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The Talking Head

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Talking Head, Jim Laney

Next Generation Science

This week our Middle and High School science teachers are heavily engaged in planning and preparation for teaching a new science curriculum. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have developed new standards and resources called the “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS). These standards provide a balanced focus on the content of science and the practices of real scientists. They are directly in line with our use of Inquiry as a model for instruction at ICS.

We all know that teaching content is less critical than it was when we attended school. Then, all we needed to know could be found in a good recent textbook. Now, what we know is changing too rapidly for only using traditional textbooks. Content is still important, but we have to identify the really critical pieces of content that students need…there’s just too much and we keep adding more every year.

The NGSS also identifies specific practices that are critical in science and engineering. These practices are embedded in assessment and in curriculum planning. The eight practices of science and engineering that the NGSS framework identifies as essential are:

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering) 

  2. Developing and using models 

  3. Planning and carrying out investigations 

  4. Analyzing and interpreting data 

  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking 

  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering) 

  7. Engaging in argument from evidence 

  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information 

I think we’d all agree we want our students—our children—learning these practices.

Science consultant Paul Andersen is working with our teachers again this year on developing and adjusting our courses to include the content and practices that the NGSS asks for. You can learn more about the NGSS and Paul Andersen from these sources:

Twitter: @paulandersen, @OfficialNGSS and #NGSS

Youtube: Bozeman Science (Paul Andersen’s Youtube Channel, with 475,000 followers!)  ttps://

Websites: the NGSS website at


United We Dance!

Please join us for a special celebration of Ethiopian music and dancing on Friday night at 7:00 PM. The evening is entitled “United We Dance.”

Temesgen’s Cultural Group was created nine years ago to teach under-privileged children Ethiopian cultural dancing. The group has gained a respectful reputation through its performances on both the national and international stage. Last year, TCG was selected to represent Ethiopia at the India-African Summit in New Delhi. They also performed for President Barack Obama at the National Palace on his first visit to Ethiopia in 2015.

Temesgen’s Cultural Group is coming to us with the support of ICS Addis alumnus, Saron Mechale. Saron graduated in 2013 and is a student at Brown University in New Jersey. Saron has been working with TCG this year, and she says, “’United We Dance’ includes themes of unity, love and peace for Africa, and the world at large. In a world that is plagued by division through race, religion, ethnicity, and identity, I believe in the importance of realizing we have more similarities that unite us than we have differences that divide us.”