges produced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Carnegie Corporation of New York provided funding for the project and worked closely with BOSE staff to conceptualize the project.
BOSE contracted with Jennifer Self to create the book itself, drawing on past reports from BOSE consensus committees and supplementing them with insights from science educators from across the country. The book was written and produced on a tight timeline in an effort to draw on insights gained from the closures during spring 2020 that can inform how schools can adapt science instruction over the 2020–2021 school year. The BOSE reports that inform this book are:
A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012)
Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (2014)
Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (2015)
Science and Engineering for Grades 6–12: Investigation and Design at the Center (2018)
English Learners in STEM Subjects (2018)
Each of these reports was written by a committee of experts appointed by the National Academies. They provide a synthesis of research evidence and detailed conclusions and recommendations related to various aspects of science education with a focus on implementing the vision laid out in the Framework. The insights from these reports are supplemented with examples drawn from the work of science educators during spring and summer of 2020.
Board on Science Education