Learning with NGSX
Teacher Study Groups
NGSX (Next Generation Science Exemplar System) is a face-to-face learning environment, in which the participants in a study group draw on an on-line system that poses tasks for each session and provides rich cases, supportive materials, and scaffolding tools to guide the work.
The focus of NGSX is integrating three-dimensional learning into science classrooms, in which teachers support students in using science and engineering practices to develop, apply, and refine disciplinary and crosscutting ideas. Teachers engage in these practices and investigate classroom cases to explore how to bring these approaches into their own classrooms.
Study groups work through an NGSX pathway consisting of a series of three-hour units, typically meeting over a period of ten weeks. Each NGSX unit involves face-to-face work by teacher participants using online resources. In a typical session, a study group of 15 teachers meets for three hours. Participants login to the NGSX online system. The facilitator has his or her laptop connected to a projector for the group to view video and task prompts embedded in the site. An introductory video from one of the NGSX online guides (a teacher, scientist, or researcher) introduces the theme for the unit, such as the nature of modeling, support for classroom discourse, or difficulties students face in reasoning about the nature of matter. Many units include classroom cases to analyze, typically consisting of a series of short 5 min clips of teachers and students engaged in modeling practices, followed by prompts for discussion. Discussion prompts focus on modeling tasks, student thinking, and teaching strategies. Participants consider how the student work and teaching supports reflect the vision of the Framework, and may diverge from common classroom practice. The facilitator may summarize the conclusions of the whole study group or teachers may discuss and enter their responses in small groups. The unit concludes with work to do between sessions, such as readings about the science practices or students’ learning of the subject matter, or directions to try out aspects of what they have learned in the participants’ own classrooms.
NGSX Design Approach
The focus of NGSX design is to help teachers apply the ideas in the Framework and NGSS to their own practice. Instead of learning about NGSS, teachers are learning to teach with NGSS. The key design principles guiding NGSX are:
- Organize PD around teacher sensemaking of classroom cases: Teachers study video cases from classrooms to investigate how student learning and teacher strategies for support in cases of three dimensional learning.
- Focus on high leverage practices: Cases involve the practices most challenging and most central to NGSS -- engaging in argumentation to develop and use explanatory models.
- Organize teacher study groups working to apply reforms to their own practice: PD tasks support teachers in working with their peers to apply what they learn about classroom discourse and practices to their own classrooms.
- Combine focus on science, student thinking, and pedagogy: Students engage in three-dimensional learning of the science, track students as they engage in similar activities, and analyze their own and others' teaching using these approaches.
- Develop capacity for peer-led facilitation: Facilitators receive support for guiding sensemaking activities and productive discussions about three-dimensional learning with study groups.
- Argumentation, Explanation, and Modeling the Behavior of Matter: Supports teacher learning about modeling, argumentation and explanation in the context of disciplinary core ideas about the nature of matter.
- The Facilitator Pathway: Supports facilitation strategies to guide productive discussion in teacher study groups, and to help teachers grapple with the challenges of incorporating three dimensional learning into their own classrooms.
- Additional pathways targeted for development include a pathway in life sciences in which teachers learn to support students in argumentation, explanation, and modeling population interactions and natural selection.