Designing NGSS-Aligned Lesson Plans During a Teacher Professional Development Program

Rapid technological advances are dominating the evolution of world’s economy and increasingly influencing our daily lives. Even as such advances have greatly improved human living condition, a majority of people either lack the understanding of technology or frequently ignore it. While post-secondary science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education seeks to remedy this disconnect, its reach is limited because formal education ends for many students at the secondary level. To broaden the understanding of society about technology, it is paramount to educate and prepare the younger generation about new technologies at K-12 levels. Such an approach can additionally lay a strong foundation in STEM disciplines for those bound for college-level education. However, achievement of this goal requires teachers with preparation for employing classroom teaching and learning activities that incorporate and demystify latest technologies.

To address this challenge, we have developed a program to engage teachers to learn about mechatronics, robotics, and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through hands-on activities and collaborative research. In summer 2018, an engineering department at a higher education institute hosted 11 teachers for a six-weeklong professional development (PD), beginning with a two-week hands-on learning of disciplinary topics, followed by a four-week collaborative research experience. Once a week, teachers attended a lesson plan development workshop, conducted by another PD program, to explore the three dimensional model of NGSS within the 5E instructional model consisting of engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate components. Throughout the lesson plan development workshop, teachers learned about the three dimensions of NGSS (Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Cross Cutting Concepts (CCCs), and Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs)) and creating lessons using a NGSS-5E template. Additionally, teachers attended several sample lesson presentations given by participants of the other PD workshop, provided feedback on their lessons, and discussed with them their own ideas for creating such lessons. During the summer program, each teacher designed an NGSS-aligned lesson plan, based on the experiences gained from hands-on learning activities and collaborative research.

One outcome of the aforementioned PD workshop is a lesson plan titled “Newton’s Second Law of Motion” that includes following learning outcomes: visualizing vectors, understanding forces and acceleration, providing experimental explanations for Newton’s Second law, and engaging in engineering design process. The lesson focuses on NGSS HS-PS2-1 and incorporates Newton’s second law for motion prediction as the DCI, analyzing and interpreting data as the SEP, and cause and effect as the CCC and it teases out students’ possible misconceptions on lesson concepts. The lesson follows the 5E model by engaging students in hands-on activities involving the utilization of accelerometer on smartphones and constructing an accelerometer using a shoebox, wooden dowel, a washer, a pen, a piece of paper, and some compact discs. The lesson further explores and explains the underlying concepts while elaborating on the applications and extensions of Newton’s laws, followed by an evaluation through summative assessment and formative monitoring. A detailed description of several illustrative lessons developed through the PD and their outcomes will be discussed in the final paper.

Krishnamoorthy, S., Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019). Designing NGSS-aligned lesson plans during a teacher professional development program (Fundamental). Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. Tampa, FL.