The Next Generation Science Standards are complicated and challenging to unpack. They are three-dimensional and include both content knowledge and performance expectations. The NGSS website gives us some information on how to read each standard, but it’s still hard to figure out what to teach for each topic. Here is how we unpack the second grade NGSS and what we used to write our second grade science stations.
Three-Dimensional Next Generation Science Standards
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are written to be “Three-Dimensional.” This means that the standards are classified first by their Performance Expectations (PE). These are the scientific skills and abilities that students are expected to master as they learn scientific content.
The Performance Expectation(s) are subdivided into three categories, anchored by the Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI). This is the actual science content that students learn as they master the PE.
As students learn the DCI while mastering the PE, they are making connections to Science and Engineering Practices. They are also observing the Crosscutting Concepts, which are generalized scientific principles that serve as thread running through all of the fields of science (Patterns, Cause and Effect, Systems and System Models, etc.)
How to Create NGSS Lessons for Second Grade
To create lessons that are NGSS aligned and that are Three Dimensional, you will start with the first two dimensions, the DCI and the PE. They are related, but not mutually exclusive. Together, these components round out the standard and are the targets for assessment.
How We Wrote the Second Grade NGSS Science Stations
As an example, I’ll use the Second Grade Standard from 2-LS2 Ecosystems: Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics. If I decide to start constructing my unit using the DCIs, I start with the center orange box. There are two components of this DCI, each associated with one or both of the PEs, found in the top white box.
For example, I notice that DCI 2-LS2.A has two subtopics with it. In the first subtopic, students learn about how “plants depend on water and light to grow.” This corresponds with the PE 2-LS2-1, “Plan and conduct an investigation to determine if plants need sunlight and water to grow.”
The second subtopic is “plants depend on animals for pollination or to move their seeds around.” This corresponds with the second PE. In 2-LS2-2 students “develop a simple model that mimics the function of an animal in dispersing seeds or pollinating plants.”
Combining this DCI with the PEs, I want to make sure that students are learning how to design experiments to test whether plants need sunlight and water to grow. Additionally, students will need to model a variety of mechanisms for plant pollination and seed dispersal.
HOW DO THE SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PRACTICES FIT IN?
The Science and Engineering Practices, found in the blue box, provides the third dimension of NGSS-aligned instruction. With Standard 2-LS2, there are two associated Science and Engineering Practices. The first is that students are to develop and use models. The second asks students to plan and carry out investigations. Together these Practices provide some more illumination to the PEs discussed above. In totality, for this standard, students will be using the steps of the scientific method to investigate questions and use models to understand concepts more deeply.
WHAT ABOUT THE CROSSCUTTING CONCEPTS?
The final component, which is also part of the third dimension of NGSS, is the Crosscutting Concepts, found in the green box on the right. For this standard, students are to see cause-and-effect relationships, as well as the relationship between structure and function. This will be woven throughout the lessons, but I will make sure to overtly explain that, while we are looking at how structures found on plants are suited for their biological function, and that when something happens (the “cause”), something else often happens as a result (the “effect). For example, when a flower receives pollen from another flower (the “cause”), a seed will develop (the “effect”).
Rather than starting with the DCI, I might choose to design my unit by starting with the PE. In this case, I look in the top white box. There are four PEs associated with the various DCIs.
Either way, this Standard might be broken up into several mini-units.
The Second Grade Science Stations aligned with the NGSS
We have created a line of products aligned with Next Generation Science Standards. Each Second Grade Station Unit has eight science stations that are designed to be engaging instructional tools to teach the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas.
More Information about How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards
One more resource that you might find helpful is this YouTube Video that explains the dimensionality of the NGSS.
CLASSROOM TEACHING RESOURCES WE HAVE WRITTEN USING THE NGSS
We have written Science Stations and 5E Instructional Units for Second, Third and Fourth Grade using the Next Generation Science Standards.