Alignment: Overall Summary

​The instructional materials reviewed for Bring Science Alive! Integrated 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. There are few instances of the materials providing opportunities for students to understand and use the SEPs to make sense of the DCIs, but the materials do not consistently present opportunities for sensemaking with the SEPs and CCCs; there are many instances where students do not use either 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 (performance expectations) for the units, but the summative tasks do not completely measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit on a consistent basis.

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
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-
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 integrate all three dimensions, often excluding the CCCs.

Each lesson includes one or more investigations. In some lessons, students engage in three-dimensional learning integrating SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs within an investigation. The remaining investigations are consistently two-dimensional with the integration of SEPs and DCIs occurring most often.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 17: How the Ocean Affects Climate, students monitor temperatures, map global circulation, and model the flow of energy through the ocean system. Students apply their understanding of climate (DCI-ESS.D-M3) to create a plan measuring average ocean temperature and provide feedback to classmates’ plans (SEP-INFO-M5). After analyzing different video models of currents, temperature, and wind patterns in the oceans, students draw and compare diagrams of the impact of wind and density on currents. Using the diagrams, students create models to show how energy flows through ocean systems and impacts coastal climates (CCC-EM-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Lesson 1: Earth’s Atmosphere, Investigation 1: Journey to the Exosphere, students collect temperature and density data for atmospheric layers and plot the data on a graph. Students look for patterns (CCC-PAT-M2) then analyze the results to better understand the properties of each atmospheric layer (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Students explain their understanding (SEP-CEDS-E4) by writing a proposal of what travelers need for a balloon ride.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: The Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Lesson 23: The Motion of Particles, Investigation 1: Modeling States of Matter, students model (SEP-MOD-M5) the states of matter using their bodies to represent molecular motion and structure on a microscopic level (CCC-SPQ-M5). Students use a digital simulation to model states of matter (SEP-MOD-M3) through a lens of energy (CCC-EM-M2). Students use the models as a simplified representation of a system to explain and predict particle motion (DCI-PS1.A-M1) in different states of matter.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 6: Sustaining Local and Global Diversity, Lesson 31: Artificial Selection, Investigation 1: Comparing Natural and Artificial Selection, students compare natural selection and artificial selection processes. They simulate (SEP-MOD-M5) successive generations of aurochs by measuring their aggressiveness with each simulated generation. Students use the data to discuss cause and effect relationships (CCC-CE-M3) and how the average of these changes differed in the population experiencing natural selection compared to artificial selection (DCI-LS4.B-M2).

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming and Living Systems, Lesson 20: Climate Today and Tomorrow, students examine how climate change can impact humans and propose plans to adapt and mitigate human impact on the environment (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, SEP-AQDS-M8) to design a solution (SEP-CEDS-M4). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students design a solution to mitigate human impact.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 2: Molecules and Extended Structures, students ask and answer questions (SEP-AQDP-M1) about different materials to explain the 92 naturally occurring elements but many different materials (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students examine pictures and their classroom for examples of materials.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, students compare the buoyancy of cans of regular soda and diet soda. Students are given various spheres, predict which they think will sink or float, and test if heavier objects sink and lighter objects float (DCI-PS1.A-M2). They record the mass of the objects first, but decide what evidence they will need to support the explanation (SEP-INV-M4). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students investigate density.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 15: Chemical Engineering and Society, students read about the synthetic material, sodium lauryl sulfate, in three sources. Students evaluate the information and the different sources of information. The lesson primarily focuses on students evaluating competing information in science and technical texts (SEP-INFO-M3), but connects to part of the DCI from PE-MS-PS1-3, understanding that synthetic materials impact society. The materials do not integrate a CCC as students evaluate resources.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Lesson 4: Types of Waves, Investigation 2: Identifying Waves, students watch videos of a variety of phenomena and use their model of waves to decide whether the phenomenon in each video is a wave. Students determine if the phenomenon in each video aligns with their definition of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Students make a claim whether each video shows a wave or not (SEP-ARG-M3). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students apply their understanding of the characteristics of a wave to their claims.

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 the materials are designed to 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.

Throughout the series, lessons frequently include all three dimensions, but students do not have opportunities in nearly all learning sequences to use one or more dimensions to understand and use the other dimensions to support their sensemaking. In many lessons the SEPs and CCCs are present and connect to DCIs, but students do not use the dimensions to make sense of DCIs or to meaningfully support sensemaking with the other dimensions. When two dimensions are used together, the SEPs are typically used to help students 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 Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climate, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 20: Climate Today and Tomorrow, students examine how climate change can impact humans (DCI-ES3.C-M1). Students gather information on effects of climate change and use their understanding to create a plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students apply their understanding of the DCI as they construct their explanation and design a plan.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, Investigation 1: Describing Density, students compare the density (DCI-PS1.A-M2) of two different cans of soda, investigate mass and volume of different materials, and measure objects to determine densities (SEP-INV-M4). During the investigations, students decide what evidence they would need to support the explanation using the investigations to critically understand the concept of density.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: Modeling Light in the Solar System, Lesson 11 Eclipse, Investigation 1: Modeling an Eclipse, students use their bodies and a light bulb to model the Earth-Sun-Moon system during a lunar eclipse and solar eclipse (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Students use the model and the orientation of the bodies to explain what causes eclipses and why they are rare.

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 Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Lesson 1: Earth’s Atmosphere, students create a scale model (SEP-MOD-M5) of earth’s atmosphere that includes temperature, density, altitude, and boundaries between the five layers of the atmosphere. While students use a model to represent a system, they do not use the model of the atmosphere to develop an understanding of how the layers of the atmosphere affect weather (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Instead of understanding and applying the inputs, outputs, processes, or matter and energy flows within a system (CCC-SYS-M2), students copy the data onto their scale model.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: 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 and engagement with the SEP does not help students understand 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 to help students apply their understanding of why plants have adaptations.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students design a microclimate to grow a vegetable not typically capable of growing in their local environment. Students identify criteria and constraints, develop and test their designs, and describe how they can modify their designs (DCI-ETS1.B-M2). Students engage in multiple SEPs as they work on their designs. However, neither the SEPs nor CCCs are used by students to understand and apply the DCI, interactions affecting climate, weather, and oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).  
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 11: Scales of Change on Earth’s Surface, students engage in a series of activities and investigations focused on understanding the CCC of scale, proportion, and quantity as it relates to earth’s processes. Students rank various phenomena based on the size of the phenomenon and the rate or time scale of each phenomenon. Students conduct an investigation where they allow crystals to form and consider the scale of time and space needed to see the crystal development. Finally, students compare time and spatial scales of different earth processes. While several SEPs and DCIs are connected to this lesson, the lesson is focused on students developing the concept of time and spatial scales of phenomena, and does not provide opportunities for students to use the CCCs or SEPs to critically understand and apply a DCI.

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.

The formative assessment tasks are not consistently designed to reveal student understanding of the three dimensions. Additionally, the formative assessment tasks include classroom discussions, student notebook entries, lesson games, investigation tasks, and engineering challenges., Vocabulary Cards and the Lesson Game can be used to check student understanding of key terms and concepts within the lesson and are typically assess student understanding of one dimension. 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 the evidence elicited from formative assessment tasks to support instruction. In some instances, the Lesson Guide suggests teachers may need to provide vocabulary support, however there is no method of assessing if this support is necessary. Further, wrap-up questions are present in whole-group instruction without providing guidance for teachers to support instruction. 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 Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 21: Proteins, Genes, and Chromosomes,  lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “explain how genes can influence the traits of organisms”, “make a model that shows the relationship between chromosomes, DNA, and genes”, and “predict the traits that result when individuals have different structured genes, or alleles, in their cells.” Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. 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 teachers with an answer key but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 1: Atoms and Elements, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “differentiate between energy and matter using observational data”, “utilize scientific notation to communicate very large and very small numbers relating to the size and quantity of objects”, and “organize similar objects in a logical way by arranging them according to their chemical and physical properties.” Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. 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 teachers with an answer key but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Lesson 6: 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”, “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. Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. The materials consistently provide teachers with an answer key but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Lesson 15: Electricity, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “Conduct investigations to observe the behavior of electrical forces, including static electricity”, “find patterns in the way objects are interacting within an electrical system”, and “ask questions to discover what factors affect the strength of electrical forces.” 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. Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. The materials consistently provide teachers with an answer key 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 incorporate summative tasks at the end of every unit, at least one or two per segment.

Since the materials inconsistently include explicit three-dimensional learning objectives for students, the performance expectations are assumed to be the learning objective. Units consistently list multiple performance expectations and the corresponding Performance Assessments frequently list a subset of the unit performance expectations, but do not consistently measure all targeted performance expectations of the respective unit.

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 that do not address the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Performance Assessment: Modeling Synthetic Cells, the prompt is intended to assess two performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-1, PE-MS-LS1-2). Students plan 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); additionally, 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). Therefore, the summative task does not elicit evidence of students’ three-dimensional learning of both performance expectations in this unit.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Performance Assessment: Conserving Coral Reefs Using Genetics, the prompt is intended to assess two performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-5, PE-MS-LS3-2). The assessment elicits student learning of why asexual and sexual reproduction have different results in offspring genetics (PE-MS-LS3-2) and how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms (PE-MS-LS1-5). The assessment does not assess one targeted performance expectation of the unit (PE-MS-LS3-1) for students to model the relationship between chromosomes, DNA, and genes.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Performance Assessment: Determining the Best Material for a Makeup Pen Base, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-PS1-1). Students test three substances for the properties of solubility, density and melting points (DCI-PS1.A-M2). After comparing data (SEP-DATA-M7), they develop a pitch as to which material would make the best makeup base. Neither the DCI nor SEP are associated with the learning objective (PE-MS-PS1-1), but they do work together to provide evidence of two-dimensional learning. Students are also provided models and identify the chemical formula for each. The assessment task does not measure student achievement in developing models (SEP-MOD-M5). In addition, the scientific concept of chemical formulas is not connected to the DCI or CCC (DCI-PS1.A-M2, CCC-SPQ-M1) associated with the targeted performance expectation. The assessment does not assess one targeted performance expectation for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-1) and partially assesses another targeted performance expectation for the unit (PE-MS-PS1-2).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: Modeling Light in the Solar System, Performance Assessment: Designing a Light Art Piece, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-PS4-2). Students include the following concepts into the design and explanation of the light art piece they design: refraction, absorption, reflection, and transmission (DCI-PS4.B-M1). Although students must construct an explanation of the light properties in the art piece (SEP-CEDS-M4), the summative task solely elicits evidence for learning about structure and function (CCC-SF-M2). Other crosscutting concepts taught during the lessons but not included in the summative task include: patterns (CCC-PAT-M3), cause and effect (CCC-CE-M2), and system and system models (CCC-SYS-M2). The assessment does not assess one targeted performance expectation for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-4).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Performance Assessment: Investigating a Drone Motor Design, the prompt is intended to assess three performance expectations (MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-4, MS-PS2-5). Students explain the effect of gravitational force on the drone and earth (DCI-PS2.B-E3) and demonstrate magnetic fields on a test object (DCI-PS2.B-M3). To evaluate the design of the drone, students determine how the drone’s mass would affect its flight and determine which motor would be the strongest (CCC-SYS-M2). Students discuss the drone design with classmates and communicate how a drone motor works (SEP-INFO-M5). The assessment does not assess the remaining six targeted performance expectations for the unit (MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4).

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 that use 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 in the materials, 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. Materials consistently connect phenomena to grade-band DCIs and their elements. Problems in the materials are included as Engineering Challenges. Although they are connected to the grade-band engineering, technology and application of science (ETS) DCIs, problems are not consistently connected to grade-band physical, earth and space, and life science DCIs. Further, some Engineering Challenges are connected to DCIs below grade level.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 22: Inheriting Genes, the phenomenon is some organisms, like bacteria, are identical to their parents but other organisms, like dogs, are not. The phenomenon connects to understanding variations of inherited traits between parent and offspring arise from genetic differences resulting from the subset of chromosomes inherited (DCI-LS3.A-M2). As students explain how some offspring are not identical, they focus on the mechanism behind how sexually reproducing organisms vary from one generation to the next as opposed to asexually reproducing organisms (DCI-LS3.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things are Made of Atoms, Lesson 8: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those at the top. This phenomenon connects to understanding how scientists interpret a relative, geologic time scale from rock strata (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Lesson 14: Gravity, the phenomenon is when a piece of paper is placed on top of a book, and both are dropped together, they fall straight to the ground without the paper fluttering. Students engage in an investigation and simulation on gravitational force to explain the gravitational forces (DCI-PS2.B-M2). In addition, the lesson incorporates a study of forces acting at a distance (DCI-PS2.B-M3).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design a seawall to prevent erosion on beaches. Prior to building their seawall, students investigate seawalls and other structures already in use to prevent erosion. In order to evaluate solutions (DCI-ETS1.B-M2), students apply their understanding of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1) to solve the problem of coastal erosion.

Examples of phenomena or problems not connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to build a microclimate to grow one specific vegetable. The activity connects directly to DCI-ETS1.B-M2, but designing a microclimate for a specific plant does not require students to use or apply their understanding of interactions affecting climate, weather, and oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Segment 4: Sustaining Living Systems in a Changing World, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Fishing Net, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design a fishing net for a specific species. While this challenge falls within the unit on biodiversity, the challenge does not call for students to use the concept in their design. The data collected includes counting what is caught from the targeted species and from the non-targeted species; however, the role of biodiversity is not incorporated into designing the net. This engineering challenge is not connected to a life science grade-band DCI even though it connects to engineering DCIs, DCI-ETS1.B-M2 and DCI-ETS1.C-M1.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Damping Device, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design a damping device for filming on a space station (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). The problem does not connect to the DCI of gravity, which is the focus of the unit (DCI-ESS1.B-M1).

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, but not consistently across the series. Materials present all Integrated Phenomena and Anchoring Phenomena as videos and some also include photographs and text. 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 through teacher demonstration or student participation in an activity.

The different types of presentation are used for instances where first-hand observations are not accessible, but are also used in place of opportunities where phenomena lend themselves to more direct means of observation. In some lessons, the publisher provides guidance for teachers on how to present the phenomena more directly than videos, photographs, and text, but these recommendations often do not fully represent the entirety of the science ideas connected to the lesson phenomenon. Few lessons across the series present the phenomena or problems through first-hand observation.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, Lesson 10: Traits for Survival, the phenomenon is humans have opposable thumbs, but turtles do not. Students compare and contrast their own hands to images of animals and engage in a hands-on activity simulating not having opposable thumbs.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Bodies, Engineering Design Challenge: Designing a Prosthetic Hand, the challenge is to design a prosthetic hand with movable parts. Students are presented with an image of a prosthetic hand and students examine their own hands, making observations about all of the ways their hands and fingers can move.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, the phenomenon is some liquids do not mix with others and form distinct layers in a bottle. The materials provide instructions to the teacher on how to make a solubility and density column to provide students with first-hand experience of directly observing the density column, shaking the column, and discussing what happens after shaking it.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 13: Atoms in Chemical Reactions, the phenomenon is burning steel wool causes its mass to increase. The teacher demonstrates burning steel wool and records the mass of the steel wool before and after burning.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Lesson 2: Taking Earth’s Temperature, the phenomenon is ice melts faster on a metal surface than a ceramic surface. The phenomenon is presented to students as a photograph of a park with snow on the grass and puddles on the sidewalk or road.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 10: Energy in Earth’s Systems, Observing a Phenomenon, the phenomenon is water being heated, rising, cooling, and falling. This phenomenon is presented in a video, with teacher guidance to explain that a special camera is used to show warm areas red, white, and yellow and cold areas are blue and purple. Further, the teacher tells the students “when the bottom of a tank of water is heated, warm water rises, cools, and falls back again.” In the Connections to Your Life button, students are asked to think about a bowl of hot soup or a mug of hot cocoa in a cold room and to think about how their senses tell them something. However, this is not a common experience all students are having with the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: Modeling Light in the Solar System, Lesson 10: Phases of the Moon, the phenomenon is the moon changes appearance every night. The phenomenon is presented to students as a photograph showing a full moon over a city.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Lesson 15: Electricity, Observing Phenomena, the phenomenon reaching for a doorknob and experiencing a shock or seeing a spark. Students watch a video to see and hear the spark. Suggestions are provided to the student in Connections to Your Life button that suggests for students to turn off the lights and rub a silk on a glass rod prior to touching another object to see the phenomenon. However, there is not silk or glass rod on the materials list nor supports for the teacher in providing the experience to all students.

Indicator 1f

Phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions.
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 drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. While the materials provide multiple lessons across the series using problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning, phenomena do not consistently drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in lessons or activities.

Each lesson begins with students watching a video or viewing an image with a description intended to engage students with a phenomenon. However, some of the publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, problems, or directions and not observable occurrences requiring students to generate questions or develop an explanation to advance their own learning. Throughout the lesson, students engage in one or more investigations but there is often no direct connection between the lesson-level phenomenon and the focus of the investigations. While the lesson often builds understanding of the three dimensions, students do not interact with the phenomenon while engaging in the activities. Students only interact with the lesson-level phenomenon at the end of the investigations when they reflect on their learning and review their initial notes about the phenomenon.

The materials contain 18 Engineering Challenges throughout the series, which are included across all three grades and within most segments. The Engineering Challenges present students with a problem they must solve, typically in the form of a design challenge. After being presented with the challenge, students develop their own, add to, or revise a list of specific criteria and constraints before creating and testing a prototype, and then use data from their tests to improve their original design. The problem presented in the Engineering Challenge usually drives student learning of the lesson, but not all Engineering Challenges engage students in all three dimensions. Additionally, the challenges are designed to build student understanding of ETS DCIs, but often miss opportunities to connect to the grade-band DCIs in physical, earth and space, or life science.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to build a microclimate to grow one vegetable from outside of their climate zone. The challenge drives the use of three dimensions throughout the lesson. Students design and construct an artificial microclimate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) of a vegetable growth system. The system design supports the growth of a plant by creating and maintaining a microclimate meeting the needs of the particular plant. In designing the system (SEP-ADQP-M8), students note and are aware of inputs, outputs, and the system impact of those factors (CCC-SYS-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: 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 that can 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, comparing their data to data in a provided table showing examples of decibel level equivalents (SEP-MOD-M7).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: Mechanical Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge 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 and problems not driving student learning:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, Lesson 6: Air Pressure and Wind, the phenomenon is some days are windy and others are not. During the investigations, students collect data and calibrate a barometer to answer what correlation exists between the local weather (e.g., wind, storms, etc.) and the barometer readings. While the investigations provide content knowledge required for understanding air pressure, students interact with the phenomenon—why some days are windy and others are not—at the start and end of the lesson, when they respond to questions in their notebook, but not during the investigations.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Changes in Genes, Lesson 24: Genetic Mutations, the phenomena are some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red. During the investigations, students show the relationship between genes, proteins, and traits. Students create a flowchart showing structure and function of genes and proteins, the mechanism for how changes in genes can cause changes in proteins, and how mutations can affect an organism’s survival in different environments. While these investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining mutations, students interact with the phenomena—some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red—at the start and end of the lesson, when they respond to questions in their notebook, but not during the investigations.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things are Made of Atoms, Lesson 7: Global Cycles of Matter, the phenomenon is fertilizer runoff into a pond triggers the growth of green muck. During the investigations, students develop understanding of the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles and how the elements move between biotic and abiotic systems. While the investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining biogeochemical cycles, students interact with the phenomenon of algal blooms at the start and end of the lesson when they respond to questions in their notebook, but not during the investigations. Students do not explain the role of nutrients in the formation of algal blooms
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: The Earth-Sun-Moon System, Lesson 9: Earth’s Tilted Axis, the phenomenon is each year, “trees sprout leaves which grow, change color, die, and fall off.” During the investigations, students learn the axial tilt of earth and energy from the sun during different parts of the year contribute to the different seasons. While the investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining what causes the seasons, the lesson does not support students in explaining the mechanism of the phenomenon of tree leaves sprouting, growing, changing color, dying, and falling off.

Indicator 1g

Materials are designed to include appropriate proportions of phenomena vs. problems based on the grade-band performance expectations.
0/0
+
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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 lessons) focus on explaining phenomena. Performance Assessments are not included in the calculations for the lessons, since those are considered summative assessments.

Each grade is structured to include three to six segments. Each segment has an Integrated Phenomenon and typically includes two or three units, labeled as Anchoring Phenomena. Each unit has an Anchoring Phenomenon and typically includes two to four lessons. Most units also include an Engineering Challenge; problems are typically found in the Engineering Challenges and often connect to the Anchoring Phenomenon for the unit. While the materials consistently identify a phenomenon with each segment, unit, and lesson, several of the publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, or directions, rather than observable occurrences engaging students in asking questions to advance their own learning or explaining the phenomena.

Examples of problems (Engineering Challenges) within the series:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Engineering Challenge: Minimizing and Maximizing the Rate of Heat Transfer, the challenge is to create a device that will insulate or conduct heat energy using a beaker of ice water exposed to light energy.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, the challenge is to design a microclimate to support growth of a plant not native to the local environment.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: The Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Engineering Challenge: Test and Improve a Solar Distiller, the challenge is to build and improve a solar distiller taking into consideration rates of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation of water.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Hot Pack, the challenge is to design a one-time use hot pack.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Damping Device, the challenge is to develop a damping device around a camera to reduce vibrations during a rocket launch.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, the challenge is to design and test a seawall to prevent erosion on beaches.

Examples of phenomena within the series:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, the Integrated Phenomenon is when a person takes a dog on a long walk in the summer, the person sweats but the dog pants.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Sciences, Anchoring Phenomenon: The Atmosphere and Energy, the phenomenon is “Cold food in a cooler stays cold, and food in a solar cooker gets hot.”
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 15: Climate Patterns, the phenomenon is “Earth’s surface is warmer at the equator than it is at the poles.”
  • In Grade 7, Segment 4: Sustaining Living Systems in a Changing World, Anchoring Phenomenon: Humans and Changing Ecosystems, the Anchoring Phenomenon is “abalone populations in southern California have been in decline since the 1960s.”
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things are Made of Atoms, Lesson 8: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those at the top.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 6: Anchoring Phenomenon: Thermal Energy, the phenomenon is “jack rabbits' ears help them survive in the extreme heat of the desert.”
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, the phenomenon is “sitting in a train alongside other trains, you might look out the window and be unsure which train is in motion.”

Indicator 1h

Materials intentionally leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.
1/2
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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 experiences of phenomena.

All units and lessons begin with a phenomenon presented through either videos, pictures, or demonstrations. The materials include the same prompt for all lesson-level phenomena: “What questions do you have about this phenomenon?” For the unit-level phenomena, all units elicit students’ prior knowledge and experiences through a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart. The materials do not leverage the information elicited from the unit-level and lesson-level phenomena, and do not provide guidance for teachers to connect students’ responses to subsequent learning opportunities helping them apply what they already know as they make sense of the phenomena. Students return to their questions and KWL charts at the end of the units and lessons, but are not afforded the opportunity to incorporate their prior knowledge and experiences during the learning in the lessons.

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. The Engineering Challenges begin by presenting a problem as a design challenge, but do not consistently prompt students to ask questions or write notes on their prior knowledge and experiences. Instead, students are prompted in their notebooks to answer specific questions about the problem.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 15: Climate Patterns, the phenomenon is “Earth’s surface is warmer at the equator than it is at the poles.” The materials pose questions to the whole class about where they think it is warm and cold on earth, but students do not respond in their notebooks. While the questions elicit student knowledge related to the phenomenon, no guidance is provided for teachers to leverage student responses in subsequent investigations. Students are presented with a diagram showing various climate zones and write questions about the phenomenon in their notebooks before they begin investigations. Students return to their notebooks to record their understanding at the end of the lesson, but they are not prompted to incorporate, use, or build on prior knowledge during the investigations.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 4: Sustaining Living Systems in a Changing World, Anchoring Phenomenon: Humans and Changing Ecosystems, the instructional materials present the Anchoring Phenomenon “abalone populations in southern California have been in decline since the 1960s.” Students write in a KWL chart what they already know about the phenomenon, but their experiences with this phenomenon are not explicitly elicited. Additionally, teachers are not provided guidance on how to incorporate the students’ prior knowledge and experiences to leverage this information during the lesson.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Lesson 20: Formation of the Solar System, the phenomenon is humans weren't around to watch the solar system form, but have observed patterns which may explain its formation. At the beginning of the lesson, the materials ask students to record any questions they have about the phenomenon. After this point in the lesson, materials do not ask students to engage with, use, or build on their prior knowledge or experiences. Additionally, the materials provide no guidance to help teachers leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 6: Anchoring Phenomenon: Thermal Energy, the phenomenon is “jack rabbits' ears help them survive in the extreme heat of the desert.” Students are shown images and a short video mentioning heat transfer of jack rabbits’ ears. Students complete a KWL chart. In the subsequent lessons and performance assessment of the unit, students are not given any opportunities to connect their prior knowledge and experiences written in the KWL chart to make sense of the phenomenon.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Engineering Challenge: Minimizing and Maximizing the Rate of Heat Transfer, the challenge is to create a device that will insulate or conduct heat energy using a beaker of ice water exposed to light energy. Students’ prior knowledge is elicited as students respond to questions in their notebooks, but not leveraged during the challenge.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, the challenge is to design a microclimate to support growth of a plant. When designing their solution, the materials instruct students to “Think about plants that do not naturally grow in your local environment. Developing the microclimate should be a challenge.” Within the scope of assigned criteria and constraints, students design and build their microclimate based on their group’s ideas and research. Student prior knowledge is elicited as students think about plants, but prior knowledge is not leveraged during the challenge.

Indicator 1i

Materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.
0/2
+
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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 using phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple lessons; few units use phenomena or problems to engage with all three dimensions across multiple lessons.

The instructional materials present an Anchoring Phenomenon at the start of each unit and students are prompted to ask questions about the phenomenon in their notebook through use of a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart and a handout called “Developing a Model to Explain a Phenomenon.” A Connecting to Phenomenon button is provided at the end of most investigations prompting teachers to give students opportunities to review their notes on the unit-level phenomenon and make revisions if necessary; this 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. The Wrap Up section at the end of the lesson provides a similar prompt for students to add new learning. Students return to their KWL chart and initial model after each lesson and at the end of the unit transfer their learning from the lessons to the context provided by the phenomenon. The structure provides students opportunities to transfer learning to new contexts and 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.

The materials are designed to include Performance Assessments at the end of each unit; these are designed to match the context of the Anchoring Phenomenon and assess what students learned throughout the unit. The Performance Assessments generally engage students in transferring learning from the context of the activities done throughout lessons in the unit, to the context of the phenomenon, but consistently has students revisit information learned in the lessons instead of allowing for deeper engagement and reflection of how thinking has changed over time related to explaining the phenomenon. This structure for the Performance Assessments provides students opportunities to transfer learning from the investigations and lesson to a new context; however since the unit-level phenomenon is typically used as part of the assessment occurring at the end of the unit, it is not driving student learning.

Further, Integrated Phenomena are incorporated at the beginning of a segment to provide context to the aggregation of units and to provide connections helping students understand how the topics are related. After the phenomena are introduced, students write their generated questions and develop an initial model to explain the phenomena. Whereas the content of these are touched upon over the course of the associated units, student engagement at the unit and lesson level is not used during the learning to help explain the Integrated Phenomenon. Within the lessons, the instruction does not refer back to the Integrated Phenomenon. Instead, when the Integrated Phenomenon is initially presented, the materials instruct students to return to their explanation at the end of the segment. Overall, phenomena (Integrated, Anchoring, and Investigative) are consistently placed at the beginning and end of learning opportunities and sequences, but are missing the opportunity for students to make sense of the phenomena during their learning and be supported in continually revising their thinking about the phenomena.

Problems are typically embedded within the Engineering Challenges. These are at the lesson level and occur in a little more than half of the units across the series; the problems are not used to connect multiple lessons in the unit nor do they support students in figuring out the Anchoring Phenomenon.

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

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, the Integrated Phenomenon is “when a person takes a dog on a long walk in the summer, you might see that the person is sweating but the dog is panting.” Students answer a prompt in their notebook about what questions they have and how they might investigate to find an answer. Students develop an initial model and are prompted to return after each lesson to record information learned and revise the model. Students engage in several units: weather, including lessons on the different factors contributing to weather; traits in organisms, including lessons on traits used for survival and reproduction; and bodies, including lessons in body systems, levels of organization, and information processing. 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.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: The Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Anchoring Phenomenon: Resources in Ecosystems, the Anchoring Phenomenon is some captive species of cichlid fish stop eating to the point of dying when other cichlid species are in the aquarium. Students fill out a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about the phenomenon. Students engage in a series of lessons on the role of resource availability on populations of dart frogs, ecosystem interactions with ants and acacia trees, and the effect of ecosystem disruptions on populations around Mount St. Helens’ eruption. 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. At the conclusion of each lesson, students reflect on the investigations and transfer their learning to the context of the phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart. However, the phenomenon is also used as the context for the Performance Assessment where students use prior learning from the lessons to try to solve the problem of making the cichlids healthy again.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Anchoring Phenomena: Noncontact Forces, the Anchoring Phenomenon is drones are able to overcome gravity. Students fill out a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about the phenomenon. Students engage in a lesson to explain how a book and piece of paper fall at the same rate. The remaining lessons in the unit focus on electricity, magnetism, and electromagnetism, including constructing circuits and testing an electromagnet. 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. At the conclusion of each lesson, students reflect on the investigations and transfer their learning to the context of the flying drones as they revise their KWL chart. However, the phenomenon is also used as the context for the Performance Assessment; students engage in activities assessing learning from the lessons related to how a motor works, how a motor compares to a generator, and how gravity and mass affect the flight of an object to help answer the question of how drones defy gravity.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Anchoring Phenomenon: The Solar System and Beyond, the Anchoring Phenomenon is that celestial bodies follow distinct patterns of movement. Students fill out a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Students then engage in a series of lessons that focus on understanding the role of gravity in the formation of the solar system and understanding scale and distance between celestial bodies. During the unit’s Engineering Challenge, students develop a damping device around a camera to reduce vibrations during take off of a rocket. Students define criteria and constraints, design different solutions, and test and improve their devices. The design problem only engages students in the engineering performance expectations and does not connect back to the phenomenon of celestial bodies moving in predictable patterns. 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. At the conclusion of each lesson, students reflect on the investigations and transfer their learning to the context of the phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart. However, the phenomenon is also used as the context for the Performance Assessment; students evaluate an existing movie script about space and write a movie scene based on their understanding gravity’s effects on celestial bodies.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

+
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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

+
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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: 02/28/2019

Report Edition: 2018

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Bring Science Alive! Integrated Program 978-1-58371-309-9 Teachers' Curriculum Institute 2020

About Publishers Responses

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Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

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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