Episode 058: Building K-5 NGSS Units with Phaedra Taft


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Phaedra Taft shares with us how her team of teachers developed NGSS K-5 units. She discussed how they successfully use concept walls and concept posters with the early elementary students. Listen here for tips, and resources as Phaedra shares her team’s NGSS journey.

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Show Highlights

  • 01:30 - 02:30    Introduction to Phaedra
  • 02:30 - 07:15    How Phaedra works with teachers to build elementary NGSS units
  • 07:15 - 10:45    Keeping the flow of the unit when there isn't time for science every day
  • 10:45 - 20:00    Concept walls for K-3 and examples
  • 20:00 - 26:00    Concept posters vs concept walls
  • 26:00 - 34:00    Resources and advice Phaedra has found helpful

 Show Quotes 

"[Before NGSS was in our district] there was a lot of telling. There was a lot of saying 'Today we're going to study soil and all the layers of soil. These are the layers, let's find them.' So going from that mindset to letting the kids figure it out has been a big step. And the teachers have just been amazed by what the kids can actually do, and what they say and what they write, and what they come up with on their own."  [08:45-09:10] Phaedra Taft

"The words are up there [on the concept wall], and they're laid out not in just word wall; they're not in alphabetical order; they're not by the lesson. They're placed there strategically for the students to use them to explain the concepts." [23:35 - 23:50] Phaedra Taft

"We let them know that they're scientists all the time. We always talk about what kind of scientist they're going to be. And sometimes in the unit we'll say, 'As a biologist, I might not be able to answer this right now. I think I have to put on a different hat. Let's talk to another kind of scientists. Let's pretend that we're now being a botanist, which is a specific kind of biologist.' And we use that language all the time with kids so that they know that these are jobs out there and you can study this, so if you really like this keep going." [31:45 - 32:10] Phaedra Taft

Example of Concept Wall

Here are some images of having the Concept Wall words shrunk down and groups reorganizing them to make sense of them in their own way.  Each group had it arranged differently.


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