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Distance Learning, A Year Later

Posted on 2021-03-25

Distance Learning, A Year Later

Reflecting on Teaching Science During the Pandemic

No matter where you live, you’re likely approaching or have just passed the one-year anniversary of students being sent home from school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You are likely teaching—and your students likely learning—science in ways you never would have imagined. Hopefully, among all the changes and challenges, you experienced some successes with how you engaged students and their families in science learning.

In this issue of the Next Gen Navigator, we’re sharing three stories about these successes teachers and students experienced in elementary, middle, and high school “classrooms” this past year. While these stories may be familiar to you, we urge you to re-read them (or read them for the first time) and reflect on how they connect to your own experience and how you might use them to inform your teaching in the months ahead. We’ve paired each article with K–12 resources we believe provide support for implementing the strategies shared and/or strengthening current practices, whether you teach in a classroom or a virtual setting.

Using Daily Dos to Make Science Accessible to Our Youngest Learners
New York kindergarten teachers Maria Barthelmann and Stephanie Canale share how the Daily Dos provide accessible, phenomenon-driven experiences for their students, enabling them to act, think, and talk like scientists. How can both the phenomena we present to our students and the digital tools we choose support equitable participation in sensemaking? Observe how kindergarten students engage in sensemaking in Ms. Barthelmann’s and Ms. Canale’s “classroom,” and use the resources below to provide sensemaking opportunities for your K–12 students in face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid settings. Read the article.

Anti-Racism in the Middle School Science Classroom
Science educators Rosanna Ayer and Yasmine Shakoor-Asadi and Dr. Cheryl Talley, professor of neuroscience at Virginia State University, discuss how the lack of curricula focused on the contributions of black and female scientists reinforces bias in the science classroom through exclusion. “We all have contributed and continue to contribute to systemic racism when we are not actively working against the exclusions of facts. Unearthing the contributions and stories of all who have contributed to science is one of the first steps to creating an anti-racist classroom,” they explain.
The resources below offer additional stories and actionable advice for creating K–12 anti-racist classrooms. 
Read the article.

What Does It Really Take to Get High School Students to Make Their Ideas Visible?
Often high school students are reluctant to share what they really think about what causes a natural or designed phenomenon. Arizona science teachers Angie Berk and Jen MacColl and Kristen Moorhead, a consultant for Professional Learning Innovations, have discovered it takes intentionally listening to who really is or isn’t talking and a strategic effort by the teacher to shift the culture from some students sharing ideas sometimes to all students revealing their thinking. The following resources offer additional strategies to support students in making their thinking visible, and show how allowing students to reveal their thinking also creates opportunities for equitable participation in science learning. Read the article.

Note: The Next Gen Navigator is a monthly e-newsletter from NSTA delivering information, insights, resources, and professional learning opportunities for science educators by science educators on the Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional instruction.  Click here to sign up to receive the Navigator every month.


The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.

Distance Learning NGSS Professional Learning Teacher Preparation Teaching Strategies Three-Dimensional Learning Middle School Elementary High School

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