Reflection: Connection to Prior Knowledge Microscope Practice - Section 2: Investigation Preparation & Summary


I am a big fan to the Next Generation Science Standards. I have noticed that the standards are grade band learning goals. Not everything a student needs to know is actually listed. It is up to the educator to understand what prior knowledge students need to successfully master the standard.

In this case, student understanding of cells is enhanced when they see them using a microscope. There is not a standard that says students must be able to use a microscope. Educators must recognize that it is a necessary skill leading to mastery of the standards about cells.

Let's take a look at the Evidence Statement designed by the NGSS. "The evidence statements provide detail on what students should know and be able to do in order to satisfy each performance expectation (PE) at the end of instruction. Given that each PE is three-dimensional, the statements describe how students can use the practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas together to demonstrate proficiency on the PEs by the end of instruction." (NGSS)

Microscope Practice – Observable Features of Student Performance

The NGSS team has put together Evidence Statements for each performance expectation described within the Next Generation Science Standards. The publication used in this section can be found here.

The first Performance Expectation for the Life Science strand is MS-LS1-1, students who demonstrate understanding can:  Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.

The NGSS Standard used to create this performance expectation is LS1.A: Structure and Function. All living thing are made if cells, which is the smallest unit that can be said to be alive. An organism may consist of one single cell (unicellular) or many different numbers and types of cells (multicellular).

The Standard of Scientific Practice used to develop the Performance Expectation MS-LS1-1 is SP3Planning and Carrying out Investigations.

There are two Crosscutting Concepts. The first is the examination of Scale Proportion and Quantity. Phenomena that can be observed at one scale that may not be observable at another scale. The second is the Interdependence of Science, Engineering and technology. Engineering advances have led to important discoveries in virtually every field of science and scientific discoveries have led to the development of entire industries and engineered systems.

This lesson focuses on developing student skills for “Planning the Investigation” skills listed as observable features of student performance.

3 Planning the Investigation

3a  From the given investigation plan, students describe how the tools and methods included in the experimental design will provide the evidence necessary to address the purpose of the investigation, including due to their-small scale size, cells are unable to be seen with the unaided eye and require engineered magnification devices to be seen. Students will understand scale and size by looking at various materials under different powers of the microscope.

3b  Students describe how the tools used in the investigation are an example of how science depends on engineering advances. Students will be able to articulate the usefulness of the microscope to advance science via engineering.

As educators, we need to dig deep into the NGSS to understand the parts of the whole. The evidence statements can help by detailing the parts. Then each of the parts can be taught leading to the conceptual understanding of our students.

  Unpacking the Standards to Create Prior Knowledge
  Connection to Prior Knowledge: Unpacking the Standards to Create Prior Knowledge
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Microscope Practice

Unit 8: Understanding Our Cells
Lesson 3 of 6

Objective: SWBAT accurately represent what they see when examining slides using a microscope.

Big Idea: Many things are too small to see without the use of the microscope. What do you see when you use a microscope?

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