The course of the Digital Teaching Box project aligned with the adoption and launch of NGSS in California. In the first years of implementation, teachers, schools, districts, professional learning providers like the Exploratorium, and other stakeholders began to interpret the standards into classroom practice. As a collective vision of NGSS developed, we learned that while stand-alone classroom resources such as hands-on activities, videos, and readings are valuable, shifting pedagogy towards NGSS requires teachers to focus on the framing and sequencing of classroom activities: why and how each activity supports students in asking and answering questions to explain and understand a natural phenomenon. (To learn more about how we use Snacks to support phenomena-based teaching and learning, see the Snacks and NGSS page.)
To support teachers in designing classroom experiences in which students truly have the opportunity to figure something out, we developed a simple planning tool to help teachers create instructional sequences that center students’ observations and questions. Single activities in which students use the Science and Engineering Practices to construct knowledge about content are the raw material for an NGSS-aligned instructional sequence.
This sequence-planning tool can be used to plan a single lesson or an entire semester of instruction and prompts teachers to look at classroom activities through the lens of the student. Activities are sequenced based on questions raised or unanswered by previous activities, so that anticipated student observations and questions determine how learning unfolds.
Download PDF: Creating an Activity Sequence for NGSS