Three-Dimensional Learning in Secondary Science Classrooms

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Introducing NGSS’s three-dimensional learning model into your science classroom is exciting, and provides an opportunity to refresh your learning environment. But, as with any change, integrating disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts all at once will also present some challenges. In 6–12 classrooms, the content is challenging and the stakes are high — students need a thorough and confident grasp on STEM skills in order to thrive in higher education and today’s job market. When implemented with student needs consistently at the forefront of instruction, three-dimensional learning has the potential to transform your 6–12 science classroom for the better, and prepare your students for the future.

To help you make the transition to three-dimensional learning, we’ve built a comprehensive guide packed with tips, resources, and research. Download the guide by clicking the image below, or continue reading for an overview of what you can expect in the eBook:

Transitioning Classrooms to the Three-Dimensional Learning Model

The guide is made up of four parts, the first of which focuses on your transition. In this section, you’ll find specific strategies for preparing for longer lessons, reviving model making and visual representations, and even links to professional development resources. You’ll also find some research around strategies for introducing cross-cutting concepts and making use of visuals in lessons. Here’s a sneak peek from the guide, around the first phases of your transition to three-dimensional learning:

“Adapt teaching style to include inquiry-first instruction, where students are asking the questions to help find answers, rather than teachers asking them.”

Ensuring that Learning is Student-Led

The second section of the eBook dives into student-led learning environments. This focus should come after you’ve transitioned to three-dimensional learning, and feel comfortable enough with the model to really establish meaningful relationships between student, teacher, and content. In the eBook, you’ll learn how the teacher role is transformed in student-led instruction, and find some strategies for embracing your role in that adjusted setting. You’ll also find tips to implement hands-on and interactive learning tools, as well as integrating collaboration opportunities to make your classroom truly student-led. Here’s a preview of this section, about the transformed teacher role:

“Recognize that teachers are still at the heart of classroom instruction, actively facilitating learning, providing students the background and tools they need to help them get started on their own learning paths.”

Integrating Science & Engineering Practices into Classroom Instruction

Next, you’ll read about how you can engage and inspire your students by making the NGSS science and engineering practices relevant to their everyday lives. The eBook provides tips and specific activities to help you bring the practices to life, and a long list of ideas to allow active student participation in the scientific process. The eBook also suggests changing the experiential focus by moving away from labs that strictly provide step-by-step instruction, and replacing them with labs that encourage students to generate their own questions, play a role in the planning phase of investigations, and actually analyze data. Here’s a sample strategy from the eBook that will help you bring the science and engineering practices to life for your 6–12 students:

“Invite actual scientists and engineers to the classroom to share their personal experiences, or expose students to the scientific process via Skype or video showing scientists performing an actual experiment or making a discovery.”

Seeking a New 6–12 Science Program

The last section of the eBook focuses on what features educators should look for when selecting a new 6–12 science program. According to the eBook, if you’re looking for tools that will best enable you to effectively implement three-dimensional learning, then you need to find a program with solid teacher support. Curriculum should be designed to integrate with other vetted content, provide consistent professional development, and empower teachers to support all learners. An effective program will also enable students to actively practice science, and, importantly, come equipped with purposeful technology. Here’s an example feature from the eBook of a program that enables students to practice science:

“Engage students in science and engineering practices to develop the critical thinking and analytical skills they need to become everyday problem solvers.”

To download the full eBook, click the image below: