Planning for Science the FIP Way

Today we are excited to release a new module focusing on FIP in Action in a grade 8 classroom. This module introduces you to a team of teachers as they work to implement new science standards in their middle school. As you learn about formative instructional practices, you will find that these examples of practices in action make it much easier to implement them into your own classroom. Just as students, we learn best when given examples.

Adopted in July 2011, Ohio’s New Learning Standards in Science  “serve as a basis for what all students should know and be able to do in order to become scientifically literate citizens equipped with knowledge and skills for the 21st century workforce and higher education” (Ohio Department of Education, 1/30/15).  If you teach science, you probably already know that these standards and their accompanying model curriculum include Ohio’s Cognitive Demands for Science (see page 10 of the standards document). The big challenge for science teachers is learning how to integrate the expectations of the cognitive demands with the content of the standards. This module presents one way of meeting this challenge. It’s not the only way or the right way, it’s the FIP way.

Deconstructing Science Standards the FIP Way

The grade 8 science module showcases how a collaborative team deconstructed a content statement, applies the cognitive demands and planned for a unit of instruction called “Road to Diversity”.

Here are the steps they followed:

This team decided that deconstruction of the content statements into knowledge-based learning targets should come first. Once they agreed upon the learning targets, incorporating the cognitive demands and creating reasoning, skill and product targets was much easier. They selected the thinking skills most appropriate to the content at hand. The team then applied those thinking skills to create higher-level learning targets aligned to both the content statement and the rigor of the cognitive demands.

Science Unit Design the FIP Way

Armed with clear learning targets, the science team moved on to designing units of study that meet their students’ needs. As you work through this module you will see how the team created learning progressions and integrated science units that include content from multiple content statements. Why did they do this? Because the science content statements are not meant to be taught in isolation. In this example, the teachers find that the life science content can be organized into units that include learning from all three of the content statements. The result is a set of clear learning targets that are connected and sequenced across units. The benefits of organizing learning targets in this way are numerous. Working from learning progressions, teachers can more easily plan assessments that measure student growth, students can see where they are in the learning and everyone can work together to set meaningful learning goals.

Here are the steps they took:

How did they get all of this done? Preparing for lessons organized around clear learning targets takes time and collaboration. You can’t simply add the targets to existing lessons and units – it just won’t work. So, this team looked ahead and chose to work on units of study they wouldn’t need for a couple of months, giving them time to deconstruct, consider cognitive demands and create learning progressions.

Lessons Learned

1.       Start with knowledge level learning targets.

2.       Use the cognitive demands to create reasoning, skill and product targets.

3.       Use learning targets from multiple content statements to create integrated units.

4.       Work together – this isn’t easy work, working with your colleagues will help you think through all of the nuances of the science standards.

5.       Don’t rush – start with one content statement, then one unit. Give yourself enough time for considered discussion and reflection.

You can enroll in FIP in Action: Science, Grade 8 The Road to Diversity in Organisms on the Ohio portal by clicking here