Local schools prepare for new mandated science curriculum

Manistee Intermediate School District general education consultant Kim Rinehart speaks to the ISD board of education about the coming science curriculum changes in Michigan Schools.

Manistee Intermediate School District general education consultant Kim Rinehart speaks to the ISD board of education about the coming science curriculum changes in Michigan Schools.

MANISTEE — Teachers are always being subjected to change in curriculum, and this week the Manistee Intermediate School District Board of Education had the opportunity view the future of science in the K-12 grade level.

Manistee ISD general education consultant Kim Rinehart presented to the board the Next Generation Science Standards and the expectations that that teachers and students will need to address in the upcoming years.

ISD general education director Kay Salyer said Rinehart plays an important role in the general education department and she will be coordinating the local training efforts.

“Kim covers our science curriculum assessments and does a lot with data and NWEA testing as well as working on testing,” said Salyer. “She also does the student programs we do here like Mathcounts, Science Olympiad, Young Authors and an honors band program. She really knows our programs.”

Rinehart said the word is starting to get out on the new standards and what is coming down the road.

“Michigan adopted new science standards in November and if you followed that process at all it took a lot of time as there were lots of political reasons for it,” Rinehart said. “They replaced the grade level content expectations for elementary and the high school content expectations for the high school so those are out.”

Rinehart said they are being replaced with the Next Generation Science Standards.

“This new program was developed by a group of lead states that included Michigan, but we just changed the name as we refer to them as the Michigan Science Standards, but they are basically the Next Generation Science Standards with some Michigan content added in. These represent a major shift in science education.”

Rinehart said that reports are saying these are the biggest changes in the science curriculum in the past 110 years.

“We are not just changing the content in what we are teaching kids, but we are completely changing the way they are going to learn it and how the teacher is going to teach it,” she said. “So we are going from hands-on to minds-on and learning science and facts to doing science.”

Rinhart said the website Michigan.gov/science gives an in-depth explanation of what the changes will be and how they will be addressed in the classroom.

The new curriculum will involve less repetition memorization of facts and termonolgy. It will be replaced by facts and terminology learned as needed while developing explanations and designing solutions supported by evidence-based arguments and reasoning.

Teachers providing information to the whole class will now be replaced by students conducting investigations, solving problems and engaging in discussions with teachers’ guidance.

The concept of reading textbooks and answering questions at the end of the chapter will be replaced by students reading multiple sources, including science-related magazine and journal articles and web-based resources. From that they will be developing summaries of information.

Other things that Rinehart said will change is worksheets that are presently used will be replaced by students writing journals, reports, posters and media presentations that explain and argue concepts.

“Nobody is saying the way we are doing the things now is awful, but what we are saying is we are going to do less of that from now on,” she said. “We aren’t scrapping everything.”

The timeline for putting the changes in place is for testing by spring of 2017, so she said there is time to make a smooth transition.

“Our goal for this year and next year will be professional learning for teachers and administrators and support for teachers to begin making adjustments to curriculum,” she said. “Our motto is ‘to go slow, to go fast’ and do the changes right so they can take off with it.”

Rinehart said they knew this was coming and they have been working on some of the components with the science network groups for all the districts. She plans on holiday workshops this summer at the Manistee ISD and Wexford-Missaukee ISD.

“We just want to get everyone on the same page and next year we are really going to dig deeper,” she said. “That includes getting into the buildings and doing more.”

She said NGSX training is also coming through the math and science center in the summer of 2017.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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