Let's Start A Science Revolution: Teaching all Subjects through Science

Calling all elementary teachers, let’s start a science teaching revolution!  
images-1-9022405 The time is now to abandon your basal readers, let go of the hundreds chart and bring science to the forefront of your instruction.  

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If there is one subject that teaches empathy, compassion, reading, social studies, math and history it’s science.   If there is one subject that includes hands-on learning, inquiry, critical thinking, analytical skills, and outdoor engagement, it is science.   And if there is one subject we need our students to become skilled at to become active problem solvers, critical thinkers and protectors of our planet, well it is certainly science.  

I think we can have our students’ solve the problems that we see in today’s schools if we just teach science.  If kids create gardens they can harvest healthy fruits and vegetables, learn about nutrition, prevent obesity, and other health disorders (not to mention the math that goes into the process). If schools taught science students can learn about endangered species, global warming and develop empathy, compassion and promote social-emotional learning.  If schools taught science then we don’t need social emotional curriculum that is a by-product of students lives which will inevitably fail to transfer classroom skills into students lives.  And if you want kids to be grittier, persevere and not give up when faced with a setback then look no further than the science and engineering process.  So let’s teach science. 

Teachers interested in a authentic English Language learner program that builds on students’ funds of knowledge look no further than the science standards.  Science is observable, rich in realia, filled with oral-language opportunities and can be transferred from the classroom to real-world through real-life experiences.  No need to front load vocabulary, or teach context clues when the world is a living laboratory for second-language learners to engage in, ask questions, and share what they observe around them. 

Using Digital Tools in science, allows students to become storytellers with comprehensible-input as an authentic scaffold for teaching and learning.  

At first glance, the NGSS (Next-Generation Science Standards)may appear to be complex, overwhelming, and far too wordy to actually take into consideration.  But consider the NGSS to be performance standards that your students will build up to just like a Physical Education teacher or trainer considers building the stamina of their students we need to look at NGSS from this lens.  Start by unpacking the standard and seeing how the standard develops across the grade span.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Will Franzell @WilliamFranzell who is the Educational Administrator on the STEAM Team at Monterey County Office of Education about teaching with the NGSS.  He shared what teachers need to know in order to be successful teaching with NGSS.  

You can check out my interview with Will here.  

  1. Did you know that 81% of elementary teachers teach science just a few days a month. What’s your argument for why science should be taught and how can teachers find time to do it all. Students need to do more than simply know about science; they need to know core science and engineering ideas, do science and engineering, and think like scientists and engineers.  Access and Equity, Nurturing natural curiosity and creativity, Connecting to language, math and higher order thinking across the Common Core, Informed citizens in a global economy. 

  2. You spend a lot of time in the classroom working with teachers and providing professional development and support share with us what you would see in an effective NGSS classroom. Phenomena-driven three dimensional learning,  including the EP&Cs. Students engage in scientific inquiry of phenomena using all three dimensions of the CA NGSS.

  3. Can you explain how the NGSS science standards were designed and what teachers should think about when planning and teaching?  The goal of the CA NGSS is to prepare students to be informed citizens and future scientists.  Students build science mastery through repeated learning experiences centered around everyday events in nature and their lives.  Teachers should focus instruction around observable phenomena allowing students to understand how our world works, and giving them the tools to solve problems.  Teachers should support students shifting from learning facts about science to actually engaging in the practices of science. 

  4. How does the Learning Progressions create a structure of science concepts being developed across the grade span and what can teachers do to support learners who lack foundational knowledge in science concepts. Coherent across the curriculum.  Learning builds upon itself from year to year and science integrates with other subject areas. Within science, spirals upward as they revisit core ideas multiple times, adding additional layers of complexity and rifingin conceptual models. Students can investigate the same scientific question in high school that they explored in kindergarten, but with much greater sophistication.  Teachers will need support scaffolding and differentiating instruction after students have had multiple opportunities to observe phenomena and explore within collaborative groups.  

  5. Can you talk about the kinds of questions teachers should ask to support the inquiry method. Relevant to local communities and student interests.  Teachers should consider the “guide on the side” or “lead-learner” approach, asking open-ended questions connecting the observable phenomena that is driving the lesson with performance  expectations in a student centered learning environment. Check-out the STEM Teaching Tools website: 

  6. What are some pedagogical approaches that are effective with NGSS  (story line, phenomenon, 5 E’s, design thinking examples)?  All of these pedagogical approaches are connected to the research captured in the books “How People Learn” and “How People Learn II.”  You can read more about the three key findings: accessing students’ prior knowledge, conceptual framework, and metacognition in the NGSS Framework. 

  7. California is incredibly diverse with about 20% of the school aged population being English Language Learners mostly from Spanish speaking homes.  Given the complexity of NGSS and the academic language demand how do teachers create successful experiences for our ELL population? The framework charts a path for “all students to achieve all standards.” This chapter describes several groups with specific learning needs that must be addressed in the science classroom. For each group, the chapter describes how research findings inform strategies that will help students achieve in science and engineering. A series of snapshots illustrates how these strategies look in the classroom.  

  8. Students with special needs are about 13% of the population what have you seen that works to create an inclusive classroom for all?  This is a fantastic article in STEM Teaching tools: 

  9. How can our listeners get in touch with you and learn from you?  Check-out my NGSS Resource page on the Monterey County Office of Ed. website:

Don’t forget to join our digital discussion on Teacher Prep Facebook site and get a copy of my presentation on how to use digital tools in science instruction!     made_with_padlet-2558987