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Step-By-Step Guide to Creating an NGSS Scope & Sequence

May 18, 2020 No Comments

I am often asked if I have an NGSS Scope and Sequence for a given course. But your scope and sequence will depend on the resources and instructional materials as well as the phenomena that you choose.  To help, here is my Step-by-Step Guide to Developing a Scope and Sequence for your NGSS aligned course.

What is a scope and sequence?

A scope and sequence is a general overview of the school year that shows when certain standards will be addressed.  For NGSS, a scope and sequence is generally a list of performance expectations, listed in bundles, in the order that they should be taught.

What is the purpose of creating a scope and sequence

Scope and sequences allow teachers in different classrooms or sites to teach in roughly the same order.  It allows for the creation of common assessments and can lead to improved collaboration.

How is an NGSS Scope and Sequence different that other scope and sequences?

In an NGSS aligned course, the scope and sequence should feature phenomena.  Teachers may also opt to break down performance expectation into the three dimensions of the NGSS.

Sometimes, teachers may also decide to emphasize certain Crosscutting Concepts and or Science and Engineering Pracitces within a given unit or instructional sequence.  This would not mean that this is the only CCC or SEP addressed but could be an area of focus.

Steps to Creating a Scope and Sequence that is NGSS Aligned

1. Find relevant phenomena to fit the performance expectation in your grade level.

Phenomena are really at the heart of your lesson sequence.  The phenomena that you select will influence the questions that your students ask and questions that drive your instructional sequence.

But why look for phenomena first?  I have waited to find phenomena until later in the process and ended up having to redo a lot of my work because I couldn't find a phenomenon to fit the bundle.

2.  Bundle your standards.

I have talked a lot about bundling here on the blog and will add a few links at the bottom of the page.  But essentially, a bundle is just a group of 2-4 performance expectations that go with a given NGSS phenomenon.

3.  Make sure all performance expectations are accounted for.

When you are building your NGSS scope and sequence, it is possible to have a few left over performance expectations at the end.  These performance expectations may not fit with the phenomena that you have already found, so you may need to find another way to weave them into your storyline.

In some instances, this may lead to a little rebuilding of the standards.

4.  Arrange Your Bundle into Coherent Sequence

Finally, you are going to arrange your NGSS bundles into a final scope and sequence.  You want to place them in an order that works best for you.  Here are a few things you might consider:

  • Prior knowledge- Do students need to learn about one piece before they can fully understand another?
  • Scale: Do you like to teach from macro to micro or micro to macro?  (Personally, I like to work from the “human” level out in each direction._
  • Math and ELA Scope and Sequence: I prefer to reinforce math and ELA concepts in my classroom rather than introducing them.  Even better yet, if there is some overlap, looking at your math and ELA content could lead to some cross-curricular collaboration.

Next Steps

Hooray!  You have finished your scope and sequence.  But the work isn't done yet.  Here are some posts to get you started on your next steps.


What questions do you have about creating a Scope and Sequence?


Erin Sadler

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