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Finding Resources for Teaching Science and the Common Core

The Common Core State Standards were developed to create and implement rigorous new standards in Language Arts and Mathematics. These standards emphasize critical thinking, reading complex materials (including more nonfiction and content-based writing), and learning core mathematical concepts. Rather than dictating what books or topics a school should cover, the Common Core sets specific expectations for what students should be able to do. For example, in reading, the standards establish a “staircase” of increasing complexity in what students must be able to read so that all students are ready for the demands of college- and career-level reading no later than the end of high school. In writing, the emphasis is on the ability to write logical, well-reasoned arguments based on sound evidence. For grade levels 6-12, the Common Core offers standards specifically targeting literacy proficiency in history/social studies and science/technical fields.

In science education, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released at the beginning of this year to provide similar expectations for what students should learn in the science and technology subject areas. The NGSS is based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council. The NGSS are organized around what the authors call three dimensions: scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science.

Taken together, the Common Core and the NGSS provide a roadmap for preparing students for success in college and in the workplace by placing an emphasis on content-based learning integrated with skills such as reasoning with evidence, building arguments and critiquing the arguments of others, and participating in reasoning-oriented practices with others.

Science NetLinks and other AAAS resources can help teachers identify resources that can integrate the requirements of the Common Core and the NGSS. Some particularly useful resources are highlighted below:

Science NetLinks Resources

AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books highlights the resources created from the winners of the AAAS/Subaru SB&F Prize for Excellence in Science Books.

National Engineers Week highlights specific resources that are especially useful in providing students with opportunities to engage in appropriate science and engineering practices.

Science Update Lessons are 60-second podcasts presenting current science research in a student-friendly format. They help students develop listening skills and are accompanied by substantive questions that can be used to engage students in reasoning-based discussions.

Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences showcases a selection of lessons and other resources that are highly interdisciplinary and utilize instructional strategies that support the Common Core and also STEM content areas.

STEM and the Common Core offers teachers suggestions of lessons and tools that will fit the cross-disciplinary nature of the Common Core.

Other AAAS Resources

AAAS Project 2061 Science Assessment Website contains more than 600 test items that are appropriate for middle and early high school students and assess student understanding in the earth, life, and physical sciences; the nature of science; and common misconceptions as well as correct ideas.

SB&F Online, the AAAS review journal, contains free articles and bibliographies that support the use of exemplary trade books and other media as well as a database of more than 10,000 reviews for subscribers.

Science in the Classroom is a collection of annotated research papers originally published in Science and accompanying teaching materials designed to show students how science continues to advance. These resources are particularly helpful to introduce students to scientific writing and research reports.

Science Multimedia Collection, a collection of resources created by Science, provides access to science not only in words but also in images, sound, and motion. Includes videos, slide shows, and podcasts.

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