The Mi-STAR Model: Integration of Professional and Curriculum Development to Address NGSS at the Middle School Level

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The objective of the Michigan Science Teaching and Assessment Reform (Mi-STAR) curriculum design process is to generate a sequence of middle school integrated science units that address NGSS, are Michigan-centric, use inquiry-based lessons, and demonstrate 21st-century applications. Mi-STAR’s process depends upon the collaboration of scientists/engineers and middle school teachers.

Prior to a two-week-long workshop, participants studied online modules that introduced the curriculum design process using videos, online readings, primary literature, and surveys that compiled their insights on misconceptions, engaging topics, and key locations.

Teachers lead the process of outlining units by examining the assessable performance expectations (PE) and themes assigned to a curriculum unit. PEs were bundled in advance to ensure complete coverage of the NGSS middle school grade band. Teachers deconstruct PEs into disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts. Using a shared resource of Michigan relevant applications, places, news stories, students’ experiences, data sets, and community partners, teacher connect the PEs to Michigan-centric phenomena and issues. Unit goals outline a tentative path for the unit. Non-assessable PEs are identified that will support instruction and connect units.

To outline the unit structure, teachers unpack NGSS evidence statements. Ideas, concepts and practices are grouped into lessons that scaffold and embody a three-dimensional conceptual flow. 21st-century applications are woven into the lessons and form the basis for performance-based assessable tasks. Both an end-of-unit and an ongoing unit-long challenge are developed and based on real-world contexts. The units begin with an engage lesson that outlines the tasks and their relevance. Teachers specify outcomes for each task and lesson that ensure alignment with NGSS. Known misconceptions are specified to alert teachers to areas of concern. Bybee’s five steps of inquiry are incorporated at unit and lesson levels. Teachers used parts of existing lessons and created new materials. Units were finalized by reevaluating the role of supporting PEs, connecting to other units, compiling a list of materials and resources, and assigning names to the lessons and units.

  • Stephen Mattox
  • Jacqueline Huntoon
  • Emily Gochis
  • Alexandria Guth
  • Ben Savonen
  • Stephanie Tubman
  • Ed Robeck*
  • Brenda Bergman
  • Jennifer Grivins
  • Christina Sobolak
  • Geological Society of America Annual Meeting 2015