TLS Science Curriculum
There are two important aspects of science education reform in American schools that are considered essential for students to make progress in understanding science as both a body of knowledge and as a process for acquiring new knowledge. One is to provide for early and daily experiences in science which are inquiry-based and utilize hands-on experiences, while the second is to ensure a content-rich program with a strong conceptual framework based on facts and information. Inquiry-based, content-rich, elementary and middle school science classrooms are vital to the process of developing necessary problem-solving skills for our students, as well as providing all learners with the knowledge and skills that will allow them to operate in and understand the natural world. Altogether, these skills will allow students to participate and work in the technological and scientific world in which they now live and will later work.
Science is built up of facts as a house is of stones, but a collection of facts is no more a science that a pile of stones is a house.
The rationale for meeting the needs of the TLS science curriculum is based on research in three areas of necessary reform: increasing inquiry-based, hands-on learning, providing for a content-rich, factual framework and for increasing the ability to critically read for information. In addition to these classroom reforms, the need for STEM in education is critical to students and their future career success.
- Inquiry-Based Learning
The goal of inquiry-based learning is to involve students in a way that leads them to understanding, as per the old adage: “Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand.” In today’s complex world success is not so dependent upon knowledge, but upon being able to gain new knowledge that is then useful for solving problems. http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/inquiry/
- Content-Rich Framework
There still are facts that remain to be true in this world, particularly in the field of science, although even in science what we know to be true can change. To be part of any intelligent conversation or problem-solving endeavor one must possess basic facts and vocabulary to participate fully. In science a basic framework of information is necessary to communicate observations, data, and hypothesis, as well as being able to suggest possible solutions to experimentation and to reach intelligent conclusions. Without basic knowledge, further knowledge is difficult to acquire. https://www.nap.edu/read/11625/chapter/4
- Reading for Information
One of the Common Core State Standards for education is to require more informational text use in the primary grades. This is beneficial in many ways, such as increasing student interest in a subject, developing vocabulary and increasing understanding of any given topic. Science requires a balance of hands-on experimentation with an acquisition of basic facts and information for students to be successful at problem solving and further learning. https://www.naeyc.org/books/so_much_more_than_the_abcs/excerpt
STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, has become a major focus for American business leaders and educators as an imperative for the United States to maintain its position of economic power throughout world. Instruction including these four areas can no longer wait until the high school years so must be introduced at a much earlier age for the U.S. to retain its current leadership role in the world economy and for our children to be able to navigate in the future job market of America. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/08/29/stem-education–its-elementary
TLS Implementation of Three Curricular Goals
- GOAL # 1: Scope and Sequence
As part of a this Summer Curriculum Grant, content standards will be set for grades K-8 based on the FOSS Scope and Sequence for grades K-5, as well as the Glencoe iScience series for grades 6-8.
- GOAL # 2: FOSS Implementation
Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are based on current scientific research. A framework of what kids should know was created by a field of well-known scientists and educators in the fields of physical, life and earth science (including engineering). The FOSS Scope and Sequence uses these standards as the basis of the FOSS program which Trinity employs for our K-5 science program. The following web-link provides the NGSS Alignment Overview which includes Performance Expectations and Core Ideas for the FOSS program for students in grades K-5. The Overview indicates which standards are being met in each of the FOSS modules which will when completed, form the K-5 science curriculum at Trinity. The FOSS modules provide all of the necessary materials* by which classroom teachers can readily include the desired hands-on learning for our TLS students. Efforts to fully implement the FOSS Scope and Sequence at Trinity are paramount for achieving our desired goals in science.
- GOAL # 3: Reading for Information
In addition to the FOSS Modules, sets of leveled readers are available to supplement the FOSS program for grades 1 to 5. These sets provide for differentiated instruction, an education Best Practice, and aid in meeting the Common Core Standards regarding the reading of informational text at all grade levels. To fully meet the Common Core Standard for increasing the use of informational text in the science classroom, Reading A-Z for Science would greatly enhance the program and allow for student use on any subject at any time, as well as what is assigned by the classroom teacher. In addition to the reading resources, Reading A-Z provides for assessment opportunities, multilevel text for differentiation, and thousands of teacher resources for additional experimentation and projects.