SALEM, Mass., July 5, 2021 (Newswire.com) - Since 2015, at least forty-five states and D.C. have adopted or adapted K-12 science education standards guided by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), according to research from Northeastern University's Dr. Tracy L. Waters. This means the vast majority of U.S. students learn under standards designed to build the skills needed to join the workforce of the future. Waters' research shows fourth and fifth-grade students using KnowAtom's hands-on NGSS-based science curriculum demonstrated measurable increases in achievement levels, engagement, and classroom behavior.
To help achieve the revolutionary changes to instructional practices and beliefs about how to teach science, KnowAtom partners with schools to provide teachers the professional development and hands-on resources needed to adopt NGSS pedagogy in the classroom. Connecting students with phenomena-based science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning opportunities using KnowAtom's curriculum was shown to help improve student collaboration and core math, reading and writing skills, according to Waters' research.
"Rather than a 'one-and-done' approach to science, where teachers cover students in information to recall, the NGSS model connects science discovery to the building of critical skills. We approach these skills as tools for critical thinking, KnowAtom is a chance for teachers to provide authentic and empowering learning opportunities for their students resulting in collaborative, hands-on mastery of core concepts," said Francis Vigeant, founder and CEO, KnowAtom. "Because these concepts build across grades K-12, we're talking about the opportunity to teach-to-transform across every grade level, giving ALL students the opportunity to develop 21st-century skills like critical thinking, collaboration, and communication throughout their science education."
In evaluating fourth and fifth-grade science classes implementing KnowAtom's curriculum, Dr. Waters identified long-term changes in teachers' instructional methods and their beliefs about what students could achieve. Teachers became coaches and facilitators, giving students more responsibility in their own learning and the opportunity to collaborate, discover, and show proficiency in diverse ways. Students practiced key reading, writing, and critical thinking skills while learning science and made connections between core principles and their impact on science, engineering, and other disciplines.
To achieve long-term success when implementing the NGSS-based curriculum, Waters' research showed that the school district had to improve its professional development opportunities to give teachers more ways to share best practices and improve their teaching methods. Her research included evaluating the district's new professional development model called "Science Champs." Working with KnowAtom, the district trained "teacher leaders" who returned to schools to mentor their colleagues and build an in-house professional development network to support teachers better in the long term.
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