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Goal for this sessionThe new vision of science education focuses on deep understanding of a limited number of disciplinary core science ideas (DCIs). In this session, teachers analyze their curriculum through the lens of a DCI, identifying  target ideas and how a sequence of learning experiences within the curriculum builds students’ understanding of them.

Study Guide

 Download pdf version of this Study Guide.

Prepare - Use a mini case study to see how a sequence of learning experiences target a core science idea and add to students’ understanding of it. This example is drawn from Investigating Water Transformations, a 5th grade curriculum that focuses on the DCI Matter and Its Interactions.

  1. The NGSS performance expectations (PEs) are arranged by DCI and grade level. Find 5th grade PEs for the DCI Matter and Its Interactions. What components of the DCI are targets at this grade level? Tip: you can find detailed descriptions of the DCI and how it develops from K-12 in theFramework.
  2. The Developing Model of Matter chart shows the sequence of concepts and activities in the curriculum. Notice how these are carefully sequenced to build understanding of the DCI component Structures and Properties of Matter. 
  3.  Zoom into a short sequence of learning experiences on the chart: Investigations 10-12. Notice which elements of Structures and Properties of Matter these investigations target. 
  4. The Target Core Idea Planning Tool (.docx) helps you to identify target DCI component(s) for a short sequence of learning experiences. You can review an Example Target Core Idea Planning Tool (pdf) filled in for this case.

For Your Curriculum Use the Planning Tool

  1. Identify the grade level and DCI your curriculum targets. (See the NGSS).
  2. Review how this DCI unfolds from K-12. (See the Framework).
  3. Complete the Target Core Idea Planning Tool.

Note:  When you analyze your curriculum through the lens of a DCI, be aware that sometimes you’ll look at a single or series of learning experiences. Other times you may look at a unit, or look at several series of learning experiences within a unit.

Study Group MeetingDiscuss in Your PLC

With your colleagues, share your filled out Planning Tool.  

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