October 16, 2013

New Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards Information on Gizmos Website

We are pleased to share that we have added new NGSS and Common Core sections to ExploreLearning.com.

The goal of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) is to provide students with critical knowledge and skills for success in t he 21st century. Gizmos help students of all ability levels to develop the deep knowledge that the Common Core's content standards demand, while enhancing their mathematical expertise, as outlined in the St andards for Mathematical Practice.

Common Core Link



The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is a collaborative, state-led initiative to provide standards that are rich in content and practice. These standards are organized across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. Our library offers hundreds of science simulations that integrate the three dimensions of NGSS.

NGSS link



Visit both of our new pages today to see how Gizmos can prepare your students for success!


Posted by Heather Jones at 12:11 PM in NGSS, Site Announcements | Permalink

September 26, 2013

Gizmos now aligned to Next Generation Science Standards

Adjusted Logo 091611_0The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been developed through a collaborative, state-led initiative to provide science standards that are rich in content and practice. These standards are organized across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.

Based on the National Research Council's (NRC) Framework for K-12 Science Education, the NGSS combines three dimensions to form each standard: Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts. The DCIs help focus curriculum, instruction, and assessment on the most important aspects of science.

ExploreLearning is pleased to share that the science Gizmos library is now correlated to the NGSS DCIs. Gizmos are such a great fit for the NGSS because they allow students to engage in inquiry-driven investigations that fulfill the goals described in the NRC framework.

Explore the Gizmos NGSS alignment today, or read more about how ExploreLearning supports NGSS.


Posted by Heather Jones at 09:04 AM in NGSS, Science | Permalink

June 27, 2013

ExploreLearning Collaborates with Science Leaders on NGSS

IMG_3341ExploreLearning was in Williamsburg, VA this week as a sponsor of the National Science Education Leadership Association’s (NSELA) Summer Leadership Institute. ExploreLearning team members collaborated with science leaders from across the nation, exploring the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). ExploreLearning held focus groups to gain an understanding of science professionals' thoughts and direction for implementation of the NGSS. We were excited to hear what educators had to say in the focus groups and other conference events. Keep an eye out for our upcoming Gizmo NGSS alignment and some great NGSS focused professional development classes to help teachers integrate core ideas, practices, and cross-cutting concepts into their standard-aligned lessons.

See how Gizmos are ideal for supporting the NGSS. Take a free trial today!

To learn more about NSELA, visit NSELA.org.



Posted by Heather Jones at 03:40 PM in NGSS, Science, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

May 09, 2013

Expert Corner: PD Options for Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards

Pam Larson PicAfter receiving her M.Ed. in Science Education and teaching science in middle and high school classrooms for nine years, Pam Larson began working for ExploreLearning in 2007. As a Regional Manager of Professional Development, Ms. Larson has been instrumental in designing curriculum for science and math professional development sessions, and she manages trainers working directly with teachers using ExploreLearning products.

Many schools are using their summer professional development time to address the Common Core Standards for Math (CCSS-M) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Gizmos are a great tool that teachers can use to develop the knowledge and the habits of mind of strong math and science students. The PD department at ExploreLearning is offering higher-level training workshops aimed at preparing teachers for the CCSS-M and the NGSS.

Using Gizmos with the CCSS will help participants develop a deeper understanding of both the content standards and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. The Common Core – the Balance between Skills and Understanding workshop allows participants to work collaboratively and identify mathematical tasks that develop students’ capacity to meet the Standards of Mathematical Practice.

Greenhouse Effect GizmoDistricts can also choose from a variety of Troublesome Topics in Math workshops. Each of these is designed for a different grade band around math concepts that are difficult for students to grasp and have moved down in grade level in the new standards. The elementary workshop focuses on fractions, while the middle grades workshop explores ratios and proportions, and the high school workshop examines functions. Teachers leave with a better mastery of the content they are teaching and with specific strategies for leading students to conceptual understanding of their focus topic.

Like the Common Core workshops, using Gizmos with the NGSS is designed to help teachers make the pedagogical leaps dictated in the new science standards. The NGSS encourages teachers to teach fewer content topics, but to take students to a much deeper level of understanding than in the past. The three Troublesome Topics in Science workshops focus on refining teachers’ understanding of science content in three disciplines across all grade levels; Life Science, Earth/Space Science, and Physical Science. If teachers themselves have a strong knowledge of science topics, they will be better prepared to help students develop a deeper conceptual understanding.

As the summer and fall go on, the PD department will be developing additional higher-level offerings to support these new standards.

To learn more about bringing any of these workshops to your school or district, please contact your Account Executive.

Posted by Meredith Cole at 10:55 AM in NGSS, Training and Professional Development, Using Gizmos | Permalink

April 17, 2013

Expert Corner: Next Generation Science Standards

Laura Chervenak PicLaura Chervenak has been with ExploreLearning since 2010, and she is currently the VP of Professional Development. She has taught high school science, and is the founder and former director of GOAL Digital Academy. Laura is National Board Certified in Science/Adolescence and Young Adulthood, with a B.A. in Zoology and an M.S. in Anthropology.

NGSSThe Next Generation Science Standards were released in their final form just as thousands of teachers and administrators were arriving in San Antonio, Texas for the 2013 NSTA National Conference. Conversations and presentations around the new standards were found in almost every room and hallway as educators gathered information to take back to their districts.

You may also be asking yourself, “Now that the standards are final, what steps should we be taking to prepare for adoption and implementation?” Here are five steps you can take to get up-to-speed.

Dive deeply into the Framework for K-12 Science Education.Students don’t study the law before they understand the Constitution. They don’t study medicine before they take anatomy. Similarly, science educators need to understand the foundation of the new standards as it is laid out in the three dimensions of the Framework — the Disciplinary Core Ideas, the Standards of Scientific and Engineering Practices, and the Crosscutting Concepts.

Study the architecture of the Next Generation Science Standards. Ted Willard’s article, “A Look at the Next Generation Science Standards,” provides an overview and diagram of the information contained in the standards.  This article will explain that these standards are written as performance expectations, which describe what students should be able to do at the end of instruction.

Find the grade level(s) you are most interested in and take a look. Now that you know how the standards are structured, download the PDF of the standards arranged by topic. This format will help you to see the big picture for your chosen grade level(s). Read the Storyline first to see a summary of the performance expectations and then move on to the detailed NGSS Boxes for the grade level(s). Don’t read the performance expectations in isolation! Be sure to include the clarification statements, assessment boundaries, and foundation information from the three dimensions of the Framework.

Review the appendices. The authors of the NGSS provide a wealth of information in the appendices to the NGSS. Depending on your personal interest, they are all worth reading, but if you are pressed for time you should make a few your priority. First, if you are still grappling with the idea of performance expectations, or if you are wondering just what the authors were thinking when they were writing the standards, you should read Appendix A, Conceptual Shifts. It is an excellent description of the philosophies that guided the development of the standards. Appendices E-J describe the progressions through each grade band endpoint, showing the increase in content and skill sophistication from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Learn from others. Talk with colleagues. Join an NGSS study group or PLN. Attend webinars. Read journal articles. Attend conferences and workshops. This summer, ExploreLearning is sponsoring the NSELA Next Generation Science Standards Leadership Institute in Colonial Williamsburg, VA. NSTA also offers many different ways to learn more about the NGSS at www.nsta.org/ngss.

Gizmos are a great vehicle to address the new science standards in your classroom. Gizmos allow students to engage in inquiry-driven scientific investigations, as well as help students develop a deep understanding of all the core ideas.

ExploreLearning is ready to be your partner in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. If you haven't delved into Gizmos yet,take a free trial and see how well they help prepare you for the next generation in science teaching and learning.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 12:27 PM in NGSS, Using Gizmos | Permalink

January 09, 2013

Expert Corner: Coming Next Generation Science Standards


Kurt PicKurt Rosenkrantz is a science curriculum writer and Gizmo designer for ExploreLearning. Kurt holds a Master of Science in Geology from the University of Cincinnati, and a bachelor's degree in Earth Science from Harvard. He taught high school and middle school science for eight years before joining ExploreLearning in 2005.

For the last two years, Achieve Inc. has been working to develop a set of national science standards similar to the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics. NGSSThe Next Generation Science Standards were built on the previously published book, A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. A major goal of the standards is to integrate scientific practices into the standards themselves while using crosscutting concepts to allow students to make connections among disciplines. This will elevate these new standards above those previously developed that were just checklists of content with separate inquiry or science process standards. By integrating the practices into the standards themselves, the way that students learn cannot be unraveled from the content they learn.

So far, 26 states have committed to be lead partners in the development of the standards. The lead state partners have worked with Achieve to develop the standards and will give “serious consideration” to adopting the standards when they are completed. Click here to see if your state is on the list. It is quite possible that additional states will adopt the new standards once they are finalized.

On Tuesday, January 8, the second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released for public comment. The public comment period will last until January 29, 2013. The final draft of the standards is planned for release in late March.

Food Chain GizmoGizmos are a great fit for the proposed science standards. Gizmos allow students to engage in inquiry-driven investigations that fulfill the goals of the Standards of Scientific and Engineering Practice, Crosscutting Concepts and Disciplinary Core ideas described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. A great example of this is our Food Chain Gizmo, where students see how populations of producers and consumers fluctuate in an ecosystem. The Gizmo supports the Crosscutting Concept “Stability and Change” and targets DCIs LS1 and LS2.

If you wish to comment on the second draft of the NGSS, click here. This is a great opportunity to influence the development of new science standards and we urge that you take advantage of it. Here at ExploreLearning we are keeping a close eye on the development of the standards and how our Gizmos fit in. It is likely that much of our future Gizmo development will continue to enhance our alignment to these new science standards and support educators implementing them in classrooms.

Posted by ExploreLearning at 05:00 PM in NGSS, Using Gizmos | Permalink