Schools address new science standards
By Matthew Stewart | (email@example.com)
More than 50 Alcoa, Blount County and Maryville teachers gathered last week to discuss their game plans for addressing next-generation science standards.
Each district’s science and career and technical education teachers discussed topics related to the National Research Council’s “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas,” which identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school. The framework will serve as the foundation for new K-12 science education standards.
Tennessee plans to fully implement next-generation science standards by 2015-16.
During the Secondary Science Summit, teachers heard presentations from five facilitators: L&N STEM Academy Principal Becky Ashe; Hardin Valley Academy Principal George Ashe; Richard Audet, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education consultant; Linda Jordan, the state Department of Education’s K-12 science coordinator; and Julie Pepperman, a Bearden Middle School teacher and Next Generation Science Standards Writing Team member. They covered common core standards, course design, integration, sequencing and STEM.
Educators were pleased with the summit.
“Teachers have felt a great deal of anticipation about the new science standards,” said Alcoa High School Principal Scott Porter. “They were chomping at the bit to get some information, and we got a lot of valuable information to take back to our schools.
“Maryville, Alcoa and Blount County are hitting these standards much earlier than other districts. I think we’re all happy to be ahead of the curve.”
“The Secondary Science Summit has provided our teachers with a much-needed jump-start on the new science standards,” said Dr. Alisa Teffeteller, Blount County’s career and technical education director. “As a CTE director, I’ve liked its crosscurricular push. They’ve emphasized connections between science and other programs, such as engineering and health science, and the ways that the next-generation science standards will complement common core state standards.”
Supports other subjects
Alcoa’s Director of Administrative Services John Campbell initiated the Secondary Science Summit. He contacted Maryville Director of Schools Stephanie Thompson and Dr. Jane Morton, Blount County’s supervisor of instruction for grades 6-12, about 10 months ago. They all agreed that the districts needed to examine their organization for science instruction, especially with next-generation science standards under development.
“School districts are putting so much focus on common core state standards, and we wanted to make sure that we kept abreast of the new science standards,” Campbell said. “Science is a critical subject area, because the processes underline every thing in education. School is about asking questions, investigating and extending your own knowledge. If students are going to become inventors, innovators, problem solvers and entrepreneurs, they will need to be able to draw working knowledge from all subjects areas.”
Districts work together
School officials also wanted to promote the type of professional working relationships that the facilitators have with each other, he said. “There’s a strong current to their thinking, and it’s all a part of the same stream. The three of us wanted our staff members to get a glimpse of the movements, work with it and experience it.”
“The Secondary Science Summit is a good opportunity to share with people from other schools, grade levels and even within our own schools,” said Dr. Mike Winstead, Maryville’s assistant director of schools. “The summit is the first of many future conversations about next-generation science standards, and it’s a good way to kick them off.”
Blount County’s three school districts have things to learn from each other, Campbell said. “We’re doing great things in our three school districts and four high schools. We’re missing valuable opportunities if we stay in our camps.”