Curriculum & Instruction
Education research shows that one effective way to help students learn is to engage them in science investigation and engineering design by asking questions, collecting and analyzing data, and using this evidence to better understand the natural and built world. Science investigation and engineering design are heavily emphasized in A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Science (NASEM, 2019). This entails a dramatic shift from the traditional classroom dynamic, and teachers need high quality instructional materials, support and guidance as they implement this approach.
The second edition of the Model Science Curriculum is built around freely available Open Education Resources. Identifying specific instructional resources in this edition is a strategic step forward from the first edition. Providing a more complete model curriculum is based on the fact that All students deserve high-quality materials. However, less than 20 percent of the materials in use in classrooms are aligned to standards.
The New Jersey Department of Education has been a part of the development of many of the resources that are included in this document. Unless otherwise noted, they have been reviewed by either the NextGenScience Peer Review Panel or EdReports.
Curricula based on the Framework and the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Science should integrate the three dimensions of the NJSLS-S — Scientific and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts — and follow the learning progressions Framework (NAESM, 2019 and 2021). Additionally, standards-based science curricula need to provide clear guidance that helps teachers support students engaging in scientific practices to develop explanations and models. Finally, curriculum need to be developed as a multiyear sequence that helps students develop increasingly sophisticated ideas across grades K-12.
 EdReports.org is an independent nonprofit designed to improve K-12 education. EdReports.org increases the capacity of teachers, administrators, and leaders to seek, identify, and demand the highest quality instructional materials.
- All Standards, All Students: The science program ensures that ALL students are provided appropriate learning opportunities for ALL of the standards. This includes but is not limited to, students with disabilities, economically disadvantages, English Language Learners, and students who have been identified as gifted.
- Explaining Phenomena or Designing Solutions: The units focus on supporting students to make sense of engaging and authentic phenomena or design solutions to real-world problem.
- Three Dimensional: The units help students develop and use multiple grade appropriate elements of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), which are deliberately selected to aid student sense-making of phenomena or designing of solutions.
- Integrating the Three Dimensions for Instruction and Assessment: The units require student performances that integrate elements of the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs to make sense of phenomena or design solutions to problems, and the learning tasks elicit student artifacts that show direct, observable evidence of three-dimensional learning.
- Relevance and Authenticity: The units motivate student sense-making or problem-solving by taking advantage of student questions and prior experiences in the context of the students’ home, neighborhood, and community as appropriate. F. Student Ideas: The units provide opportunities for students to express, clarify, justify, interpret, and represent their ideas (i.e., making thinking visible) and to respond to peer and teacher feedback. G. Building on Students’ Prior Knowledge: The units identify and build on students’ prior learning in all three dimensions in a way that is explicit to both the teacher and the students.
National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi.org/10.17226/13165.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Science and Engineering for Grades 6-12: Investigation and Design at the Center. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi.org/10.17226/25216.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2021. Science and Engineering in Preschool Through Elementary Grades: The Brilliance of Children and the Strengths of Educators. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi.org/10.17226/26215.
- NGSS Lesson Screener: The NGSS Lesson Screener is intended to more quickly review a learning sequence to see if it is on the right track. It is intended to be used in more informal reviews (no scoring) and is only for evaluating instruction that extends over several class periods or days.
- EQuIP Rubric for Science: The EQuIP Rubric provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The purpose of the rubric and review process is to: (1) provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; (2) review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed; and (3) identify exemplars/models for teachers' use within and across states.
- Science Program Rubric: The Science Program Rubric is designed to help teams of educators answer the following questions. To what extent is the science program consistent with the letter, spirit, and intent of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Science?; and What should our goal(s) be for continued improvement?
- Examples of NJSLS-S Designed Instructional Resources. This website provides examples of high quality lessons and units. The objective is not to endorse a particular curriculum, product or template, rather to identify lessons and units that best illustrate the cognitive demands of the NJSLS-S.