3-Dimensional Learning

NGSS NGSS Newbies Science and Engineering Practices

3 Dimensional Instruction Pinterest3-Dimensional Learning is at the heart of the Next Generation Science Standards.  It represents a move away from memorization of unrelated facts toward a more student-driven approach to learning.

The NGSS also emphasize the connection between concepts in a whole new way.  As a result, these standards do away with boundaries between disciplines and allow students to learn to think like scientists.  It is a move away from the specialized model that we are used to.

In my own shift toward 3-dimensional learning in my classroom, my role as the classroom teacher has also changed.  As I become better at implementing the NGSS, I have spent far less time instructing and much more time facilitating student learning, discussion and investigation.

What are the three dimensions?

Disciplinary Core Ideas

The disciplinary core ideas represent what a student should know by the time that they complete a unit or course.  They most closely resemble the “old standards” because they contain facts and concepts that are needed to understanding the four main disciplines of the Next Generation Science Standards.  These are:

  • Earth and Space Science
  • Life Science
  • Physical Science
  • Engineering

Science and Engineering Practices

The Science and Engineering Practices should help lead students in developing their own understanding of the Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts.

  1. Asking questions and defining problems
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematical models and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluation and communicating information

Detailed explanation about each practice are available for each grade level band (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12).  Those can be accessed here.

Crosscutting Concepts

The crosscutting concepts are a list of thematic concepts that repeat throughout science, regardless of discipline.

The Crosscutting Concepts are:

  1. Patterns
  2. Cause and effect
  3. Scale, proportion and quantify
  4. Systems and system models
  5. Energy and Matter
  6. Structure and Function
  7. Stability and Change

As with the Science and Engineering Practices, the framework includes a explanation of the progression across grade levels.  Luckily, the framework includes grade specific information.  These explanations can be accessed here.

How do the performance expectations relate to 3-dimensional learning?

The performance expectations explain how a student will demonstrate their understanding of a concept.  These performance expectations are themselves three dimensional.  For example, students may be asked to develop and use a model to describe a disciplinary core idea or create an argument based on empirical evidence.

These performance expectations are a great place to start when creating assessments for a lesson or unit.  Also, there are evidence statements for each performance expectations.  If you would like more information about evidence statements, check out this blog post about using evidence statements to write objectives.

3-Dimensional Learning

Students should use each dimension as a tool to strengthen their skill and understanding of the other two dimensions.  Therefore, the components should be taught together rather than in isolation.

I am planning a series of blog posts to provide you with more information on 3-dimensional learning and a deeper look at each dimension.  Here is a post about using Phenomena in your 3-dimensional instruction.

What questions do you have about 3-dimensional learning?  Please post your questions below.

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