Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Bring Science Alive! Discipline Program Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning. Gateway 2 is not reviewed since Gateway 1 expectations are not met.​

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

|

Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
8
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

0
29
48
56
N/A
48-56
Meets Expectations
30-47
Partially Meets Expectations
0-29
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

|

Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
28
46
54
N/A
46-54
Meets Expectations
29-45
Partially Meets Expectations
0-28
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Designed for NGSS

Does Not Meet Expectations

+
-
Gateway One Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Designed for NGSS, Gateway 1. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

Criterion 1a - 1c

Materials are designed for three-dimensional learning and assessment.
4/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include opportunities for students to learn and use three dimensions, but not consistently throughout the materials. A few instances where the materials provide opportunities for students to understand and use the SEPs to make sense of the DCIs is evident, but the materials do not consistently present these opportunities. Further, there are many instances where students do not understand and use an SEP or a CCC for sensemaking with the other dimensions. Across the series, lesson objectives are consistently provided but the formative assessment tasks are not designed to reveal student understanding of the three dimensions related to the learning objectives and the materials do not provide support or guidance for teachers to adjust instruction based on student responses. Additionally, the materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives or performance expectations for the units, but the summative tasks consistently do not completely measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit.

Indicator 1a

Materials are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning.
0/0

Indicator 1a.i

Materials consistently integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they consistently integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs) into student learning opportunities. Throughout the series, some learning sequences integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities, while others do not consistently integrate the CCCs.

Units within the program are organized into discipline-specific modules for life, physical, and earth and space sciences. Each unit contains two to four lessons, with each lesson including one or more investigations. In some lessons, students engage in three-dimensional learning that integrates SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs within an investigation. The remaining investigations are frequently two-dimensional with the SEPs and DCIs integrated. However, the CCCs are not consistently integrated into lessons across the series. Further, there are instances where the Engineering Challenges do not require students to use or connect DCIs in physical, earth and space, or life science as students develop solutions to the proposed problems.

Examples where materials integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1: History of Life on Earth, Lesson 1: Earth’s History, Investigation 1, students determine how fossils in rock strata provide evidence for how environments changed over time. Students analyze and interpret provided fossil data (SEP-DATA-M4) to create a physical model of a study site (SEP-MOD-M5). Using the physical model, students explain how the fossils in rock strata provide evidence for how the environment in a specific area, such as the Sonoran Desert, changed over time (DCI-ESS1.C-M1, CCC-SC-M1).
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes Through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, students analyze patterns (CCC-PAT-M4) in model rock strata by taking core samples from a clay model they created (SEP-MOD-M5); they change their model to simulate lava flows and plate tectonics. Students take samples across an area and make inferences about the sequence of past events based on relative dating of these past events (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Module: Space, Unit 2: The Solar System, Lesson 7: The Outer Solar System, Investigation 1, students organize their scaled planet data (DCI-ESS1.B-M1) along a spectrum, in a t-chart, and in several different graphical displays. Students look for similarities and differences in the data within and between the different organizations to classify the planets (SEP-DATA-M7). Students use the patterns identified in their data (CCC-PAT-M4) to choose one classification system (SEP-ARG-M3) to propose to a fictitious International Astronomical Union general assembly; students use the patterns as evidence to justify their proposed system.

Examples where materials do not integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities:

  • In Module: Matter, Unit 1: The Composition of Matter, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, students measure and record the mass and volume of objects (SEP-INV-M4) and calculate density. This is used to recognize different properties that can be used to identify substances (DCI-PS1.A-M2). Students do not engage with a CCC as they investigate why a can of diet soda floats higher than a can of regular soda and develop a claim about whether heavier objects sink and lighter objects float.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 1: The Earth-Sun-Moon System, Lesson 4: Eclipses, students use their bodies, yarn, and a light bulb to model the Earth-Sun-Moon system during a lunar eclipse and then a solar eclipse (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Students create a physical model of the moon’s orbital plane using a foam ball and toy hoop to explain what causes eclipses and why they are rare. Students then develop their own physical model to help answer questions about eclipses. They also use their model to investigate apparent sizes of the moon and sun as seen from earth (SEP-MOD-M7, DCI-ESS1.A-M1). Students do not directly engage with a CCC as they develop understanding of eclipses.
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 1: Traits, Lesson 1: Traits for Survival, students watch a video about Madagascar and read information about eight different plants or animals found in Madagascar (SEP-INFO-M1). Students identify traits that each organism has that allows it survive in its environment (DCI-LS1.A-E1). Students research a different organism living in Madagascar, present their findings on their organism’s environment and specialized traits (SEP-INFO-M1). Students do not directly engage with a CCC as they research this elementary DCI.
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1: History of Life on Earth, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Fossil Extraction Toolset, students construct a model of the rock-filled fossil then choose tools from provided materials; tool selection is based upon identified criteria and constraints. Students explain the protocols for using their tools and identify the structure and function of the tools (CCC-SF-M2). Students test, evaluate, and determine ways to optimize their first design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). Students evaluate their original and revised solutions based on how well each solution meet the criteria and constraints (SEP-ARG-M5). Students are not required to understand and connect the content DCI of understanding evidence for common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A) to solve the problem of extracting rock from a velociraptor fossil eye socket.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3: The Solar System and Beyond, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Dampening Device, students design a dampening device to protect a camera from damage as it is launched into space. Students identify criteria and constraints before developing a prototype (SEP-MOD-M7); they note the function of each part of the device (CCC-SF-M2) and identify points of failure as they test their prototypes (DCI-ETS1.C-M2). Students are not required to connect understanding of any earth and space science DCIs to solve the problem of collecting video footage in space.

Indicator 1a.ii

Materials consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions.
0/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. Materials are not designed for SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions.

Lessons are designed to frequently include all three dimensions, but students do not use one or more dimensions to understand and use the other dimensions to support their sensemaking in nearly all learning sequences. Although the SEPs and CCCs are present and connect to DCIs in many lessons, students often do not use these dimensions to make sense of DCIs or meaningfully support sensemaking with the other dimensions. When students have opportunities to use two dimensions together, students generally use the SEPs to understand and apply the DCIs.

Examples where the materials are designed for students to understand and apply SEPs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Module: Forces of Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, Investigation 2, students plan and carry out an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to show different ways to move at the same rate (DCI-PS2.A-M3, CCC-SPQ-M3). To determine how many ways students can move at a specific velocity, students identify variables that can be changed and controlled, conduct a trial for each team member, and collect data to show different ways to move at the same rate. While the investigation is used to make sense of the DCI, students do not use the CCC to understand and apply the other two dimensions.
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 2: The Evolution of Life, Lesson 3: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Through Natural Selection, students model four types of beaks and their ability to compete with the other beak types as they pick up different types of food (SEP-MOD-M5). Students use what they learn from the investigation to explain variation in the finch population and explain Darwin’s hypothesis that all finch species on the Galapagos Islands share a common ancestor (DCI-LS4.B-M1). While the model is used by students to make sense of the DCI, students are not using the CCC (CCC-CE-M3) to understand and apply Darwin’s hypothesis.

Examples where the materials are not designed for students to understand and apply SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 1: Traits, Engineering Design Challenge: Designing a Seed Dispersal Device, students research plant seed dispersal mechanisms and structures of different seeds (SEP-AQDP-M4, CCC-SF-M2). Students define constraints of the design task (ENG-ETS1.A-M1) using their research on seed types. Students develop, test, and revise seed dispersal prototypes to optimize dispersal performance (ENG-ETS1.C-M1, ENG-ETS1.B-M3). While students use understanding of the life science DCI to inform their design, the design challenge does not require students to apply understanding of why plants have specialized features for reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M3). Additionally, students review the structures of several types of seeds to determine how they function, but the CCC is not incorporated in a manner that helps students figure out why plants have these adaptations.
  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Unit 1: The Atmosphere and Energy, Lesson 1: Earth’s Atmosphere, students collect data to create a scale model (SEP-MOD-M5) of earth’s atmosphere, including altitude, temperature, density, and the boundaries between the five layers of the atmosphere (CCC-SYS-M2, DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Although students use a model to represent a system, they copy collected data onto their scale model rather than making sense of the inputs, outputs, processes, or matter and energy flows within a system. Students do not use this model of the atmosphere to understand the affects the layers of the atmosphere have on weather.
  • In Module: Matter, Unit 3: Chemical Reactions, Lesson 9: Chemical Engineering and Society, students learn how to evaluate sources of information when reading about different synthetic materials and determine what properties make synthetic materials useful to manufacture. Students read and evaluate three different sources, each provides information about sodium lauryl sulfate, a common synthetic chemical added to toothpaste, shampoo, and soap. While the content of this lesson links to describing that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society, the lesson focus is on evaluating competing information in science and technical texts (SEP-INFO-M3). The lesson does not help students understand the atomic structures of molecules (DCI-PS1.A-M1) or apply their understanding to how atomic arrangement leads to the function of the molecule (CCC-SF-M2).
  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Unit 3: Climate, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students design a growth system capable of maintaining a microclimate that is able to grow a vegetable not found in the students’ local environment. As students develop their microclimate, they identify criteria and constraints, then develop and test their designs before describing how they can modify their designs (DCI-ETS1.B-M2). While students engage in multiple SEPs as they work on their designs, neither the SEPs nor CCCs are used by students to understand or apply interactions affecting climate, weather, and oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).

Indicator 1b

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
0/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Across the series, lesson objectives are provided through an Objectives button, but are not consistently three-dimensional and learning tasks associated with the objectives do not consistently reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions. Further, there is no guidance or support for teachers to use information from the formative assessment tasks to inform the instructional process.

The formative assessment tasks include classroom discussions, investigation tasks, engineering challenges, student notebook entries, and lesson games. Vocabulary Cards and the Lesson Game can be used to check student understanding of key terms and concepts within the lesson and typically assess student understanding of the DCI or assess knowledge, but not use, of an SEP or CCC. For example, students may be asked why models are important, but the questions and tasks do not reveal understanding of the entire objective related to modeling, such as to reveal how students are able to develop their own models. Lesson Games provide students with two opportunities to incorrectly answer a multiple choice question before providing the correct answer. No guidance is provided to the student as to why an answer is incorrect. While the Gradebook allows teachers to track questions and student responses, the materials do not provide guidance on how to use this evidence elicited from formative assessment tasks to support instruction. The wrap-up questions delivered as whole-group instruction, do not provide guidance or support for teachers to address misconceptions or provide feedback to each student. Lesson Support buttons inserted within various parts of a lesson typically direct teachers to previous slides, videos, or text, rather than providing new ways of approaching or explaining the content.

Examples where materials do not reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions supporting three-dimensional learning objectives and assessment tasks do not support the instructional process:

  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 2: Bodies, Lesson 3: Interacting Body Systems, lesson objectives are not provided. The lesson objectives are: “identify internal organs and body systems”, “create a model of human body systems”, “explain how body systems interact”, and “gather information from a variety of sources to diagnose a patient and explain the cause of the symptoms.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3: The Solar System and Beyond, Lesson 8: Formation of the Solar System, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “explore modeling gravity in the formation of the solar system”, “critique and modify video models of processes in the solar system formation”, and “develop a flipbook describing the formation of the solar system including patterns in solar system formation.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Lesson 3: Wave Energy, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “using data from wave energy converters, determine the relationship between wave amplitude and energy produced”, “graph data on wave amplitude and energy and identify the mathematical relationship between the variables, which can be expressed using an algebraic equation”, and “use logic and patterns in ratio reasoning to predict the mathematical relationship between wave frequency and energy.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Weather and Climate, Unit 2: Weather, Lesson 4: Air Pressure and Wind, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “develop a model of air pressure that helps to explain wind”, “build a device to measure air pressure changes in the atmosphere and use it to collect data”, and “tie quantitative data acquired using instruments to the real world qualitative experience of weather.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 4: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 9: Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “identify locations of earthquakes and volcanoes by analyzing patterns in tables”, “use patterns on maps and an understanding of magnitude and frequency to identify areas of earthquake and volcanic risk”, and “create bridge designs developed to mitigate the risks posed by earthquakes.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.  

Indicator 1c

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The materials consistently include summative tasks at the end of every unit, however, the summative tasks do not consistently measure the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit.

Three-dimensional learning objectives for students are not clearly identified for all units. Therefore, the Performance Expectations for the unit are assumed to be the learning objectives. Units consistently list multiple performance expectations and the corresponding Performance Assessments frequently list a subset of the unit performance expectations. While the Performance Assessments are aligned to grade-band performance expectations, they do not consistently measure all targeted performance expectations of a unit. Physical science units are more consistent in assessing all non-engineering objectives with the Performance Assessment; life science units are less consistent in completely assessing all objectives.

Materials provide additional opportunities to assess learning by providing lesson-level multiple choice and constructed-response tests and assessment banks. Test banks are included at the end of each lesson, are specific to each lesson, and are not designed to be the primary mechanism for assessing student learning across the unit. Additionally engineering design PEs are more consistently assessed through Engineering Challenges at the lesson level.

Examples of assessments not addressing the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Module: Cells and Genetics: Unit 1: Traits, Performance Assessment: Planning a Trait Trek to Madagascar, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-LS1-4). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as using evidence and reasoning from information students have gathered (SEP-ARG-M4, SEP-INV-M5), to support an explanation for how each trait is important for survival or reproduction. Proficient responses also include a description of the cause and effect relationship between the trait and the increased probability of survival or reproduction (CCC-CE-M2, LS1.B-M2). The assessment does not assess the remaining four targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-3, PE-MS-ETS1-4, PE-MS-LS1-5).
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 3: Cells, Performance Assessment: Modeling Synthetic Cells, the prompt is intended to assess two performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-1, PE-MS-LS1-2). The provided rubric identifies proficient students as having planned an investigation to discover if a structure is a living or non-living thing, including how cells will be observed at a different scale in the investigation. The task does not measure student achievement of one targeted SEP (SEP-INV-M2) and a focus DCI (DCI-LS1.A-M1); the student task to create a clay model of a cell is aligned to an SEP below the middle school grade band (SEP-MOD-E4). This Performance Assessment does not fully address all components of the two targeted performance expectations for this unit.
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 2: The Evolution of Life, Performance Assessment: Evolutionary History of Whales, the prompt is intended to assess five performance expectations (PE-MS-LS3-1, PE-MS-LS4-2, PE-MS-LS4-3, PE-MS-LS4-4, PE-MS-LS4-6). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as analyzing data (SEP-DATA-M1) to answer questions, including developing models of how changes have occurred in the whale population over time (SEP-MOD-E4), and constructing an evidence-based explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) for why whales have lungs and other land mammal features. A proficient explanation is described as being supported by identifying patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) in genetic changes in populations (DCI-LS3.B-M2), fossil comparisons (DCI-LS4.C-M1), embryological development (DCI-LS4.A-M3), and anatomical comparisons to modern organisms (DCI-LS4.A-M2, DCI-LS4.B-M1). Proficiency is determined, in terms of cause and effect relationships between the structures that help organisms survive and an increase in displaying the trait over time (CCC-CE-M3, CCC-SF-M1). The rubric for the assessment identifies the targeted SEP of modeling at the elementary level, however, the other SEPs assessed are grade-band appropriate. The assessment task does not provide an opportunity to assess two of the targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-3, PE-MS-ETS1-4) and partially assesses PE-MS-LS3-1.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Performance Assessment: Analyzing a Chain Reaction Machine, the prompt is intended to assess three performance expectations (PE-MS-PS3-1, PE-MS-PS3-2, PE-MS-PS3-5). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as comparing graphs of kinetic energy versus mass, comparing kinetic energy versus speed, and identifying proportional relationships (DCI-PS3.A-M1, CCC-SPQ-M3, SEP-MATH-M2, SEP-DATA-M1). Students who develop proficient models include labeled diagrams of high and low gravitational potential, magnetic potential energy, and an explanation showing an understanding that force can cause energy to be transferred to or from an object (CCC-SYS-M2, CCC-EM-M3, SEP-MOD-M6). Students describe another energy transformation that can be added and compare energy transformations in a video (DCI-PS3.C-M1, CCC-EM-M3). The assessment does not assess the remaining three targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-4).
  • In Module: Space, Unit 1: The Solar System, Performance Assessment: Classifying Planets, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-ESS1-3). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as identifying similarities and differences in orbital radii, masses, compositions, sizes, surfaces, and moons of objects in the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), but doesn’t address gravitational pull. Students who develop proficient models choose a classification scheme and support it with evidence (SEP-ARG-E4), including data on the similarities and differences in the properties and identify which properties and spatial data are represented in the classification system (CCC-SPQ-M1). This assessment does not assess the remaining four targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ESS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-3).

Criterion 1d - 1i

Materials leverage science phenomena and engineering problems in the context of driving learning and student performance.
4/10
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-
Criterion Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials incorporate phenomena consistently connected to grade-band appropriate DCIs, but the materials do not consistently present problems in a way allowing students to engage with physical, earth and space, and/or life science DCIs. The materials present phenomena and/or problems to students as directly as possible in multiple instances, but not consistently across the series. The materials provide multiple lessons across the series using problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning, but phenomena do not consistently drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in lessons or activities. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present, with students expected to solve problems in 17% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 59% of the lessons. The materials consistently elicit students’ prior knowledge but do not support teachers to use student responses to modify instruction. The materials incorporate few units using phenomena to drive student learning across multiple lessons.

Indicator 1d

Phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). Materials consistently connect phenomena to grade-band appropriate DCIs and their elements, however few problems across the series are connected to grade-band DCIs or their elements. Within each module, problems are presented to students in one or more Engineering Challenges. Some of these challenges miss opportunities to engage students in science-focused learning, often only incorporating engineering DCIs and not including grade-band appropriate, science-specific DCIs (physical, life, and earth and space sciences).

Examples of phenomena and problems connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those found at the top of the Grand Canyon. This phenomenon is used to help students understand how the geologic time scale interpreted from rock strata provides a way to organize earth’s history. Throughout the lesson, students use clay models to analyze rock strata and the effects of erosion and volcanic activity on their model rock strata. They also use index fossils to identify relative ages of rock strata to develop an understanding of how rock strata provides a way to organize earth’s history (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, the phenomenon is presented for students to imagine looking outside the window while sitting in a train alongside other trains, and being unsure about which train is moving. This phenomenon is used to help students understand frames of reference and relative motion. Throughout the lesson, students describe and identify frames of reference and measure positions and motions of objects to develop an understanding that positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and shared with other people (DCI-PS2.A-M3).
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 3: Human Impacts on Evolution, Lesson: 9: Human Population and Global Change, the phenomenon is the Aral Sea shrunk to a quarter of its size in only 50 years. This phenomenon is used to help students understand how the increases in human population and per capita consumption of natural resources can have negative impacts on earth without activities or technologies to mitigate those effects. Throughout the lesson, students model the effects of increased human population on a particular environment and examine case studies of the impacts of human induced environmental changes on a number of different organisms to develop an understanding of how increases in human population and per capita consumption can change a particular environment, affecting the organisms that live there (DCI-ESS3.C-M2).
  • In Module: Matter, Unit 3: Chemical Reactions, Engineering Challenge: Design a Hot Pack, students are introduced to the problem of needing a device that releases thermal energy, such as a hot pack. This problem is used to help students understand how some chemical reactions release energy. Students work in small groups to design and test their hot pack by using their understanding of chemical reactions and the release of energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).

Examples of problems not connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Fossil Extraction Toolset, the problem is addressed by students engaging in a challenge to extract rock from a velociraptor fossil eye socket at a dig site. Students construct a model of the rock-filled fossil then choose tools from provided materials. They test and evaluate their designs to determine ways to optimize their first design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). This problem does not connect to evidence for common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A), the focus of the unit.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Dampening Device, the problem is addressed by students engaging in a challenge around collecting video footage in space. Students design a dampening device to help protect a camera from being damaged as it is launched into space. Students develop a prototype for their dampening devices, then identify any points of failure as they test their prototypes for purposes of improving their models (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). This problem does not connect to grade-band appropriate earth and space science DCIs (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), the focus of the unit.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 2: The Solar System, Engineering Challenge: Landing on Mars, the problem is addressed by students engaging in a challenge to design a model vehicle to allow an astronaut to land safely on Mars. Students design a model vehicle that will allow an astronaut to land safely on Mars. Using a cup and ball as a model for their vehicle and astronaut, students develop a prototype for testing their Mars landing and collect data in order to improve their design. This problem does not connect to a grade-band appropriate DCI related to earth and the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B), the focus of the unit.​

Indicator 1e

Phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Materials present phenomena and/or problems to students as directly as possible in multiple instances across the series, but not consistently. Anchoring Phenomena for each unit are presented to students as video clips, with some Anchoring Phenomena also including photographs. Phenomena at the lesson level are mostly presented to students as images; problems and some phenomena are presented with a video, text description, or explanation; and several phenomena are presented by the teacher as demonstrations or involve students participating in an activity.

With some phenomena or problems in the series, first-hand observations are not possible or accessible to students, and video presentation is the most direct way to present the phenomenon or problem. However, there are multiple instances where videos or pictures are used in place of opportunities where a more direct presentation or experience is possible. Additionally, for many of the lesson-level phenomena, guidance for teachers to have students make connections to the phenomena through a Direct Observation opportunity in their community or make a personal connection to their lives is evident; however these connections are often not directly linked to the actual phenomenon or are not accessible for all students in all situations. Further, lesson-level phenomena and problems are presented infrequently through first-hand observation and/or experience.

Examples of phenomena or problems presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, the phenomenon is similar fossils have been found in fossil digs of the same age that are over 100 miles apart. Students are presented with a video about paleontologists and fossils gathered from various sites throughout the world. The video provides students with a historical and geographical frame of reference to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes Through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those found at the top of the Grand Canyon. The phenomenon is presented to students as a video of the Grand Canyon. Since visiting the Grand Canyon is not accessible to most students, a video introduction provides the most direct context for this phenomenon.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Lesson 1: Resources in Living Systems, the phenomenon is poison dart frogs kept in captivity lose their toxicity over time so they are no longer poisonous. The phenomenon is presented to students in a video of a poison dart frog. This phenomenon provides a context through which students can ask questions about organisms’ access to resources and is presented in the most direct way possible. Teacher guidance is provided for a Direct Observation opportunity for students to research toxic organisms possibly living in their local environment.
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 2: Bodies, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Prosthetic Hand, the problem is to design a prosthetic hand with movable parts. Students are presented with an image of a prosthetic hand, examine their own hands, and make observations about all of the ways their hands and fingers can move. This provides students with first-hand observations.

Examples of phenomena or problems not presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Unit 3: Climate, the Anchoring Phenomenon is the earth’s average temperature increased by 0.95°C from 1880-2016. The phenomenon is presented to students as a video showing examples of impacts of climate change and the challenge to mitigate the effects, but does not address an increase in average temperature.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 2: Processes that Shape Earth, Lesson 5: The Water Cycle, the phenomenon is during the “first week of January, New York was covered in four feet of snow, but by the end of May the streets were bare.” The materials indicate that a video of snow falling in New York is available, but the materials only provide a single photograph showing a city with a light dusting of snow.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 2: Noncontact Forces, Lesson 5: Electricity, Observing Phenomena, the phenomenon is experience of a shock or spark when reaching for a doorknob. Students watch a video of this phenomenon occurring. Suggestions are provided to the student in Connections to Your Life button that suggest students turn off the lights and rub a piece of silk on a glass rod then touch another object to see the phenomenon. However, there is no guidance for the teacher to create this opportunity, nor do the materials list support the teacher in providing a glass rod and silk to students.
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 1: Traits, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Seed Dispersal Device, the problem includes a challenge to design a seed dispersal device. The problem is presented to students as a video showing several different types of plants with wind dispersed seeds and the challenge to design a device mimicking the way seeds are dispersed in nature.

Indicator 1f

Phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Materials provide multiple lessons across the series using problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning. Phenomena are not consistently used to drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in individual lessons or activities.

At the start of each lesson, students watch a video or view an image with a description intended to engage students with a phenomenon; student notebooks contain a prompt for students to record any questions. However, some publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, directions, or problems, rather than observable occurrences where students explain or generate questions to advance their own learning. Students engage in one or more investigations during each lesson, but the direct connection between the investigations and the lesson-level phenomenon is lacking. While the lesson often builds understanding of the three dimensions, students are not using the three dimensions to make sense of the phenomenon throughout the lesson. At the end of each lesson, students return to their science notebook to connect what they learned during the lesson to the context of the phenomenon. However, students do not interact with the phenomenon while engaging in the activities of the lesson.

Most units also contain an Engineering Challenge that presents students with a design challenge or problem they must solve. There are 18 Engineering Challenges across the series. After being presented with the problem, students record the problem in their student notebook and either develop their own, add to, or revise a list of specific criteria and constraints. Based on the criteria and constraints, students create a prototype to test and use data from their tests to make improvements to their original design. The problem presented in the Engineering Challenge typically drives student learning of the lesson. However, not all Engineering Challenges engage students with all three dimensions. They help build student understanding of ETS DCIs, but miss opportunities to connect to the grade-band DCIs in physical, earth and space, or life science disciplines.

Examples of problems driving student learning and engaging students with all three dimensions:

  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Engineering Challenge: Preserving Frog-Bat Interactions, the problem is there are plans to build a highway through the rainforest very near to a major pond, which could impact a population of frogs and bats living near the pond. Students identify the possible disturbances a noisy road would have to the ecosystem (DCI-LS2.A-M1). Students use information about how bats and frogs rely on acoustic interactions and the impact this disruption could cause to the ecosystem as a whole. Students create a structure to reduce the environmental impact of the highway’s sounds on the frogs and bats (CCC-SF-M2). Students place their sound shield between a speaker and sound meter to model the actual conditions between the road and ecosystem to test their prototype and generate data about how well their solution works.  Students compare their data to data in a provided table showing examples of decibel level equivalents (SEP-MOD-M7).
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Engineering Challenge: Designing Musical Instruments, the problem is to design inexpensive musical instruments for communities who cannot afford to buy them. Students work in small groups to develop criteria and constraints to consider when developing an instrument to transform potential energy into sound energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2). Students agree upon criteria and constraints as a whole class and create a rubric for how their musical instruments will be evaluated. Students brainstorm how they will use different materials to make an instrument (CCC-SF-M2). Students present their instrument designs to the class, depicting how their instrument transforms potential energy into kinetic energy (CCC-EM-M3, CCC-EM-M4). Students evaluate the design solutions (SEP-ARG-M5) based on the class-developed rubric.
  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, the problem is to design and test a seawall to prevent erosion of the coast and save the nearby highway. Prior to building their seawall, students investigate (SEP-INV-M4) seawalls and other structures already in use to prevent erosion. They apply understanding of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1) and identify criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2) as they evaluate how the proposed structure (CCC-SF-M2) can solve the problem of coastal erosion.

Examples of phenomena that do not drive student learning:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 3: Human Impacts on Evolution, Lesson 7: Artificial Selection, students are presented with the phenomenon of bulldogs’ skulls changing dramatically over the last 150 years. Students engage in a game comparing natural and artificial selection in aurochs/cows to build an understanding of how features can change over time. Students research animals and plants that are products of artificial selection. The only connection to the phenomenon occurs at the end of the lesson when students are asked, “What role does the artificial selection process have in bulldog skull evolution?”
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 5: Changes in Genes, Lesson 11: Genetic Mutations, students are presented with the phenomena of some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red. Students make bracelets to represent the relationship between genes, proteins, and traits. Students create a flowchart showing their understanding of structure and function of genes, proteins, and the mechanism for how changes in genes can cause changes in proteins. Students model how mutations can affect an organism’s survival in different environments by adding environmental factors to their flowcharts. While these investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining mutations, the only connection to the phenomenon occurs towards the end of the lesson when students read an excerpt telling them what mutation causes some people to have six fingers on one hand. Students are asked to answer why some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red.
  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Lesson 2: Properties of Waves, students are presented with the phenomenon huge waves form at Mavericks Beach, California, and scientists, surfers, and weather forecasters can predict when they will occur up to 48 hours in advance. Students design an investigation to measure the properties of mechanical waves.  Students graph and analyze their data to explain how waves are measured and used to predict surf conditions in different locations. While the investigations provide content knowledge for students to deepen their understanding of different types of waves, students do not connect weather data to predictions for how different types of waves will form.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 4: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 10: Mass Wasting, Tsunamis, and Floods, students are presented with the phenomenon Northern California has more mass wasting than Missouri, even though Missouri has more floods. Students review models of risk potential throughout the United States and plan an investigation to determine how slope angle and materials affect the changes in frequency of mass wasting. Students create a model for carrying out their planned investigation but do not connect their results to research they conduct about the topography of land in Missouri or California. They analyze maps and answer questions about mass-wasting and flooding potentials in California, but do not make direct connections to specific areas in California at risk as compared to areas in Missouri.​

Indicator 1g

Materials are designed to include appropriate proportions of phenomena vs. problems based on the grade-band performance expectations.
0/0
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 17% of the lessons (19 of 109 lessons) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials 59% of the lessons (64 of 109) focus on explaining phenomena. Performance Assessments are not included in these calculations, since they are summative assessments and not learning experiences.

Across the series, all units and lessons consistently start with publisher-identified phenomena; however some of these are labeled as phenomena but are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, or directions, rather than observable occurrences requiring students to explain or generate questions to advance their own learning. Most modules have two Engineering Challenges, Cells and Genetics has three, and Matter has one. Problems are typically found in the Engineering Challenges and are often connected to the Anchoring Phenomenon for the unit.

Examples of problems (Engineering Challenges) within the series:

  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Engineering Challenge: Designing Musical Instruments, students are presented with the challenge of designing a musical instrument.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1, Engineering Challenge: Preserving Frog-Bat Interactions, students are presented with a problem involving plans to build a highway through the rainforest, near a major pond, potentially impacting a population of frogs and bats living near the pond.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Engineering Challenge: Designing Safe Go-Carts, students are presented with the challenge of designing go-carts withstanding different amounts of force, yet proven safe for riders.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Dampening Device, the challenge is collecting video footage in space. Students design a dampening device to help protect a camera from being damaged as it is launched into space with the intent of capturing live shots.

Examples of phenomena within the series:

  • In Module: Waves, Unit 2: Light Waves, students watch a video showing several phenomena related to light waves including how lines at the bottom of a pool appear to move; reflections can be seen in a window, but objects outside the window are also still visible; rainbows formed near waterfalls; and sparkling diamonds.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Interactions Among Organisms, the phenomenon is captive poison dart frogs lose their toxicity over time.
  • In Module: Matter, Unit 1: The Composition of Matter, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, the phenomenon is some liquids don’t mix with other liquids when poured into a bottle and instead form distinct layers.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those found at the top of the Grand Canyon.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, the phenomenon is presented for students to imagine looking outside the window while sitting in a train alongside other trains, and being unsure about which train is moving.

Indicator 1h

Materials intentionally leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. The materials elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems across the series.

Phenomena are presented at the start of each unit and lesson using videos, pictures, or classroom demonstrations. The materials provide the same prompt for all lesson-level phenomena: “What questions do you have about this phenomenon?” Units consistently elicit students’ prior knowledge and experiences; students use a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart and create initial models for each Anchoring Phenomenon. Although students have opportunities to revise their KWL chart, initial model, and questions at the end of each lesson, teachers are not provided guidance to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences to support students in understanding or applying what they already know about the phenomenon. The Teacher Guide indicates students may not be able to initially answer the connection questions, but by the end of the lesson they will have sufficient information to answer the connection questions when they reach the performance assessment at the end of the unit.

The materials elicit, but rarely leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to problems in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge, and to build on the knowledge and experience students bring from both inside and outside of the classroom. Further, the Engineering Challenges do not consistently prompt students to ask questions or write notes on their prior knowledge and experiences before beginning a design challenge. Instead, student notebooks provide prompts with specific questions about the problem.

Examples where materials elicit, but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena:

  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 2: Noncontact Forces, the phenomenon relates to how drones overcome gravity to get off the ground. Student prior knowledge is elicited by a KWL chart and the completion of an initial model to show students’ initial understandings related to the phenomenon. The Teacher Guide prompts the teacher to ask students to add to their KWL chart and to make revisions to their initial model as lessons are completed, but student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during lessons.
  • In Module: Weather and Climate; Unit 1: The Atmosphere and Energy, the phenomenon relates to how food in a cooler stays cold and food in a solar cooker gets hot. Student prior knowledge is elicited by a KWL chart and the completion of an initial model to show students’ initial understandings related to the phenomenon. The Teacher Guide prompts the teacher to ask students to add to their KWL chart and to make revisions to their initial model as lessons are completed, but student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during lessons.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Lesson 3: Changing Ecosystems, the phenomenon is the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens destroyed all life near the eruption, but now the area is full of life. While students initially ask questions and revisit their questions at the end of the lesson, student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during lessons.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Lesson 11: Thermal Properties of Matter, the phenomenon is the temperature is so different between day and night in the desert. Students list what they know about deserts and rainforests and use their prior knowledge to make a prediction about the temperature differences. Students revisit the question about temperature changes at the end of the lesson, but student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during the lesson.

Examples where materials elicit but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experiences related to problems (Engineering Challenges):

  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, the problem relates to coastal erosion. Students discuss their experiences of seeing coastal erosion or solutions to coastal erosion before they brainstorm ideas for potential solutions. Students’ prior knowledge and experiences about coastal problems and solutions in their community is revisited at the end of the lesson as students compare the solutions they tested with the solutions they are familiar with, but student prior knowledge and experience is not leveraged during the lesson.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Engineering Challenge: Designing Safe Go-Carts, the challenge is to design a safe model go-cart. Students’ prior knowledge of Newton’s 2nd Law is elicited as students record their answers to a series of guiding questions in their notebooks relating to factors affecting motion and action/reaction force pairs. Students apply their initial understandings to design their model go-cart; however student prior knowledge is not leveraged during the lesson.

Indicator 1i

Materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Materials do not consistently provide units that use phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple lessons and students have few opportunities to use and build knowledge of the three dimensions to make sense of the unit-level phenomenon or problem across multiple lessons.

Anchoring Phenomena are presented at the start of each unit. Student notebooks provide prompts for students to ask questions about the phenomenon, complete a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart, and complete the handout, “Developing a Model to Explain a Phenomenon.” At the end of most investigations, a Connecting to Phenomenon button prompts teachers to provide opportunities for students to review their notes on the unit-level phenomenon and make any necessary revisions in a manner that connects student learning to the Anchoring Phenomenon but student learning is not driven by the Anchoring Phenomenon. Connections to phenomena are different than phenomena driving student learning, where students are expected to figure out phenomena. At the end of lessons, The Wrap Up section provides a prompt for students to add new learning to their model and KWL charts. This gives opportunities for students to transfer their learning from the lessons to the context provided by the phenomenon. The structure within each unit provides opportunities for students to transfer their learning to new contexts and allows them to revise their initial thinking using ideas they learned; however, students are not driven towards these contexts with a desire or questions to figure out regarding the Anchoring Phenomenon. The “Anchoring Phenomena” are most often used as examples of the content topic or concept as opposed to a driving mechanism for student questions and sensemaking.

Performance Assessments are included at the end of each unit and are designed to assess students as they transfer learning from the context of the activities and lessons throughout the unit, to the context of the phenomenon. The structure provides opportunities for students to transfer learning from the investigations and lesson to a context different from the one where learning occurs.  The structure has students revisit their thinking about information learned in the lessons as opposed to allowing for deeper engagement of how thinking has changed over time related to explaining the phenomenon. The Performance Assessments afford students an opportunity to use and apply learning from the investigations and lessons to a new context; however since the Anchoring Phenomenon is primarily the focus of the end-of-unit assessments, it is not driving student learning.

Most problems in the instructional materials are embedded in the Engineering Challenges, which are positioned at a similar level of structure as lessons in the unit and are present in more than half of units across the series.

Examples where phenomena do not drive student learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 2: The Evolution of Life, the Anchoring Phenomenon is whales, which look like big fish and live in the ocean, have internal structures similar to mammals living on land. At the start of the unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to understand DCIs related to adaptation by natural selection. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of the whale phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. However, the phenomenon is used as the context for the Performance Assessment for the unit. Students use prior learning from the lessons and information collected during the Performance Assessment to support a claim about which organism alive today is most like a whale.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, the Anchoring Phenomenon is some cichlid fish stop eating to the point of dying when various species of cichlid fish are combined in aquariums. At the start of this unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to develop an understanding of the interactions of living things in ecosystems. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of the cichlid fish phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. However, the phenomenon is used as the context for the Performance Assessment for the unit; students use prior learning from the lessons to solve how to make the cichlids healthy again.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, the Anchoring Phenomenon is how jack rabbits' ears help them survive in the extreme heat. At the start of this unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about the phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to develop an understanding of thermal energy and heat transfer. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of the jack rabbits’ ears phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. The phenomenon is not used as the context of the Performance Assessment for the unit. Instead, students use prior learning about heat transfer from the lessons to design, construct, and test a thermos that can be used in a desert.  
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes Through Geologic Time, the Anchoring Phenomenon is igneous and sedimentary rocks are found throughout the Black Hills, despite the lack of volcanoes and flowing water. At the start of this unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to develop an understanding of the use of rock strata and fossil layers as indicators for geologic time.While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of rocks found in the Black Hills phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. However, the phenomenon is used as the context in the Performance Assessment for the unit; students use prior learning from the lessons to construct an explanation about patterns in rock formations around the Black Hills and Devils Tower National Monument, including a geologic timeline and evidence from rock strata.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Two Details
Materials were not reviewed for Gateway Two because materials did not meet or partially meet expectations for Gateway One

Criterion 2a - 2g

Indicator 2a

Materials are designed for students to build and connect their knowledge and use of the three dimensions across the series.
N/A

Indicator 2a.i

Students understand how the materials connect the dimensions from unit to unit.
N/A

Indicator 2a.ii

Materials have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication.
N/A

Indicator 2b

Materials present Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) in a way that is scientifically accurate.*
N/A

Indicator 2c

Materials do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.*
N/A

Indicator 2d

Materials incorporate all grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas:
N/A

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
N/A

Indicator 2e

Materials incorporate all grade-band Science and Engineering Practices.
N/A

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
N/A

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
N/A

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
N/A

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
N/A

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
N/A

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
N/A

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
N/A

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
N/A

Indicator 2f

Materials incorporate all grade-band Crosscutting Concepts.
N/A

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
N/A

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
N/A

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
N/A

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
N/A

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
N/A

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
N/A

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
N/A

Indicator 2g

Materials incorporate NGSS Connections to Nature of Science and Engineering
N/A

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Three Details
This material was not reviewed for Gateway Three because it did not meet expectations for Gateways One and Two

Criterion 3a - 3d

Materials are designed to support teachers not only in using the materials, but also in understanding the expectations of the standards.

Indicator 3a

Materials include background information to help teachers support students in using the three dimensions to explain phenomena and solve problems (also see indicators 3b and 3l).
N/A

Indicator 3b

Materials provide guidance that supports teachers in planning and providing effective learning experiences to engage students in figuring out phenomena and solving problems.
N/A

Indicator 3c

Materials contain teacher guidance with sufficient and useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student materials and ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
N/A

Indicator 3d

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
N/A

Criterion 3e - 3k

Materials are designed to support all students in learning.

Indicator 3e

Materials are designed to leverage diverse cultural and social backgrounds of students.
N/A

Indicator 3f

Materials provide appropriate support, accommodations, and/or modifications for numerous special populations that will support their regular and active participation in learning science and engineering.
N/A

Indicator 3g

Materials provide multiple access points for students at varying ability levels and backgrounds to make sense of phenomena and design solutions to problems.
N/A

Indicator 3h

Materials include opportunities for students to share their thinking and apply their understanding in a variety of ways.
N/A

Indicator 3i

Materials include a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.
N/A

Indicator 3j

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
N/A

Indicator 3k

Materials are made accessible to students by providing appropriate supports for different reading levels.
N/A

Criterion 3l - 3s

Materials are designed to be usable and also to support teachers in using the materials and understanding how the materials are designed.

Indicator 3l

The teacher materials provide a rationale for how units across the series are intentionally sequenced to build coherence and student understanding.
N/A

Indicator 3m

Materials document how each lesson and unit align to NGSS.
N/A

Indicator 3n

Materials document how each lesson and unit align to English/Language Arts and Math Common Core State Standards, including the standards for mathematical practice.
N/A

Indicator 3o

Resources (whether in print or digital) are clear and free of errors.
N/A

Indicator 3p

Materials include a comprehensive list of materials needed.
N/A

Indicator 3q

Materials embed clear science safety guidelines for teacher and students across the instructional materials.
N/A

Indicator 3r

Materials designated for each grade level are feasible for one school year.
N/A

Indicator 3s

Materials contain strategies for informing students, parents, or caregivers about the science program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
N/A

Criterion 3t - 3y

Materials are designed to assess students and support the interpretation of the assessment results.

Indicator 3t

Assessments include a variety of modalities and measures.
N/A

Indicator 3u

Assessments offer ways for individual student progress to be measured over time.
N/A

Indicator 3v

Materials provide opportunities and guidance for oral and/or written peer and teacher feedback and self reflection, allowing students to monitor and move their own learning.
N/A

Indicator 3w

Tools are provided for scoring assessment items (e.g., sample student responses, rubrics, scoring guidelines, and open-ended feedback).
N/A

Indicator 3x

Guidance is provided for interpreting the range of student understanding (e.g., determining what high and low scores mean for students) for relevant Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.
N/A

Indicator 3y

Assessments are accessible to diverse learners regardless of gender identification, language, learning exceptionality, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
N/A

Criterion 3z - 3ad

Materials are designed to include and support the use of digital technologies.

Indicator 3z

Materials integrate digital technology and interactive tools (data collection tools, simulations, modeling), when appropriate, in ways that support student engagement in the three dimensions of science.
N/A

Indicator 3aa

Digital materials are web based and compatible with multiple internet browsers. In addition, materials are "platform neutral," are compatible with multiple operating systems and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
N/A

Indicator 3ab

Materials include opportunities to assess three-dimensional learning using digital technology.
N/A

Indicator 3ac

Materials can be customized for individual learners, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
N/A

Indicator 3ad

Materials include or reference digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: Thu Feb 28 00:00:00 UTC 2019

Report Edition: 2018

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Bring Science Alive! Discipline Program 978-1-58371-067-8 Teachers' Curriculum Institute 2018

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After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

Science 6-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The science review rubric identifies the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubric supports a sequential review process that reflects the importance of alignment to the standards then considers other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For science, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Three-Dimensional Learning
  • Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning
  • Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions
  • Design to Facilitate Teacher Learning
  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The Evidence Guides complement the rubric by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

To best read our reports we recommend utilizing the Codes for NGSS Elements document that provides the code and description of elements cited as evidence in each report.


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