Alignment: Overall Summary

The instructional materials reviewed for Science Techbook for California NGSS Middle School do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

See Rating Scale
Understanding Gateways

Alignment

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Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 1:

Designed for NGSS

0
12
22
26
8
22-26
Meets Expectations
13-21
Partially Meets Expectations
0-12
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway 2:

Coherence and Scope

0
29
48
56
N/A
48-56
Meets Expectations
30-47
Partially Meets Expectations
0-29
Does Not Meet Expectations

Usability

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Not Rated

Not Rated

Gateway 3:

Usability

0
28
46
54
N/A
46-54
Meets Expectations
29-45
Partially Meets Expectations
0-28
Does Not Meet Expectations

Gateway One

Designed for NGSS

Does Not Meet Expectations

+
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Gateway One Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. The materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning. 

Criterion 1a - 1c

Materials are designed for three-dimensional learning and assessment.
4/16
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-
Criterion Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. Approximately half of all learning sequences engage students in use of the three dimensions and the materials do not consistently provide opportunities for students to use both SEPs and CCCs to make sense of and with the other dimensions. The materials incorporate lesson objectives that do not consistently incorporate the three dimensions and formative assessment tasks are present but do not consistently yield information about student progress in learning and using the three dimensions. Further, the materials include three-dimensional objectives at the unit level, but the summative assessments for each unit partially address or do not address the objectives listed for the same unit. 

Indicator 1a

Materials are designed to integrate the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) into student learning.
0/0

Indicator 1a.i

Materials consistently integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities.
2/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are consistently designed to integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) into student learning.

Across the series, the materials integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities at the lesson level in approximately half of all learning sequences. Discovery Education Science Techbooks are organized by unit (four per grade level) and then by supporting concepts (four to five per unit). Each learning sequence (concept) is designed to follow the 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) format of instruction and is typically completed over 10-15 instructional periods (45 minutes each).

When the three dimensions are present, they are most frequently within the Explore or Elaborate sections, but may be found within select Engage and Explain portions of concepts. Within each concept, the Elaborate with STEM section contains two to four STEM Project Starters. The minimum suggested time estimate in the Model Lesson PDF corresponds to the minimum suggested time associated with the STEM in Action assignment, labeled as core interactive text (CIT), and interpreted to be the required component of this section. The maximum suggested time estimate allows for students to additionally complete one or more STEM Project Starters. For example, in Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.2: Evolution and Natural Selection, the Model Lesson PDF recommends 90-180 minutes of instructional time to complete the Elaborate with STEM section. The suggested time for the STEM in Action section is 90 minutes. Additionally, this section includes three STEM Project Starters: What Did Darwin Do? (45 minutes), Helicopters and Hummingbirds (45 minutes), and Traits over Time (90 minutes). The total recommended time to complete all four activities within the Elaborate with STEM section is 270 minutes, yet the suggested range for the entire Elaborate with STEM section is only 90-180 minutes. Insufficient guidance is provided to support students in selecting and teachers assigning these project starters; it cannot be assumed that all students will complete every option within the series. As such, any individual STEM Project Starter is considered to be optional within the materials and is not considered as a factor in scoring. Additionally, the Evaluate portion of each lesson assesses, rather than engages students in new learning, and is not considered a factor in the scoring of this indicator.  

Examples of student learning opportunities that integrate the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, Explore 1, students collect and analyze temperature data of ice as it is melted and heated to boiling, and subsequently relate changes in temperature to changes in energy states. Students engage in a teacher-led discussion identifying the relationship between water temperature and its state, and then modify a changes in state diagram incorporating prior collected evidence. Within the instructional sequence, students use observed data (SEP-DATA-M4) to identify cause and effect relationships (CCC-CE-M2) between temperature, energy state, and material phase (DCI-PS1.A-M6) as they modify a model to reflect identified relationships (SEP-MOD-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.2: Earth’s Natural Resources, Explore 4, students investigate how groundwater travels through rock and sand, participate in small group and whole class discussions on the effects of human populations on groundwater resources, and describe the consequences of groundwater depletion in an extended response question. Within the instructional sequence, students conduct an investigation to produce data (SEP-INV-M2) that describe the uneven distribution of groundwater as a resource (DCI-ESS3.A-M1), and then describe the negative effects (CCC-CE-M1) of groundwater depletion by human populations.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.2: Energy for Launch, Engage, students design an investigation to identify a fuel mixture that will propel a small rocket to an altitude of ten meters; create and modify a model to demonstrate the forces acting on a rocket as it launches, climbs, and descends; and identify evidence to explain how mass and energy affect the acceleration of a rocket. Within the instructional sequence, students develop and modify a model to represent a system (CCC-SYS-M2) to include interactions observed in a designed investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to evaluate the sum of forces acting on an object (DCI-PS2.A-M2).

Examples from learning sequences where student learning opportunities do not integrate the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.1: Body Systems, students read a passage and watch several videos describing the functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems, interact with an animation that describes which parts of the brain control several bodily functions, sort activities by nervous subsystem, and complete a paragraph by selecting vocabulary terms from drop down menus within a diagram. Within the instructional sequence, students do not engage in an SEP as they evaluate the differences between the subsystems of a larger complex system (CCC-SYS-M1) composed of tissues and organs specialized for particular body functions (DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Concept 2.2: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Explore 3, students read a passage comparing cellular respiration and photosynthesis, watch an animation and several videos about the cycling of matter and the flow of energy, and make posters to explain how matter cycles and energy flows through organisms. Within the instructional sequence, students do not engage in an SEP as they represent how energy and matter flow (CCC-SYS-M2) as plants use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make and store food (DCI-LS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.1: Earth’s History and the Fossil Record, Explore 4, students examine a table of extinction event data, watch several videos, read multiple passages about fossil records, and perform an optional physical measurement activity. Within the instructional sequence, students do not engage in an SEP or CCC as they read and hear about how the fossil record documents the history of life on earth (DCI-LS4.A-M1).

Indicator 1a.ii

Materials consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions.
2/4
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are consistently designed to support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. The materials are designed for SEPs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions in nearly all learning sequences.

In instances where the materials include all three dimensions within an instructional sequence, students do not consistently use both the SEPs and the CCCs to make sense of and with the other dimensions. The materials contain some instances where SEPs or CCCs meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions. Where CCCs are included, the relationships illustrated by the CCCs are often stated in the student text or explicitly scripted for the teacher to identify during discussion. Student use of SEPs to meaningfully make sense of DCIs occurs in nearly all learning sequences and typically occurs within the Hands-on Activities.

While students engage in multiple SEPs across the series, the materials rely heavily on the practice of the students constructing explanations from evidence. In most instances, students explain using evidence from text and/or video segments and less frequently from direct observation and hands-on-activities.

Examples of student learning opportunities where students make sense with the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, Explore 1, students make sense of how changes in temperature relate to changes in energy states (DCI-PS1.A-M6) with the other dimensions. Students utilize the practice of identifying appropriate evidence to support an explanation (SEP-DATA-M4) as they analyze and interpret data from a laboratory exercise and teacher demonstration to build understanding of changes in state (DCI-PS1.A-M6). Students utilize the concepts of cause and effect (CCC-CE-M2) and energy transfers (CCC-EM-M4) to build understanding of the relationships between temperature, energy state, and material phase (DCI-PS1.A-M6).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.2: Energy for Launch, Engage, students make sense of the forces acting on a rocket (DCI-PS2.A-M2) with other dimensions. Students utilize the practices of designing an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) and testing solutions (SEP-INV-M5) as they build understanding of how the motion of an object is determined by the forces acting on it (DCI-PS2.A-M2). Students utilize the concept of using models to represent systems and their interactions (CCC-SYS-M2) to build understanding of total and net force (DCI-PS2.A-M2).

Examples of students using an SEP for sensemaking with a DCI:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s Interacting Systems, Explore 1: students are asked the question, “What causes sea levels to rise?” To answer this question, students watch videos and read text to build background knowledge on earth’s water sources (DCI-ESS2.C-E1). In the Hands-on Activity, students create a physical model (SEP-MOD-M5) to compare sea level rise from melting glaciers to melting sea ice to explain rising sea levels.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.1: Earth’s Moving Surface, Explain, students are asked the question, “Why do so many earthquakes occur along the west coast of the United States?” Students look at maps showing global earthquake distribution then read text, and watch videos that provide information about plate movements. Students engage in a Hands-on Activity to create a paper reconstruction of Pangea. Students restate explanations provided in the text to build understanding of the movement of Earth’s plates (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students make a claim and support it with evidence from the text, maps, and videos (SEP-CEDS-M3) to make sense of how mapping the historical occurrences of earthquakes can help forecast future events (DCI-ESS2.B-M1, DCI-ESS3.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.2: Earth’s Natural Resources, Explore 4, students conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) to test the porosity of sand and permeability of different types of rocks to help them determine which components make a good aquifer. Students read additional text and watch several videos to learn about sources of groundwater, movement and storage of groundwater, and depletion of groundwater. Students are provided with a list of consequences of groundwater depletion to build understanding of the mechanisms affecting groundwater depletion (DCI-ESS3.A-M1) as they make sense of geologic conditions that determine the availability of groundwater as a natural resource.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.3: Colliding Objects, Explore 1, students make sense of Newton’s third law (DCI-PS2.A-M1) with scientific practices, but not with the crosscutting concepts.  Students utilize the practice of analyzing data (SEP-DATA-M4) to make sense of how force is transferred from one object to another as objects collide (DCI-PS2.A-M1).

Indicator 1b

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
0/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Across the series, the provided Lesson Objectives frequently focus on student learning of the targeted DCIs and do not consistently integrate the SEPs or CCCs. Formative assessment tasks are present within each of the learning sequences. Digital activities are available to periodically check students knowledge throughout the concept and sometimes including the use of a practice, but they do not consistently yield information about the students’ progress in learning and using all three dimensions.

Examples of lesson objectives that are not three-dimensional and the subsequent formative assessment tasks do not elicit information about students understanding and use of the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s Interacting Systems, students explore the interconnectedness of Earth’s systems. The Lesson Objectives include describing energy transfers from the sun that drive thermal expansion (DCI-ESS2.A-M1), the role of gravity in the hydrologic cycle (DCI-ESS2.C-M3), and the role of plants in the water cycle (DCI-ESS2.C-M1). However, no lesson objectives focus on the SEPs or CCCs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 1.3, but the activities do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, the Lesson Objectives include seven objectives focused on DCIs related to matter to support PE-MS-PS1-4. One additional objective, “Model the movement of particles in solids, liquids, and gases,” includes an SEP to support this PE. However, no lesson objectives focus on the CCCs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 1.1, but they do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Sustaining Ecosystems, Concept 4.3: Human Impact on Ecosystems, the Lesson Objectives include seven objectives focused on DCIs and SEPs related to understanding and developing solutions to environmental problems. However, no lesson objectives focus on the CCCs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 4.3, but they do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: LIfe’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.1: Earth’s History and the Fossil Record, the Lesson Objectives include five objectives focused on DCIs and the CCCs of patterns and cause and effect. However, no lesson objectives focus on the SEPs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 3.1, but they do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.

Indicator 1c

Materials are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials.
0/4
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The Discovery Education Science Techbook Assessment Cycle in the Teacher Edition includes a description of “medium-cycle” assessments to be given at the end of the unit or quarterly. These include the  Performance Based Assessment (PBA) and the Unit Assessment which includes a series of technology enhanced items (TEIs). Additionally, the materials provide “short-cycle” assessments that include the optional STEM Project Starters.

Across the series, the materials present a performance-based assessment at the end of each unit to assess the learning objectives, identified as performance expectations (PEs), for that unit. These summative assessments generally consist of five to seven questions that are designed to assess two to six PEs. Assessments typically include multiple technology enhanced items (TEIs) such as drag-and-drop matching and labeling, drop-down menu fill in the blank, true/false statements, and multiple select/choice questions. All of the performance-based assessments include one extended response question. While the performance-based assessment for Grade 6, Unit 4 meets the requirement to produce evidence of three-dimensional learning, the summative assessment items do not consistently meet this requirement in units across the series. Across the series, the summative assessments frequently partially address or do not address the listed learning objectives for the unit (PEs).

Examples where summative assessments are not three-dimensional in design and do not connect to the three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, the performance-based assessment consists of one extended response question and four TEIs intended to assess student achievement in relation to the performance expectations of MS-PS3-4, MS-ESS2-4, and MS-ESS2-5. This assessment does not fully address the intended PEs, as students do not fully demonstrate understanding of the SEPs or CCCs as indicated. Further, the assessment does not attempt to address the unit learning objectives MS-PS3-3 and MS-PS3-5.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, the performance-based assessment consists of one extended question and four TEIs intended to assess student achievement in relations to the performance expectations of MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-5, MS-LS1-6, and MS-ESS2-1. This assessment does not fully address the intended PEs, as students do not fully demonstrate understanding of the SEPs or CCCs as indicated. Further, the assessment does not attempt to address the unit learning objectives MS-PS1-6, MS-LS1-7, and MS-ETS-1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Monitoring Biodiversity, the performance-based assessment consists of one extended response question and six TEIs intended to assess student achievement in relations to the performance expectations of MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-6, MS-ESS1-1, and MS-ESS3-4. This assessment does not fully address the intended PEs, as students do not fully demonstrate understanding of SEPs or CCCs as indicated. Further, the assessment does not attempt to address the unit learning objectives MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-PS4-3.

Criterion 1d - 1i

Materials leverage science phenomena and engineering problems in the context of driving learning and student performance.
4/10
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Criterion Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include phenomena at unit and concept levels and are consistently linked to grade-band appropriate DCIs. The materials do not consistently present phenomena and problems as directly as possible. The materials incorporate some phenomena at the lesson or concept level, but those phenomena do not connect student learning experiences within the lesson or concept. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in up to 10% of the lessons, and explain phenomena in 33% of the lessons. The materials elicit student prior knowledge, but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems. Additionally, the materials consistently incorporate phenomena at the unit level, but those phenomena do not drive student learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons or concepts.

Indicator 1d

Phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.
2/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet the expectation that phenomena are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas. Across the series, problems are found in some performance-based assessments or presented within the Elaborate with STEM section of each concept as optional extension resources; because of this design, problems were not considered when scoring this indicator.

The materials follow a 5E model. Each grade-band sequence is composed of four units, each comprising three to five conceptual 5E subunits. Phenomena are presented at the unit (anchoring) and concept (investigative) level. Within the Engage and Explore portions of each instructional sequence, students watch videos, read passages, engage in class discussions, and perform hands-on activities to build understanding of grade-band DCIs. The instructional materials include phenomena linked to grade-band appropriate DCIs or their elements in nearly all instances.

Examples of phenomena linked to grade-level appropriate DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climates, Concept 3.3: Reproducing to Save a Species, students investigate the phenomenon of climate changes signaling sea turtles to reproduce. Throughout the learning sequence, students work to build an understanding of the nature of reproductive success. Students synthesize information from multiple video segments and several reading passages to build an understanding of animals engaging in characteristic behaviors to increase odds of reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M2) and that human caused changes to the environment will have impacts on the ability of living things to reproduce (DCI-ESS3.C.M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow. Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, students investigate the phenomenon of matter changes that occur during a wildfire. Throughout the learning sequence, students work to build an understanding of the nature of chemical change. Students synthesize information from multiple video segments and several reading passages to develop an understanding that substances have characteristic physical and chemical properties (DCI-PS1.A-M2).  Students also perform investigations to demonstrate evidence characteristic of chemical change (DCI-PS1.B-M1) and mass conserved during a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.2: Evolution and Natural Selection, students investigate the phenomenon of the effect of drought on the beak depth of finches. Throughout the learning sequence, students work to build an understanding of adaptation by natural selection. Students evaluate several images and graphs to build an understanding of how changes to an environment cause traits in a populations to change (DCI-LS4.C-M1) and investigate the role of natural selection in the variation of traits expressed in a population (DCI-LS4.B-M1).

Indicator 1e

Phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible.
1/2
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-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Within the materials, investigative phenomena are presented in either the Engage or the Explore sections of concepts or, in the case of anchoring phenomena, the opening of each unit. Both anchoring and investigative phenomena are present throughout most of the series and are introduced to students through a brief reading passage and a video segment or image. Problem solving scenarios in the materials are presented as optional extensions, thus they are not considered for scoring.

Throughout the materials, when phenomena are present, they are presented as directly as possible approximately half of the time. In multiple instances, the phenomena are introduced via video or still photo, which is appropriate due to issues of scale, geographical access, or in consideration of student safety. In some instances, passages engage students in phenomena via a crosscutting concept, which provides access points for students who may lack contextual background knowledge of phenomena. However, the materials contain many instances in which videos and images are employed to introduce phenomena and where first-hand observation is feasible. Across the series, phenomena are not consistently presented to students as directly as possible.

Examples of phenomena that are presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, Engage: Where Did the Water Go?, the investigative phenomenon of water evaporating from Lake Mead is presented to students via the passage “Where Did the Water Go?", a video segment “Lake Mead”, and through whole class observations of changing water levels in two beakers of water. These resources provide students with geographical and first-hand conceptual context with which to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climates, the anchoring phenomenon of the causes of different climate regions across the globe is presented to students via a world map of average annual temperatures and a brief passage which directs students to identify visible patterns on the map. These resources provide students with a scale-appropriate context with which to engage in the phenomenon. Additionally, the crosscutting concept of patterns provides an access point for students who may lack background knowledge.
  • Grade 6 Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climate, Concept 3.2: Environmental and Genetic Influences, Engage: Engaging With Earth’s Environments, the investigative phenomenon of how loss of sea ice affects the migration of caribou is presented to students via the passage “Engaging with Earth’s Environments” and several video segments including; “Caribou on Thin Ice”. These resources provide students with scalar and geographical contexts with which to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter all Around, Concept 1.2: Energy and changing States, Engage: Liquid Nitrogen - Very Strange Stuff, the investigative phenomenon of phase changes of nitrogen is presented to students through the passage “Liquid Nitrogen - Very Strange Stuff”, and several video segments, including “Liquid Nitrogen”, in which a presenter makes ice cream with the supercooled liquid. These resources provide students a safe environment in which to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.1: Earth’s Moving Surface, Engage: The 1989 San Francisco Earthquake, the investigative phenomenon of the frequency of earthquakes in California is presented to students via a video and passage, both titled “The San Francisco Earthquake of 1989”. Included in the passage are two images: the first, a map showing worldwide distribution of earthquakes and the second, a relief map of the ocean floor. Language within the passage tasks students with identifying patterns between the two maps. These resources provide students with an historical and geographical context with which to engage in the phenomenon. Additionally, the crosscutting concept of patterns provides an access point for students who lack background knowledge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Moving Planets, Concept 2.2: Planetary Forces, Engage: Life on Mars, the investigative phenomenon that life might have existed on Mars is presented to students through a video that explores the presence of water as necessary to support life on Mars. These resources provide students with a scalar and geographical context with which to engage in the phenomenon.

Examples of phenomena that are not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s interacting systems, Engage: Earth’s Vital Signs, the investigative phenomenon of sea level change is presented to students through a graph of changing sea level over time. A more direct presentation is possible to help students focus their questions on how the increase in sea level impacts plants near the coast.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter all Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, Engage: Dry Ice a Really Cool Substance, the investigative phenomenon of dry ice is presented to students through a video of dry ice sublimation. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining classroom safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1:Matter all Around, Concept 1.3:The Composition of Matter, Engage: Matter Changes in a Burning Match, the investigative phenomenon of a burning match is presented to students through a video of a match being burned. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining classroom safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow. Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, Engage: Changing Matter in a Wildfire, the investigative phenomenon of fire and what happens to matter as it burns is presented to students through video of wildfires in California and a discussion on the nature of fire. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining classroom safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, Concept 2.2: Matter and Energy in Living System, Engage: The World’s Largest Trees, the investigative phenomenon of giant trees growing from tiny seeds is presented to students through a video of the sequoias along the coast of California. The video provides information about Sequoia National Park that includes information about the distribution, age, weight, and size of sequoia trees in the park but does not provide information about the tree's seeds or different stages of growth. A more direct presentation is possible to help students focus their questions on how the tree gains matter as it grows.

Indicator 1f

Phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions.
0/2
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Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Within the materials, Investigative Phenomena are presented in either the Engage or Explore sections of concepts and are present throughout most of the series. Phenomena are generally introduced to students through a brief reading passage and a series of video segments. In most instances, the materials either do not connect the learning experiences to the phenomena or they do not engage students using all three dimensions. Problem solving activities are presented only as optional extensions within the materials; thus, they are not considered for scoring.

Examples of phenomena that are presented but not used to drive student learning:

  • In Grade 6: Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s Interacting Systems, Engage: Earth’s Vital Signs, students are introduced to the phenomenon of an increasing sea level height between 1993 and 2017. In subsequent parts of the learning sequence, students learn about factors that do not contribute to sea level rise and factors that do. The materials do not support students in collecting evidence to explain the phenomenon of sea level rise in the time frame shown in the initial graph. The phenomenon is used as an introduction only and students are not utilizing the three dimensions to make sense of it or figure it out.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.3: Evidence for Evolution, Engage: Flu Evolution, students are introduced to the phenomenon of needing different flu shots each year to prevent influenza. Students then read about the meaning of a scientific theory, the fossil record, evolution in whales, homologous structures, and cladograms. The materials do not address flu evolution during the learning sequence after the Engage portion of the lesson, thus this phenomenon does not drive student learning. The phenomenon is used as an introduction only and students are not utilizing the three dimensions to make sense of it or figure it out.
  • In Grade 8: Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.4: Modifying Organisms, Engage: Thinking about Where Dog Breeds Come From, students are introduced to the phenomenon of “dog breeds” via a teacher guided discussion. The Teacher Notes direct the instructor to elicit student ideas about the various characteristics of different dog breeds, learned versus inherited traits, and the sources of the variety of breed traits. Students then read a text, “Thinking about Where Dog Breeds Come From,” and watch several video segments. Although the domestication of dogs is mentioned in the Explore section, the phenomenon does not form the basis for any investigations or discovery throughout the subsequent activities to support students in making sense of the phenomenon.

In cases where phenomena drive learning without engaging students in all three dimensions of instruction student explanations do not include the broader scientific ideas found in the crosscutting concepts.

Examples of phenomena that do not engage students in all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climates, Concept 3.2: Environmental and Genetic Influences, students are introduced to the phenomenon of impacts of climate change on caribou populations in the Arctic in the Engage section. This phenomenon is revisited in the Explain section of the concept where students write a scientific explanation to address the question, “How do the environment and genetics influence the growth of caribou in the Arctic?” In this case, students address interdependent relationships in ecosystems (DCI-LS2.A-M1, DCI-LS2.A-M3) and inheritance of traits (DCI-LS3.A-M2), while constructing an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, students watch a video segment showing the phenomenon of dry ice. The materials reference the phenomenon multiple times throughout the Engage, Explore, and Explain sections of the concept. This engagement is supported in the Teacher Notes, where the instructor is guided to elicit students’ prior knowledge and to help students make connections to the phenomenon. Throughout the concept, students consistently address matter and its interactions (DCI-PS1.A-M4), and construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M2, SEP-CEDS-M4).

Indicator 1g

Materials are designed to include appropriate proportions of phenomena vs. problems based on the grade-band performance expectations.
0/0
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-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 were designed for students to solve problems in up to 10% of the lessons/activities compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 33% of the lessons or 13 of 40 concepts, focus on explaining phenomena.

Across the series, problems are found in several locations throughout the materials: Hands-on Activities, STEM Project Starters, and performance-based assessments. Performance-based assessments are not included in the calculations for the lessons, since those are considered summative assessments and occur at the conclusion of learning.

Within each concept, the Elaborate with STEM section contains a STEM in Action extension resource and two to four STEM Project Starters. STEM Project Starters may ask students to solve a design problem or explain a topic, concept, or phenomenon. Most units have at least one STEM Project Starter that is focused on solving a design problem. Within each concept, the Elaborate with STEM section contains two to four STEM Project Starters. The minimum suggested time estimate in the Model Lesson PDF corresponds to the minimum suggested time associated with the STEM in Action assignment, labeled as core interactive text (CIT), and interpreted to the be required component of this section. The maximum suggested time estimate allows for students to complete one or more STEM Project Starters. For example, in Grade 7, Unit 3: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, the Model Lesson PDF indicates that the Elaborate with STEM section requires 45-135 minutes of instructional time. The suggested time for the STEM in Action section is 45 minutes. There are an additional three STEM Project Starters: The Chemistry of Skunks (90 minutes), Wildfire! (90 minutes), and Chemical Engineering of Ice Packs (90 minutes). Because the suggested total time to complete all four activities within the Elaborate with STEM section is 315 minutes and the suggested range is 45-135 minutes, it cannot be assumed that all students will complete the Chemical Engineering of Ice Packs project or any of the other two options. As such, this design problem is not considered for scoring purposes since insufficient guidance is provided on which STEM Project Starters students will select or teachers will assign.

Hands-on Activities are typically found in the Explore section of each concept; some of these engage students in engineering design problems. A Student Investigation Sheet provides standardized questions across all the Hands-on Activities that focus on asking students to write questions, make predictions, plan, collect evidence, and support or refute their hypothesis related to their investigation. In few instances, the Hands-on Activities that engage students with design problems also provide an additional Engineering Design Sheet that provides standardized questions related to defining the problem, developing the solution, and optimizing the design. This Engineering Design Sheet is not consistently provided for all problem-focused Hands-on Activities.  

Across the series, the materials present anchoring phenomena at the opening of each unit and investigative phenomena in either the Engage or Explore sections of each concept. Both anchoring and investigative phenomena are present throughout most of the series and are introduced to students through a brief reading passage and a video segment or image. Frequently, students are engaged in answering a Can You Explain? question as it relates to the phenomenon. While the materials consistently identify a phenomenon for each unit and concept, several of the publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, or topics, rather than observable occurrences that engage students in asking questions to advance their own learning or explain the phenomena.

Examples of problems within the materials:

  • In Grade 7: Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy, Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, students design, construct and test a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy through chemical reactions. The materials provide both the Student Investigation Sheet and the Engineering Design Sheet for students to record their thinking during the activity.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Our Changing Climate, Concept 4.3: Reducing Human Impacts on the Environment, STEM Project Starter: Reducing Waste in My House, students define criteria and then design a process to help reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. The materials provide the Engineering Design Sheet for students to record their thinking during the project before presenting their process to the class. This project is one of two projects in the Elaborate with STEM section of this concept where students are provided a problem to design a solution. The materials recommended 45-135 minutes of instructional time for the Elaborate with STEM section: STEM in Action (45 minutes for this Core Interactive Text), Reducing Waste in My House (45 minutes), and Cow Pollution (90 minutes), yet the suggested time to complete all three components totals 180 minutes. Based on the suggested instructional time, it cannot be assumed that all students will complete the same problem(s) within this lesson and as such, they are considered optional extension resources.

Examples of phenomena within the materials:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.1: Body Systems, Engage, students read a brief a passage, watch a short video, examine several images, and respond to several Technology Enhanced Items about the investigative phenomenon of their hearts racing when they are scared. Students define and identify the components of systems, explore how bodies sense and respond to their environments, and investigate how the body reacts to stress throughout the remainder of this instructional sequence.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, students read a brief passage, view an image of an erupting geyser, and respond to several guiding questions about the unit phenomenon, the Yellowstone supervolcano. Students investigate the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, the distribution of mineral resources throughout Earth, and how the availability of resources can shape a population throughout the subsequent instructional sequences.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, Engage, students watch videos of dry ice and liquid nitrogen and observe the changes in appearance when a match is burned. Students investigate the relationship between particles of matter, energy involved in phase changes, and chemical reorganization of matter.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.2: Energy for Launch, students watch a short video about rockets or experiment with their own rockets from a prior hands-on activity. Students investigate how mass and energy affect the acceleration of a rocket.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Monitoring Biodiversity, students read a brief passage, watch a video, and answer several guiding questions about the unit phenomenon, sensing biodiversity from the sky. Students investigate the energy released from a supernova, the interactions of energy waves and matter, the relationship between solar energy and climate, and how remote sensing can provide datasets of large areas throughout the subsequent instructional sequences.

Indicator 1h

Materials intentionally leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems.
1/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Across the series, the materials provide opportunities to elicit students’ prior knowledge or experiences of phenomena via Technology Enhanced Items (TEIs) embedded throughout the Engage section or at the close of each Engage section, through one or two Can You Explain? (CYE) questions. The materials generally repeat these items later on in the instructional sequence.

Across the series, Teacher Notes and Model Lessons consistently include commentary detailing what students should already know, along with common alternative conceptions related to phenomena. These sections also contain Connections to Student Lives, a scripted piece used to guide the initial discussion about the phenomenon. Overall, these sections are informational and, while they provide guidance for the elicitation of students’ prior knowledge and experiences, the materials do not provide supports to address the different entry points to learning possible in diverse student populations. Connections to Student Lives also does not provide strategies to connect back to student experiences, to build contextual relevance for students, or to address students’ alternative conceptions. When used as designed, the materials review and elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems across the series in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge.

Examples that elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior understanding of phenomena:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.2: The Cell as a System, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, cancerous tumor on a colon, is elicited in the Engage section with a CYE question, “What happens to the body when someone gets cancer?” Cancer is not directly addressed again until an assessment at the end of the Explore 2 lesson, and then the original CYE question is presented again in the Explain section. The associated teacher materials do not provide guidance to the teacher for the purposes of leveraging student responses to the initial or subsequent CYE questions.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, disappearing water from Lake Mead, is elicited in the Engage section by several TEIs about the water cycle and the CYE question, “How does energy transfer cause water levels to drop in Lake Mead?” The original CYE question is presented again in the Explain section. The teacher materials provide some guidance for discussion via a Teacher Note that instructs the teacher on how to engage students in the phenomenon in addition to the general discussion scripting in the Model Lesson. The remaining teacher materials do not provide any further guidance to the teacher for the purposes of leveraging student responses to the initial or subsequent CYE questions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, Concept 2.1: How Can Matter Change?, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon and changes that occur in matter during combustion, is elicited in the Engage section by several TEIs describing the combustion of hydrogen and the CYE “How and why does matter change when it burns?” Students respond to the original CYE question again in the Explain section. The Model Lesson suggests that the teacher facilitate a conversation around student ideas; however, the learning activities that follow are not based on or driven by student responses.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.3: Interactions in Ecosystems, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, organism survival in Death Valley, is elicited in the Engage section by a teacher led discussion, several TEIs about population dynamics and energy flows, and the CYE question, “How do organisms survive in Death Valley, California?” The original CYE question is presented again in the Explain section. Teacher materials provide limited scripting to elicit student background knowledge through class discussion and students’ initial engagement with the phenomenon; however, no guidance is provided to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity: Concept 3.2: Evolution and Natural Selection, Engage: Finches and Famine, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, the change in beak size among a population of finches, is elicited in the Engage section by several TEIs about evolution and natural selection and the CYE question, “What is natural selection and how does it work?” Students respond to the original CYE question again in the Explain section. The Model Lesson elicits what students already know, but does not provide guidance to adjust further learning to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences.

Example of that elicits and leverages students’ prior knowledge and experiences to drive instruction, in few instances:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Moving Planets, Concept 2.1: Observing Planetary Objects, students’ prior knowledge of the phenomenon, objects beyond our solar system, is elicited and leveraged in the Engage section as students engage in several TEIs exploring their understanding of the Sun-Earth-Moon system and then respond to the CYE question, “How do we obtain data about the properties of exoplanets and objects in our solar system?” Teacher Notes within the Engage section provide explicit instruction on how the teacher should address several misconceptions pertaining to scale and orbital motion. In Explore 1, the teacher is guided to have students evaluate their prior thinking against new evidence and incorporate the new evidence into a model of their thinking. Within the same section, teachers are guided to include students’ prior experiences in a discussion about modeling systems and to differentiate a graphing exercise based on students’ math skill level. This conceptual subunit provides explicit direction that supplements instruction to leverage the prior knowledge and experiences of students.

Indicator 1i

Materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.
0/2
+
-
Indicator Rating Details

The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena or problems are utilized across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.

Across the series, Anchor Phenomena are presented within the introduction of each unit generally in the form of a photograph or brief video, then followed by several guiding questions. While a variety of phenomena are present throughout the series at the unit level, there are no problems presented at the unit level across the series. Additionally, the materials provide an individual instance where a unit uses a phenomenon to drive student learning across multiple lessons or concepts. While not explicitly identified in the PDF or digital version of the Model Lesson (Lesson Overview, The Five Es, Teacher Preparation, or Assignments and Resources Tab), the materials do revisit the unit phenomena within the final STEM Project Starter in each concept. For example, in Grade 8, Unit 4: Monitoring Biodiversity, the Anchor Phenomenon is identified as Sensing Biodiversity from the Sky and the final STEM Project Starter in Concept  4.5 is Bringing Back from the Brink, a capstone project where students “explore the challenges presented in species restoration.” This project is one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign. The PDF of each Model Lesson states “STEM Project Starters provide additional real-world contexts that require students to apply and extend their content knowledge related to the concept. STEM Project Starters can also serve as an alternative instructional hook presented at the beginning of the learning progression. The project can then be revisited throughout and at the end of the 5E learning cycle for students to apply content knowledge.” However, most of the STEM Project Starters are identified in the Teacher Notes and the Model Lesson PDF as summative assessments.

Examples of units where phenomena do not drive student learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, the phenomenon is presented to students as an image of the Biosphere 2 habitat, with a brief paragraph describing the goals of the project and two guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit, there are no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials that make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Martian Biosphere, in Concept 1.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this “summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to see both the effects of sea level rise and the effects of saltwater inundation on plants” and the materials provide this as one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes & Effects of Regional Climates, the phenomenon of different climate regions across the globe is presented to students via a map of annual average temperatures, with a brief statement describing observable patterns and several guiding questions. In Concept 3.1 of the unit, the phenomenon is loosely linked to the guiding question, “Why is the climate so different in different regions of the planet?” Throughout the remainder of the unit, no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Engineering a Better Banana, in Concept 3.4 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this is a “summative assessment that connects students with trait selection and the engineering of desirable traits in food and links these ideas with the climates where fruit is usually grown” and the materials provide this as one of two project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Our Changing Climate, the phenomenon of global temperature changes between 1981 and 2017 is introduced to students via a map showing land and sea temperature increases above average temperatures and several guiding questions. In Concept 4.1: Causes of Climate Change, students read information about natural processes and human activities that affect global temperature. Throughout the remainder of the unit, no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Cow Pollution, in Concept 4.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this is a “summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to consider how cows influence atmospheric chemistry and asks students to design a solution to reduce their impact” and the materials provide this as one of two project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, the phenomenon of two prosthetic legs made of different materials is presented to students as an image of an athlete holding his prosthetic leg and includes a short description of the unit learning targets and three guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials connect student understanding to the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Engineered Materials for Better Living, in Concept 1.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this is a “summative assessment provides students the opportunity to research a material developed by scientists and engineers” and the materials provide this as one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, the phenomenon, is presented to students as an image of an ocean beach and includes a brief description and three guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, The Importance of Beaches, in Concept 2.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates that “students will explore how energy flows and matter cycles through beaches” and the materials provide this as one of two project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, the phenomenon of a supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park is presented to students as an image of an erupting geyser and includes a brief description and three guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter,The Yellowstone Supervolcano, in Concept 3.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this “summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to research the effects of the Yellowstone volcano on the park’s ecosystem” and the materials provide this as one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.

One out of 12 units across the materials used phenomena to drive learning, but only within one of the four lessons.

Individual instance where a phenomenon drives student learning of all three dimensions within one lesson:

  • In the Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, the phenomenon of the end of the dinosaurs drives meaningful instruction of all three dimensions across an instructional sequence, but not across multiple lessons. In Concept 3.1: Earth’s History and the Fossil Record, Explore 2, students consider the phenomenon of why dinosaurs no longer exist on Earth as they engage in an evidence-based argument (SEP-ARG-M3) about the history of life on earth (DCI-ESS1.C-M1) with respect to the formation of fossils over different time scales (CCC-SPQ-M1). Students engage in making sense of the phenomenon in Concept 3.1, but in subsequent lessons do not connect back to the unit phenomenon.

One out of 12 units across the materials used phenomena to drive learning across multiple lessons and build student understanding of all three dimensions.

Individual instance where a phenomenon drives student learning of all three dimensions across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, the phenomenon of the Antarctica impact crater drives meaningful instruction of all three dimensions across an instructional sequence involving multiple concepts. In Concept 1.1: Falling Objects, Explore 1, students explain how a space object falls to the earth (DCI-PS2.A-M2) as they collect and analyze data of moving objects and identify algebraic relationships (CCC-SPQ-M3, CCC-SPQ-M4) using digital tools (SEP-DATA-M1) to help them understand the unit phenomenon. In Concept 1.3: Colliding Objects, Explore 1, students define and analyze the energy transferred to Earth’s surface from an asteroid impact (CCC-SYS-M1) and design an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to collect and analyze data (SEP-MATH-M4) to determine how force and mass affect collisions (DCI-PS2.A-M1) to help them understand the unit phenomenon. Throughout the unit and across multiple concepts, students make sense of the Antarctic impact crater in meaningful ways using the three dimensions.

Gateway Two

Coherence and Scope

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Two Details
Materials were not reviewed for Gateway Two because materials did not meet or partially meet expectations for Gateway One

Criterion 2a - 2g

Indicator 2a

Materials are designed for students to build and connect their knowledge and use of the three dimensions across the series.
N/A

Indicator 2a.i

Students understand how the materials connect the dimensions from unit to unit.
N/A

Indicator 2a.ii

Materials have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication.
N/A

Indicator 2b

Materials present Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC) in a way that is scientifically accurate.*
N/A

Indicator 2c

Materials do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas.*
N/A

Indicator 2d

Materials incorporate all grade-band Disciplinary Core Ideas:
N/A

Indicator 2d.i

Physical Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.ii

Life Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iii

Earth and Space Sciences
N/A

Indicator 2d.iv

Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
N/A

Indicator 2e

Materials incorporate all grade-band Science and Engineering Practices.
N/A

Indicator 2e.i

Asking Questions and Defining Problems
N/A

Indicator 2e.ii

Developing and Using Models
N/A

Indicator 2e.iii

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
N/A

Indicator 2e.iv

Analyzing and Interpreting Data
N/A

Indicator 2e.v

Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking
N/A

Indicator 2e.vi

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions
N/A

Indicator 2e.vii

Engaging in Argument from Evidence
N/A

Indicator 2e.viii

Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
N/A

Indicator 2f

Materials incorporate all grade-band Crosscutting Concepts.
N/A

Indicator 2f.i

Patterns
N/A

Indicator 2f.ii

Cause and Effect
N/A

Indicator 2f.iii

Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
N/A

Indicator 2f.iv

Systems and System Models
N/A

Indicator 2f.v

Energy and Matter
N/A

Indicator 2f.vi

Structure and Function
N/A

Indicator 2f.vii

Stability and Change
N/A

Indicator 2g

Materials incorporate NGSS Connections to Nature of Science and Engineering
N/A

Gateway Three

Usability

Not Rated

+
-
Gateway Three Details
This material was not reviewed for Gateway Three because it did not meet expectations for Gateways One and Two

Criterion 3a - 3d

Materials are designed to support teachers not only in using the materials, but also in understanding the expectations of the standards.

Indicator 3a

Materials include background information to help teachers support students in using the three dimensions to explain phenomena and solve problems (also see indicators 3b and 3l).
N/A

Indicator 3b

Materials provide guidance that supports teachers in planning and providing effective learning experiences to engage students in figuring out phenomena and solving problems.
N/A

Indicator 3c

Materials contain teacher guidance with sufficient and useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student materials and ancillary materials. Where applicable, materials include teacher guidance for the use of embedded technology to support and enhance student learning.
N/A

Indicator 3d

Materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.
N/A

Criterion 3e - 3k

Materials are designed to support all students in learning.

Indicator 3e

Materials are designed to leverage diverse cultural and social backgrounds of students.
N/A

Indicator 3f

Materials provide appropriate support, accommodations, and/or modifications for numerous special populations that will support their regular and active participation in learning science and engineering.
N/A

Indicator 3g

Materials provide multiple access points for students at varying ability levels and backgrounds to make sense of phenomena and design solutions to problems.
N/A

Indicator 3h

Materials include opportunities for students to share their thinking and apply their understanding in a variety of ways.
N/A

Indicator 3i

Materials include a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics.
N/A

Indicator 3j

Materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies.
N/A

Indicator 3k

Materials are made accessible to students by providing appropriate supports for different reading levels.
N/A

Criterion 3l - 3s

Materials are designed to be usable and also to support teachers in using the materials and understanding how the materials are designed.

Indicator 3l

The teacher materials provide a rationale for how units across the series are intentionally sequenced to build coherence and student understanding.
N/A

Indicator 3m

Materials document how each lesson and unit align to NGSS.
N/A

Indicator 3n

Materials document how each lesson and unit align to English/Language Arts and Math Common Core State Standards, including the standards for mathematical practice.
N/A

Indicator 3o

Resources (whether in print or digital) are clear and free of errors.
N/A

Indicator 3p

Materials include a comprehensive list of materials needed.
N/A

Indicator 3q

Materials embed clear science safety guidelines for teacher and students across the instructional materials.
N/A

Indicator 3r

Materials designated for each grade level are feasible for one school year.
N/A

Indicator 3s

Materials contain strategies for informing students, parents, or caregivers about the science program and suggestions for how they can help support student progress and achievement.
N/A

Criterion 3t - 3y

Materials are designed to assess students and support the interpretation of the assessment results.

Indicator 3t

Assessments include a variety of modalities and measures.
N/A

Indicator 3u

Assessments offer ways for individual student progress to be measured over time.
N/A

Indicator 3v

Materials provide opportunities and guidance for oral and/or written peer and teacher feedback and self reflection, allowing students to monitor and move their own learning.
N/A

Indicator 3w

Tools are provided for scoring assessment items (e.g., sample student responses, rubrics, scoring guidelines, and open-ended feedback).
N/A

Indicator 3x

Guidance is provided for interpreting the range of student understanding (e.g., determining what high and low scores mean for students) for relevant Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.
N/A

Indicator 3y

Assessments are accessible to diverse learners regardless of gender identification, language, learning exceptionality, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.
N/A

Criterion 3z - 3ad

Materials are designed to include and support the use of digital technologies.

Indicator 3z

Materials integrate digital technology and interactive tools (data collection tools, simulations, modeling), when appropriate, in ways that support student engagement in the three dimensions of science.
N/A

Indicator 3aa

Digital materials are web based and compatible with multiple internet browsers. In addition, materials are "platform neutral," are compatible with multiple operating systems and allow the use of tablets and mobile devices.
N/A

Indicator 3ab

Materials include opportunities to assess three-dimensional learning using digital technology.
N/A

Indicator 3ac

Materials can be customized for individual learners, using adaptive or other technological innovations.
N/A

Indicator 3ad

Materials include or reference digital technology that provides opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other (e.g., websites, discussion groups, webinars, etc.).
N/A
abc123

Additional Publication Details

Report Published Date: 02/28/2019

Report Edition: 2017

Title ISBN Edition Publisher Year
Science Techbook for California NGSS Middle School, 2017-2018 978-1-68220-693-5 Discovery Education 2018

About Publishers Responses

All publishers are invited to provide an orientation to the educator-led team that will be reviewing their materials. The review teams also can ask publishers clarifying questions about their programs throughout the review process.

Once a review is complete, publishers have the opportunity to post a 1,500-word response to the educator report and a 1,500-word document that includes any background information or research on the instructional materials.

Educator-Led Review Teams

Each report found on EdReports.org represents hundreds of hours of work by educator reviewers. Working in teams of 4-5, reviewers use educator-developed review tools, evidence guides, and key documents to thoroughly examine their sets of materials.

After receiving over 25 hours of training on the EdReports.org review tool and process, teams meet weekly over the course of several months to share evidence, come to consensus on scoring, and write the evidence that ultimately is shared on the website.

All team members look at every grade and indicator, ensuring that the entire team considers the program in full. The team lead and calibrator also meet in cross-team PLCs to ensure that the tool is being applied consistently among review teams. Final reports are the result of multiple educators analyzing every page, calibrating all findings, and reaching a unified conclusion.

Rubric Design

The EdReports.org’s rubric supports a sequential review process through three gateways. These gateways reflect the importance of standards alignment to the fundamental design elements of the materials and considers other attributes of high-quality curriculum as recommended by educators.

Advancing Through Gateways

  • Materials must meet or partially meet expectations for the first set of indicators to move along the process. Gateways 1 and 2 focus on questions of alignment. Are the instructional materials aligned to the standards? Are all standards present and treated with appropriate depth and quality required to support student learning?
  • Gateway 3 focuses on the question of usability. Are the instructional materials user-friendly for students and educators? Materials must be well designed to facilitate student learning and enhance a teacher’s ability to differentiate and build knowledge within the classroom. In order to be reviewed and attain a rating for usability (Gateway 3), the instructional materials must first meet expectations for alignment (Gateways 1 and 2).

Key Terms Used throughout Review Rubric and Reports

  • Indicator Specific item that reviewers look for in materials.
  • Criterion Combination of all of the individual indicators for a single focus area.
  • Gateway Organizing feature of the evaluation rubric that combines criteria and prioritizes order for sequential review.
  • Alignment Rating Degree to which materials meet expectations for alignment, including that all standards are present and treated with the appropriate depth to support students in learning the skills and knowledge that they need to be ready for college and career.
  • Usability Degree to which materials are consistent with effective practices for use and design, teacher planning and learning, assessment, and differentiated instruction.

Science 6-8 Rubric and Evidence Guides

The science review rubric identifies the criteria and indicators for high quality instructional materials. The rubric supports a sequential review process that reflects the importance of alignment to the standards then considers other high-quality attributes of curriculum as recommended by educators.

For science, our rubrics evaluate materials based on:

  • Three-Dimensional Learning
  • Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning
  • Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions
  • Design to Facilitate Teacher Learning
  • Instructional Supports and Usability

The Evidence Guides complement the rubric by elaborating details for each indicator including the purpose of the indicator, information on how to collect evidence, guiding questions and discussion prompts, and scoring criteria.

To best read our reports we recommend utilizing the Codes for NGSS Elements document that provides the code and description of elements cited as evidence in each report.


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