Science Teacher Conference Opportunity in New York

This conference is going to be full of opportunities to grow in your understanding of everything NGSS chemistry related from sessions on phenomena, to growing your understanding of Science and Engineering Practices, to incorporating instruction by means of Cross–Cutting Concepts, to storylines and assessment. The conference is packed with multiple sessions on Saturday and Sunday tiered for different levels of NGSS comfort. Whether the word phenomena still causes you anxiety or you have developed full-blown units, we have something for all levels of teacher experience. The conference is located in Rochester, New York and open to teachers in all states across the country. 


Sunday we will have our institute and luncheon. Get your lab coats ready! This year we will be having a competition at the luncheon for the best lab coat. Instead of a guest speaker we planned time to be together and collaborate. In speed dating fashion we will share one lab, activity or phenomena.

The number one question I get asked over and over again is what will the new Chemistry Regents questions look like? In the chemistry world, it always seems like I’m asking myself: “but where are the chemistry examples?” as every example seems to be from every other content area. The goal of the institute is for teachers to see chemistry style assessments and evaluate their effectiveness at assessing all three dimensions.

With all the talk of changing to teaching and learning around the NGSS performance expectations, assessments must change as well. At the chemistry institute teachers will be provided with training on how to design and evaluate to what extent assessments assess the three dimensions: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and Engineering Practices and Cross-Cutting Concepts. In the Framework for K-12 Education (2012), the importance of balancing the teaching and learning of the three dimensions equally is stressed.

We live in the realm of Disciplinary Core Idea instruction and assessment. It’s easy to come up with a series of content questions to assess if your students understand a particular concept you taught that day. Unlike the current Regents exams, three-dimensional assessments call for students to actively engage in science practices. For instance, students will be able to use patterns in elements to create models that show how outer electrons determine reactivity or use their understanding of stability and change to construct and design solutions to explain Le Chaterlier’s Principle. With everyone so eager to find an assessment, we need to be careful that the assessment is actually assessing each component of the performance expectation to the same extent. A task screener will be provided and utilized at the institute to assess the quality of chemistry assessments.

Performance Expectations (PE) have been crafted to allow the integration of each dimension to help foster a deeper understanding of the concept at hand for students. Some teachers have started to implement some of the Science and Engineering Practices as part of their instruction but are lacking confidence to assess their students in a non-traditional Regents test format. The institute is to provide teachers with understanding of what a quality NGSS assessment will look like and how to scaffold teacher understanding to create formative and summative three-dimensional assessments. If we start with the end in mind, using a backward design approach we can ensure that the pedagogy we employ in the classroom is actually providing students with the skill set to perform on an assessment (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). Many teachers have found some of the practices such as Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) or Claim, Evidence Justification from Argument Driven Inquiry (ADI) an easy starting point (Walker, J. P., & Sampson, V, 2013). Others have employed Question Formulation Technique (QFT) and even others are modeling (Rothstein, D., & Santana, L., 2011). While all of these things are wonderful, we need to make explicit the lens of the third dimension to help our students understand science as a tool for learning the content through the practice. It is my hope that the institute will help us move forward by allowing us to provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of all dimensions not stand alone tasks.


McNeill, K. L., & Martin, D. M. (2011). Claims, evidence, and reasoning. Science and Children, 48(8), 52.

National Research Council (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington D.C. The National Academies Press.

Rothstein, D., & Santana, L. (2011). Teaching students to ask their own questions. Harvard Education Letter, 27(5), 1-2.

Walker, J. P., & Sampson, V. (2013). Learning to argue and arguing to learn: Argument‐ driven inquiry as a way to help undergraduate chemistry students learn how to construct arguments and engage in argumentation during a laboratory course. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(5), 561-596.

Wiggins, G., Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design. ASCD

The cover image is from the STANYS website

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November 2, 2019, 7:27 am to November 4, 2019, 7:27 am