Guiding Students Through Engineering Practices: A Cross-Curricular Approach

Today we are hosting our first science session at the Common Core Cafe. I am delighted to have two amazing master science teachers lead this session. Angelica Paz is an Intermediate science teacher at La Merced Intermediate and a teacher leader for the CTA. Gladys Garcia is a Teacher on Special Assignment and has been a science teacher for 12 years. In addition to being a Science content consultant for UCLA Center X. 
You can access today's presentation slides by clicking HERE
What is Engineering?

Engineering, according to NGSS, is applied science. Students must use the core ideas that they learned in the unit to solve an engineering problem based on real-world problems in the natural or designed world. Engineering has specific practices that correspond, but are not the same as, the science practices in NGSS. Engineering can be used to set the context for science learning, or as an assessment of the students understanding of science ideas. For example, the teacher could set up a problem on the sand table that mimics a city being flooded and pose the problem of developing a solution that would keep the city safe. The students would then need to go about developing the required knowledge about the way water moves over the land to solve the problem. They would end the unit with the student developing and refining their solutions. The other way to introduce engineering is at the end of the unit. In the earlier example, the students would learn about water and how it travels over land. The teacher could assess their understanding by posing the problem of the city being flooded and then see if the students’ solution showed comprehension of the disciplinary care ideas.
English Language Learners can demonstrate an understanding of ideas through their solutions and engineering, being extended more than one avenue to grapple with complex ideas and demonstrate science mastery. Also, engineering is another opportunity for students to use the discipline specific and general language involved in the disciplinary core ideas. This repeated experience of ideas through application generates flexible, creative thinking in a highly engaging setting, without a new barrage of required language. Finally, engineering is the perfect context for collaborative grouping and is an avenue for authentic discourse that involves academic language.

Standards arranged by Disciplinary Core Ideas (Life, Earth and Space, and Physical Science)

Videos that explain Practices in Science: 

Practice 1 - Asking Questions and Defining Problems

Practice 2 - Developing and Using Models

Sample Lesson Plans for Engineering Practices:

MIDDLE SCHOOL (Grades 6-8)

HIGH SCHOOL (Grades 9-12)

Additional Resources
Planning Tools
Sample Units K-8
Sample Units 9-12
Next Generation Science Standards Website
CSTA - California Science Teachers Assocation - NGSS Resource Page
NSTA - National Science Teachers Association - NGSS Resource Page
CDE - California Department of Education - NGSS Resources Page
Bozeman Science - This is a collection of videos and resources that outline the Science and Engineering Practices and more.  Paul Anderson is a high school teacher that does a wonderful job of presenting NGSS.
What is inside the box? - This document provides a “cheat sheet” to reading and interpreting the standards.
Connecting to the Common Core - a document that connects the Common Core practices in ELA and Math to Science.  
The Three Dimensions of the Standards - This document provides an overview of the practices, core ideas, and crosscutting concepts.
The Engineering Design Process - This is a document to illustrates to Engineering Design Process.
The Science and Engineering Practices - This document describes each of the Science and Engineering Practices in detail by grade level span.
The Key Content Sorted by Topics and Core Ideas - This document is a 2-sided resource that provides a snapshot of the content by grade level.

Teach Engineering. org: 
PBS LearningMedia-Engineering Through Media: 
Cross-Cutting Concepts -

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