Hitchcock Supports Northampton Teachers In Developing Up-to-Date Science Curricula

By Ted Watt and Colleen Kelley

Some extra-motivated Northampton public school teachers gathered in the high school library for 5 days to create new science units for each elementary grade K-5. Hitchcock Educators, Colleen Kelley and Ted Watt attended to support the teachers as they researched, planned, brain-stormed, considered … and so much more … in their process of planning the best way to reach their students with the wonders of nature and science and engineering. Colleen and Ted provided curriculum resources, new perspectives on activities, and feedback we have garnered from our work in elementary districts around the Valley.

We all brought to the work days a familiarity with the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards and all have been working with the standards since they were adopted in 2016. Our Massachusetts standards are derived from the Next Generation Science Standards that were developed nationally and published in 2013. Each grade has specific standards to learn in the life, earth/space, and physical sciences as well as engineering design. Teams of teachers from each grade came together and worked diligently to create units that would address the science concepts, as well as the thinking, experimenting, and designing skills specified in the standards. The standards are very good. They encourage experimental design and drawing conclusions from observed evidence. They support students to develop as problem-solvers and designers. They encourage learners to consider how humans are relating to the resources of the planet. They explore the science of heredity and evolution.

Ted and Colleen are excited to work with the District in this support role. They both are impressed with the motivation of these teachers…who finished their year of teaching and then jumped right into curriculum planning with almost no break. Teachers were asking lots of questions. How do we make these units relevant to our students? How do we make the units participatory and hands-on? Which standards are related to others where it would make sense to assemble them into a coherent unit of study? What materials are we going to need for the various hands-on activities? As they discussed, and sometimes disagreed, they entered their plans into an on-line curriculum platform accessible to all teachers in the District. Their work would disseminate across the grades at the push of a button. The science curriculum work continues through the upcoming school year with trainings and further planning. It is important to be sure that Northampton’s public school students continue to receive the latest in science concepts and teaching methodologies and we feel very privileged to be part of the process!

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