Ron and Wade Institute Education Specialists tailored Customized Professional Learning Services sessions to increase educators’ comfort with using the Science and Engineering Practices, NGSS, and subsequently the 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks. Ron says that access to resources such as state-issued Strand Maps, large charts of grade-by-grade learning progressions outlined in the Frameworks, helped his educators see the big picture of how teaching changes over time. “We were able to bring those in and show teachers what students would need,” he says. “Learning progressions. What does that look like around the Practices? What does modeling look like in 1st grade, 8th grade, and then in High School?”
A 2019 grant from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center enabled Ron to continue scaffolding professional learning at his district. “At the time, the Wade Institute had gone through Next Generation Science Exemplar (NGSX) program training and some of the elements were brought to Customized Professional Learning Services with Springfield,” Ron says. He gives the example of “storyline based teaching” and shares how a Springfield high school science teacher and science coach noted that she “has never seen students so engaged as when they were using the storylines curriculum.” Ron and his colleagues have observed that it is the anchoring phenomena that really drive student engagement and prompt their personal science learning journeys. “It’s a great joy to go in a classroom and see teachers using the strategy, storylines, etc.,” says Ron. Since the district started to implement storyline curriculum and strategies, teachers have chosen phenomena-based learning units to try in their classrooms.
In 2020, Ron recognized that Springfield educators would not only need to be honing their skills teaching to the new Standards but also teaching remotely. He worked with the Wade Institute to “Zoom in” on strategies for effective remote science instruction. Ron says that the Education Specialists quickly developed professional learning that would address the changing needs of his district. “We really work well together,” he says. “It’s just a good partnership.” Ron adds that the Wade Institute’s work has often coincided with Springfield’s curriculum developments and that the organization’s certification as an OpenSciEd Professional Learning Provider was “awesome because that is the direction we were going. It has linked up very nicely with the work we’ve been doing.” Ron has scheduled more professional learning sessions with the Wade Institute to follow the 2021-2022 school year. This time, the focus will be on building scaffolding and understanding of the OpenSciEd curriculum through the Wade Institute’s OpenSciEd Professional Learning program. Ron feels confident that this will further prepare Springfield educators for implementation of OpenSciEd units in their classrooms, since NGSS is integrated into the OpenSciEd curriculum. Ron describes how the work has scaffolded over time: “OpenSciEd has adopted a lot of the routines of NGSS storylines and we’ve used the anchoring phenomena routine with the Wade Institute. OpenSciEd key instructional elements are driven by student ideas, student voice, student questions (focus on key instructional routines from one storyline to another).” Ron says that use of phenomena-based instruction has been so successful at Springfield that he and the Wade Institute came to call their sessions, “Phenomenal Science Learning.”
About the Wade Institute for Science Education’s Customized Professional Learning Services and OpenSciEd Professional Learning Programs
The Wade Institute for Science Education promotes and enables hands-on, minds-on, inquiry-based science, technology, and engineering education by providing professional learning programs for K-12 and informal educators. Customized Professional Learning Services provide professional learning experiences tailored to teachers’ needs within a school or district. They align with the 2016 MA Science and Technology/Engineering Framework, model the use of the Science and Engineering Practices for instruction and assessment, apply inquiry-based science instruction strategies, and support educators’ skills to develop phenomena-based units and investigations.
OpenSciEd is open-source, K-12 science instructional materials that support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Massachusetts is one of 10 partner states that helped to create these high-quality, locally adaptable materials that support equitable science learning. The Wade Institute for Science Education is a certified OpenSciEd Professional Learning Provider. Through the Wade Institute’s OpenSciEd Professional Learning, educators can explore phenomena-based learning and the Anchoring Phenomena Routine, deep dive into individual OpenSciEd units, and receive both science and pedagogical support. The Wade Institute also supports school and district-wide OpenSciEd curriculum launches.