The SOCSD Science Leadership Team met in a K-12 forum to discuss changes to enhance curriculum and the New York State assessments. The meeting opened with a challenge for team members: Build a sound-proof case for a cell phone. Science Instructional Coaches Brian Newburger and Samantha Levine chose this activity because sound and waves are studied in grades 1, 4, 6, and in high school physics. Teachers discussed how to modify the activity to fit other areas of study and adapt the project to their specific grade level.
This activity led into a discussion about the timeline of curriculum shifts and changes to the state tests. Teachers studied the new timeline and met in grade-level pairings to discuss about how science skills transfer from one grade to the next and throughout content units. An emphasis was placed on the “cross-cutting concepts” (the Next Generation Science Standards and New York State term for themes) which run throughout units and across grade levels. These concepts include cause and effect, change versus stability, patterns, systems, and models. Teachers discussed how these themes could be used to tie units together throughout the year.
Over the summer, Dr. Stephen Cohn and Mr. Jim Keelty, science teachers at TZHS, built an augmented reality (AR) sandbox to further enhance the study of earth science, climate change, and geography. Dr. Cohn introduced the group to the AR Sandbox and demonstrated how it could be tied into curriculum at varying grade levels. Teachers were given the opportunity to manipulate the sand landscape to change the topographical map displayed on the computer and add water simulation to the model to illustrate flooding and its effects on lower lying land forms.
The meeting ended with a discussion of next steps for the April meeting and about topics the teachers would like to explore with the science coaches.