Glassware in background, Season 4 Episode 1

55: 3 Things Holding You Back from 3D Learning

January 11, 2021

Are you having trouble implementing 3D learning in your classroom? These three things might be holding you back.

What is 3D Learning?

3D Learning refers to the 3 dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards. These dimensions are:

  • Science and Engineering Practices – skills used by both science and engineering to make science discoveries and communicate ideas
  • Disciplinary Core Idea – This dimension is often referred to as the content, or what students need to know.
  • Crosscutting Concepts – Ideas that are found across science and Engineering Disciplines.

3D Learning uses a discovery-based approach to help students make sense of phenomena. For more information about what we mean by 3D learning, check out this post.
Check out this blog post, written by Erin, about the three dimensions of the NGSS.

Are these three things preventing you from implementing 3D Learning?

1) Lack of NGSS Knowledge

A lack of NGSS knowledge occurs in two different forms. Often, teachers don’t understanding the 3D nature of NGSS learning. They use what they know about science teaching, and focus heavily on the Disciplinary Core Ideas.

Also, teachers believe that they are doing 3D instruction when they aren’t. This problem is compounded by the fact that many resources that are labeled NGSS don’t meet the intent of the standards.

To learn how to spot resources that don’t meet the intent of the NGSS, check out this episode of the podcast.

Free NGSS Resources are Getting Better

Luckily, there are more free, high quality resources that are available everyday. Some of these are ready to use in your classroom. Others provide great examples for when you are ready to build your own storylines. Here are a few of our favorites:

2) Fear of Losing Control

Making the shift to 3D learning often gives teachers the feeling that they are losing control. For example, teachers feel overwhelmed by the drastic shifts in their classroom which increases their fear.

Also, in an NGSS classroom, students lead the classroom. In contrast, teachers take the role of a facilitator. This brings up fears about lessons going awry.

Growth Mindset practices aren’t just for students.

As teachers, we often ask our students to practice using a growth mindset. We teach them that we are willing to fail. But when it comes to our own teaching practices, we are terrified of failing.

Students working in a 3D learning environment are asked to take chances often. As a result, it is more likely that they will experience some type of failure. Showing students that you are also willing to take chances and potentially fail helps to create a classroom culture where missteps are just part of the process.

3) Worrying that Now is Not the Time

We are currently living in a time of extreme uncertainty. As a result, teachers have expressed that now might not be the time to change things up.

However, now is exactly the right time for two major reasons. First, learning conventions and routines are already being disrupted by the pandemic. Since you have to build new routines anyway, it makes sense to try some that incorporate 3d learning.

Why 3D Learning Works - Students need to see that connection and that relevance and that what they are learning matters.

Also, traditional lessons don’t use phenomena to pull students in. But, 3D lessons are designed to maximize student engagement by incorporating phenomena. In a time when so many students are losing interest, 3D learning provides a clear solution.

Check out these other 3D Learning Resources