S3 E1: How to Teach NGSS Online

August 17, 2020

Over the summer, Nicole and Erin got several questions about how to teach NGSS online. In this episode, they discuss some key strategies for teaching an NGSS aligned course online.

The Reason we Decided to Focus on How to Teach NGSS Online (1:12)

The expectations of what teaching will look like this fall have shifted repeatedly throughout the summer. Some teachers are returning to their classrooms full time. Others will be teaching remotely. And, others will be doing a hybrid or multiple versions simultaneously.

No matter how you are returning to school in the fall, the reality is that students will be spending some time online. Also, online tools that we discuss can be used to help with distancing even when students are allowed to meet in person.

How can you teach NGSS online and still meeting the intent of the NGSS? (6:13)

There are several strategies that can be used to help you meet the intent of the NGSS in your online classroom. Here are a few of the most important things to consider.

Continue to bring in phenomena.

Because students won’t be with you in the classroom, engagement is more important than ever. Phenomena helps tie the content that we are covering in class to student lives and experiences. Without good use of phenomena, students will be disengaged.

So, it is important that you choose phenomena that students find relatable. Great phenomena will keep students coming to class.

Establish relationships early to support NGSS learning online.

It is important that you establish strong relationships with students right away. Get to know them in any way that you can. When students have strong relationships with the teacher, they are more likely to be engaged in learning.

Make sure that you are using a discovery-based approach.

Students are more likely to be engaged if they aren’t given the answer. Using a discovery-based approach presents information to students as a puzzle that needs to be solved. Students gradually but the pieces into place to form an increasingly clear picture.This is far more engaging than a lecture-based model.

Also, it is more engaging than teaching your students through reading or videos. There are some instances where you will need to teach content in this manner. However, the material should be delivered using a discovery-based approach when possible.

Use the Science and Engineering Practices as tools for discovery.

With NGSS, we don’t want students to JUST understand the content. In addition, we want them to use the Science and Engineering Practices. This helps them understand the nature of science.

Also, using the practices helps students to problem-solve and think critically. Furthermore, using the practices helps to ensure that you are using a discovery-based approach in your classroom.

Using a discovery-based approach has the added benefit of increasing understanding and retention.

The time we have to work with students will likely be limited in the fall. So, it’s important to use best practices to make sure that we are understanding and retaining information.

The discovery-based approach allows students to struggle through understanding the content. This struggle helps with brain development and the ability to problem solve.

Focus on student understanding rather than covering all of the material.

Progress is likely to be slower this year. So, it is important that we give students time to build their understanding. As a consequence, you might not be able to cover all of your content this year.

When thinking about how to teach NGSS online, it’s all about best practices.

NGSS is all about the best practices for helping student to learn and understand science and engineering content. Many of the topics discussed today have been discussed in other episodes.

It is important to maintain the instructional shifts that come with NGSS because those are best practices.

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