Elementary Curriculum


Why can’t I have my GVC and supporting documents printed in a binder?

In all of our content areas we are moving away from printing GVC binders and towards sharing our curriculum resources via the Google Drive.  There are a couple of reasons for this shift:

  • We are able to hyperlink the GVC documents to give you greater access to lesson plans, background information, student pages and multi-media
  • We are able to devise a GVC document with more choices following a formative assessment or options for differentiation. Again, using hyperlinks, this allows a teacher to focus on the lesson pieces that are most relevant for his or her students.
  • We are able to make quick revisions or add resources more easily. Once a document is printed it becomes static, with a digital GVC we can add additional resources, Teacher Notes or fix broken hyperlinks easily.


Isn’t this just stuff from the internet?  Why isn’t it formatted similar to Science Anytime?

The curriculum team has been working to curate science lessons with strong alignment to the NGSS to supplement our Science Anytime curriculum and support a strong standards alignment within the GVC.  Rather than creating curriculum, we are using an adaptation protocol to select Open Educational Resources from credible sites.  You will see resources from NSTA, Better Lesson, Teach Engineering, NASA, the American Chemical Association and other sites with a vetting process to ensure alignment to NGSS.

Our curated lessons aren’t formatted to match Science Anytime for a couple of reasons.  In many cases the student worksheets and lab sheets are already a part of the lesson and to reformat them would be redundant.  Also, Science Anytime was specifically formatted to match the format of the 5th grade MSP, a test which will not be given after spring 2017.


Why aren’t there more rubrics and better assessments?

In this draft of the NGSS Adapted GVC, we are focusing on curating lessons that are aligned with NGSS and fill in gaps in Science Anytime. We are identifying Performance Expectations for summative assessments and, where they exist, we are including specific assessments and rubrics.  In the review process next year, we will be adding additional lessons for differentiation, additional assessments, and rubrics based on student work samples.


Can we use more of the state assessment language in worksheets and prompts for students?

This was a strength of the Science Anytime curriculum, that it was well-aligned to the MSP.  Washington State has not yet released items from the NGSS-based state assessment, which will be given across the state for the first time in spring 2018.  When we have released items we can use or on which we can base additional assessment items, those will be included in the GVC.



Why isn’t there professional development to support the new GVC?

In third – fifth grade, the biggest shift when considering NGSS is in instructional practices.  With that in mind, most of the available PD has been focused on instructional practices.  There are six online classes available:

  • Science Notebooks
  • Constructing Explanations in Science
  • Formative Assessment in Science
  • STEM Online
  • Science A to Z
  • NGSS 101

There are also two afterschool options available for professional development; iTeach STEM and Science-after-School workshops.  Prior to each of these events, a survey is sent out to registered participants and the content of the workshop is based on the needs assessment.  Please visit the Science Website for additional information.

Finally, Jen is available for small group and 1-on-1 professional development.  You can arrange for grade level support during Thursday morning collaboration, before / after school or during a prep period.


What if I need additional background knowledge or information to teach a unit or a lesson?

In talking with teachers using the NGSS adapted GVC’s and in reading the surveys embedded in each GVC, we’ve learned that we did not offer enough information or background support in the Teacher Notes column.  As you begin to teach the third trimester GVC’s, you should find more support in this area.  In addition, feel free to reach out to Jen via phone or email.  We are all called upon to be science generalists, which means we’re almost guaranteed to be asked to teach something outside our comfort zone and background knowledge.  Jen has additional resources to share and is available to meet in person to support your learning and teaching.


3-Dimensional Teaching & Learning…

We know that the NGSS are composed of three dimensions – Science & Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross-Cutting Concepts – and I am sure you’ve heard the phrase 3-dimensional teaching  or 3-dimensional learning.   What does that really mean?

Lately, through workshops, collaboration and book studies I have been exploring this idea with teachers.  Simply put, 3-dimensional instruction is the integration of the practice, content and cross-cutting concept within a lesson.  While it sounds easy, I think there’s a complexity and a need for thoughtful planning.

Recently, I developed a lesson with the intention of modeling 3-dimensional instruction for middle school science teachers.  It was important to define “lesson”…this was not 50 minutes worth of student engagement, or the activities that happened in a single class period but rather, a series of activities, reading and thinking that are organized around a big idea.  In this way, a lesson will occur over several days.

I began with participants reading and responding to Page Keeley’s formative assessment probe, “Thermometer” (Uncovering Student Ideas in Science vol.3, p. 33).  This probe elicits students’ ideas about thermal expansion, and helps teachers understand whether students attribute expansion of the space between molecules to the rise of the liquid in a thermometer.    After some discussion, participants moved on to build an air thermometer:

Air Thermometer

They were asked to design an investigation to explore what happens to molecules when temperature changes.

  • What data will you collect?
  • How will you record your data?
  • What do you still need to know?

Finally, participants were directed to a chapter from Ck-12 Physical Science for Middle School 

These experiences were planned to support students in MS-PS1-4 “Develop a model that predicts and describes changes in particle motion, temperature and state of a pure substance when thermal energy is added or removed.”  As I mentioned earlier, 3-Dimensional Instruction may sound simple, but the lesson planning can be complex.  I developed a matrix to help think about the depth to which students are using or applying the 3 dimensions:


What are your thoughts?  To what extent was my lesson 3-Dimensional?  What would increase that attribute?  How have you practiced 3-Dimensional instruction? 


Arguing from evidence…

As I was preparing for a day with our middle school science alignment team, I came across a two-part series in the NSTA journal Science Scope.  Scaffolding Students Towards Argumentation shares several short, but effective strategies on supporting students in their ability to collect evidence and use that evidence to support or refute a claim.  This is the foundation of Science & Engineering Practice #7 – Engage in Argument from Evidence.

I used a suggestion from the article to build an anchor experience for the middle school teachers who are part of our alignment team.

The presentation for teachers was very simple.  In addition to the two packages of Oreo cookies –  I provided a variety of measurement tools, paper plates, cups, plastic knives and string.  Participants worked alone or in groups to carry out an investigation, collect data and argue the validity of the company’s claim.

The extension came later.  I was invited to two different middle schools to observe and participate in a lesson study.  At each school, teachers were using the Oreo lesson as the basis for the lesson study.  I was fascinated – both by the various ways in which teachers set up the lesson and by the response from kids.  Having an opportunity to debrief different lesson study experiences, provided me an opportunity to help teachers unpack the bones of this lesson.  As is the case with so many good, shared lessons there are many applications for this one.  Here are the varied purposes I observed:

  • formatively assess students’ ability to design and carry out an investigation
  • challenge students to collect as many relevant data points as possible
  • support a mini-lesson on relevant vs irrelevant data
  • arithmetic practice
  • writing a claim-based argument
  • having a claim-based argument in class
  • practicing measurement and units of measure
  • writing a procedure
  • presenting group process / thinking with a poster

Each time we set up a lesson for students, we have the responsibility to determine which skills will be practiced and emphasized.  This was a good example of how identifying the purpose of the lesson helps to identify those skills which are most important for that lesson, and those students, at that time.  Ultimately, this lesson provided students a short and easy opportunity to practice designing their own investigation and arguing from evidence.

I challenge you to try the lesson, give it your own spin by emphasizing skills your students need to practice.  What did you learn?

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑