Teachers work together to better teach new science standards

Published: Oct. 29, 2017 at 10:03 AM CDT
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A group of 30 8th grade science teachers and education professionals gathered at the University of Iowa to brainstorm ways to help teachers, help their students.

The state of Iowa will require all teachers to teach based on Next Generation Science Standards starting in the 2018-2019 school year. UI Professor Ted Neal and group of professionals created a book that provides curriculum for teachers to use.

“Originally you went to school and you memorized a lot of content, today’s world it’s about communication collaboration on all the soft skills, so the new standards get students working on other pieces other than just content,” Neal said. “This gives them relevant real world questions that kids would be interested in digging into. It shows them the resources, shows them the ability of kids to ask questions, and answer those questions.”

The new standards will have lessons on issues like land and climate change. The method is centered on one big question and the others that can stem from it. Teacher Chelsie Slaba helped Neal test those methods. She said she’s excited for what’s to come.

“What we know to be the truth today, could not be the truth tomorrow because we learned something new. I believe these new N-G-S-S standards facilitate that,” Slaba said.

She said she enjoys brainstorming with other teachers to find out what works.

“What works for my classroom, may not work for you in your classroom, but the materials we’re presenting today give us a common base,” she said. “It’s just a big learning cycle, is all it is.”

Teachers at the development session have access to the book and share it with other teachers. It’s free to anyone and linkable online.

“We want kids to start to investigate with questions they’re concerned about, their family farm and its impact, their school, how does that work, how does their land change,” Neal said. “We don’t want them dealing with big obscure issues. We want them focused on things that are actually relevant and real to them in their world, because that gets them engaged in science.”