The NSTA Reader's Guide to the Next Generation Science Standards
by Harold Pratt

Price at time of review: $10.95
42 pp.
NSTA Press
Arlington, VA
ISBN: 9781938946066

Grade Level: K-12

Reviewed by Teri Cosentino
6th-7th grade science teacher

This guide is the first in a series of informative, necessary, and exciting steps to consideration and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. With so much in the news today tied into climate and energy, it is necessary for our students to understand the connection of science to other disciplines and the practicality of understanding science as it relates to the student’s life.

This introductory manual focuses in getting started. It makes no assumptions about who you are or the level of your involvement; instead it focuses on the idea of the team, since the guide itself was a direct result of a team, not individual effort. First and foremost it stresses the need for the reader to become familiar with the format of the standard document before developing instructional strategies or evaluating them. It implores the reader, whether teacher or administrator, to research the standards and to use a "start out small and grow" approach, not the "throw the baby out with the bathwater" one.

This handbook creates a step–by–step plan for implementing the design in order to improve science instruction. It gives clear and logical steps in a timeline approach, explains the history and the Frameworks in a brief overview, and then progresses on with design and implementation.

What I really liked about the book is that it is a practical guide which introduces the standards not as a stand–alone entity, but as a basis for you and your team to design, implement, and assess curriculum. Since the approach is one of research and collaboration, so much of this first guidebook lists resources and references. It takes on the purple, orange, and green NGSS boxes and demystifies them.

It is pretty cool, and I learned so much that I can’t wait to share with my fellow science teachers! Though I was quite excited about the NGSS because of the cross–curricular implementations, now I understand why. The standards are the vision and not a cookie cutter list of things that must be taught. I strongly feel that this approach will allow us as teachers to develop lessons which encourage our students to engineer rather than to memorize their way through science class. This how–to–do–it–without–freaking–out book is an extraordinary resource which is essential to tracing the steps to where you, your district, and your students are in their science education program and where you want to go, using the three dimensions of NGSS and webbing them through the K–12 science program.

Bring on the big old ball of twine and let’s start weaving.

Review posted on 7/16/2013

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