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Amplify Science

Amplify | 2018 Edition

Sixth to Eighth

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    [title] => Amplify Science
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    [title] => Amplify Science
    [url] => https://www.edreports.org/science/amplify-science/sixth-to-eighth.html
    [grade] => Sixth to Eighth
    [type] => science-6-8
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    [title] => Amplify Science
    [report_date] => 2019-02-28
    [date_updated] => 2019-02-27 21:25:56
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for the NGSS. The materials meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning.

[gateway_2_points] => 49 [gateway_2_rating] => meets [gateway_2_report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Gateway 2: Coherence and Scope. The materials meet expectations that the materials are designed for coherence and include the full scope of the three dimensions.

[gateway_3_points] => 50 [gateway_3_rating] => meets [gateway_3_report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Gateway 3: Usability and Supports. The materials meet expectations as they are designed to facilitate teacher learning, include documentation of design and usability, and include assessment design and supports. The materials partially meet expectations that the materials include support for all students. Technology use is not scored; information is provided to support understanding of how the materials incorporate digital technologies and provide supports for use of those technologies.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials consistently include and integrate the three dimensions and provide opportunities for students to use SEPs and/or CCCs to support sensemaking with the other dimensions. Additionally, the materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the lesson level, incorporate formative assessment tasks to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions, and provide observation guidance and instructional suggestions related to student responses. The materials also consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the chapter and unit levels and incorporate multiple types of summative tasks that reveal student understanding of the three dimensions. 

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials consistently integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities. Throughout the series, all learning sequences (Chapters) include three dimensions and consistently integrate science and engineering practices (SEPs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) in student learning opportunities. The materials are designed for students to actively engage in the SEPs and CCCs to deepen understanding of DCIs. Three-dimensional connections are outlined for teachers at the unit, chapter, and lesson levels to support learning.

Overall, the materials consistently demonstrate they were designed to include and integrate the three dimensions. In each unit, Planning for the Unit, the Standards and Goals tab includes a unit level list of each NGSS targeted performance expectation. The Standards and Goals tab also includes connections to other performance expectations, which SEPs and CCCs are focused on in the unit, and describes the student experiences as they build toward these expectations. Further, in the 3-D Statements tab, the chapter and lesson level targeted three dimensions are described to frame the respective chapter and lesson goal(s).

Examples where materials include DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs and integrate them within student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, Chapter 1: Microorganisms On and In the Human Body, Lesson 1.2, students make a scale model (SEP-MOD-M4) of a microorganism by drawing it at a larger observable scale to gain further understanding that phenomena may not be easily observable to students (CCC-SPQ-M5), as well as, many living things are made of cells which are unobservable at that scale (DCI-LS1.A-M1).
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean’s Atmosphere and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.1, students read and annotate a modified scientific article (SEP-INFO-M1) about factors affecting the movement of the Gulf Stream (CCC-CE-M3), latitude, prevailing winds, energy/temperature, etc. Maps are incorporated into the article and used to predict different aspects of the factors (SEP-MOD-M5). Students gather information about how prevailing winds interact with continents to direct currents and make inferences about the relationship between energy transfer (CCC-EM-M4), prevailing winds, and latitude (DCI-ESS2.D-M1, DCI-PS3.B-M3). Students use a digital simulation (SEP-MOD-M5) to investigate (SEP-INV-M4) the relationship between wind direction and current direction (DCI-ESS2.C-M2, CCC-CE-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.3, students conduct an investigation and observe two bags of air placed in different temperatures (SEP-INV-M2). To develop an understanding of how and when condensation happens (DCI-ESS2.C-M1), students use a model to explore that air has moisture (SEP-MOD-M5). Students are asked, “What do you observe about the results of each test?” and “What evidence do you have of energy transfer?” prompting students to make statements about cause and effect relationships they observed (CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, Day 6, students explore how design can have an impact on earth’s rising temperatures (DCI-ESS3.C-M2, DCI-ESS3.D-M1) while they isolate different variables in the Roofmod simulation. Students gather evidence (SEP-INV-M2, SEP-INV-M4, CCC-DATA-M7) on how those changes impact CO2 levels showing the cause and effect relationship that different materials have on the design criteria (CCC-CE-M2). This activity provides students the opportunity to explore how models are important for testing design solutions (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, SEP-MOD-M7).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.3, students view a graphic of food chains (SEP-MOD-M5) in the jellyfishes’ ecosystem (CCC-SYS-M2) and consider what other populations of organisms might affect (CCC-CE-M3) the size of the jelly population (DCI-LS2.A-M1, M2). In the digital simulation (SEP-MOD-M3) students manipulate populations of organisms without changing their resource or consumer populations (SEP-INV-M4). After they gather data/observations (SEP-DATA-M3) from the simulation, students reflect on the question, “How are these examples of indirect effects?” (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students predict how making a specific change in a population of organisms will indirectly affect another population (CCC-SC-M2). Students write an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) of how the change led to an increase in the population of a different organism (DCI-LS2.A-M1, DCI-LS2.A-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, students explore what happens at plate boundaries (DCI-ESS1.C-M2). In Chapter 1: Introducing Earth’s Outer Layer, Lesson 1.4, students use a paper model to simulate a landform with plate boundaries (SEP-MOD-M5) to understand how land moves at different boundaries and how earthquakes and landforms are caused by the movement (CCC-CE-M2). At the same time, students explore how cause and effect relationships can help predict phenomena as they make claims about plate boundaries.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, Day 2, students learn how the planet’s systems interact to shape the earth (DCI-MS-ESS2-2). Students investigate the primary cause of tsunamis by modeling how the plate motion impacts water motion in the physical tank model (CCC-CE-M2). Students model the movement of land, causing the water in the tank to create a wave that moves miniature plastic houses on shore (SEP-MOD-M5).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change Engineering Internship, Day 3, students isolate the Phase Change Materials in the Baby Warmer Design Tool to investigate (SEP-INV-M5) the effects of insulating materials in an incubation system to learn how temperature differences (DCI-PS3.A-M3) impact energy transfers from one object to another. Students use mathematical representations to support their design solutions (SEP-MATH-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, students explore how light interacts with materials. In Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.3, students investigate types of light and what makes them different (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Students use a digital model (SEP-MOD-M5) to determine what makes types of light different from one another. As students use the digital model to edit a custom wave, they explore the cause and effect relationships in natural wave systems between wavelength, frequency, and amplitude, and types of light (DCI-PS4.A-M1) by manipulating wavelength to demonstrate that different types of light with different profiles can be produced (CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection Unit, Chapter 3: Mutation and Adaptive Traits, Lesson 3.3, directs students to, “Show what caused there to be some extremely poisonous newts in the newt population when there were none in the population 200 generations ago. Analyze all four histograms and environment descriptions” (DCI-LS4.C-M1). Students look for patterns that can be used to identify cause and effect relationships (CCC-PAT-M3). Students explain how their model answers the question, “How did a poison-level trait that wasn’t always present in the newt population become the most common trait?” (SEP-CEDS-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Forces and Motion Engineering Internship, Day 5, students analyze data from previous testing (SEP-DATA-M7) to learn how mass, velocity and impact force affect the criteria of their design challenge (DCI-PS2.A-M2). As students analyze patterns in the data (CCC-PAT-M4, CCC-CE-M1), they plan what design components they will use for future iterations (DCI-ETS1.B-M3).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials are consistently designed to support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. CCCs and SEPs are used in all learning sequences to support students' sensemaking with the other dimensions in every lesson. Within each Unit Guide, the unit, chapter, and lesson level 3-D Statements provide an overview of the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs that are addressed in the lessons which make up a larger unit.

Each learning sequence (chapter), includes multiple lessons where students progress towards the goals of the respective chapter and unit. While the materials consistently include opportunities for students to engage in the three dimensions in each chapter, not all lessons provide opportunities for students to build and use all three dimensions for sensemaking. Additionally, most lessons are targeted for students to build understanding of DCIs and often incorporate the use of a SEP but not always for purposes of sensemaking. However, the materials do consistently provide an opportunity in at least one lesson per chapter for students to engage in using the SEPs and/or the CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions. Most often, the sensemaking is apparent when students are engaged in investigating and explaining cause and effect relationships through various means.

Examples where materials include SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, Chapter 2: Arguing for the Benefits of Fecal Transplants, Lesson 2.2, students analyze data about a patient’s gut microbiome (SEP-DATA-M4). They compare types and percentages of bacteria present when the patient is healthy to the microbiome composition when the patient is ill. Students use changes in the data to support a claim that the change in microorganisms may be the cause (CCC-CE-M2) of the patient’s illness. This provides students an opportunity to argue from evidence (SEP-ARG-M3) how different microorganisms may be linked to the overall health of the patient. Students also gather information by reading The Human Microbiome article (SEP-INFO-M1) to revise their explanation about why one change in a system (CCC-SYS-M1) could cause Patient 23 to feel sick. Cause and effect relationships are explored by students over time to more deeply understand and apply their knowledge of how microorganisms, while unseen, can play a large role in the overall health of humans (DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.1, students change different variables in the digital simulation and analyze data (SEP-DATA-M4) showing how the transfer of energy causes air to cool and create condensation resulting in rain (DCI-ESS2.C-M1). Through this data collection process, students begin to make sense of how energy flows through natural systems and understand the impact when the transfer of energy leads to cooling, resulting in possible condensation leading to rain (CCC-EM-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, Day 4, students create designs for a roof that will have an impact on earth’s rising temperature based on the data previously collected in a digital simulation (SEP-INV-M2). As students analyze the data (SEP-DATA-M7) and make design decisions, they begin to make sense of how designs can have impacts on earth’s rising temperatures (DCI-ESS3.C-M2). Students collect data to determine if their design was able to reduce carbon dioxide. These investigations help students understand how analyzing the similarities and differences in data can be used to develop or modify a design. As students use an iterative testing process to test the different roof models, they gain a deeper understanding and ability to make sense of how cause and effect relationships exist between design choices and environmental impacts (CCC-CE-M2) .
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 3: Investigating the Rate of Plate Movement, Lesson 3.1, students use the digital simulation to explore how the rate of plate movement can be predicted and recorded (SEP-MATH-M2). Students find the rate of the plate movement by measuring how far apart the plates moved after millions of years have passed, and divide that distance by the number of years. Students use the calculation to develop an understanding of how mathematical representations can support the scientific conclusion that plates have moved over time. As students identify patterns from a digital simulation, they make sense of the timeline and how plates move to understand how the plate movement has changed the surface of the earth (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students identify patterns in historical rates of change and of plate motion. They compare these findings with current rates. Students use their understanding of past and current rates of plate motion (CCC-PAT-M3) to support a claim (SEP-CEDS-M2) about whether two plates moved apart suddenly or gradually.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.3, students use a digital model to collect data to investigate (SEP-INV-M4) how populations that are not consumers or resources for each other can indirectly affect each other within an ecosystem (DCI-LS2.A-M2). Students use the digital model to change populations on a food web by making changes to populations that are not directly connected. Being able to manipulate populations in the model helps students make sense of how a change in one part of a system can cause large changes in another (CCC-SC-M2). Students then apply what they have learned from using a model to predict how changes to the algae, orca, or walleye pollock populations could indirectly impact the moon jelly population (DCI-LS2.A-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 3: More Light Interactions, Lesson 3.3, students build on their understanding from previous lessons that energy from light can change a material when it is absorbed. Students use a digital simulation to model (SEP-MOD-M7) what happens to energy (CCC-EM-M4) when different materials transmit or reflect green laser light. The digital simulation provides students an opportunity to collect information (SEP-DATA-M4) to make sense of how light is transmitted or reflected (DCI-PS4.B-M1) and develop an understanding of how the material is not changed by the energy.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion Engineering Internship, Day 5, students analyze design test results to identify how to modify their design of a supply pod to deliver packages to people after a natural disaster. Students review test data (SEP-DATA-M7) related to mass, velocity, and impact force (DCI-PS2.A-M2) to find similarities and differences in results. The results can then help inform decisions about what design components are used in future iterations (DCI-ETS1.B-M3). The iterative testing of design solutions allows students to better understand how changing parts of their design impacts the outcome and efficiency of their design (CCC-CE-M1) and how to use this understanding to inform future improvements.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 1: Environmental Change and Trait Distribution, Lesson 1.4, students use a digital simulation to collect data (SEP-DATA-M4) between fur traits and temperature. Students use the digital simulation to manipulate the temperature of the environment and identify patterns in the population over time (CCC-PAT-M3). This provides students an opportunity to use patterns in the data to identify cause and effect relationships between temperature and the selection for specific fur traits. Students compare two histograms that are designed through the simulation (SEP-MATH-M2) to support a claim about how fur traits change over time (DCI-LS3.A-M2).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Lessons consistently provide learning objectives connected to the 3-D Statements for the lesson. The lesson level 3-D Statements build to support the 3-D Statements for the chapter, and the chapter level 3-D Statements build toward the 3-D Statements for the unit. The chapter and unit 3-D Statements are found in the Unit Guide; the lesson objectives and lesson 3-D statements are found in the Lesson Brief and are also embedded throughout the lessons.

Across the series, lessons and units consistently incorporate tasks for the purpose of supporting the instructional process, and lessons and units have assessment tasks that are consistently designed to reveal student knowledge and use of all three dimensions. These opportunities are provided through the use of two assessment types used throughout each unit: On-the-Fly Assessment and Critical Juncture Assessment. A Pre-Unit Assessment can also be used for formative purposes. This assessment is identical to the End-of-Unit Assessment. Each Pre-Unit Assessment and Critical Juncture Assessment consists of multiple-choice questions and written-response questions that provide evidence of students’ current level of understanding of the unit content. The results of these assessments are used to provide insight into student preconceptions and current ideas, and place students on the Progress Build, a tool to group students for differentiated instruction.

The individual assessment items primarily assess two dimensions, typically integrating SEPs and DCIs, resulting in a missed opportunity to include CCCs into the formative assessments and related instructional supports. However, all three dimensions are addressed through the combination of formative assessments across a unit. Each assessment opportunity indicates specific concepts and practices to observe student progress within the learning experiences, followed by suggestions to the teacher based on what might be observed.

Examples of On-the-Fly and Critical Juncture assessments in the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 1: Molecules Needed by the Cells, Lesson 1.3: Evaluating Initial Claims about Elisa, students progress toward the objective focused on understanding how a functioning human body contains molecules from food (glucose and amino acids) and molecules from air (oxygen) in its cells. The On-the-Fly Assessment checks for students’ understanding of cells (DCI-LS1.A-M1, DCI-LS1.A-M2) as students develop a model (SEP-MOD-E4) to support their thinking related to how cell systems interact with each other (CCC-SYS-M1). The On-the-Fly Assessment provides teachers with guidance to identify correct responses and supplies prompts the teacher can provide while students revisit the lesson reading materials and simulation.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 3: Accounting for Atoms, Lesson 3.4, students progress toward the objective focused on understanding about how possible products of a chemical reaction can be identified based on the atoms that formed the reactants. The On-the-Fly Assessment checks for students’ understanding that models of atoms (SEP-MOD) differ from actual atoms (DCI-PS1.A), and why a model is more useful than looking only at the properties of a substance. Students also apply their understanding that atomic-scale models are useful, but limited tools for visualizing substances at an extremely small scale (CCC-SPQ). This On-the-Fly Assessment provides teachers with guidance to identify correct responses and supplies prompts the teacher can provide while students revisit the lesson materials.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.4, students progress toward the objective focused on understanding how a material absorbs energy from certain types of light and not others (DCI-PS4.B), and apply the key concepts from the previous chapters to conclude that ultraviolet light can cause skin cancer. The On-the-Fly Assessment checks for whether students understand models (SEP-MOD) that show how different types of light are associated with different changes to the genetic material, and how some types of light are associated with no changes to the genetic material (CCC-CE).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 2: Understanding Plate Boundaries, Lesson 2.6, students complete a Critical Juncture Assessment consisting of 12 multiple-choice questions and two written-response questions to assess students’ understanding of the how earth’s plates move and what happens to plate boundaries during movement (DCI- ESS1.C, DCI- ESS2.B, CCC-PAT, CCC-SPQ, SEP-CEDS). Many of the multiple-choice questions assess at the intersection of the DCI and CCC or the DCI and SEP. The written-response questions require students to apply learning of all three dimensions. The teacher materials provide information for grouping students to scaffold additional instructional support depending on where a student’s score falls on the Progress Build.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 2: Mass and Velocity, Lesson 2.4, students complete a Critical Juncture Assessment that consists of 12 multiple-choice questions and two written-response questions to assess students’ understanding of the relationship between force, mass, and velocity (DCI-PS2.A, CCC-CE, SEP-DATA, SEP-CEDS). Many of the multiple-choice questions assess at the intersection of the DCI and CCC or the DCI and SEP. The written-response questions require students to apply learning of all three dimensions. Teacher materials provide information for grouping students to scaffold additional instructional support depending on where a student’s score falls on the Progress Build.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives for each chapter and unit. The summative tasks are consistently designed to measure student achievement of the targeted 3-D Statements for the learning sequences (chapters) and units.

The materials include several types of summative tasks that follow a consistent design across units: End-of-Unit Assessments, End-of-Unit Performance Assessments (Science Seminar), and Investigation Assessments (one per grade). Each End-of-Unit Assessment generally consists of 12-19 multiple-choice questions and two written-response questions in which students analyze and interpret data and construct explanations. This assessment is designed to reveal students’ understanding of the unit’s core content, including unit-specific DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs. The End-of-Unit Performance Assessment is delivered as a Science Seminar. Students engage in a multicomponent performance task requiring integrated engagement with targeted DCIs and several science and engineering practices. This assessment task includes students submitting a written scientific argument to demonstrate their grasp of the targeted DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs. The Investigation Assessments provide one opportunity in each grade to summatively assess an embedded performance in which students plan and conduct investigations.

Examples of summative tasks designed to measure student achievement of the targeted 3-D Statements for the chapter and/or unit:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, the End-of Unit Assessment consists of 19 multiple-choice questions and two written-response questions to assess students’ achievement in relation to the unit level learning objective using “digital and physical models and analyze global temperature data in order to construct explanations of how changes to the atmosphere affect Earth’s temperature by altering the energy flow (energy and matter) into and out of Earth’s system (systems and system models), disrupting a dynamic but stable system (stability and change).” Overall, the multiple-choice and written-response questions assess student understanding of the relevant DCIs related to earth systems (DCI-ESS2.A, DCI-ESS2.D, DCI-ESS3.B, DCI-ESS3.C, DCI-ESS3.D). The written-response questions measure student understanding of two SEPs (SEP-DATA, SEP-CEDS) and stability and change (CCC-SC).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, the End-of Unit Assessment consists of 12 multiple-choice questions and two written-response questions to assess students’ achievement in relation to the unit level learning objective of using “digital and physical models and hands-on observations to investigate how atoms are rearranged into different patterns to form new substances during chemical reactions.” Overall, the multiple-choice questions assess student understanding of the relevant DCIs related to structure and properties of matter (DCI-PS1.A) and chemical reactions (DCI-PS1.B). Additionally, the written-response questions measure student understanding of three SEPs (SEP-MOD, SEP-DATA, SEP-CEDS). While students apply two CCCs (CCC-SPQ, CCC-EM) in both the multiple-choice and written-response items, neither CCC is explicitly assessed.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Harnessing Human Energy, the End-of Unit Assessment consists of four written-response questions to assess students’ achievement in relation to the unit level learning objective to “investigate energy, the relationship between kinetic and potential energy, and the ways energy is transferred and converted...” Overall, the prompts assess student understanding of energy (DCI-PS3.A, CCC-EM). While students apply early ideas of scientific explanations (SEP-CEDS), the SEPs are not explicitly assessed, partly due to this being a launch unit for the year.
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, students “analyze evidence and make oral and written arguments—using what they have learned about energy transfer and the effect of ocean currents and prevailing winds on air temperature (cause and effect, energy and matter)—to determine whether the air temperature in South China during the late Carboniferous period was warmer or cooler than the air temperature in that location today.” The Science Seminar includes a performance task where students construct a scientific argument to assess their understanding of large-scale system interactions (DCI-ESS2.B) related to weather and climate (DCI-ESS2.D), four SEPs (SEP-DATA, SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, SEP-INFO), and two CCCs (CCC-CE, CCC-SC) are addressed.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, students “analyze evidence and make oral and written arguments—using what they have figured out about substances at the macroscale and atomic scale and about how atoms rearrange during a chemical reaction (scale, proportion, and quantity; patterns)—to create models that distinguish between suspects who could and could not have made hydrofluoric acid.” The Science Seminar includes a performance task where students construct a scientific argument to assess their understanding of the relevant DCIs related to structure, properties of matter (DCI-PS1.A), chemical reactions (DCI-PS1.B) and three SEPs (SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, SEP-INFO). While students apply ideas of scale, proportion, and quantity (CCC-SPQ) by referring to the correct model while constructing their argument, the CCC is not directly assessed.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, students “analyze evidence and construct oral and written arguments, using what they have learned about shared and distinct body structures and common ancestor populations (stability and change), to determine whether a new fossil is more closely related to ostriches or to crocodiles.” The Science Seminar includes a performance task where students construct a scientific argument to assess their understanding about the evidence of common ancestry and diversity (DCI-LS4.A), four SEPs (SEP-DATA, SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, SEP-INFO), and patterns (CCC-PAT) in morphological features.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 2: Mass and Velocity, Lesson 2.1, Investigation Assessment, students engage in a performance task to answer the question, “If the same strength force is exerted on two objects, why might they be affected differently?” Students plan and conduct an investigation (SEP-INV, SEP-DATA, SEP-MATH, SEP-INFO) to determine how exerting the same strength force on different objects can result in different effects (DCI-PS2.A, CCC-CE).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials consistently incorporate phenomena and problems that connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs and present phenomena and problems to students as directly as possible. The materials consistently incorporate lesson level phenomena or problems that address the three dimensions and drive students' learning across activities within the lesson. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 14-25% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 75-86% of the lessons within each grade. However, the materials consistently elicit, but do not leverage, students' prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems. The materials consistently incorporate unit-level phenomena or problems driving students’ learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons. 

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band DCIs. Materials consistently connect phenomena and problems to grade-band appropriate DCIs and/or their elements. Lesson level investigations connect directly to the Investigative Phenomenon or problem, helping students make sense with the identified DCIs. Multiple lesson investigations and activities are coordinated to work together to explain the anchor and/or investigative phenomenon and bridge learning of and with the associated DCIs. Across the series, students engage in making sense of phenomena and solving problems that require students to utilize and deepen their understanding of the associated DCIs.

Examples of phenomena that connect to grade-band DCIs present in the materials:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, the anchor phenomenon is “a fecal transplant cured a patient suffering from a potentially deadly C. difficile infection.” Throughout the unit, students investigate the scale of microorganisms living on and in the human body (DCI-LS1.A-M1) and the human microbiome making up the gut. Students learn how fecal transplants can change the gut environment for harmful and helpful bacteria (DCI-LS1.A-M2) and the effects of interacting body systems within multicellular functions (DCI-LS1.A-M3). This helps students answer the question, “How can fecal transplants cure patients infected with harmful bacteria?”
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motions, the anchor phenomenon is about how fossils of an extinct reptile are found in two locations separated by thousands of kilometers of ocean. Throughout the unit, students learn about plate motion at or near plate boundaries (DCI-ESS1.C-M2) and GPS data to understand plate motion (DCI-ESS1.C-M2). This helps students answer the question, “Why are fossils of species that once lived together found in different locations on Earth now?”
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Life Waves, the anchor phenomenon is about how Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Students investigate how different materials change when they absorb energy from light (DCI-PS4.B-M1). They use this knowledge to analyze and interpret evidence of how different wavelengths of light from the sun can cause skin cancer by causing damage to genetic material (DCI-PS4.B-M3). This helps students construct explanations about the cause of Australia’s high rate of skin cancer.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 2: Energy and Changes to Populations, Lesson 2.2, the phenomenon is about how yeast provided with more sugar produce more bubbles. Throughout this lesson, students investigate how sugar undergoes a series of chemical reactions within living organisms (yeast) that break it down and rearrange the molecules, forming new molecules to support growth, reproduction, or release of energy (DCI-LS1.C-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon, and Sun, Chapter 2: Moon Phases, the phenomenon is about how the appearance of the moon as seen from earth changes from night to night. Throughout the chapter, students investigate and model how the apparent motion of the moon can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models (DCI-ESS1.A-M1).

Examples of problems that connect to grade-band DCIs present in the materials:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, students design a roof modification meeting three criteria: reducing the city’s climate impact, preserving the city’s historic value, and keeping costs low. Throughout this unit, students identify human-caused impacts on the earth's systems.  Students also identify the positive impacts they can have through activities and technologies (DCI-ESS3.C-M2) as they evaluate how different design decisions impact the climate.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection Engineering Internship, Day 4, students continue to solve the problem of how parasites that cause malaria are becoming resistant to antimalarial drugs. In order to design a malaria treatment to reduce the amount of parasites that build resistance to the antimalarial drug, students run tests in the MalariaMed Design Tool to understand how different drugs, doses, and duration of treatment impact drug-resistance traits (DCI-LS4.C-M1).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are presented to students as directly as possible. Across the series, all lessons present phenomena and problems to students as directly as possible through video, simulations, or hands-on investigations. Every unit has an Anchor Phenomenon or problem and lessons incorporate Investigative or Everyday Phenomena.

Examples of phenomena that are presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Thermal Energy, anchor, investigative, and everyday phenomena are used to drive instruction. Students watch a video to learn about the anchor phenomenon about how two different heating systems can heat the Riverdale School. Although this phenomenon is more aligned to a problem that needs to be solved, there are several investigative and everyday phenomena to be explored throughout this unit and presented to student directly. In Chapter 1: Understanding Temperature, Lesson 1.2, students are given direct, hands-on experience to explore how food coloring disperses more rapidly in warm water than in cold water. In Lesson 1.3, students use the Thermal Energy simulation to explore the molecular activity of heated and cooled liquid to directly observe a phenomenon unobservable in real life. Further, in Chapter 2: Temperature and Energy, Lesson 2.1, students watch a video to observe what happens to air around heated water. Students are prompted to make predictions based on the experience.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Rock Transformations, students are presented with the phenomenon about how the rocks of the Rocky Mountains and the rock of the Great Plains have similar mineral composition. In Chapter 1: Rock Formations, students interact with this phenomenon as directly as possible by watching a video, interacting with a digital simulation, and engaging in a hands-on investigation to explore processes leading to the formation of rocks that cannot be observed first-hand.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 1: Environmental Change and Trait Distribution, Lesson 1.2, students are presented with the Investigative Phenomenon, “Individuals in an population can look different.” Students look at an image of a population of dogface butterflies to determine similarities and differences found within the population.


Examples of problems that are presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change Engineering Internship, students watch a video depicting examples of babies in incubators and explain the importance of incubators to the health of babies with medical conditions.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion Engineering Internship, students are asked to “design a supply drop pod for areas affected by natural disaster.” Students would be unable to directly observe a supply drop in an area of natural disaster. Instead, students are introduced to the problem as directly as possible using a video. Students engage in a simulation to test different solutions to the design problem.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. At the start of most lessons, students are asked to play the role of a scientist or engineer tasked with explaining the phenomenon or solving the problem. Each activity in the lesson is designed for students to work towards explaining the phenomenon or solving the problem in the context of the role they play. Students engage in all three dimensions as they work through the activities to make sense of the phenomenon or solve the problem.

Examples of individual lessons or activities that are driven by phenomena using key elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Thermal Energy, Chapter 2: Temperature and Energy, Lesson 2.1, students investigate the phenomena about how pouring hot water into a cup will gradually warm the air when it is enclosed inside a box. Students use the Thermal Energy Simulation to identify patterns (SEP-MOD-M5, CCC-PAT-M3) in molecular motion to learn that molecules have kinetic energy. Students use the model to show the faster molecules are moving, the more kinetic energy they have (CCC-EM-M2; DCI-PS3.A-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 1: Exploring Variation in Spider Silk, Lesson 1.2, students investigate the phenomena about how the quality of silk produced by spiders in the same species varies in strength and flexibility. Students use the Traits and Reproduction simulation to model (SEP-MOD-M4) how chromosome rearrangement during sexual reproduction causes silk traits to vary between parents and offspring. as well as, between sibling spiders (DCI-LS3.A-M2, CCC-SF-M1, CCC-CE-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 2: Explaining Chemical Reactions, Lesson 2.1, students investigate the phenomenon of calcium chloride and sodium carbonate solutions mixing together and reacting to form new substances. Students use the digital simulation to investigate (SEP-INV-M2) how atoms can rearrange to form new substances during a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M1, CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Geology on Mars, Chapter 1: Comparing Earth and Rocky Planets, Lesson 1.2, students investigate the phenomenon about how images of the surface of mars shows landforms looking similar to those on earth. Students use an interactive digital tool, Google Mars™ (CCC-SYS-M2, SEP-MOD-M5) to search for landforms similar to those on earth, especially those that could have been formed by flowing water or lava (DCI-ESS2.A-M2). Students use the information to support a claim about whether the same geologic processes have shaped earth have also shaped mars over time (SEP-ARG-M3).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, Chapter 1: Finding Species Similarities, Lesson 1.3, students investigate the phenomenon about how many of their body structures are similar to those in blue whales. Students use the Evolutionary History simulation to gather information (SEP-INFO-M1), compare body structures, and geographic location of extinct animals to existing animals. Students use patterns in common body structures (CCC-PAT-M4) to help map ancestral connections on an evolutionary tree, showing common body structures provides evidence that whales and humans share a common ancestor (DCI-LS4.A-M2).

Examples of individual lessons or activities that are driven by problems using key elements of all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, Day 4, students create designs for a roof that will have an impact on earth’s rising temperature. As students analyze the data (SEP-DATA-M7) and make design decisions, they begin to make sense of how design can have an impact on earth’s rising temperatures (DCI-ESS3.C-M2). Students collect data to determine if their design was able to reduce carbon dioxide. Students use an iterative process to test different roof models and make sense of cause and effect relationship between designs choices and environmental impacts (CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection Engineering Internship, Day 4, students continue to solve the problem about how parasites that cause malaria are becoming resistant to antimalarial drugs. In order to design a malaria treatment to reduce the amount of parasites that build resistance to the antimalarial drug, students run tests in the MalariaMed Design Tool to understand the cause and effect relationship (CCC-CE-M2) that different drugs, doses, and duration of treatment have on drug-resistance traits (DCI-LS4.C-M1). Using the MaleriaMed design tool allows students to use a model to generate data to test ideas about natural systems (SEP-MOD-M7, DCI-ETS1.B-M4). Students run isolated tests to better understand how there is a systematic process for evaluating solutions (DCI-ETS1.B-M2) as they design their malaria treatment.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 were designed for students to solve problems in 14-25% of the lessons within each grade compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials 75-86% of the lessons within each grade focused on explaining phenomena.

Across the series, problems were typically found in the Engineering Internships which engaged students in a 12-24 day investigation driven by the problems that provided opportunities to make sense of the DCIs, CCCs, and SEPs. In Grade 6, two Engineering Internships were evident each consisting of 12 days. In Grade 7 and Grade 8, one 12-day and one 24-day Engineering Internship were evident. There are two Engineering Internships focused on each of the following science disciplines: earth, life, physical.

Examples of problems:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, students design a roof modification that meets three criteria: reducing the city’s climate impact, preserving the city’s historic value, and keeping costs low. Throughout this unit, students identify human-caused impacts on Earth's systems and the positive impacts that they can have through activities and technologies as they evaluate how different design decisions impact the climate.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change Engineering Internship, students design a portable baby incubator that uses phase change materials that meet three criteria: keep the baby’s average temperature as close to 37 degrees Celsius, minimize the time the baby spends outside of the healthy temperature range, and keep costs low.
  • In Grade 8, Engineering Internship: Forces and Motion, students are put into the role of a mechanical engineer and presented with a problem involving the design of delivery pods that will be dropped in areas experiencing a natural disaster. Students design delivery pods that meet the following criteria: 1) limiting the amount of damage to the cargo during the drop; 2) reusing the pod’s shell as much as possible and 3) minimizing the cost of the pod as much as possible. Students use their knowledge about forces and motion to design models, to test those models using the simulation and to analyze that data to deepen their understanding of force and motion and structure and function.

Across the series, phenomena were typically found in the seven other chapters that were not considered Engineering Internships. In these chapters, phenomena drove instruction throughout the learning sequence and supported sensemaking around the DCIs, CCCs, SEPs. These chapters were either 12 or 24 days long and each grade level had topics from each of the following science disciplines: earth, life, physical.

Examples of phenomena:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, the phenomenon is that “a fecal transplant cured a patient suffering from a potentially deadly C. difficile infection.” Throughout the unit, students investigate the scale of microorganisms that live on and in the human body and the human microbiome that makes up the gut. They learn how fecal transplants can change the gut environment for harmful and helpful bacteria and the effects of interacting body system within multicellular functions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 2: Energy and Changes to Populations, Lesson 2.2, the phenomenon is that yeast provided with more sugar produce more bubbles. Throughout this lesson, students investigate how sugar undergoes a series of chemical reactions within living organisms (yeast) that break it down and rearrange the molecules, forming new molecules that support growth, reproduction, or release energy.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, the phenomenon is that the rough-skinned newt population changed over time to become poisonous. Throughout the unit, students learn about genetic variation, adaptive traits and mutations through the simulation, hands-on activities, and texts to then construct their own explanation of how the newts came to be poisonous over time.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Materials elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience to phenomena and problems across the series. Throughout the units, student prior knowledge is consistently elicited to connect the phenomenon or problem to prior learning or experiences. Prior knowledge is often elicited in the warm up or introduction of investigations by asking students questions about what they already know or remember related to the problem or phenomenon; this is intended to activate their learning prior to subsequent lessons and activities. However, there are missed opportunities for the materials to leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge, and to build on the knowledge and experience students bring from both inside and outside of the classroom.

Examples where materials elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena or problems, but missed opportunities to leverage that knowledge and experience within future learning:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism Engineering Internship, students design “a health bar to meet the metabolic needs of populations affected by natural disasters.” Before students are introduced to the problem, their prior knowledge is elicited by asking students what they know about engineers, food engineers, and knowledge of engineered food. Students are also asked what they know about modeling and how models can be useful when things take too long or are too small to observe.
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, students investigate human body processes in order to make sense of the phenomenon of a young patient who feels tired all the time. In Chapter 1: Molecules Needed by the Cells, student prior knowledge is elicited by asking what they know regarding what the human body needs to function. In Chapter 4: Metabolism and Athletic Performance, students are asked what they know about blood doping is elicited prior to watching a video about an athlete whose improved performance has led to suspicions about blood doping.
  • Grade 7, Unit: Rock Transformation, students make sense of the phenomenon about how the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains have rocks with similar mineral composition. In Chapter 1, student prior knowledge of how rocks form is elicited before students observe the rocks; students are asked about rocks they have seen in their daily life. It is then explained to students about how rocks have different amounts and types of minerals.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, students investigate the phenomenon about how an asteroid sample-collecting pod moved in the opposite direction instead of docking at the space station. In Chapter 1: Force and Velocity, student prior knowledge of force and motion is elicited. Students are asked about how an object’s motion can change when it is sitting on a table and how it can change when it is sliding across the table. These questions activate what students know about how objects move in different situations, including the situation presented with the space pod motion.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Materials consistently use phenomena or problems to drive student learning and to engage with all three dimensions across multiple lessons. In each grade level two units, Engineering Internship, engage students in problems that are embedded across multiple lessons and the other seven units embed Anchor Phenomena at the unit level driving learning across multiple lessons. Additionally, the three dimensions are consistently used to make sense of the Anchor Phenomena and solve problems across the series. The Anchor Phenomena drive learning and use of the three dimensions within the chapters, lessons, and activities of the unit. The engineering problems drive learning and use of the three dimensions within the days and activities of the Engineering Internships.

Examples of unit-level phenomena that drive students’ learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, the phenomenon is “spider offspring have different silk flexibility traits, even though they have the same parents.” Students create physical and visual models (SEP-MOD-M6) as they investigate the structure and function (CCC-SF-M1) of protein molecules to help support them as they construct explanations about gene combinations, inheritance, proteins, and traits (DCI-LS3.A-M2). In Chapter 1: Exploring Variation in Spider Silk, students investigate the variation in silk flexibility among spiders as they construct visual models (SEP-MOD-M6) to illustrate how the structure of protein molecules cause differences in traits (DCI-LS3.A-M2; CCC-SF-M1). In Chapter 2: Examining Spider Genes, students investigate the unit phenomenon by using a digital model (SEP-MOD-M6) to explain what causes Darwin’s bark spider offspring to make different silk proteins to affect variation in spider silk flexibility (DCI-LS3.A-M2; CCC-SF-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Changes, the phenomenon is “images taken by a space probe show that a methane lake on Titan disappeared.” In Chapter 1: Describing Phase Change at Two Scales, students investigate phase changes (DCI-PS1.A-M6) at the micro and macro scale (CCC-SPQ-M1). They use a digital simulation (SEP-MOD-M5) to test and analyze different claims about what happened on Titan. In Chapter 3: Investigating Attraction and Phase Change, students gather information to help explain the timeline for when the lake evaporated. Students use a digital model (SEP-MOD-M5) to predict whether adding or removing energy always leads to a phase change (DCI-PS1.A-M6). Students then construct a model (SEP-MOD-M3) and write an explanation for why the methane lake did not change phase until the summer was almost over.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, the phenomenon is the “Mystery Fossil at the Natural History Museum has similarities with both wolves and whales.” Throughout the unit, students use digital and physical models (SEP-MOD-M5) to investigate the body structure (CCC-SF-M1) of both extinct and living species (DCI-LS4.A-M2). In Chapter 1: Finding Species Similarities, students use a digital model (SEP-MOD-M5) to discover patterns of body structures (CCC-SF-M1) in organisms as evidence of common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A-M2). In Chapter 3: Identifying Related Species, students analyze and interpret evidence (SEP-CEDS-M3) about differences in shared structures (DCI-LS4.A-M2; CCC-SF-M1) to construct an argument based on evidence about whether the mystery fossil is more closely related to wolves or whales.

Examples of unit level problems that drive students’ learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, the design problem is “Design a better tsunami warning system for Sri Lanka.” Students perform iterative tests and analyze data to uncover patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) about geologic activity and plate motion to predict events (DCI-ESS3.B-M1). Students submit their design for feedback and refine their designs. Students then compile all their evidence from research and tests to submit a proposal, supporting a claim (SEP-ARG-M3) about how they have optimized their design solutions.
  • In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, the design problem is “Design a plan to reduce the city’s climate impact using white or solar roofs on buildings citywide.” Students test and modify their roof designs (SEP-CEDS-M7, SEP-CEDS-M8) to meet the defined criteria. Throughout the unit, students identify human-caused impacts on earth's systems and the positive impacts they can have through activities and technologies (DCI-ESS3.C-M2) as they evaluate how different design decisions impact the climate (CCC-CE-M2).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for the Criterion 2a-2g: Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions. The materials consistently demonstrate connections across chapters for students and provide supports for teachers to help students see the connections, including a suggested and intentional sequence, and student tasks related to explaining phenomena increasing in sophistication across the series. The materials present DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs in a scientifically accurate manner and do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band DCIs. Further, the materials include all DCIs components and all elements for physical science, life science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science; the earth and space science DCI components are included, with one element missing. The materials include all SEPs and nearly all elements, except four missing elements from Asking Questions and Defining Problems and one element from both Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking. The materials include all CCCs and nearly all elements, except one missing element from Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Additionally, the materials incorporate multiple instances of nature of science connections to SEPs and DCIs and engineering connections to CCCs.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that students understand how the materials connect the dimensions from unit to unit. The materials include nine units per grade with generally three to four chapters per unit. A chapter in this series is equivalent to EdReports' definition of a unit. Amplify Science Grades 6-8 is consistently designed to connect each chapter within a single unit. Student learning builds within a unit with the goal of explaining the overarching Anchor Phenomenon by the end of the unit. The materials provide support for teachers demonstrating how the dimensions connect within a unit in the Unit Overview and Unit Map; the Lesson Overview Compilation sections of the teacher material provide prompts to help students connect and transition learning between lessons within the same chapter. Teachers are also prompted to connect lesson level learning to the Anchor Phenomenon to ensure students see the connection throughout the unit. In student-facing materials, the first lesson of the unit (following the Pre-Unit Assessment) provides teacher prompts giving context and goals for the entire unit. The Warm-Up Activity, located in the first lesson of each subsequent chapter within the unit, connects prior learning between the chapters in the unit.

Examples of student learning experiences that demonstrate connections across chapters and also incorporate teacher prompts to ensure students see connections:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, two chapters are designed to build student understanding of microbes in the context of understanding the human microbiome. Within Chapter 1: Microorganisms On and In the Human Body, students develop an understanding of scale, especially as it relates to microorganisms and the size of cells in the human body (DCI-LS1.A-M1, CCC-SPQ-M5). Students also conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M4) to learn about microorganisms living on and in the human body. In Chapter 2: Arguing for the Benefits of Fecal Transplants, students share observations from the prior investigation. The materials direct the teacher to inform students about the new chapter focus on how the microorganism can affect the overall health of the human body. Students investigate the human biome to learn how microorganisms also live within the human body and some of those are important for maintaining health and others cause disease (DCI-LS1.A-M1, DCI-LS1.A-M3). Students review a case study of a patient being treated first with antibiotics and then with a fecal transplant procedure.  Students then analyze and interpret data (SEP-DATA-M4) while following the changes in health of the patient and the treatment they received (CCC-SC-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit: Rock Transformations, the first three chapters are designed to build and connect with each other by tracking how the flow of energy and cycling of matter (CCC-EM-M2) drive geological processes and distribute minerals throughout the earth’s surface (DCI-ESS2.A-M1). In Chapter 1: Rock Formations, students use physical and digital models (SEP-MOD-M5) to show how sediment can be transformed into sedimentary rock through compaction and cementation while magma can be transformed into igneous rock through cooling. In Chapter 2: Sediment and Magma, Lesson 2.1, teachers are directed to remind students that they determined the rock from the two different locations did not form as one rock formation and then separate. Students read the Chapter 2 Question and the teacher points out two new claims about the rocks. Students show their understanding of how rocks form by adding the initial rock material and transformation process to their models from the previous chapter (SEP-MOD-M5). In Chapter 3: Movement of Rock Formations, students revisit the prior two claims, with an additional Chapter 3 Question of how rock can move after it has formed. Students complete a simulation helping them explain how the rock in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains most likely formed and moved. In Chapter 4: Rock Transformations on Venus, the Warm-Up Lesson asks students whether they think rocks on other planets also transform. Throughout the chapter, students apply understanding from prior learning about how energy flow drives the geological processes on earth (CCC-EM-M2), and use their understanding to support a claim about the types of rocks that might be found by a future lander on venus.
  • In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, the first three chapters are designed to help students apply principles of Newton’s Laws of Motion to explain why a fictional asteroid-sample-collecting pod moved in the opposite direction as intended. In Chapter 1: Force and Velocity, students investigate the relationship between the force exerted on an object and the object’s changes in velocity (DCI-PS2.A.-M2). Students use a spring launcher to move a lid, observing the motion of the lid (SEP-INV-M1) to develop the understanding how larger forces cause larger change in motion of the object (CCC-CE-M2). In Chapter 2: Mass and Velocity, students focus on the thrusters of the fictional pod to further build their understanding of the relationship between the force exerted on an object, the mass of the object, and the object’s change in velocity. Students use launchers of the same strength on objects of different masses (SEP-INV-M1) to determine differences in the movement of the objects (CCC-CE-M2). In Chapter 3: Collisions, students build on their findings of the pod having more mass than usual and only slowed down. In Lesson 3.1, the teacher is directed to emphasize the pod crashing into the space station (show in video on Lesson 1.2), causing both the pod and the space station to move in opposite directions. Lessons in this chapter help students build their understanding of how forces in collisions are of equal strength but push in opposite directions, and the effects are different for objects of unequal mass (DCI-PS2.A-M2). Students investigate collisions of common objects and apply their findings leading to the conclusion that the difference in mass caused the pod to move more than the space station, and in an opposite direction. (DCI-PS2.A-M1). In Chapter 4: Force, Motion, and Movie Sets, Lesson 4.1, the teacher explains to the students how they will apply what they have “learned about force, mass, and velocity changes to help a film student recreate the collision from a movie she saw.” Throughout this chapter, students apply understanding from prior chapters about how force, mass, and velocity change to a new problem including the new variable of friction.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication. Across the series, each unit is designed around an Anchor Phenomenon or engineering problem. Each chapter within the unit is designed to support learning towards explaining the Anchor Phenomenon or solving the engineering problem. The lessons within each chapter also support students in explaining and using Investigative and Everyday Phenomena to build towards an understanding and explanation of the Anchor Phenomenon for the unit. As students progress through the series, the materials connect learning of the three dimensions between modules within a grade level and across the entire grade band. The way students engage with and use the three dimensions also increases in sophistication across the grades. The increase in sophistication was most evident in student tasks focused on understanding and explaining phenomena that require students to analyze and use data, model, and conduct investigations.

The materials provided an integrated sequence and a discipline-specific sequence. The examples below come from the integrated sequence; the discipline-specific sequence was not reviewed.

Example of student tasks focused on understanding and explaining phenomena with increasing sophistication across the series:

  • In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, students investigate the phenomenon of exercise, increasing heart rate, and collect a small sample of heart rate data to analyze changes using simple statistics to look for trends in the data (SEP-DATA-M5). In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, students analyze maps and large sets of temperate and rainfall data spanning several hundred years (SEP-DATA-M1, SEP-DATA-M2) to explain trends in global climate change and predict future changes. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, students analyze maps and large sets of earthquake data spanning across the globe (SEP-DATA-M1, SEP-DATA-M2) to explain why certain areas have greater frequency of earthquakes and support a claim for why improved technological tools for measuring seismic waves increases the accuracy (SEP-DATA-M6) of predicting damage of future earthquakes. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, students create mathematical algorithms (SEP-MATH-M3) to create a model that generates data (SEP-MOD-M4) to provide evidence (SEP-DATA-M4) for changes in the frequency of a gene in a population when environments change. Students collect increasingly larger and more complicated sets of data and use more complex collection techniques as they advance from grade to grade.
  • As students conduct investigations across the series to explain phenomena, they use increasingly more sophisticated system models. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, students investigate cells as small systems that make up all living things and are able to perform life functions. Students gather information and use a simulation to show how the body has systems on a larger scale and how they contribute to the health and function of the cell’s system (CCC-SYS-M1). In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, students build on the idea about how cells can perform life functions and apply how these functions may affect the entire body as a system as they analyze how bacteria could affect a person’s health. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, students use a simulated model to decrease a population by changing the resources within a system. Students use the model to make sense of how changes to a system (CCC-SYS-M2) can have direct and indirect effects. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, students determine how changing systems affect populations (CCC-SYS-M2). They use a model to introduce abiotic factors to an environment and show how factors within an environment change resulting in how populations and traits may change over time to survive. Students initially explain how components of a system interact to form a system in Grade 6. Students then show how changes within systems impact other components of the system later in Grades 6 and 7. Finally, students show how systems interact with other systems and are part of larger and complex systems in Grade 8.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials present disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts in a way that is scientifically accurate. Across the series, the teacher materials, student materials, and assessments accurately represent the three dimensions.

) [20] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 2c [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band disciplinary core ideas. Across the series, the materials consistently incorporate student learning opportunities to learn and use DCIs appropriate to the 6-8 grade-band.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for physical sciences. Across the series, the materials incorporate all physical science DCI components and associated grade-band elements; PS1.A-M6, PS1.B-M3, and PS2.A-M3 are only partially incorporated. The physical science DCIs are present within each grade level throughout the series, with the majority being included in Grades 7 and 8. In some cases, students read and annotate articles through a process called Active Reading, which is often followed by other opportunities for students to engage in multiple activities related to the DCI in the context of other dimensions. Often students work with the SEPs and CCCs to build and use knowledge of the physical science DCIs.

Examples of grade-band physical science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • PS1.A-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 1: Properties and Atoms, Lesson 1.4, students read and annotate the article “Atomic Zoom In” learning about the types of atoms and formation of molecules.
  • PS1.A-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 1: Properties and Atoms, Lesson 1.3, students investigate properties of unknown substances to collect evidence in support or to refute provided claims about the substances.
  • PS1.A-M3. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change, Chapter 1: Properties and Atoms, Lesson 1.3, students gather evidence of the liquid to gas phase change when observing a model of a cup of hot water covered by a plastic cup.
  • PS1.A-M4. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change, Chapter 1: Describing Phase Change at Two Scales, Lesson 1.3, students work with a simulated model to view kinetic energy and molecule-level attraction of different substances, including solids, liquids, and gases.
  • PS1.A-M5. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 1: Properties and Atoms, Lesson 1.4, students read and annotate the article “Atomic Zoom In.” This article includes references of crystal structures in the form of gems.
  • PS1.B-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 3: Accounting for Atoms, Lesson 3.2, students use a simulation to investigate the rearrangement of reactants to form products in a chemical reaction.
  • PS1.B-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 3: Accounting for Atoms, Lesson 3.2, students explore what happens to atoms of a substance when it burns and how atoms cannot be created or destroyed, but the atoms of the original substance are rearranged. The simulation does not show students how the mass stays the same. Students read about conservation of matter during their second read of “What Happens when Fuel Burns”.  
  • PS2.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 3: Collisions, Lesson 3.2, students investigate the relationship of force, mass, and resulting velocity changes when a moving object collides with a stationary object and when two moving objects collide.
  • PS2.A-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 1: Force and Velocity, Lesson 1.5, students use a simulation to model how changing the strength of a force changes the velocity of an object. In Lesson 1.6, students build on their understanding to explore the relationship between mass, velocity, and force.
  • PS2.B-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 3: Exploring the Strength of Magnetic Force, Lesson 3.1, students use pairs of magnets to investigate attraction and repulsion. In Chapter 4: Designing Roller Coasters, Lesson 4.1, students evaluate different roller coaster systems and their use of electromagnetic forces to determine the best roller coaster design, including materials, and number and placement of magnets.
  • PS2.B-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon, and Sun, Chapter 2: Moon Phases, Lesson 2.4, students read and annotate the article “Gravity in the Solar System” discussing the characteristics of gravitational forces.
  • PS2.B-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 1: Modeling Magnetic Force, Lesson 1.2, students explore attractive and repulsive forces of magnets through a hands-on activity, directed by the investigative question “How do magnets move objects?” In Lesson 1.3, students model the force field lines of magnets and deepen their understanding of magnetic force fields using the simulation.
  • PS3.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 2: Investigating Potential Energy, Lesson 2.1, students read the article “The Potential for Speed” to learn how the force of gravity pulls on objects with mass to give them speed when skiing, skydiving, and jumping on a trampoline.
  • PS3.A-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 2: Investigating Potential Energy, Lesson 2.2, students create three systems showing conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy (e.g., holding ball above the ground, rubber ball and pom pom, two attracting magnets, etc.)
  • PS3.A-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 1: Air Temperature, Lesson 1.2, students use a simulation to see how the change of temperature in air mass is due to input and output of energy. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change, Engineering Internship, students analyze data from the Futura BabyWarmer Design Tool to investigate the effects of insulating materials in an incubation system on energy transfer and temperature change.
  • PS3.A-M4. In Grade 6, Unit: Thermal Energy, Chapter 1: Understanding Temperature, Lesson 1.3, students use a simulated model to manipulate type of material (e.g., brick, iron, wood) to observe how heat would move through a material and transfer to other materials. The simulation model shows molecular structure and movement of energy through the material. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change, Engineering Internship students read the dossier to collect information about how thermal change affects kinetic and potential energy.
  • PS3.B-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 3: Collisions, Lesson 3.3, students use a simulation to model collisions between similar and different objects to show changes in energy in each object following the collision.
  • PS3.B-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 1.4.3, students use a simulation to model energy transfer, and temperature changes from the sun to the surface, water, and air.
  • PS3.B-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3.3.2, students read and annotate the article “The Gulf Stream” to better understand concepts of ocean currents and prevailing winds, and the driving processes behind them to develop questions about how energy is spontaneously transferred out of hotter regions (i.e., the equator) or objects and into colder regions (i.e., East of Coast of North America and Western Europe).
  • PS3.C-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 3: Collisions, Lesson 3.1, students read and annotate the article “Crash” and develop questions regarding how and why objects interacting with each other are affected. In Lesson 3.2 students use objects to model collisions and observe their effects.
  • PS3.D-M1. In Grade 7, Unit Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 1: Photosynthesis, Lesson 1.3, students read and annotate the article “Sunlight and Life” as they learn about the chemical process of photosynthesis. In Lesson 1.4, students complete a Warm-Up Activity to refresh what they read, apply what they learned to explain a before (including carbon dioxide and water) and after picture (including an energy storage molecule and oxygen) of a chloroplast, and engage in a photosynthesis simulation to understand variables related photosynthesis.  Students also learn how changes to the variables related to photosynthesis affects other organisms in the ecosystem.
  • PS3.D-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 2: Cellular Respiration in Ecosystems, Lesson 2.2, students observe cellular respiration through a simulation to answer the question, “How do organisms give off carbon dioxide?” Students use the information to model how organisms give off carbon dioxide and compare models with other students to determine how well those models answer the questions and demonstrate the chemical reaction of cellular respiration.  
  • PS4.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.3 students use a simulation to customize types of light waves and explore wave patterns. Students also discover how light travels as waves, carries energy, and how light has amplitude and wavelength.
  • PS4.A-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.3, students read and annotate the article “Why No One Can Hear You Scream in Space” to develop questions about sound waves and what is needed for them to be transmitted.
  • PS4.B-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 1: Changes Caused by Light, Lesson 1.3, students use a simulation to investigate the transmission, absorption, and reflection of light on different materials. Students also investigate if the material is changed by the light. When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material and the frequency (color) of the light.
  • PS4.B-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 3: More Light Interactions, Lesson 3.1, students investigate the behavior of light when it encounters different materials. Students observe light when it is reflected, transmitted, and absorbed.
  • PS4.B-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 3: More Light Interactions, Lesson 3.3, students use a simulation to manipulate variables related to brightness (sun and a light bulb), color (different color lasers), and frequency (custom waves manipulated by wavelength and amplitude) of light waves and how those affect light behavior when interacting with different media (plant, solar panel, glass, aluminum foil, melanin, and genetic material). Students use the information to answer the question, “What happens to energy when light is transmitted through or reflected off a material?”
  • PS4.B-M4. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.3, students read and annotate the article “Why No One Can Hear You Scream in Space” to develop questions about how light and sound waves are different in space as a result of sound waves needing to move through a medium.
  • PS4.C-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 3: More Light Interactions, Lesson 3.1, students read the article “How Fibre Optic Communication Works” to learn how light can be digitized to transmit information over long distances without noise interference.

Examples of grade-band physical science DCI elements partially addressed in the materials:

  • PS1.A-M6. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change, Engineering Internship, students analyze data from the Futura BabyWarmer Design Tool, and investigate the effects of insulating materials in an incubation system on energy transfer and temperature change.
  • PS1.B-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 3: Cellular Respiration, Lesson 3.2, students investigate how chemical reactions release energy and compare the reactions to cellular respiration. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 3: Accounting for Atoms, Lesson 3.2, students read the article “What Happens When Fuel Burns,” which describes how energy is given off in a reaction. In Grade 7, Unit: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 1: Photosynthesis, Lesson 1.3, students read the article, “Sunlight and Life” to learn about how the process of photosynthesis results in energy being stored.
  • PS2.A-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 1: Force and Velocity, Lesson 1.2, the teacher demonstrates and defines frame of reference and discusses arbitrarily chosen units for distance and velocity. Students are then asked to provide other examples of units that describe velocity.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for life sciences. Across the series, the materials incorporate all life science DCI components and associated grade-band elements; LS1.C-M2 and LS1.D-M1 are only partially incorporated. The life science DCIs are incorporated within each grade level throughout the series. In some cases, students read and annotate articles through a process called Active Reading, often followed by other opportunities for students to engage in multiple activities related to the DCI in the context of other dimensions. Students frequently work with the SEPs and CCCs to build and use knowledge of the life science DCIs.

Examples of grade-band life science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • LS1.A-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, Chapter 1: Microorganism On and In the Human Body, Lesson 1.2, students watch a video and read the article “Cells” to build baseline knowledge encompassing all living things are made of cells, cells are the smallest living unit, and organisms may be unicellular or multicellular. Students continue to build understanding in Lesson 1.3.
  • LS1.A-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, Chapter 1: Molecules Needed by the Cells, Lesson 1.2, students read the article “Cells” to read information about a cell’s structures and functions. Then in Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 2: Body Systems, Lesson 2.1, students model how the cell membrane lets nutrients into the cell and lets wastes out of the cell.
  • LS1.A-M3. Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 2: Body Systems, Lesson 2.1, students use the Metabolism Sim to model how different body systems work together and how their functions are impacted by various medical conditions (i.e., anemia, asthma, diabetes, pancreas injury).
  • LS1.B-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 3: Investigating Spider Inheritance, Lesson 3.3, students use a simulation to investigate how genetic information is transferred when spiders are randomly paired and produce offspring. As Homework in Lesson 3.3, students read the article “Sea Anemones: Two Ways to Reproduce” to learn about inheritance differences between sexual and asexual reproduction.
  • LS1.B-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 3: Investigating Spider Inheritance, Lesson 3.1, students use the simulation to investigate how mating different spiders results in new combinations of traits in their offspring. As Homework, students read the article “Invasion of the Periodical Cicada” to learn about an adaptive trait that increases the cicadas’ chances of reproducing.
  • LS1.B-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 3: Investigating Spider Inheritance, Lesson 3.2, use the simulation to gather information on how each parent spider passes one gene copy of each feature to its offspring. As Homework, students read the article "Why the Corpse Flower Smells so Bad" to learn how plants sometimes depend on special features or animal behaviors to help them sexually reproduce.
  • LS1.B-M4. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Lesson 4.1 students use the simulation to investigate mutations and the effects on spider offspring. As Homework, students read the article “Growing Giant Pumpkins” to learn how farmers select pumpkins containing the trait for growing large, and also the need to provide optimum environmental factors for the pumpkins to reach their maximum size.
  • LS1.C-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 1: Photosynthesis, Lesson 1.3, students read the article “Sunlight and Life” which discusses the chemical reaction during photosynthesis. Then in Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.2, students read the article “Harvesting Sunlight” and are reminded how plants use energy from the sun to produce food.
  • LS2.A-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 3: Carbon Movement in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.2, students play “The Carbon Game” to determine the effects of carbon on the organisms in the system. In Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 1: Stability and Change in Populations, Lesson 1.2, students use a simulation to explore the relationships between organism in an ecosystem by observing organisms being eaten by other organisms and pursuing prey as predators.
  • LS2.A-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.3, students view a graphic of food relationships in an ocean ecosystem and observe the walleye, pollock, and jelly populations compete for the same resource, zooplankton. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 2: Natural Selection and Reproduction, Lesson 2.2, students use the natural selection simulation to show how resource availability can affect the longevity of a population and its reproduction, as well as, contributing to adaptive traits over time.
  • LS2.A-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Population and Resources, Chapter 2: Energy and Changes to Populations, Lesson 2.4, students use a simulation model to control resource availability, which determines the rate of growth for the population.
  • LS2.A-M4. In Grade 7, Unit: Population and Resources, Chapter 1: Stability and Change in Populations, Lesson 1.2, students read an article titled “Arctic Ecosystems” that describes multiple food relationships, predatory and otherwise, between organisms. In Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.3, students use a population simulation to determine the effect of many populations in an area with limited resources.
  • LS2.B-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 2: Cellular Respiration in Ecosystems, Lesson 2.2, students use an ecosystem simulation to watch how matter and energy are transferred between producers, consumers, and decomposers in an ecosystem.
  • LS2.C-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, Chapter 1: Photosynthesis, Lessons 1.3 and 1.6, students read an article on “Biodome Files” and use an ecosystem simulation to determine what happened to the fictional biodome. Students look at needs of biodomes, as well as, claims regarding what affected the organisms in the biodome to where they could not function as a system. Students then use evidence to support a claim about the cause of the biodome issues.
  • LS2.C-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resource, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.1, students read the article, “Jelly Population Explosion” comparing two populations in Africa and how changes to an ecosystem can lead to shifts in populations. In later lessons, students apply their learning to explain the changes in the Arctic population.
  • LS3.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 3: Mutation and Adaptive Traits, Lesson 3.1, students read and annotate the article “Mutations” about protein mutations and the changes to the structures and functions in lobsters, cane toads, and bed bugs.
  • LS3.A-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 1: Exploring Variation in Spider Silk, Lesson 1.2, students use a simulation to manipulate the gene variation inside spider cells and observe the effect on offspring.
  • LS3.B-M1 and LS3.B-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 3: Investigating Spider Inheritance, Lesson 3.3, students use a simulation model to show reproduction between two spiders. The simulation shows chromosomes from both parents. Students can pair up egg and sperm cells to create an offspring and analyze the traits and genes acquired. Students can also choose to mutate sperm or egg cells and to analyze the effect of the mutation.
  • LS4.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, Chapter 1: Finding Species Similarities, Lesson 1.3, students read the article “How You are Like a Blue Whale” to understand how the fossil record documents the existence and changes of life forms over time, as well as, the many forms organisms take throughout history.
  • LS4.A-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, Chapter 1: Finding Species Similarities, Lesson 1.2, students use information they have learned about fossils to group organism cards into at least two groups based on ways the organisms are similar to each other. Students are applying what they have learned to determine where a new fossil should be classified based on similar structure evidence.
  • LS4.A-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, Chapter 3: Identifying Related Species, Lesson 3.1, students read the article “Comparing Embryos: Evidence for Common Ancestors" to gather information and view visual evidence of embryos from a chicken, tortoise, salamander and fish for similarities and differences.
  • LS4.B-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 1: Environmental Change and Trait Distribution, Lesson 1.4, students analyze histograms to determine how the distribution of traits over time has affected the populations.
  • LS4.B-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 3: Mutation and Adaptive Traits, Lesson 3.2, students read the article "How to Make a Venomous Cabbage" to gather information on how scientists can use genetic engineering to change an organism’s genes so the organism has different traits than it normally would.
  • LS4.C-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 2: Natural Selection and Reproduction, Lesson 2.2, students create a model to help explain how beak strength traits are passed down, and how the distribution of traits in a bird population can change.
  • LS4.D-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.1, students read the article “Jelly Population Explosion" to gather information about how human change can affect populations, including setting fishing limits to help with biodiversity.

Examples of grade-band life science DCIs partially addressed in the materials:

  • LS1.C-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 3: Cellular Respiration, Lesson 3.1, students use the Metabolism Simulation to investigate the interaction of body systems at an organ and cellular level, and how food is broken down and rearranged to form new molecules in the body to release energy. Within the simulation, students can change the amount and type of food, the amount of energy needed, and various medical conditions to see how each variable changes the speed and efficiency of the processes. Students are able to zoom-in to see the cellular respiration process inside the cells. However, the materials do not help students make the connection of how the chemical reactions support growth.
  • LS1.D-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.2, students support a claim about whether crabs near the ocean floor can see the plankton they eat and the color the plankton appear. This partially addresses this element in terms of light and photoreceptors/eyes, but does not address the other sense receptors or how memories are stored.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for earth and space sciences. Across the series, the materials incorporate all of the earth and space science DCI components and most of the grade-band elements. The earth and space science DCIs are incorporated within each grade level throughout the series. In some cases, students read and annotate articles through a process called Active Reading, sometimes followed by other opportunities for students to engage in multiple activities related to the DCI in the context of other dimensions. Students frequently work with the SEPs and CCCs to build and use knowledge of the earth and space science DCIs.

Examples of grade-band earth and space science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • ESS1.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon, and Sun, Chapter 1: Light and Dark on the Moon, Lesson 1.2, students use the Earth, Moon, and Sun Simulation to observe and predict movements of the earth and moon, relative to the sun, and explain the effects of these movements. In Lesson 1.3, students create a physical model to visualize the patterns of light and dark similar to the sun’s reflection on the moon’s surface as it travels around earth.
  • ESS1.B-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon and Sun, Chapter 2: Moon Phases, Lesson 2.4, students compare and contrast our star and galaxy with others. Students use the Earth, Moon, and Sun Modeling Tool to order and match the correct phases of the moon. As Homework, students read “Gravity in the Solar System” to connect their understanding of how the moon moves around the earth to how planets move around the sun.
  • ESS1.B-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon and Sun, Chapter 3: Lunar Eclipses, Lesson 3.1, students use the Earth, Moon, and Sun Simulation to create a three-view mode to observe how an eclipse of the sun and/or moon can occur. As Homework, students read the article, “The Endless Summer of the Arctic Tern” to answer questions about how the earth’s tilt is relative to its orbit around the sun and how the tilt and orbit impact seasons.
  • ESS1.B-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon and Sun, Chapter 2: Moon Phases, Lesson 2.4, students read and annotate the article, “Gravity in the Solar System” that provides them an explanation of the beginning of the solar system.
  • ESS1.C-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 1: Introducing Earth’s Outer Layer, Lesson 1.1, students investigate fossils and cross sections of land to learn how land can help determine the relative age of fossils.
  • ESS1.C-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, Day 2, students gather, analyze, and apply evidence from the digital model in the dossier about the patterns of landforms at different plate boundaries. In “Plate Motion and Tsunamis”, students read about the effect of tectonic processes on the seafloor.
  • ESS2.A-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Geology on Mars, Chapter 1: Comparing Earth and Rocky Planets, Lesson 1.2, students watch a video about how earth’s different systems interact to create and cause flow on earth. Students use “Google Mars” to identify physical landforms similar in appearance to landforms on earth. Students also use information from their investigation to build understanding of how similar landforms on other planets may be evidence of the planet having similar geological system actions.
  • ESS2.A-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 1: Introducing Earth’s Outer Layer, Lesson 1.2, students compare core samples from different world geographic locations to determine what the land is like underneath earth’s surface.
  • ESS2.B-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students compare maps, from ancient to modern, to link ancient climate to modern climate on the same land mass in different locations. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 3: Investigating the Rate of Plate Movement, Lesson 3.3, students use a hands-on model to reconstruct and provide evidence for an explanation for the possible locations of land and oceans 200 million years ago.
  • ESS2.C-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.3, students use a diagram of ocean currents to help them apply previous knowledge to make a claim about what causes ocean currents.
  • ESS2.C-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 2: Ocean Currents, Lesson 2.1, students read and annotate the article “The Ocean in Motion” to make sense of why shoes are washing up on ocean shores and how they managed to get into the ocean. Students also use this information, along with an additional diagram, to relate how sunlight and latitude affect water temperature and movement to construct an explanation as to where the shoes are coming from, as well as, how and why they travel in predictable patterns due to currents.
  • ESS2.C-M4. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.3, students read an article to learn how changes in energy and density, among other complex interactions, drive the movement of deep ocean currents.
  • ESS2.D-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.1, students use a model to determine how currents are influenced by winds and land masses.
  • ESS2.D-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 3: Exploring Wind and Pressure, Lesson 3.2, students read the article “How We Predict the Weather” to understand how meteorologists use models to read patterns, calculate probability, and provide good estimates for weather predictions.
  • ESS2.D-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 2: Ocean Currents, Lesson 2.3, students evaluate a map of ocean currents and explain the reason for the location of the great garbage patch.
  • ESS3.B-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 1: Air Temperature, Lesson 1.2, students read an article about the effect of El Nino in different regions, including drought, landslides, and malaria. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students analyze and apply evidence from the digital model and dossier about the patterns of landforms at different plate boundaries and determine if earthquakes at those plate boundaries are capable of causing tsunamis.
  • ESS3.D-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate,Chapter 3: Human Activity and Climate, Lesson 3.1, students investigate impacts of human activities on the atmosphere using the Earth’s Changing Climate Simulation. After using the simulation, students watch the video, “Combustion” before analyzing and evaluating data about human impacts. In Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, students create roof modification designs as a way to reduce climate impact.

Examples of grade-band earth and space science DCI elements partially addressed in the materials:

  • ESS1.A-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon, and Sun, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students compare and contrast our galaxy and star with others. Students use a visual of the planet, Kepler-47c, as it orbits around two stars. While students are told that earth is part of the Milky Way galaxy, there is little in the unit to build an understanding that there are many galaxies in the universe.
  • ESS2.C-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.2, students use a simulation to explore how the amount of surface water and temperature affects the amount of water vapor in the air. In Lesson 1.3, students use physical and digital models to investigate how energy transfer from air parcels result in condensation. Crystallization and downhill flows on land are not included in the materials.
  • ESS2.C-M5. In Grade 7, Unit: Geology on Mars, Chapter 2: Using Models as Evidence, Lesson 2,1, students read the article “Investigating Landforms on Venus” to gather information about how movement of materials underground can form observable land features above ground. In Lesson 2.2, students complete a hands-on modeling activity using stream tables, water, and soil to create land formations on the surface. Underground formation changes are not included in the materials.
  • ESS3.A-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 1: Climate and the Atmosphere, Lesson 1.2, students read the article “The Effects of Climate Change” to understand how humans depend on earth’s biosphere for food. Students also see how changes in temperature impact the hydrosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere, and are changing the patterns of where living things can exist. In Chapter 2: Energy Entering and Leaving Earth’s System, Lesson 2.2, students read the article “Past Climate Changes on Earth” to understand how changes to the climate in the past may have limited the ability of some creatures to survive. Students do not develop the understanding of how uneven distribution of resources can be caused by geological processes.
  • ESS3.C-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.2, students read an article, “Jelly Population Explosion” describing the effects of sardine fishing practices on the jelly population by reducing the competition for zooplankton. This reading partially addresses the element by emphasizing how humans can damage natural habitats. It does not address the components of the element related to extinction or positive impacts for organisms.

Example of a grade-band earth and space science DCI element missing from the materials:

  • ESS3.C-M2.  The materials do not include the element of how typically as human populations and per capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that materials incorporate all grade-band disciplinary core ideas for engineering, technology, and applications of science (ETS). Across the series, the materials incorporate all ETS DCIs and associated grade-band elements, primarily during the Engineering Internships units. Students engage with engineering-related DCIs as they simultaneously engage with the science DCIs (life, physical, earth/space).

Examples of grade-band ETS DCI elements present in the materials:

  • ETS1.A-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection Engineering Internship, students make a design decision about the combination of drugs to use for a malaria drug treatment meeting the following criteria: minimizing the drug resistance in the malaria parasite population, minimizing patient side effects, and keeping costs low. Students read articles in the dossier and work in the MalariaMed Design Tool to isolate variables to learn more about the criteria and constraints.
  • ETS1.B-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism Engineering Internship, students use a design tool to test their recipe to determine how the ingredients they select impact metabolism, cost, and taste. Students use the data to redesign their recipe and submit their recipe to the project director for feedback on how to improve their design.
  • ETS1.B-M2. In Grade 8, Unit Forces and Motion Engineering Internship, students use mathematical thinking to graph and analyze patterns in data from their iterative tests. They look closely at relationships between mass, velocity, impact force, and each of the design criteria to design an emergency pod for delivering supplies.   
  • ETS1.B-M3. Grade 7, Unit: Phase Changes Engineering Internship, students begin designing an effective portable incubator to keep a baby warm. They use a digital model to test their solutions, using what they know about phase change, energy transfer, and insulation. Students consider the different models tested in the BabyWarmer Design Tool to decide which parts of their different solutions should be included within the optimal solution.
  • ETS1.B-M4. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students use the digital Tsunami Alert Design Tool and a physical model to understand wind-driven tsunami waves and to gather evidence to design a tsunami warning system.
  • ETS1.C-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, students iteratively test their roof designs in the RoofMod Design Tool to create a roof meeting the following criteria: reducing climate impact, maintaining historical character, and keeping costs low. Students communicate their strongest design solutions to the project director for feedback and use the feedback to create their optimal design.
  • ETS1.C-M2. In Grade 6: Unit: Metabolism Engineering Internship, students use a design tool to collect data on their recipe for a health bar to see how it compares with the criteria. Students analyze the data obtained from the design tool to prepare a final proposal that justifies their design choices and how they meet the criteria.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 do not meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Asking Questions and Defining Problems and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials fully incorporate only half of the grade-band elements. Elements SEP-AQDP-M1 and SEP-AQDP-M3 are considered missing because materials did not require or explicitly prompt students to ask their own questions to investigate or gather data to support and build their ideas. Elements SEP-AQDP-M5 and SEP-AQDP-M6 are considered missing because they are not incorporated into the core materials, instead they are only incorporated in an optional homework assignment. 

Examples of grade-band elements of Asking Questions and Defining Problems present in the materials:

  • AQDP-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, teachers are prompted to ask students, “What questions do you have about the evidence?” as students annotate the provided Evidence Cards and prepare their explanation to answer the Science Seminar question.
  • AQDP-M4. In Grade 8, Unit: Earth, Moon, and Sun, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students are provided with sentence starters including, “Why do you think that?” to facilitate student-to-student discussions about the evidence they are sorting as they develop and revise their claim.
  • AQDP-M7. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 2: Examining Spider Genes, Lesson 2.4, students use the Write and Share routine to share their ideas and challenge those of their group related to the gene evidence they are providing. As part of the routine, students are prompted to make comments or ask questions that challenge the evidence, argument, or explanation. After the routine, students revise their explanations based on questions or feedback they have received.
  • AQDP-M8 In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism Engineering Internship, students solve a design problem by developing a nutrition bar meeting multiple criteria and constraints. On Day 10, students apply what they learned from designing their nutrition bar and define a new engineering problem related to food scarcity, food packaging or meeting metabolic needs. Students identify criteria through a criteria brainstorm protocol.

Examples of grade-band elements of Asking Questions and Defining Problems missing from the materials, not requiring or explicitly prompting students to ask questions:

  • AQDP-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Thermal Energy, Chapter 2: Temperature and Energy, Lesson 2.2, students annotate an article with regard to unexpected results when reading “How Air Conditioners are Heating the City.” Later in Chapter 3: Changes in Temperature, Lesson 3.2, students work with the Energy Cube Model to complete their models and clarify any questions they have. Students are not explicitly guided or expected to ask questions.
  • AQDP-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 1: Force and Velocity, Lesson 1.3, students use a simulation to gather data answering the question, “What makes an object’s motion change?” Students try to determine how to exert a force (independent variable) to cause an object’s velocity to change (dependent variable), but students do not ask questions to determine the relationships.

Examples of grade-band elements of Asking Questions and Defining Problems missing from the materials, but were included in optional activities only:

  • AQDP-M5. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 3: Exploring the Strength of Magnetic Force, Lesson 3.5, students generate one question to be investigated. Students also cite evidence needed to answer the question.
  • AQDP-M6. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 3: Exploring the Strength of Magnetic Force, Lesson 3.5, students are guided to ask new questions about their investigation into magnets, record their questions, and explain a hypothesis they created about what they think will happen if they followed their plan for investigating their new questions about magnets.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Developing and Using Models and all grade-band elements across the series. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to develop or use models within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Developing and Using Models present in the materials:

  • MOD-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 3: Accounting for Atoms, Lesson 3.4, in the On-The-Fly Assessment, students are asked to explain what information they can obtain from the atomic scale models and how the atoms shown are different from actual atoms to identify limitations of models.
  • MOD-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.3, students use the Modeling Tool to show the effects of wind on land and air temperature. Students then change variables (stop or reverse direction of the wind) in the Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate Sim to create the effect of changing the air temperature at a location. Students develop their initial model based on what happens as they change variables.
  • MOD-M3 In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 2: Energy and Changes to Populations, Lesson 2.1, students use a simulation to study changes in populations of organisms and dependency on food resources. Students determine the factors impacting the system are uncertain and not predictable when trying to predict organism populations.
  • MOD-M4. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.3, students use the Modeling Tool to show the relationship between wind on land and air temperature. Students predict the effect of changing the air temperature at a location and use the Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate Sim to test the effects of changing variables. In Lesson 3.4, students revise their models, incorporating any new evidence from the simulation.
  • MOD-M5 In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.6, students use the Modeling Tool to create models for two storms to show whether low or high amounts of surface water can affect the amount of rain in a town.
  • MOD-M6 In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 1: Molecules Needed by the Cells, Lesson 1.3, students read the article “Molecules Cells Need” then use the Metabolism Modeling Tool to represent their ideas about the molecules found in a healthy cell.
  • MOD-M7 In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship: Tsunami Warning Systems, students use a virtual simulation as a model to test their design solution as they collect data on earthquake magnitude.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials partially address SEP-INV-M3. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to plan and carry out investigations within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations present in the materials:

  • INV-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 2: Mass and Velocity, Lesson 2.1, students individually plan an investigation of the forces on different objects. Students identify variables (independent, dependent), controls, what tools are needed to measure the results, and how many trials they will need to conduct for each object.
  • INV-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 1: Air Temperature, Lesson 1.3, students use a simulation to generate data about the investigative question, “How does air get energy?” In Chapter 2: Ocean Currents, Lesson 2.3, students build on what they have learned using the simulation to collaboratively plan an investigation where students identify variables (independent, dependent, and controls), and tools needed to gather data.
  • INV-M4. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students collect data to inform their design for a tsunami warning system. Students then use a simulation to test their design and collect new data.
  • INV-M5. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection Engineering Internship, Day 5, students optimize the treatment solution for malaria to prevent it leading to drug resistance. Students isolate and test variables in the MalariaMed Simulation to test how different drugs, doses, and number of days can be changed to optimize the design solution.


Example of a grade-band element of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations partially addressed in the materials:

  • INV-M3. In Grade 7, Unit: Population and Resources, Chapter 1: Stability and Change in Populations, Lesson 1.4, students are introduced to evidence collection by sampling and compare evidence cards to evaluate which sample provides a better representation of the population. While students evaluate different samples, they do not evaluate the accuracy of various methods for collecting data.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 partially meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate nearly all grade-band elements; the materials do not address SEP-DATA-M5. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to analyze and interpret data within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Analyzing and Interpreting Data present in the materials:

  • DATA-M4. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students use a graphic to gather evidence about how colors of light penetrate ocean water. They interpret the data in the graphic to support or refute a claim about whether crabs can see plankton in deep water.
  • DATA-M6. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 2: Mass and Velocity, Lesson 2.1, students explore the relationship between mass, force, and change in velocity by planning and conducting investigations with physical materials. Students predict how many trials are planned and the teacher explains how multiple data points are needed to account for errors in testing and improved ability of students to identify patterns. The materials also provide support to help teachers understand how instantaneous velocity can’t be found using tools in this lesson.
  • DATA-M7. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 3, Investigating Spider Inheritance, Lesson 3.2, the teacher demonstrates how to use the Traits and Reproduction Simulation to mate two spiders, Otis and Anne. Students mate these same two spiders on their devices. The Lesson Guide prompts teachers to address how students may generate different offspring from the the teacher's generated example. The teacher is prompted to ask students to “compare trials and then discuss why the results are different.”
  • DATA-M8. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Changes Engineering Internship, students design solutions and test them in a digital model using what they know about phase change, energy transfer, and insulation to meet the design criteria.


Examples of grade-band elements of Analyzing and Interpreting Data partially addressed in the materials:

  • DATA-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3: Human Activity and Climate, Lesson 3.1, students use the Earth’s Changing Climate Simulation to test different human activities and the changes they make to carbon dioxide or methane in the atmosphere. The sim generates graphs which students can analyze and interpret trends in temperature, surface ice, absorbed energy, carbon dioxide, and methane, based on the variables they changed. The materials do not require students to identify whether the trends are linear or nonlinear.
  • DATA-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 2: Understanding Plate Boundaries, Lesson 2.4, students use the Plate Motion Sim to compare visual models showing plate boundary changes over large time periods and distances. Students compare changes in boundaries for convergent and divergent plate movements. While students are building an understanding of temporal/spatial changes, they are not required to identify relationships.
  • DATA-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 1: Climate and Atmosphere, Lesson 1.5, students examine graphs showing a correlation between increased carbon dioxide or methane and increased temperature. In Chapter 2: Energy Entering and Leaving Earth’s System, Lesson 2.1, students read a message from the head climatologist acknowledging their evidence shows a correlation and requesting students “investigate how an increase in carbon dioxide or methane could cause increased temperature.” The Lesson Guide provides prompts for teachers explaining the difference between correlation and causation. While the two concepts of correlation and causation are included, addressed and differentiated within this unit, it is not a focus of the materials; the Science Notes in the Lesson Guide acknowledge “distinguishing correlation from causation is not a focus of this unit,” resulting in students not being required to distinguish between causal and correlational relationships.


Example of a grade-band element of Analyzing and Interpreting Data missing from the materials:

  • DATA-M5. The materials do not incorporate the element for students to apply concepts of statistics and probability (including mean, median, mode, and variability) to analyze and characterize data, using digital tools when feasible.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 partially meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking and across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate nearly all grade-band elements; the materials did not address SEP-MATH-M3 due to students not creating algorithms to solve a problem. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to use mathematics and computational thinking within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking present in the materials:

  • MATH-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 1: Environmental Change and Trait Distribution, Lesson 1.4, students use a simulation to analyze population data for 50 generations to predict the population of an organism due to a specific trait.
  • MATH-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion Engineering Internship, students use mathematical thinking to graph and analyze patterns in data from their iterative tests; looking closely at relationships between mass, velocity, and impact force; and analyzing each of their design criteria.
  • MATH-M4 In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 2: Investigating Temperature, Lesson 2.3, students use the simulation to identify proportional relationships between energy transferred, the height of the parcel in the troposphere, and the amount of rain.
  • MATH-M5. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students use data to compare proposed solutions to their design challenge using the simulation.

Examples of grade-band elements of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking missing from the materials:

  • MATH-M3. The materials do not incorporate the element requiring students to create algorithms (a series of ordered steps) to solve a problem.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to construct explanations and design solutions within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions present in the materials:

  • CEDS-M1. In Grade 6, Unit Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds Lesson 1.5, students use a simulation to gather data to answer the question, “What causes an air parcel to cool?” Students construct an explanation predicting future storm strength by analyzing temperature, wind, and humidity.
  • CEDS-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.6, students construct a visual model to explain the effect of increased surface water on the amount of rainfall.
  • CEDS-M3. In Grade 7, Unit: Geology on Mars, Chapter 1: Comparing Earth and Rocky Planets, Lesson 1.2, and Chapter 3: Analyzing New Evidence, Lesson 3.2, students compare igneous and sedimentary rock samples from earth and data collected about rocks on mars to determine if landforms on mars could possibly serve as evidence that there was once water on the surface of mars.
  • CEDS-M4. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 3: Investigating the Rate of Plate Movement, Lesson 3.4, students use evidence collected through scientific articles, GPS data, and fossil records to explain how the Mesosaurus fossils spread so far apart.  
  • CEDS-M5. In Grade 6, Unit: Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students compare the location of South China during the late Carboniferous period to a current global map before making a claim about whether the air is warmer today than in the past. Students evaluate provided evidence cards and determine whether each card provides evidence supporting their claim or disproving their claim.
  • CEDS-M6. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students apply scientific principles about plate boundaries, earthquakes, and tsunamis to design a tsunami warning system.
  • CEDS-M7. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students test a design of a tsunami warning system.  Students compare their design to the criteria and constraints several times throughout the process.
  • CEDS-M8. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students receive and discuss design feedback, consider design trade-offs, and use the digital model to revise and test their sensor plans to create optimal designs.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in argument from evidence within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Engaging in Argument from Evidence present in the materials:

  • ARG-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 1: Air Temperature, Lesson 1.3, students collaborate to evaluate two claims related to how air gets energy and whether the evidence supports one of the two claims.
  • ARG-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 2: Ocean Currents, Lesson 2.3, students describe evidence supporting the claims they made regarding the air temperature of Buenos Aires and Cape Town in a student to student discussion.
  • ARG-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students use provided evidence cards to determine which evidence best supports or refutes claims when answering the question, “Can the crabs see the plankton they eat near the ocean floor?” Students sort and discuss the evidence cards, then write a claim using appropriate evidence from the cards to support their claim and reasoning.  
  • ARG-M4. In Grade 8, Unit: Phase Change, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students evaluate the Liquid Oxygen Machine to determine why it is producing less liquid oxygen than normal. Students use the Modeling Tool to determine why the tank is not working to its optimum capacity.
  • ARG-M5. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, Day 10, students apply what they learned from designing the roof modification during a brainstorm session. Groups of students brainstorm possible solutions, constraints, and criteria, then evaluate which proposed design is the best solution to meet all criteria to reduce a city’s climate impact on the environment.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate nearly all grade-band elements. Elements of this SEP were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to obtain, evaluate, and communicate information within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information present in the materials:

  • INFO-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students gather and analyze evidence while reading the dossier about the patterns of landforms occurring at different plate boundaries and whether earthquakes at the plate boundaries are capable of causing tsunamis.  
  • INFO-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Evolutionary History, Chapter 1: Finding Species Similarities, Lesson 1.4, students engage in Active Reading strategies to analyze qualitative information along with a visual display in the article, “The Great Tree of Life” to support the claim about all mammals sharing evolutionary origins.
  • INFO-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 3: Exploring Wind and Pressure, Lesson 3.2, students work independently to consider what information is more trustworthy based on the source to help them determine severity of storms. Students use the Evidence Criterion and the Evidence Gradient to sort stronger and weaker sources based on the criterion.
  • INFO-M5. In Grade 7, Unit: Phase Change Engineering Internship, students analyze data from the Futura BabyWarmer Design Tool and investigate the effects of insulating materials in an incubation system on energy transfer and temperature change. Students develop a proposal based on their design including their design based criteria, design priorities, and trade-offs in their optimal design.

Example of a grade-band element of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information partially addressed in the materials:

  • INFO-M4. The instructional materials provide scientific text for students to read and analyze information aligned to specific core ideas. Additionally, the materials provide opportunities for students to use evidence to support or refute their own claims or those of others’ in their class. However, students are not afforded opportunity to evaluate data, hypotheses, and/or conclusions in scientific and technical texts with competing information or accounts.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Patterns and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding patterns within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Patterns present in the materials:

  • PAT-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.1, students solve a crime by identifying an unknown substance. Students compare physical properties (color, odor, and phase at room temperature) of four corrosive substances with observations the officer at the scene recorded. Students investigate possible suspects who recently ordered different chemical substances. Students determine what patterns of atoms (numbers and types) make up the unknown substance and then determine which suspect recently ordered substances with the corresponding atoms that could be rearranged in the same pattern as the unknown substance.
  • PAT-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 3: Investigating the Rate of Plate Movement, Lesson 3.1, students use a simulation to calculate the rate and direction of plate movement. In Lesson 3.3, students read “A Continental Puzzle” to learn how patterns in fossils and rock composition of mountain ranges across continents provide evidence further helping students understand rates of past plate motion as they construct a paper model of Gondwanaland.  
  • PAT-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 1: Air Temperature, Lesson 1.4, students synthesize visual information from world maps showing global air temperature and incoming energy from the sun, to answer the question, “Why do different locations have different air temperatures?” Students use the Modeling Tool to show how patterns in latitude correlate to incoming energy from the sun, and the explanation of why locations of similar latitude have similar air temperatures.
  • PAT-M4. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 1: Changes Caused by Light, Lesson 1.1, students use a map of skin cancer rates to discern patterns in rates of skin cancer in different geographical locations.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Cause and Effect and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding cause and effect within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Cause and Effect present in the materials:

  • CE-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 1: Climate and Atmosphere, Lesson 1.5, students examine graphs showing a correlation between increased carbon dioxide or methane and increased temperature. In Chapter 2: Energy Entering and Leaving Earth’s System, Lesson 2.1, students read a message from the head climatologist acknowledging their evidence and how it shows a correlation prompting students to “investigate how an increase in carbon dioxide or methane could cause increased temperature.” The Lesson Guide provides prompts for teachers explaining the difference between correlation and causation. While the two concepts of correlation and causation are addressed and differentiated within this unit, this is not a focus of the materials; the Science Notes in the Lesson Guide acknowledge “distinguishing correlation from causation is not a focus of this unit.”
  • CE-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate Engineering Internship, students isolate variables in the design tool to gather evidence for how their roof modifications affect the project criteria. Students use the Futura Workspace model to evaluate the cause and effect relationship of these variables to determine their future design.
  • CE-M3 In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 3: Indirect Effects in Ecosystems, Lesson 3.2, students are prompted to think about direct and indirect effects on populations and on one another.  Students manipulate variables in a simulation to see how various causes contribute to understand population change to help student gather evidence to explain how the greenleaf population decreased.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 partially meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity and grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate nearly all grade-band elements and the materials do not incorporate SPQ-M4. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding scale, proportion, and quantity within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity present in the materials:

  • SPQ-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.3, students use the Light Waves Simulation to manipulate wavelength and amplitude of light to better understand how amplitude and wavelength affect the type of light. The simulation allows students to make and test custom wavelengths between 1 meter and 1x10-14 meters.
  • SPQ-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 2: Body Systems, Lesson 2.2 student read the article, “Patient Stories: Problems with Body Systems (Anemia)” to learn how low iron consumption in the diet (large scale) can lead to lower numbers of red blood cells and less oxygen delivery to cells (small scale), resulting in a person feeling tired (large scale).
  • SPQ-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 1: Force and Velocity, Lesson 1.5, students use the Force and Motion Simulation to investigate the proportional relationship between force, mass, and velocity to build an understanding of how changing the force acting against an object will proportionally change the velocity the object travels.
  • SPQ-M5. In Grade 6, Unit: Microbiome, Chapter 1: Microorganisms On and In the Human Body, Lesson 1.3, students read steps of how swabbing a human hand to prepare a culture in a petri dish allows scientists to see if microorganisms too small to be seen are living on the human hand. Students then view an image of a culture grown on a petri dish to learn how organisms that can’t be observed at one scale, can be observed through a microscope or when they are allowed to reproduce to form large colonies at a scale large enough to be seen.

Example of a grade-band element of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity missing from the materials:

  • SPQ-M4. The materials do not include opportunities for students to represent scientific relationships through usage of algebraic expressions and equations.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Systems and System Models and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding systems and system models within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Systems and System Models present in the materials:

  • SYS-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 2: Body Systems, Lesson 2.2, students read “Patient Stories: Problems with Body Systems” and learn how body systems work together as part of a larger system in the human body.
  • SYS-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 2: Energy Entering and Leaving Earth’s Systems, Lesson 2.3, students use prior information learned (the link between increasing carbon dioxide and methane to increasing global average temperatures) to create a model explaining why energy enters and leaves the system.
  • SYS-M3. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students discuss the limitations of their models for a tsunami wave warning system.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Energy and Matter and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding energy and matter within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Energy and Matter present in the materials:

  • EM-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Chemical Reactions, Chapter 3: Accounting for Atoms, Lesson 3.2, students learn from a simulation how atoms are not destroyed, but rearranged, during the burning of fuel.
  • EM-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.3, students investigate energy transfers from the warm air parcel to the cold surrounding air and how the energy transfer impacts rainfall totals.
  • EM-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Metabolism, Chapter 3: Cellular Respiration, Lesson 3.2, students read the article, “Cellular Respiration” describing how chemical energy is released from cellular respiration and how it is used for cell growth and repair. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 1: Changes Caused by Light, Lesson 1.2, students watch a video to learn how light carries energy from one place to another. Also, in Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 2: Investigating Potential Energy, Lesson 2.3, students use a simulation to explore potential (stored) and kinetic (motion) energy.
  • EM-M4. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 1: Understanding Rain Clouds, Lesson 1.3, students track the flow of energy between the sun, land/ocean, and air.
) [41] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 2f.vi [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Structure and Function and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding structure and function within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Structure and Function present in the materials:

  • SF-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Traits and Reproduction, Chapter 1: Exploring Variation in Spider Silk, Lesson 1.3, students model the structure of proteins and how they connect to form strands of spider silk to see which protein combinations provide the most flexible strands. Students use this model to develop an understanding of the function of a protein molecule and its dependency on the structure and how it interacts with other protein molecules.
  • SF-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Forces and Motion Engineering Internship, Day 2, students plan designs for a container with the goal of minimizing damage to an egg in a fall. Students determine the properties of materials and how to assemble the materials into a design to best protect the egg during a fall.  
) [42] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 2f.vii [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Stability and Change and all grade-band elements across the series. Across the series, the materials incorporate all grade-band elements. Elements of this CCC were not included from above or below the grade-band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to engage in understanding stability and change within each grade level and across the series.

Examples of grade-band elements of Stability and Change present in the materials:

  • SC-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection, Chapter 1: Environmental Change and Trait Distribution, Lesson 1.4, students use a simulation to manipulate the temperature of an environment.  Students then observe how the manipulation of temperature affected the organisms that lived there for at least 50 generations. Students analyze and compare the starting and ending histograms to identify possible changes to the organisms in the system.  
  • SC-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 4: Science Seminar, Lesson 4.4, students use a graphic of a food web to determine how the increase in the shark population would affect the other organism populations in the same ecosystem.
  • SC-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 2: Energy Entering and Leaving Earth’s System, Lesson 2.2, students read and annotate the article “Past Climate Changes on Earth” to gather information about the gradual changes in the earth’s climate over time.
  • SC-M4. In Grade 6, Unit: Thermal Energy, Chapter 2: Temperature and Energy, Lesson 2.4, students investigate what causes the transfer of energy between two things to stop and reach equilibrium. Students create a physical model to show how the energy between two objects transfers until their temperatures are equal, and they reach a stable state. As a reflection, students use a digital model to examine four different systems and determine whether they will change or remain stable if they come in contact.
) [43] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 2g [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials for Grade 6-8 meet expectations that materials the materials incorporate grade-band NGSS connections to nature of science (NOS) and engineering (ENG) within individual lessons or activities within each grade level. Elements from all three of the following categories are included in the materials:

  • grade-band nature of science elements associated with SEPs
  • grade-band nature of science elements associated with CCCs
  • grade-band engineering elements associated with CCCs


The NOS and engineering elements are represented and attended to multiple times throughout the year and at all grade levels. They are used to enrich the content and are not taught as separate lessons. The NOS and Engineering elements are embedded in a variety of learning activities, including videos, readings, investigations, and class discussions.

When present, the Teacher Support section of the Lesson Brief often provides a rationale and pedagogical goals for understanding the elements. However, the materials do not specifically highlight the inclusion of the elements in the Standards section of the Lesson Brief as part of the 3-D Statements for the lesson. 

The materials incorporate connections to NOS elements associated with SEPs and are addressed in a range of units across different disciplines and grades. While present, these elements are not always explicit to students (e.g., NOS-VOM-M1, NOS-VOM-M2).

Examples of grade-band connections to NOS elements associated with SEPs present in the materials:

  • NOS-VOM-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion Engineering Internship, students use a digital model to create and test pods. Through design feedback, discussions on design trade-offs (cause and effect), and uses, students revise their models to create optimal designs.
  • NOS-VOM-M2.  In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 1: Climate and the Atmosphere, Lesson 1.2, students analyze and discuss the quality of the data and discuss why scientists may disagree on the interpretation of the data.
  • NOS-VOM-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 3: Exploring Wind and Pressure, Lesson 3.2, students work independently to consider what information is more trustworthy based on the source. Then, students use the Evidence Criterion and the Evidence Gradient to sort stronger and weaker sources.  
  • NOS-BEE-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 3: More Light Interactions, Lesson 3.6, students use the Reasoning Tool to help explain how the evidence they gathered supports one of the given claims. This process helps students understand how reasonings are used to make clear and convincing arguments.
  • NOS-BEE-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 1: Stability and Change in Populations, Lesson 1.4, students evaluate evidence of the Moon Jellyfish population through sampling.
  • NOS-OTR-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 2: Light as a Wave, Lesson 2.1, students continuously update their claims when new information is discovered.
  • NOS-OTR-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Oceans, Atmosphere, and Climate, Chapter 3: Ocean Currents and Prevailing Winds, Lesson 3.4, students review the original, provided claims after having revised them throughout the unit as they gathered information.
  • NOS-ENP-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Lesson 1.4, the background support provided to teachers prompts them to make the idea of “theories are explanations for observable phenomena” explicit to students as they do the Active Reading activity of Earth’s Geomagnetism.
  • NOS-ENP-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Populations and Resources, Chapter 1: Stability and Change in Populations, Lesson 1.4, students are instructed that evidence for populations is analyzed through sampling, using scientific studies on jellyfish populations as the example. This example shows how scientists are able to get a more accurate understanding of changes in population when evidence is gathered on populations over time.
  • NOS-ENP-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion, Chapter 3: Collisions, Lesson 3.4, students investigate Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion using the simulation of docking a pod with the space station. The Teaching Support for this investigation prompts teachers to not name the law as to reduce student confusion.  
  • NOS-ENP-M5. In Grade 8, Unit Evolutionary History, the unit background information in the Teacher Guide addresses possible student preconceptions on evolution, and prompts teachers to be explicit in discussing the difference in the use of the the term “theory” as used in science versus the common use outside of science.

The materials incorporate connections to NOS elements associated with CCCs. The materials present these elements and across the disciplines and grades. For example, NOS-HE-M1 and NOS-HE-M4 are introduced in many occasions and throughout many units.

Examples of grade-band connections to NOS elements associated with CCCs present in the materials:

  • NOS-WOK-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion, Chapter 3: Investigating the Rate of Plate Movement, Lesson 3.2, students read “A Continental Puzzle” regarding Alfred Wegener’s research and his work in determining plate movement, beginning in 1915. This supports student understanding in how science knowledge is cumulative and many people, from many generations and nations, have contributed to science knowledge.
  • NOS-WOK-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, it is inferred throughout the entire unit how important it is for all people to understand weather and what factors contribute to more extreme events.
  • NOS-AOC-M1. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students gather evidence from the simulation, calculate the rate of plate movement over millions of years, and compare this to current plate motion.
  • NOS-AOC-M2. In Grade 6, Unit: Weather Patterns, Chapter 3: Exploring Wind and Pressure, Lesson 3.3, students evaluate and report on data to understand why weather seems to have become more severe.
  • NOS-HE-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 1: Changes Caused by Light, Lesson 1.2, students view a video of a scientist (spectroscopist) who is female, illustrating the idea that both men and women from different backgrounds work as scientists.
  • NOS-HE-M3. In Grade 6, Unit: Thermal Energy, Chapter 4: Water Pasteurization, Lesson 4.2, students participate in a Science Seminar to share evidence either supporting or refuting competing claims.
  • NOS-HE-M4. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students design a tsunami warning system by looking at improvements in sensor technology used to detect tsunamis. Advances in this technology have allowed scientists to better understand earthquakes.
  • NOS-AQAW-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Natural Selection Engineering Internship, students discuss the definition of “constraints” then explore various constraints as they plan to create a treatment for Malaria.
  • NOS-AQAW-M3. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students investigate the science of tsunamis, and analyze trade-offs involved in possible tsunami warning system designs. This illustrates the idea of how science can describe consequences of action, but is not responsible for society’s decisions.

The materials incorporate connections to ENG elements associated with CCCs. These elements are incorporated across all disciplines and are especially concentrated in the Engineering Internship units.

Examples of grade-band connections to ENG elements associated with CCCs present in the materials:

  • ENG-INTER-M1. In Grade 8, Unit: Light Waves, Chapter 3: More Light Interactions, Lesson 3.1, students read an article about fiber optic cables and how they transmit information using light waves, code, and digitized sound waves.
  • ENG-INTER-M2. In Grade 8, Unit: Force and Motion Engineering Internship, students discuss design feedback, consider design trade-offs (cause and effect), and use the digital model to revise and test their pods to create optimal designs.
  • ENG-INTER-M3. In Grade 8, Unit: Magnetic Fields, Chapter 2: Investigating Potential Energy, Lesson 2.4, students use a simulation to gather energy data from multiple launches, observing changes in both potential and kinetic energy.
  • ENG-INFLU-M1. In Grade 6, Unit: Earth’s Changing Climate, Chapter 3: Human Activity and Climate, Lesson 3.1, students analyze data to identify the impact of increased amounts of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels on average temperatures. Students draw conclusions from this evidence to describe long-term consequences of climate change.
  • ENG-INFLU-M2. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students choose a natural disaster in which they want to design a solution for mitigating damage from the weather event. Students choose materials, determine constraints, pick possible technologies based on natural resources, climate or other factors related to their chosen natural disaster, and identify economic constraints.
  • ENG-INFLU-M3. In Grade 7, Unit: Plate Motion Engineering Internship, students are presented with a challenge to update a tsunami warning system originally put in place in 2004. Students examine how technology has changed over time, and how solutions to updating the system would also vary depending on the areas in which the system was used (i.e., land, shallow water, deep water).
) [44] => stdClass Object ( [code] => alignment-to-common-core [type] => component [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Amplify Science Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials incorporate and integrate the three dimensions and incorporate three-dimensional assessments for and of student learning. The materials also incorporate phenomena and problems that connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs, present phenomena and problems as directly as possible, and consistently include phenomena and problems that drive student learning and use of the three dimensions within and across lessons. Further, the materials elicit, but do not leverage, student prior knowledge and expertise related to phenomena and problems. In Gateway 2, the instructional materials ensure students are aware of how the dimensions connect from unit to unit, incorporate a suggested sequence for the series, and incorporate student tasks related to understanding and explaining phenomena that increase in sophistication across the series. The materials incorporate scientifically accurate use of the three dimensions. Further, the materials include all components and related elements of the DCIs for physical science, life science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science; the earth and space science DCIs are mostly included, with one element missing. The materials include all SEPs and nearly all elements, except are missing four elements of Asking Questions and Defining problems and are missing one element from both Analyzing and Interpreting Data and Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking. The materials include all CCCs and nearly all elements, except are missing one element from Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. Additionally, the materials incorporate multiple instances of nature of science connections to SEPs and DCIs and engineering connections to CCCs.

[rating] => meets ) [45] => stdClass Object ( [code] => usability [type] => component [report] => ) [46] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3a3d [type] => criterion [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Criterion 3a-3d: Design to Facilitate Teacher Learning. The materials include background information to help teachers support students in using the three dimensions to explain phenomena and solve problems, provide guidance to support teachers in planning, and provide effective learning experiences to engage students in figuring out phenomena and solving problems. Additionally, the materials contain teacher guidance with sufficient and useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student and ancillary materials containing explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of the research-based strategies.

) [47] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3a [type] => indicator [points] => 4 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials include background information to help teachers support students in using the three dimensions to explain phenomena and solve problems. Teacher resources are provided for each unit, chapter and lesson to support teachers by making explicit connections between the phenomenon or problem, the instructional activities, and the three dimensions. These teacher supports are designed to help teachers understand how phenomena and problems drive student learning of the targeted dimensions.

Examples of background information for teachers:

  • The Unit Overview provides a summary of the focus for the unit, including the Anchor Phenomenon or problem, why this is important for students to understand, and how students will engage with each dimension to make sense of the phenomenon or solve the problem.
  • The Unit Map outlines the phenomena or problem, the Guiding Question for each chapter, and provides a summary section of what Students Figure Out and How They Figure It Out, to support the teacher in understanding what students should understand about each phenomena or problem.
  • The Science Background section provides background information about each dimension addressed in the unit and how the unit activities connect the phenomenon or problem to the SEPs, CCCs, or DCIs.
  • The Chapter Overview provides a Chapter Question and Investigative Questions designed to drive the learning of the chapter. The Investigative Questions are tied to the investigative phenomena in specific lessons and activities which drive the learning within the chapter.
  • The Lesson Overview provides a general description of the lesson, the Anchor Phenomenon, the Investigative Phenomenon, the Everyday Phenomenon (if present), and what students are expected to learn. The Teacher Support section associated with lessons and activities explains the pedagogical goals and provides teachers with information connecting the phenomena or problems to the targeted dimensions.
  • The Activity section includes an Instructional Guide providing step-by-step instructions. Depending on the activity, it may also include a Teacher Supports section, including additional background information, pedagogical goals, and supports explaining the connections between the phenomenon or problem, the activities, and instruction.
) [48] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3b [type] => indicator [points] => 4 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials provide guidance supporting teachers in planning and providing effective learning experiences to engage students in figuring out phenomena and solving problems. Teacher resources are provided as online and print (PDF) support to guide teachers in planning and delivering lessons. The Teacher Supports are designed to help teachers engage students in understanding phenomena and solving problems.

Each lesson is subdivided into different activities. Each Activity section includes an Instructional Guide providing step-by-step instructions and detailed instructions for enacting the activity, as well as, guidance and support for engaging students in understanding phenomena and solving problems. The amount and type of supports vary depending on the specific activity.

Examples of supports providing guidance for effective learning experiences which engage students in figuring out phenomena and solving problems:

  • Prompts to help teachers explain the purpose of specific activities (e.g., Anticipation Guides, Warm-Up routines, Word Relationships Routine, Homework) to students.
  • Prompts to point out the Unit Question and direct students to think about how factors contribute to the phenomena or problem associated with the question.
  • Prompts or questions to help students connect specific activities or assessments to the targeted phenomenon or problem.
  • Prompts or questions to help students make sense of the three dimensions related to the targeted phenomenon or problem.
) [49] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3c [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials contain teacher guidance with sufficient and useful annotations and suggestions for how to enact the student materials and ancillary materials. Teacher resources are provided as online and print (PDF) support and contain annotations and suggestions for enacting student materials and ancillary materials.

Each lesson is subdivided into different activities. Each Activity section includes an Instructional Guide that providing step-by-step instructions and detailed instructions for enacting the activity including teacher prompts; clarifications or explanations about procedures, technology, or content; suggestions for class discussions or key vocabulary, safety guidelines, etc. The amount and type of supports vary depending on the specific activity.

Lessons which contain embedded technology and short videos are accessible through a link in the instructional materials or an embedded video activates when it is clicked. Videos are frequently used to help students visualize phenomena not readily available for first-hand observation in the classroom. Simulations (Sim) are digital models students use to manipulate and test variables, and often serve as a primary data collection mechanism for investigations. The Instruction Guide provides step-by-step support for teachers on how to model and share the Sims, videos, and other embedded technology with students; suggestions on which variables to include for each different use of the Sim or other technology; what information or videos to project at certain points in a lesson, etc. If a school and/or teacher delivers the instructional materials completely online, students are able to submit all work electronically, submitting their answers, images, etc. into boxes on their online page.

) [50] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3d [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials contain explanations of the instructional approaches of the program and identification of research-based strategies. Teacher support materials for each unit are provided electronically on the Unit Guide page and are also available in a downloadable PDF.

Resources providing explanations of the instructional approaches include:

  • The Unit Overview describes the overall learning goals for unit, a description of why lessons are organized and structured as they are, and how lessons and activities are sequenced to build student learning across chapters within the unit.
  • The Unit Map provides a trajectory of core ideas presented in each chapter and includes a description of what phenomena or challenge solutions students figure out and how they figure them out.
  • The Progress Build provides a unit-specific learning progression and includes three levels of how student learning is likely to develop throughout the unit. The Progress Build guides suggested instructional adjustments and differentiation. In most cases, each level of the Progress Build corresponds to a chapter in the unit.
  • The Amplify Science Program Guide is a separate resource which describes information about the program’s structure, scope and sequence, program components, connections to literacy, access and equity, and phenomena, standards, and progressions. The Amplify Science Program Guide identifies the research-based strategies used in the materials. The materials were designed with a “multi-modal literacy approach” rooted in the Lawrence Hall of Science program called Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading; this approach includes four modes described as Do, Talk, Read, and Write. This approach, with an additional fifth mode of Visualize, encompassing simulation and modeling elements, was incorporated with strategies described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education.
) [51] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3e3k [type] => criterion [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Criterion 3e-3k: Support for All Students. The materials provide appropriate support, accommodations, and/or modifications for numerous special populations supporting their regular and active participation in learning science and engineering. The materials are not designed to leverage diverse cultural and social backgrounds of students, nor do the materials consistently provide access points for students at varying ability levels and backgrounds or allow multiple approaches to explaining phenomena or solving problems. The materials include opportunities for students to share their thinking and apply their understanding in a variety of ways. The materials include a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics. Additionally, the materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies and consistently provide supports or strategies to scaffold instruction for students who read below grade level in accessing grade-band content.

) [52] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3e [type] => indicator [points] => 0 [rating] => does-not-meet [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that the materials are designed to leverage diverse cultural and social backgrounds of students. Each lesson has an overview under the Progress Build tab discussing possible prior knowledge (preconceptions). Students are asked to answer questions during the pre-unit assessment that can elicit thinking to uncover prior knowledge, but in a limited manner in which it may or may not elicit information about the diverse cultures and social background of students in the classroom. Although the problems and phenomena are likely to be interesting and/or motivating to students, they do not provide explicit opportunities for students bring their cultural or social backgrounds into the learning.

) [53] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3f [type] => indicator [points] => 4 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials provide appropriate support, accommodations, and/or modifications for numerous special populations supporting their regular and active participation in learning science and engineering.

Examples of supports provided for each lesson:

  • The Differentiation section provides a variety of strategies, depending on the particular lesson or activity, including strategies for activating knowledge, grouping strategies (based on the Progress Build), grouping strategies and routines for class discussions, writing supports such as sentence stems and oral rehearsals, potential challenges in the lessons, strategies for English learners, differentiation for students who need more support, and differentiation for students who need more challenge.
  • A Glossary (accessible in English and Spanish) and a Multi-Language Glossary (accessible in Arabic, Chinese French, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese) provide definitions for key terms in the unit.
  • An audio option is available for various texts students read. For example, when students gather evidence from a text in “Phases of the Moon” they have the option to listen to an audio reading of the text.
) [54] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3g [type] => indicator [points] => 1 [rating] => partially-meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials provide multiple access points for students at varying ability levels and backgrounds to make sense of phenomena and design solutions to problems. The materials provide multiple participation structures to support student engagement with the materials, including small group discussions, large group discussions, and partner work. There are also many opportunities to students to interact with phenomena through texts, simulations, hands-on investigations, demonstrations, etc. The Critical Juncture assessments can be used to determine differentiated groupings and lessons for individual students. The last lesson of each chapter typically extends the learning to a new context.

While most activities include extension opportunities for students who need more challenge, the scope of the opportunities is often limited to including rebuttals to arguments, asking deeper questions, conducting independent research to extend design solutions, or performing additional tests in the Sim. The materials provide access points for students at varying ability levels, but rarely account for the varying backgrounds of students. The materials do not provide multiple approaches to ensure students from varying backgrounds have opportunities to explain phenomena or solve problems by allowing them to bring their unique cultural, geographic, and socioeconomic perspectives to the learning.

) [55] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3h [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials include opportunities for students to share their thinking and apply their understanding in a variety of ways. Activities are designed to allow students to use multiple modalities to share their thinking and compare their thinking with their peers or new ideas in the materials. Within each unit:

  • Students share their thinking orally, through classroom discussions and oral presentations during Science Seminars.
  • Students share their thinking in writing by annotating scientific text, writing scientific explanations and arguments, and responding to writing prompts.
  • Students share their thinking visually by using the Modeling Tools to build visual explanations of the targeted three dimensions and using the Sorting Tools to categorize visual and written representations. Students then synthesize and share their ideas about the phenomenon they are trying to explain.

While students are able to demonstrate understanding with multiple modalities within and across units, the materials rarely provide students with a choice of multi-modal options within a single activity or lesson.

Within the Core units, the materials consistently provide opportunities for students to apply their understanding in new contexts. The first three chapters in the materials are designed to develop student sensemaking of the anchor phenomenon. The last chapter in each Core unit is designed for students to apply that learning in a new context.

) [56] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3i [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials include a balance of images or information about people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics. Across the series, the materials represent a balance of images of people, representing various demographic and physical characteristics within text, images, and videos. Scientists or engineers appearing throughout the series depict different genders, races, ethnicities, and other physical characteristics. Underrepresented groups are also positioned in STEM professions including women, people of varying ethnicities and cultures, and wheelchair users. The materials did not include non-binary genders or other physical characteristics (e.g., blindness, Down Syndrome).  The individuals represented are depicted in a positive manner and materials avoid stereotypes or language viewed as potentially offensive to groups of people. Additionally, the assessment items proportionately use diverse male and female names for both correct and incorrect responses.

) [57] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3j [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials provide opportunities for teachers to use a variety of grouping strategies. Throughout the series, students have opportunities to work in groups many times, including partner work and small group work. Scaffolds are embedded in the materials to support this work, including discussion protocols and sentence stems. Many types and opportunities to group students are available, but teacher supports and guidance on how to group students are not provided in the teacher materials, other than grouping based on the Critical Juncture Assessments.

) [58] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3k [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that materials are made accessible to students by providing appropriate supports for different reading levels. Each Lesson Guide provides differentiation strategies for students who need more support. The strategies vary based on the lesson or activities, but often include setting attainable reading goals for students, focusing on visual representations, working or reading with a small group, etc. Several different supports and strategies are consistently embedded throughout the series.

Examples of supports for students reading below grade level to access grade-band content:

  • An Active Reading approach is embedded, where students annotate, highlight, and ask questions as they interact with text. Teachers are provided prompts to ask students questions and guide their understanding of the text during the Active Reading approach. Discussion opportunities are provided after each reading; teachers are prompted to support students with sentence stems.
  • Readings are provided at a level appropriate for the grade-band. To support students in accessing the text, each text has an audio option to be read to students and including in-text definitions of domain-specific vocabulary.
  • A Glossary (accessible in English and Spanish) and a Multi-Language Glossary (accessible in Arabic, Chinese French, Haitian-Creole, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Urdu, and Vietnamese) provide definitions for key terms in each unit.
) [59] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3l3s [type] => criterion [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Criterion 3l-3s: Documentation of Design and Usability. The materials provide a rationale for how units across the series are intentionally sequenced to build coherence and student understanding, document how each lesson and unit align to NGSS, and document how each lesson and unit align to English/Language Arts and Math Common Core State Standards, including the standards for mathematical practice. Further, the materials are clear and free of errors, include a comprehensive list of materials needed, and embed clear science safety guidelines for teachers and students across the instructional materials. Additionally, the materials designated for each grade level are feasible for one school year. The materials include strategies for informing students, parents, or caregivers about the science program, but do not contain suggestions as to how parents or caregivers can help support student progress and achievement.

) [60] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3l [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the teacher materials provide a rationale for how units across the series are intentionally sequenced to build coherence and student understanding. The Amplify Science Program Guide identifies the design and suggested sequencing of the units within the series. Each grade consists of nine units, including one Launch unit, seven Core units, and two Engineering Internships. Engineering Internships are designed to follow the associated Core unit of the same name and are intended to provide students with an opportunity to apply what they have learned in the Core unit to an authentic problem. Launch units are designed to introduce students at the start of the year to essential practices (including scientific argumentation), routines, and approaches of the program. The focal CCC of the Launch routine is revisited in subsequent units.

While units are modular and can be sequenced at the discretion of individual schools or districts, a suggested sequence is provided for grades 6-8. The Phenomena, standards and progressions section of the Amplify Science Program Guide identifies the suggested sequence and details which performance expectations are the focus of each unit.  Each unit has focal and emphasized DCIs, CCCs, and SEPs intended to support explanations of the anchor phenomenon for each unit. While this information is provided for the DCIs, SEPs, and CCC, evidence of the nature of science and engineering elements from NGSS was not present.

Within each unit, the Unit Overview and Progress Build sections explain how chapters are sequenced to build student understanding of focal DCIs. Each level of Progress Build show the design and learning progressions as part of the unit, with an explanation as to why they are sequenced in the manner as depicted. The Unit Overview describes the progression of the content, the rationale behind the progression, and connections to prior materials.

) [61] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3m [type] => indicator [points] => 1 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectation that the materials document how each lesson and unit align to NGSS. The Unit Overview section of the materials consistently provides documentation of how each unit and lesson align to the NGSS.

  • The Standards and Goals section identifies focal performance expectations and additional performance expectations that have DCIs connected to student learning in the unit.
  • The 3-D Statements section lists color-coded statements identifying each CCC, SEP, and DCI that are addressed within each unit, chapter, and lesson.
) [62] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3n [type] => indicator [points] => 1 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials document how each lesson and unit align to English/Language Arts and Math Common Core State Standards, including the standards for mathematical practice. The Unit Overview section of the materials consistently provide documentation of how the ELA and Math Common Core State Standards align to each unit:

  • The Standards and Goals section identifies ELA Common Core State Standards addressed in the unit, including anchor and grade-specific standards for reading and writing, and anchor standards for speaking and listening, and for language.
  • The Standards and Goals section identifies Math Common Core State Standards addressed in the unit, including math practices and math content.

The Lesson Brief section of the materials consistently provides documentation, when applicable, of how the ELA and Math Common Core State Standards Standards align to each lesson:

  • The Standards section identifies ELA Common Core State Standards addressed in the lesson, including grade-specific standards for reading and writing, and anchor standards for speaking and listening, and for language.
  • The Standards section identifies Math Common Core State Standards addressed in the lesson, including math practices and math content.
) [63] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3o [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the resources (whether in print or digital) are clear and free of errors. Teacher and student materials are consistently clear and contain no errors in either the digital or printed versions.

) [64] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3p [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials include a comprehensive list of materials needed. Lists of materials required for each unit and lesson can be found in the Materials & Preparation sections of the PDF version of the Teacher’s Guide and online resources for the unit and for each lesson. Lists provide the name of the item, the quantity needed (based on using the materials five times for a class of 40 students), and the lesson in which a specific material is used. In addition to the materials included in kits, similar lists for materials needing to be printed for students or to be display in the classroom, and a list of materials needing to be provided by the teacher in addition to those listed in the kits are included.

Along with the materials list, the Preparation at a Glance section provides information outlining the amount of preparation time to adequately prepare the materials for each lesson in the unit.  The Materials & Preparation section in the Lesson Brief of each lesson provide detailed preparation steps to complete the day before each lesson, steps to assist teachers in setting up lessons and materials, and steps to complete immediately before each lesson.

) [65] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3q [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials embed clear science safety guidelines for teacher and students across the instructional materials. Safety notes are consistently found in the materials where appropriate:

  • Safety Notes are displayed at the start of any activity, typically found in the Hands-On activities, requiring students to interact with materials that may present a safety concern. Each safety note is specific to the particular activity and the materials used during that activity.
  • The Materials & Preparation section of the Lesson Guide includes a teacher note to “check and follow your district’s safety regulations pertaining to the use of proper safety equipment and procedures for students participating in hands-on science activities.”  Additionally, the Preparation section includes a Safety Note when applicable to a particular activity and materials used during that activity.
  • The Preparation section of the The Digital Resources includes Safety Guidelines for Science Investigations. This document can be displayed digitally or physically printed and displayed in the classroom. These guidelines are used throughout the materials, when applicable.
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​The instructional materials for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials designated for each grade level are feasible for one school year. The pacing of individual lessons and units is appropriate and materials are viable for one school year as written. The lessons would not require significant modifications.

The Unit Overview includes a Materials & Preparation section detailing the pacing of all units and lessons. Each lesson was designed as a 45-minute session, although the materials indicate teachers can extend or shorten the time to meet their needs. Each Core unit contains 16 lessons distributed between four chapters, plus three assessment days (Pre-Unit Assessment, Critical Juncture Assessment, and End-of-Unit Assessment). The Engineering Internship units consist of ten lessons each and Launch Units consist of 11 lessons each.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials contain strategies for informing students, parents, or caregivers about the science program and suggestions as to how they can help support student progress and achievement. The Printable Resources section for each unit contains the NGSS Information for Parents and Guardians providing general information about the NGSS and how science instruction in this program supports students in making sense of core ideas using CCCs and SEPs. This document is available in English and Spanish. While this document provides information about the program and NGSS, evidence of how parents or caregivers can help support student progress and achievement is not evident.  

Each unit also contains an optional Family Homework Experience. These activities provide students with a structure to explain their learning during the unit and are designed to encourage interaction and discussion between students and their families around science concepts.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Criterion 3t-3y: Assessment Design and Supports. The assessments include a variety of modalities and measures. Additionally, the assessments offer ways for individual student progress to be measured over time. The materials provide opportunities and guidance for oral and/or written peer and teacher feedback and self-reflection, allowing students to monitor and move their own learning. Tools are provided for scoring assessment items. Guidance is provided for interpreting the range of student understanding for relevant science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Further, the assessments are accessible to diverse learners regardless of gender identification, language, learning exceptionality, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

) [69] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3t [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the assessments include a variety of modalities and measures. Throughout the series, a variety of modalities and measures are utilized in the assessments to provide evidence of student understanding.

  • Models and other visual representations are frequently included as hands-on activities and simulations.
  • Collaborative discussion provides evidence of understanding and the exchange of ideas.
  • Oral presentations provide students opportunities to argue from evidence and to construct explanations.
  • Annotations of scientific text provides opportunity to assess students’ understanding of textual evidence.
  • Multiple choice response and constructed response questions are used in pre-assessments and end-of-unit assessments.
  • Performance tasks including scientific explanation and modeling are used throughout the sequence to measure student learning.
  • Self-assessment questions allow the student to examine their own understanding.
) [70] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3u [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the assessments offer ways for individual student progress to be measured over time. Across the grade series, the gradebook feature allows a path for the assessment and monitoring of individual student progress to be measured over time. The system of assessment in the program provides consistent and systematic opportunities to measure individual student progress over time. Each unit contains one or more of each assessment type:

  • Pre-Unit Assessment (formative): Each unit contains multiple-choice questions and two rubric-scored written responses.
  • On-the-Fly Assessments (formative): These three-dimensional formative assessment tasks are integrated throughout the lessons and are designed to help teachers make sense of student activity.  They are also designed to provide evidence of student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • End-of-chapter assessments (formative): These are comprised of a variety of performance tasks intended to assess student progress and are administered at the end of each chapter. Examples include written scientific explanations, argumentation, developing and using models, and designing engineering solutions.
  • Student Self-Assessments (formative): These are provided once per chapter and are intended for students to reflect on their own learning, ask questions, and reveal ideas about unit content.
  • Critical Juncture Assessment (formative): These are included near the midpoint of each unit and are intended to help teachers differentiate instruction based on where students fall on the Progress Build. This helps ensure that all students are ready before moving to the next phase of instruction.
  • Science Seminar and final written argument (formative and summative components): This is a culminating performance task for each core unit. Students collect and analyze evidence of different claims, then engage in a full-class discussion to support their claim about a real-world problem. After the seminar, students individually write their final scientific argument, rubrics, scoring guides, and examples of student responses at each scoring level are provided to teachers to support the assessment of students’ understanding of concepts and specific practices.
  • End-of-Unit Assessment (summative): Each unit contains multiple-choice questions and two rubric-scored written responses, identical to those in the Pre-Unit Assessment.
  • 3-D Investigation Assessments (summative): These are embedded in one unit at each grade level to provide students an opportunity to plan and conduct their own investigation of a phenomenon. Assessment guidance and rubrics for scoring student work are provided. These assessments are found in Thermal Energy; Ocean, Atmosphere, and Climate; Populations and Resources; and Force and Motion units.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials provide opportunities and guidance for oral and/or written peer and teacher feedback and self-reflection, resulting in students being able to monitor and move their own learning. Throughout the series, there are multiple opportunities for student self-reflection, peer assessment, and teacher feedback, including:

  • On-the-Fly Assessments are integrated throughout the lessons and are designed to help provide evidence of student understanding of the three dimensions. Often they contain discussion questions for students to monitor and reflect on their own learning.
  • End-of-Chapter Assessments are comprised of a variety of performance tasks intended to assess student progress. Examples include written scientific explanations, argumentation, developing and using models, and designing engineering solutions.
  • Student Self-Assessments are provided in each chapter and are intended for students to reflect on their own learning, ask questions, and reveal their ideas about unit content.
  • Science Seminar and a final written argument (formative and summative components) are provided once in each core unit. Students collect and analyze evidence and different claims, then engage in a full-class discussion to support their claim about a real-world problem. This helps students reflect on their own learning and provide peer feedback. After the seminar, students individually write their final scientific argument.
  • 3-D Investigation Assessments are embedded in one unit at each grade level to provide students an opportunity to plan and conduct their own investigation of a phenomenon. Assessment guidance and rubrics are provided.

In many cases, these assessments encourage student-to-student discussion. Revising Claims with New Evidence components of lessons allow students to exchange and evaluate their own and peers’ ideas. Periodic self-assessment using reflection questions, most frequently occurs near the end of an instructional sequence.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that tools are provided for scoring assessment items (e.g., sample student responses, rubrics, scoring guidelines, and open-ended feedback). Throughout the series, tools are provided to assist use of assessments to gauge student understanding.  Within the Unit Guide, the Suggestions for Assigning Grades to Student Work section, makes recommendations regarding how to assign grades to student work.

Tools are provided for scoring the following assessment types within the series:

  • Pre-Unit Assessment (formative): Each multiple-choice question is correlated to the associated level on the Progress Build. Explanations of correct responses, rubrics for scoring the written responses, and guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the Pre-Unit Assessment Answer Key and Scoring Guide that is provided in the digital materials.
  • On-the-Fly Assessments (formative): These formative assessment tasks are integrated throughout the lessons and are designed to help teachers make sense of student activity and provide evidence of student understanding of the three dimensions. Each assessment contains Look for and Now what? guidance sections for teachers.
  • End-of-chapter assessments (formative): These performance tasks include written scientific explanations, argumentation, developing and using models, and designing engineering solutions. They are administered at the end of each chapter. The teacher materials provide possible student responses.
  • Student Self-Assessments (formative): These are provided once per chapter and are intended for students to reflect on their own learning, ask questions, and reveal ideas about unit content. Possible student answers are provided when applicable.
  • Critical Juncture Assessment (formative): These are included near the midpoint of each unit and are intended to help teachers differentiate instruction based on where students fall on the Progress Build. Explanations of correct responses, rubrics for scoring the written responses, and guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the Critical Juncture Assessment Answer Key and Scoring Guide included in the digital materials.
  • Science Seminar and final written argument (formative and summative components): This is a culminating performance task for each core unit. Students collect and analyze evidence and different claims, then engage in a full-class discussion to support their claim about a real-world problem. After the seminar, students individually write their final scientific argument, rubrics, scoring guides, and examples of student responses at each scoring level are provided in the Rubrics for Assessing Students’ Final Written Arguments that is provided in the digital materials.
  • End-of-Unit Assessment (summative): Each unit contains multiple-choice questions and two rubric-scored written responses, identical to those in the Pre-Unit Assessment. Explanations of correct responses, rubrics for scoring the written responses, and guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the End-of-Unit Assessment Answer Key and Scoring Guide provided in the digital materials.
  • 3-D Investigation Assessments (summative): These are embedded in one unit at each grade level to provide students an opportunity to plan and conduct their own investigation of a phenomenon. Assessment guidance, rubrics for scoring student work, and possible feedback, are provided in the Rubrics for Assessing Students’ Investigations document that is found in the digital materials.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that guidance is provided for interpreting the range of student understanding (e.g., determining what high and low scores mean for students) for relevant science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas.

Guidance is provided for interpreting student understanding measured by these assessment types within the series:

  • Pre-Unit Assessment (formative): Guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the Pre-Unit Assessment Answer Key and Scoring Guide. This guidance primarily focuses on interpreting student understanding of the DCIs and CCCs.
  • On-the-Fly Assessments (formative): Each assessment contains Look For and Now What? guidance sections for teachers focusing on interpreting student responses and providing feedback on student use of the DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs.
  • End-of-chapter assessments (formative): These performance tasks include written scientific explanations, argumentation, developing and using models, and designing engineering solutions.  They are administered at the end of each chapter. The teacher materials provide possible student responses focused on how students use SEPs to make sense of the targeted DCIs.
  • Critical Juncture Assessment (formative): This assessment helps teachers differentiate instruction based on where students fall on the Progress Build. Explanations of correct responses, rubrics for scoring the written responses, and guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the Critical Juncture Assessment Answer Key and Scoring Guide located within the digital materials.The interpretation in the rubric applies to the SEPs, CCC, and DCIs within the targeted learning sequence.
  • Science Seminar and Final Written Argument (formative and summative components): Rubrics, scoring guides, and examples of student responses at each scoring level are provided in the Rubrics for Assessing Students’ Final Written Arguments. The rubric focuses on student understanding of targeted DCIs, CCCs, and the SEP of constructing arguments.
  • End-of-Unit Assessment (summative): Guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the End-of-Unit Assessment Answer Key and Scoring Guide. This guidance primarily focuses on interpreting student understanding of the DCIs and CCCs.
  • 3-D Investigation Assessments (summative): Guidance for interpreting student scores are provided in the Rubrics for Assessing Students’ Investigations. This guidance primarily focuses on interpreting student understanding of and providing feedback for each of the targeted SEPs and CCCs.
) [74] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3y [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the assessments are accessible to diverse learners regardless of gender identification, language, learning exceptionality, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The assessments are neutral in the areas of gender identification, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Assessments are free of bias and are accessible to diverse learners.

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​Indicators within Criterion 3z-3ad: Technology Use are not scored. This criterion provides information related to digital technologies incorporated into the materials and support for use of those technologies.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 incorporate digital technology and interactive tools throughout the series in ways that support students' engagement in three dimensions of science. Materials integrate technology in some of the following ways:

  • Short explanatory videos are embedded throughout the series to provide context for the student role in an investigation, or to introduce students to phenomena or problems.
  • Informational text and articles are included multiple times per unit to showcase the work of diverse scientists and support student engagement with the three dimensions. Digital versions of the text have embedded multimedia tools for annotating text.
  • Simulations are included in each unit and provide interactive models where students can manipulate and test variables to conduct investigations.
  • Modeling Tools are provided in each unit to allow students to build visual explanations of the unit content related to the targeted three dimensions.
  • Sorting Tools are provided in most units and allow students to categorize visual and written representations to synthesize and share their ideas about the phenomenon they are trying to explain.
  • Futura Workspace is embedded in the Engineering Internship units and includes use of videos, an electronic dossier, and simulations intended to support students as they develop solutions to design problems.
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​The digital materials and simulations for Grades 6-8 are accessible via most web browsers (such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Safari), as well as, through tablets and Chromebooks. However, Internet Explorer presented challenges and the materials did not load after logging in. Materials are also accessible on iOS and Android mobile devices, but are hard to navigate as they are not fully responsive (i.e., you can only see one half of the screen and cannot zoom in or out to other areas of the screens). Additionally, the simulations are not accessible via mobile devices.

) [78] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3ab [type] => indicator [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 include opportunities to asses three-dimensional learning using digital technology. All assessments in the program, including the Pre-Unit assessments, On-the-Fly Assessments, 3-D Investigation Assessments, and End-of-Unit Assessments are conducted digitally throughout all chapters and follow a similar format. The Pre-Unit and End-of-Unit Assessments can be printed so students can take them off-line.

) [79] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 3ac [type] => indicator [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 include some options for customizing for individual learners using technological innovations. Several customization options are designed to make the materials more accessible to meet student needs, including scientific text with an audio option to read the text out loud, the option to adjust the size of the text, and ability to see definitions of most domain-specific words within the text or within the multi-language glossary. Most of the digital simulations and other apps within the program allow for student choice in manipulating variable or representing their thinking. Additionally, each chapter has a Critical Juncture Assessment that can be used to group students for the differentiated lessons that follow.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not include or reference digital technology providing opportunities for teachers and/or students to collaborate with each other online.

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Bring Science Alive! Discipline Program

Teachers' Curriculum Institute | Grades 6-8 | 2018 Edition

Sixth to Eighth

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    [title] => Bring Science Alive! Discipline Program
    [url] => https://www.edreports.org/science/Bring-Science-Alive-Middle-School-Science/sixth-to-eighth.html
    [grade] => Sixth to Eighth
    [type] => science-6-8
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Designed for NGSS, Gateway 1. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include opportunities for students to learn and use three dimensions, but not consistently throughout the materials. A few instances where the materials provide opportunities for students to understand and use the SEPs to make sense of the DCIs is evident, but the materials do not consistently present these opportunities. Further, there are many instances where students do not understand and use an SEP or a CCC for sensemaking with the other dimensions. Across the series, lesson objectives are consistently provided but the formative assessment tasks are not designed to reveal student understanding of the three dimensions related to the learning objectives and the materials do not provide support or guidance for teachers to adjust instruction based on student responses. Additionally, the materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives or performance expectations for the units, but the summative tasks consistently do not completely measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit.

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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they consistently integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs) into student learning opportunities. Throughout the series, some learning sequences integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities, while others do not consistently integrate the CCCs.

Units within the program are organized into discipline-specific modules for life, physical, and earth and space sciences. Each unit contains two to four lessons, with each lesson including one or more investigations. In some lessons, students engage in three-dimensional learning that integrates SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs within an investigation. The remaining investigations are frequently two-dimensional with the SEPs and DCIs integrated. However, the CCCs are not consistently integrated into lessons across the series. Further, there are instances where the Engineering Challenges do not require students to use or connect DCIs in physical, earth and space, or life science as students develop solutions to the proposed problems.

Examples where materials integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1: History of Life on Earth, Lesson 1: Earth’s History, Investigation 1, students determine how fossils in rock strata provide evidence for how environments changed over time. Students analyze and interpret provided fossil data (SEP-DATA-M4) to create a physical model of a study site (SEP-MOD-M5). Using the physical model, students explain how the fossils in rock strata provide evidence for how the environment in a specific area, such as the Sonoran Desert, changed over time (DCI-ESS1.C-M1, CCC-SC-M1).
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes Through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, students analyze patterns (CCC-PAT-M4) in model rock strata by taking core samples from a clay model they created (SEP-MOD-M5); they change their model to simulate lava flows and plate tectonics. Students take samples across an area and make inferences about the sequence of past events based on relative dating of these past events (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Module: Space, Unit 2: The Solar System, Lesson 7: The Outer Solar System, Investigation 1, students organize their scaled planet data (DCI-ESS1.B-M1) along a spectrum, in a t-chart, and in several different graphical displays. Students look for similarities and differences in the data within and between the different organizations to classify the planets (SEP-DATA-M7). Students use the patterns identified in their data (CCC-PAT-M4) to choose one classification system (SEP-ARG-M3) to propose to a fictitious International Astronomical Union general assembly; students use the patterns as evidence to justify their proposed system.

Examples where materials do not integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities:

  • In Module: Matter, Unit 1: The Composition of Matter, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, students measure and record the mass and volume of objects (SEP-INV-M4) and calculate density. This is used to recognize different properties that can be used to identify substances (DCI-PS1.A-M2). Students do not engage with a CCC as they investigate why a can of diet soda floats higher than a can of regular soda and develop a claim about whether heavier objects sink and lighter objects float.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 1: The Earth-Sun-Moon System, Lesson 4: Eclipses, students use their bodies, yarn, and a light bulb to model the Earth-Sun-Moon system during a lunar eclipse and then a solar eclipse (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Students create a physical model of the moon’s orbital plane using a foam ball and toy hoop to explain what causes eclipses and why they are rare. Students then develop their own physical model to help answer questions about eclipses. They also use their model to investigate apparent sizes of the moon and sun as seen from earth (SEP-MOD-M7, DCI-ESS1.A-M1). Students do not directly engage with a CCC as they develop understanding of eclipses.
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 1: Traits, Lesson 1: Traits for Survival, students watch a video about Madagascar and read information about eight different plants or animals found in Madagascar (SEP-INFO-M1). Students identify traits that each organism has that allows it survive in its environment (DCI-LS1.A-E1). Students research a different organism living in Madagascar, present their findings on their organism’s environment and specialized traits (SEP-INFO-M1). Students do not directly engage with a CCC as they research this elementary DCI.
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1: History of Life on Earth, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Fossil Extraction Toolset, students construct a model of the rock-filled fossil then choose tools from provided materials; tool selection is based upon identified criteria and constraints. Students explain the protocols for using their tools and identify the structure and function of the tools (CCC-SF-M2). Students test, evaluate, and determine ways to optimize their first design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). Students evaluate their original and revised solutions based on how well each solution meet the criteria and constraints (SEP-ARG-M5). Students are not required to understand and connect the content DCI of understanding evidence for common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A) to solve the problem of extracting rock from a velociraptor fossil eye socket.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3: The Solar System and Beyond, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Dampening Device, students design a dampening device to protect a camera from damage as it is launched into space. Students identify criteria and constraints before developing a prototype (SEP-MOD-M7); they note the function of each part of the device (CCC-SF-M2) and identify points of failure as they test their prototypes (DCI-ETS1.C-M2). Students are not required to connect understanding of any earth and space science DCIs to solve the problem of collecting video footage in space.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. Materials are not designed for SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions.

Lessons are designed to frequently include all three dimensions, but students do not use one or more dimensions to understand and use the other dimensions to support their sensemaking in nearly all learning sequences. Although the SEPs and CCCs are present and connect to DCIs in many lessons, students often do not use these dimensions to make sense of DCIs or meaningfully support sensemaking with the other dimensions. When students have opportunities to use two dimensions together, students generally use the SEPs to understand and apply the DCIs.

Examples where the materials are designed for students to understand and apply SEPs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Module: Forces of Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, Investigation 2, students plan and carry out an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to show different ways to move at the same rate (DCI-PS2.A-M3, CCC-SPQ-M3). To determine how many ways students can move at a specific velocity, students identify variables that can be changed and controlled, conduct a trial for each team member, and collect data to show different ways to move at the same rate. While the investigation is used to make sense of the DCI, students do not use the CCC to understand and apply the other two dimensions.
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 2: The Evolution of Life, Lesson 3: Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Through Natural Selection, students model four types of beaks and their ability to compete with the other beak types as they pick up different types of food (SEP-MOD-M5). Students use what they learn from the investigation to explain variation in the finch population and explain Darwin’s hypothesis that all finch species on the Galapagos Islands share a common ancestor (DCI-LS4.B-M1). While the model is used by students to make sense of the DCI, students are not using the CCC (CCC-CE-M3) to understand and apply Darwin’s hypothesis.

Examples where the materials are not designed for students to understand and apply SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 1: Traits, Engineering Design Challenge: Designing a Seed Dispersal Device, students research plant seed dispersal mechanisms and structures of different seeds (SEP-AQDP-M4, CCC-SF-M2). Students define constraints of the design task (ENG-ETS1.A-M1) using their research on seed types. Students develop, test, and revise seed dispersal prototypes to optimize dispersal performance (ENG-ETS1.C-M1, ENG-ETS1.B-M3). While students use understanding of the life science DCI to inform their design, the design challenge does not require students to apply understanding of why plants have specialized features for reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M3). Additionally, students review the structures of several types of seeds to determine how they function, but the CCC is not incorporated in a manner that helps students figure out why plants have these adaptations.
  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Unit 1: The Atmosphere and Energy, Lesson 1: Earth’s Atmosphere, students collect data to create a scale model (SEP-MOD-M5) of earth’s atmosphere, including altitude, temperature, density, and the boundaries between the five layers of the atmosphere (CCC-SYS-M2, DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Although students use a model to represent a system, they copy collected data onto their scale model rather than making sense of the inputs, outputs, processes, or matter and energy flows within a system. Students do not use this model of the atmosphere to understand the affects the layers of the atmosphere have on weather.
  • In Module: Matter, Unit 3: Chemical Reactions, Lesson 9: Chemical Engineering and Society, students learn how to evaluate sources of information when reading about different synthetic materials and determine what properties make synthetic materials useful to manufacture. Students read and evaluate three different sources, each provides information about sodium lauryl sulfate, a common synthetic chemical added to toothpaste, shampoo, and soap. While the content of this lesson links to describing that synthetic materials come from natural resources and impact society, the lesson focus is on evaluating competing information in science and technical texts (SEP-INFO-M3). The lesson does not help students understand the atomic structures of molecules (DCI-PS1.A-M1) or apply their understanding to how atomic arrangement leads to the function of the molecule (CCC-SF-M2).
  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Unit 3: Climate, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students design a growth system capable of maintaining a microclimate that is able to grow a vegetable not found in the students’ local environment. As students develop their microclimate, they identify criteria and constraints, then develop and test their designs before describing how they can modify their designs (DCI-ETS1.B-M2). While students engage in multiple SEPs as they work on their designs, neither the SEPs nor CCCs are used by students to understand or apply interactions affecting climate, weather, and oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Across the series, lesson objectives are provided through an Objectives button, but are not consistently three-dimensional and learning tasks associated with the objectives do not consistently reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions. Further, there is no guidance or support for teachers to use information from the formative assessment tasks to inform the instructional process.

The formative assessment tasks include classroom discussions, investigation tasks, engineering challenges, student notebook entries, and lesson games. Vocabulary Cards and the Lesson Game can be used to check student understanding of key terms and concepts within the lesson and typically assess student understanding of the DCI or assess knowledge, but not use, of an SEP or CCC. For example, students may be asked why models are important, but the questions and tasks do not reveal understanding of the entire objective related to modeling, such as to reveal how students are able to develop their own models. Lesson Games provide students with two opportunities to incorrectly answer a multiple choice question before providing the correct answer. No guidance is provided to the student as to why an answer is incorrect. While the Gradebook allows teachers to track questions and student responses, the materials do not provide guidance on how to use this evidence elicited from formative assessment tasks to support instruction. The wrap-up questions delivered as whole-group instruction, do not provide guidance or support for teachers to address misconceptions or provide feedback to each student. Lesson Support buttons inserted within various parts of a lesson typically direct teachers to previous slides, videos, or text, rather than providing new ways of approaching or explaining the content.

Examples where materials do not reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions supporting three-dimensional learning objectives and assessment tasks do not support the instructional process:

  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 2: Bodies, Lesson 3: Interacting Body Systems, lesson objectives are not provided. The lesson objectives are: “identify internal organs and body systems”, “create a model of human body systems”, “explain how body systems interact”, and “gather information from a variety of sources to diagnose a patient and explain the cause of the symptoms.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3: The Solar System and Beyond, Lesson 8: Formation of the Solar System, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “explore modeling gravity in the formation of the solar system”, “critique and modify video models of processes in the solar system formation”, and “develop a flipbook describing the formation of the solar system including patterns in solar system formation.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Lesson 3: Wave Energy, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “using data from wave energy converters, determine the relationship between wave amplitude and energy produced”, “graph data on wave amplitude and energy and identify the mathematical relationship between the variables, which can be expressed using an algebraic equation”, and “use logic and patterns in ratio reasoning to predict the mathematical relationship between wave frequency and energy.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Weather and Climate, Unit 2: Weather, Lesson 4: Air Pressure and Wind, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “develop a model of air pressure that helps to explain wind”, “build a device to measure air pressure changes in the atmosphere and use it to collect data”, and “tie quantitative data acquired using instruments to the real world qualitative experience of weather.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 4: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 9: Volcanic Eruptions and Earthquakes, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “identify locations of earthquakes and volcanoes by analyzing patterns in tables”, “use patterns on maps and an understanding of magnitude and frequency to identify areas of earthquake and volcanic risk”, and “create bridge designs developed to mitigate the risks posed by earthquakes.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide an answer key for teachers but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.  
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The materials consistently include summative tasks at the end of every unit, however, the summative tasks do not consistently measure the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit.

Three-dimensional learning objectives for students are not clearly identified for all units. Therefore, the Performance Expectations for the unit are assumed to be the learning objectives. Units consistently list multiple performance expectations and the corresponding Performance Assessments frequently list a subset of the unit performance expectations. While the Performance Assessments are aligned to grade-band performance expectations, they do not consistently measure all targeted performance expectations of a unit. Physical science units are more consistent in assessing all non-engineering objectives with the Performance Assessment; life science units are less consistent in completely assessing all objectives.

Materials provide additional opportunities to assess learning by providing lesson-level multiple choice and constructed-response tests and assessment banks. Test banks are included at the end of each lesson, are specific to each lesson, and are not designed to be the primary mechanism for assessing student learning across the unit. Additionally engineering design PEs are more consistently assessed through Engineering Challenges at the lesson level.

Examples of assessments not addressing the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Module: Cells and Genetics: Unit 1: Traits, Performance Assessment: Planning a Trait Trek to Madagascar, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-LS1-4). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as using evidence and reasoning from information students have gathered (SEP-ARG-M4, SEP-INV-M5), to support an explanation for how each trait is important for survival or reproduction. Proficient responses also include a description of the cause and effect relationship between the trait and the increased probability of survival or reproduction (CCC-CE-M2, LS1.B-M2). The assessment does not assess the remaining four targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-3, PE-MS-ETS1-4, PE-MS-LS1-5).
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 3: Cells, Performance Assessment: Modeling Synthetic Cells, the prompt is intended to assess two performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-1, PE-MS-LS1-2). The provided rubric identifies proficient students as having planned an investigation to discover if a structure is a living or non-living thing, including how cells will be observed at a different scale in the investigation. The task does not measure student achievement of one targeted SEP (SEP-INV-M2) and a focus DCI (DCI-LS1.A-M1); the student task to create a clay model of a cell is aligned to an SEP below the middle school grade band (SEP-MOD-E4). This Performance Assessment does not fully address all components of the two targeted performance expectations for this unit.
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 2: The Evolution of Life, Performance Assessment: Evolutionary History of Whales, the prompt is intended to assess five performance expectations (PE-MS-LS3-1, PE-MS-LS4-2, PE-MS-LS4-3, PE-MS-LS4-4, PE-MS-LS4-6). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as analyzing data (SEP-DATA-M1) to answer questions, including developing models of how changes have occurred in the whale population over time (SEP-MOD-E4), and constructing an evidence-based explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) for why whales have lungs and other land mammal features. A proficient explanation is described as being supported by identifying patterns (CCC-PAT-M3) in genetic changes in populations (DCI-LS3.B-M2), fossil comparisons (DCI-LS4.C-M1), embryological development (DCI-LS4.A-M3), and anatomical comparisons to modern organisms (DCI-LS4.A-M2, DCI-LS4.B-M1). Proficiency is determined, in terms of cause and effect relationships between the structures that help organisms survive and an increase in displaying the trait over time (CCC-CE-M3, CCC-SF-M1). The rubric for the assessment identifies the targeted SEP of modeling at the elementary level, however, the other SEPs assessed are grade-band appropriate. The assessment task does not provide an opportunity to assess two of the targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-3, PE-MS-ETS1-4) and partially assesses PE-MS-LS3-1.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Performance Assessment: Analyzing a Chain Reaction Machine, the prompt is intended to assess three performance expectations (PE-MS-PS3-1, PE-MS-PS3-2, PE-MS-PS3-5). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as comparing graphs of kinetic energy versus mass, comparing kinetic energy versus speed, and identifying proportional relationships (DCI-PS3.A-M1, CCC-SPQ-M3, SEP-MATH-M2, SEP-DATA-M1). Students who develop proficient models include labeled diagrams of high and low gravitational potential, magnetic potential energy, and an explanation showing an understanding that force can cause energy to be transferred to or from an object (CCC-SYS-M2, CCC-EM-M3, SEP-MOD-M6). Students describe another energy transformation that can be added and compare energy transformations in a video (DCI-PS3.C-M1, CCC-EM-M3). The assessment does not assess the remaining three targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-4).
  • In Module: Space, Unit 1: The Solar System, Performance Assessment: Classifying Planets, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-ESS1-3). The provided rubric identifies a proficient response as identifying similarities and differences in orbital radii, masses, compositions, sizes, surfaces, and moons of objects in the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), but doesn’t address gravitational pull. Students who develop proficient models choose a classification scheme and support it with evidence (SEP-ARG-E4), including data on the similarities and differences in the properties and identify which properties and spatial data are represented in the classification system (CCC-SPQ-M1). This assessment does not assess the remaining four targeted performance expectations for the unit (PE-MS-ESS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-3).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials incorporate phenomena consistently connected to grade-band appropriate DCIs, but the materials do not consistently present problems in a way allowing students to engage with physical, earth and space, and/or life science DCIs. The materials present phenomena and/or problems to students as directly as possible in multiple instances, but not consistently across the series. The materials provide multiple lessons across the series using problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning, but phenomena do not consistently drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in lessons or activities. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present, with students expected to solve problems in 17% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 59% of the lessons. The materials consistently elicit students’ prior knowledge but do not support teachers to use student responses to modify instruction. The materials incorporate few units using phenomena to drive student learning across multiple lessons.

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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). Materials consistently connect phenomena to grade-band appropriate DCIs and their elements, however few problems across the series are connected to grade-band DCIs or their elements. Within each module, problems are presented to students in one or more Engineering Challenges. Some of these challenges miss opportunities to engage students in science-focused learning, often only incorporating engineering DCIs and not including grade-band appropriate, science-specific DCIs (physical, life, and earth and space sciences).

Examples of phenomena and problems connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those found at the top of the Grand Canyon. This phenomenon is used to help students understand how the geologic time scale interpreted from rock strata provides a way to organize earth’s history. Throughout the lesson, students use clay models to analyze rock strata and the effects of erosion and volcanic activity on their model rock strata. They also use index fossils to identify relative ages of rock strata to develop an understanding of how rock strata provides a way to organize earth’s history (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, the phenomenon is presented for students to imagine looking outside the window while sitting in a train alongside other trains, and being unsure about which train is moving. This phenomenon is used to help students understand frames of reference and relative motion. Throughout the lesson, students describe and identify frames of reference and measure positions and motions of objects to develop an understanding that positions of objects and the directions of forces and motions must be described in an arbitrarily chosen reference frame and shared with other people (DCI-PS2.A-M3).
  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 3: Human Impacts on Evolution, Lesson: 9: Human Population and Global Change, the phenomenon is the Aral Sea shrunk to a quarter of its size in only 50 years. This phenomenon is used to help students understand how the increases in human population and per capita consumption of natural resources can have negative impacts on earth without activities or technologies to mitigate those effects. Throughout the lesson, students model the effects of increased human population on a particular environment and examine case studies of the impacts of human induced environmental changes on a number of different organisms to develop an understanding of how increases in human population and per capita consumption can change a particular environment, affecting the organisms that live there (DCI-ESS3.C-M2).
  • In Module: Matter, Unit 3: Chemical Reactions, Engineering Challenge: Design a Hot Pack, students are introduced to the problem of needing a device that releases thermal energy, such as a hot pack. This problem is used to help students understand how some chemical reactions release energy. Students work in small groups to design and test their hot pack by using their understanding of chemical reactions and the release of energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).

Examples of problems not connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Fossil Extraction Toolset, the problem is addressed by students engaging in a challenge to extract rock from a velociraptor fossil eye socket at a dig site. Students construct a model of the rock-filled fossil then choose tools from provided materials. They test and evaluate their designs to determine ways to optimize their first design (DCI-ETS1.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). This problem does not connect to evidence for common ancestry (DCI-LS4.A), the focus of the unit.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Dampening Device, the problem is addressed by students engaging in a challenge around collecting video footage in space. Students design a dampening device to help protect a camera from being damaged as it is launched into space. Students develop a prototype for their dampening devices, then identify any points of failure as they test their prototypes for purposes of improving their models (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). This problem does not connect to grade-band appropriate earth and space science DCIs (DCI-ESS1.B-M1), the focus of the unit.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 2: The Solar System, Engineering Challenge: Landing on Mars, the problem is addressed by students engaging in a challenge to design a model vehicle to allow an astronaut to land safely on Mars. Students design a model vehicle that will allow an astronaut to land safely on Mars. Using a cup and ball as a model for their vehicle and astronaut, students develop a prototype for testing their Mars landing and collect data in order to improve their design. This problem does not connect to a grade-band appropriate DCI related to earth and the solar system (DCI-ESS1.B), the focus of the unit.​
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Materials present phenomena and/or problems to students as directly as possible in multiple instances across the series, but not consistently. Anchoring Phenomena for each unit are presented to students as video clips, with some Anchoring Phenomena also including photographs. Phenomena at the lesson level are mostly presented to students as images; problems and some phenomena are presented with a video, text description, or explanation; and several phenomena are presented by the teacher as demonstrations or involve students participating in an activity.

With some phenomena or problems in the series, first-hand observations are not possible or accessible to students, and video presentation is the most direct way to present the phenomenon or problem. However, there are multiple instances where videos or pictures are used in place of opportunities where a more direct presentation or experience is possible. Additionally, for many of the lesson-level phenomena, guidance for teachers to have students make connections to the phenomena through a Direct Observation opportunity in their community or make a personal connection to their lives is evident; however these connections are often not directly linked to the actual phenomenon or are not accessible for all students in all situations. Further, lesson-level phenomena and problems are presented infrequently through first-hand observation and/or experience.

Examples of phenomena or problems presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, the phenomenon is similar fossils have been found in fossil digs of the same age that are over 100 miles apart. Students are presented with a video about paleontologists and fossils gathered from various sites throughout the world. The video provides students with a historical and geographical frame of reference to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes Through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those found at the top of the Grand Canyon. The phenomenon is presented to students as a video of the Grand Canyon. Since visiting the Grand Canyon is not accessible to most students, a video introduction provides the most direct context for this phenomenon.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Lesson 1: Resources in Living Systems, the phenomenon is poison dart frogs kept in captivity lose their toxicity over time so they are no longer poisonous. The phenomenon is presented to students in a video of a poison dart frog. This phenomenon provides a context through which students can ask questions about organisms’ access to resources and is presented in the most direct way possible. Teacher guidance is provided for a Direct Observation opportunity for students to research toxic organisms possibly living in their local environment.
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 2: Bodies, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Prosthetic Hand, the problem is to design a prosthetic hand with movable parts. Students are presented with an image of a prosthetic hand, examine their own hands, and make observations about all of the ways their hands and fingers can move. This provides students with first-hand observations.

Examples of phenomena or problems not presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Module: Weather and Climate, Unit 3: Climate, the Anchoring Phenomenon is the earth’s average temperature increased by 0.95°C from 1880-2016. The phenomenon is presented to students as a video showing examples of impacts of climate change and the challenge to mitigate the effects, but does not address an increase in average temperature.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 2: Processes that Shape Earth, Lesson 5: The Water Cycle, the phenomenon is during the “first week of January, New York was covered in four feet of snow, but by the end of May the streets were bare.” The materials indicate that a video of snow falling in New York is available, but the materials only provide a single photograph showing a city with a light dusting of snow.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 2: Noncontact Forces, Lesson 5: Electricity, Observing Phenomena, the phenomenon is experience of a shock or spark when reaching for a doorknob. Students watch a video of this phenomenon occurring. Suggestions are provided to the student in Connections to Your Life button that suggest students turn off the lights and rub a piece of silk on a glass rod then touch another object to see the phenomenon. However, there is no guidance for the teacher to create this opportunity, nor do the materials list support the teacher in providing a glass rod and silk to students.
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 1: Traits, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Seed Dispersal Device, the problem includes a challenge to design a seed dispersal device. The problem is presented to students as a video showing several different types of plants with wind dispersed seeds and the challenge to design a device mimicking the way seeds are dispersed in nature.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Materials provide multiple lessons across the series using problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning. Phenomena are not consistently used to drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in individual lessons or activities.

At the start of each lesson, students watch a video or view an image with a description intended to engage students with a phenomenon; student notebooks contain a prompt for students to record any questions. However, some publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, directions, or problems, rather than observable occurrences where students explain or generate questions to advance their own learning. Students engage in one or more investigations during each lesson, but the direct connection between the investigations and the lesson-level phenomenon is lacking. While the lesson often builds understanding of the three dimensions, students are not using the three dimensions to make sense of the phenomenon throughout the lesson. At the end of each lesson, students return to their science notebook to connect what they learned during the lesson to the context of the phenomenon. However, students do not interact with the phenomenon while engaging in the activities of the lesson.

Most units also contain an Engineering Challenge that presents students with a design challenge or problem they must solve. There are 18 Engineering Challenges across the series. After being presented with the problem, students record the problem in their student notebook and either develop their own, add to, or revise a list of specific criteria and constraints. Based on the criteria and constraints, students create a prototype to test and use data from their tests to make improvements to their original design. The problem presented in the Engineering Challenge typically drives student learning of the lesson. However, not all Engineering Challenges engage students with all three dimensions. They help build student understanding of ETS DCIs, but miss opportunities to connect to the grade-band DCIs in physical, earth and space, or life science disciplines.

Examples of problems driving student learning and engaging students with all three dimensions:

  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Engineering Challenge: Preserving Frog-Bat Interactions, the problem is there are plans to build a highway through the rainforest very near to a major pond, which could impact a population of frogs and bats living near the pond. Students identify the possible disturbances a noisy road would have to the ecosystem (DCI-LS2.A-M1). Students use information about how bats and frogs rely on acoustic interactions and the impact this disruption could cause to the ecosystem as a whole. Students create a structure to reduce the environmental impact of the highway’s sounds on the frogs and bats (CCC-SF-M2). Students place their sound shield between a speaker and sound meter to model the actual conditions between the road and ecosystem to test their prototype and generate data about how well their solution works.  Students compare their data to data in a provided table showing examples of decibel level equivalents (SEP-MOD-M7).
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Engineering Challenge: Designing Musical Instruments, the problem is to design inexpensive musical instruments for communities who cannot afford to buy them. Students work in small groups to develop criteria and constraints to consider when developing an instrument to transform potential energy into sound energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2). Students agree upon criteria and constraints as a whole class and create a rubric for how their musical instruments will be evaluated. Students brainstorm how they will use different materials to make an instrument (CCC-SF-M2). Students present their instrument designs to the class, depicting how their instrument transforms potential energy into kinetic energy (CCC-EM-M3, CCC-EM-M4). Students evaluate the design solutions (SEP-ARG-M5) based on the class-developed rubric.
  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, the problem is to design and test a seawall to prevent erosion of the coast and save the nearby highway. Prior to building their seawall, students investigate (SEP-INV-M4) seawalls and other structures already in use to prevent erosion. They apply understanding of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1) and identify criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2) as they evaluate how the proposed structure (CCC-SF-M2) can solve the problem of coastal erosion.

Examples of phenomena that do not drive student learning:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 3: Human Impacts on Evolution, Lesson 7: Artificial Selection, students are presented with the phenomenon of bulldogs’ skulls changing dramatically over the last 150 years. Students engage in a game comparing natural and artificial selection in aurochs/cows to build an understanding of how features can change over time. Students research animals and plants that are products of artificial selection. The only connection to the phenomenon occurs at the end of the lesson when students are asked, “What role does the artificial selection process have in bulldog skull evolution?”
  • In Module: Cells and Genetics, Unit 5: Changes in Genes, Lesson 11: Genetic Mutations, students are presented with the phenomena of some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red. Students make bracelets to represent the relationship between genes, proteins, and traits. Students create a flowchart showing their understanding of structure and function of genes, proteins, and the mechanism for how changes in genes can cause changes in proteins. Students model how mutations can affect an organism’s survival in different environments by adding environmental factors to their flowcharts. While these investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining mutations, the only connection to the phenomenon occurs towards the end of the lesson when students read an excerpt telling them what mutation causes some people to have six fingers on one hand. Students are asked to answer why some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red.
  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Lesson 2: Properties of Waves, students are presented with the phenomenon huge waves form at Mavericks Beach, California, and scientists, surfers, and weather forecasters can predict when they will occur up to 48 hours in advance. Students design an investigation to measure the properties of mechanical waves.  Students graph and analyze their data to explain how waves are measured and used to predict surf conditions in different locations. While the investigations provide content knowledge for students to deepen their understanding of different types of waves, students do not connect weather data to predictions for how different types of waves will form.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 4: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 10: Mass Wasting, Tsunamis, and Floods, students are presented with the phenomenon Northern California has more mass wasting than Missouri, even though Missouri has more floods. Students review models of risk potential throughout the United States and plan an investigation to determine how slope angle and materials affect the changes in frequency of mass wasting. Students create a model for carrying out their planned investigation but do not connect their results to research they conduct about the topography of land in Missouri or California. They analyze maps and answer questions about mass-wasting and flooding potentials in California, but do not make direct connections to specific areas in California at risk as compared to areas in Missouri.​
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 17% of the lessons (19 of 109 lessons) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials 59% of the lessons (64 of 109) focus on explaining phenomena. Performance Assessments are not included in these calculations, since they are summative assessments and not learning experiences.

Across the series, all units and lessons consistently start with publisher-identified phenomena; however some of these are labeled as phenomena but are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, or directions, rather than observable occurrences requiring students to explain or generate questions to advance their own learning. Most modules have two Engineering Challenges, Cells and Genetics has three, and Matter has one. Problems are typically found in the Engineering Challenges and are often connected to the Anchoring Phenomenon for the unit.

Examples of problems (Engineering Challenges) within the series:

  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 3: Kinetic and Potential Energy, Engineering Challenge: Designing Musical Instruments, students are presented with the challenge of designing a musical instrument.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1, Engineering Challenge: Preserving Frog-Bat Interactions, students are presented with a problem involving plans to build a highway through the rainforest, near a major pond, potentially impacting a population of frogs and bats living near the pond.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Engineering Challenge: Designing Safe Go-Carts, students are presented with the challenge of designing go-carts withstanding different amounts of force, yet proven safe for riders.
  • In Module: Space, Unit 3, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Dampening Device, the challenge is collecting video footage in space. Students design a dampening device to help protect a camera from being damaged as it is launched into space with the intent of capturing live shots.

Examples of phenomena within the series:

  • In Module: Waves, Unit 2: Light Waves, students watch a video showing several phenomena related to light waves including how lines at the bottom of a pool appear to move; reflections can be seen in a window, but objects outside the window are also still visible; rainbows formed near waterfalls; and sparkling diamonds.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Interactions Among Organisms, the phenomenon is captive poison dart frogs lose their toxicity over time.
  • In Module: Matter, Unit 1: The Composition of Matter, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, the phenomenon is some liquids don’t mix with other liquids when poured into a bottle and instead form distinct layers.
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes through Geologic Time, Lesson 7: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those found at the top of the Grand Canyon.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, the phenomenon is presented for students to imagine looking outside the window while sitting in a train alongside other trains, and being unsure about which train is moving.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. The materials elicit but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems across the series.

Phenomena are presented at the start of each unit and lesson using videos, pictures, or classroom demonstrations. The materials provide the same prompt for all lesson-level phenomena: “What questions do you have about this phenomenon?” Units consistently elicit students’ prior knowledge and experiences; students use a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart and create initial models for each Anchoring Phenomenon. Although students have opportunities to revise their KWL chart, initial model, and questions at the end of each lesson, teachers are not provided guidance to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences to support students in understanding or applying what they already know about the phenomenon. The Teacher Guide indicates students may not be able to initially answer the connection questions, but by the end of the lesson they will have sufficient information to answer the connection questions when they reach the performance assessment at the end of the unit.

The materials elicit, but rarely leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to problems in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge, and to build on the knowledge and experience students bring from both inside and outside of the classroom. Further, the Engineering Challenges do not consistently prompt students to ask questions or write notes on their prior knowledge and experiences before beginning a design challenge. Instead, student notebooks provide prompts with specific questions about the problem.

Examples where materials elicit, but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena:

  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 2: Noncontact Forces, the phenomenon relates to how drones overcome gravity to get off the ground. Student prior knowledge is elicited by a KWL chart and the completion of an initial model to show students’ initial understandings related to the phenomenon. The Teacher Guide prompts the teacher to ask students to add to their KWL chart and to make revisions to their initial model as lessons are completed, but student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during lessons.
  • In Module: Weather and Climate; Unit 1: The Atmosphere and Energy, the phenomenon relates to how food in a cooler stays cold and food in a solar cooker gets hot. Student prior knowledge is elicited by a KWL chart and the completion of an initial model to show students’ initial understandings related to the phenomenon. The Teacher Guide prompts the teacher to ask students to add to their KWL chart and to make revisions to their initial model as lessons are completed, but student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during lessons.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, Lesson 3: Changing Ecosystems, the phenomenon is the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens destroyed all life near the eruption, but now the area is full of life. While students initially ask questions and revisit their questions at the end of the lesson, student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during lessons.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, Lesson 11: Thermal Properties of Matter, the phenomenon is the temperature is so different between day and night in the desert. Students list what they know about deserts and rainforests and use their prior knowledge to make a prediction about the temperature differences. Students revisit the question about temperature changes at the end of the lesson, but student prior knowledge and experiences are not leveraged during the lesson.

Examples where materials elicit but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experiences related to problems (Engineering Challenges):

  • In Module: Waves, Unit 1: Mechanical Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, the problem relates to coastal erosion. Students discuss their experiences of seeing coastal erosion or solutions to coastal erosion before they brainstorm ideas for potential solutions. Students’ prior knowledge and experiences about coastal problems and solutions in their community is revisited at the end of the lesson as students compare the solutions they tested with the solutions they are familiar with, but student prior knowledge and experience is not leveraged during the lesson.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 1: Forces, Engineering Challenge: Designing Safe Go-Carts, the challenge is to design a safe model go-cart. Students’ prior knowledge of Newton’s 2nd Law is elicited as students record their answers to a series of guiding questions in their notebooks relating to factors affecting motion and action/reaction force pairs. Students apply their initial understandings to design their model go-cart; however student prior knowledge is not leveraged during the lesson.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Materials do not consistently provide units that use phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple lessons and students have few opportunities to use and build knowledge of the three dimensions to make sense of the unit-level phenomenon or problem across multiple lessons.

Anchoring Phenomena are presented at the start of each unit. Student notebooks provide prompts for students to ask questions about the phenomenon, complete a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart, and complete the handout, “Developing a Model to Explain a Phenomenon.” At the end of most investigations, a Connecting to Phenomenon button prompts teachers to provide opportunities for students to review their notes on the unit-level phenomenon and make any necessary revisions in a manner that connects student learning to the Anchoring Phenomenon but student learning is not driven by the Anchoring Phenomenon. Connections to phenomena are different than phenomena driving student learning, where students are expected to figure out phenomena. At the end of lessons, The Wrap Up section provides a prompt for students to add new learning to their model and KWL charts. This gives opportunities for students to transfer their learning from the lessons to the context provided by the phenomenon. The structure within each unit provides opportunities for students to transfer their learning to new contexts and allows them to revise their initial thinking using ideas they learned; however, students are not driven towards these contexts with a desire or questions to figure out regarding the Anchoring Phenomenon. The “Anchoring Phenomena” are most often used as examples of the content topic or concept as opposed to a driving mechanism for student questions and sensemaking.

Performance Assessments are included at the end of each unit and are designed to assess students as they transfer learning from the context of the activities and lessons throughout the unit, to the context of the phenomenon. The structure provides opportunities for students to transfer learning from the investigations and lesson to a context different from the one where learning occurs.  The structure has students revisit their thinking about information learned in the lessons as opposed to allowing for deeper engagement of how thinking has changed over time related to explaining the phenomenon. The Performance Assessments afford students an opportunity to use and apply learning from the investigations and lessons to a new context; however since the Anchoring Phenomenon is primarily the focus of the end-of-unit assessments, it is not driving student learning.

Most problems in the instructional materials are embedded in the Engineering Challenges, which are positioned at a similar level of structure as lessons in the unit and are present in more than half of units across the series.

Examples where phenomena do not drive student learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Module: Adaptations, Unit 2: The Evolution of Life, the Anchoring Phenomenon is whales, which look like big fish and live in the ocean, have internal structures similar to mammals living on land. At the start of the unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to understand DCIs related to adaptation by natural selection. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of the whale phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. However, the phenomenon is used as the context for the Performance Assessment for the unit. Students use prior learning from the lessons and information collected during the Performance Assessment to support a claim about which organism alive today is most like a whale.
  • In Module: Ecosystems, Unit 1: Resources in Ecosystems, the Anchoring Phenomenon is some cichlid fish stop eating to the point of dying when various species of cichlid fish are combined in aquariums. At the start of this unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to develop an understanding of the interactions of living things in ecosystems. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of the cichlid fish phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. However, the phenomenon is used as the context for the Performance Assessment for the unit; students use prior learning from the lessons to solve how to make the cichlids healthy again.
  • In Module: Forces and Energy, Unit 4: Thermal Energy, the Anchoring Phenomenon is how jack rabbits' ears help them survive in the extreme heat. At the start of this unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about the phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to develop an understanding of thermal energy and heat transfer. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of the jack rabbits’ ears phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. The phenomenon is not used as the context of the Performance Assessment for the unit. Instead, students use prior learning about heat transfer from the lessons to design, construct, and test a thermos that can be used in a desert.  
  • In Module: Planet Earth, Unit 3: Earth Processes Through Geologic Time, the Anchoring Phenomenon is igneous and sedimentary rocks are found throughout the Black Hills, despite the lack of volcanoes and flowing water. At the start of this unit, students begin a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Throughout the unit, students engage in a series of lessons to develop an understanding of the use of rock strata and fossil layers as indicators for geologic time.While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. After each lesson ends, students reflect on the lesson and transfer their learning to the context of rocks found in the Black Hills phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart and model. However, the phenomenon is used as the context in the Performance Assessment for the unit; students use prior learning from the lessons to construct an explanation about patterns in rock formations around the Black Hills and Devils Tower National Monument, including a geologic timeline and evidence from rock strata.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Bring Science Alive! Discipline Program Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning. Gateway 2 is not reviewed since Gateway 1 expectations are not met.​

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Bring Science Alive! Integrated Program

Teachers' Curriculum Institute | Grades 6-8 | 2018 Edition

Sixth to Eighth

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Designed for NGSS, Gateway 1. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include opportunities for students to learn and use three dimensions, but not consistently. There are few instances of the materials providing opportunities for students to understand and use the SEPs to make sense of the DCIs, but the materials do not consistently present opportunities for sensemaking with the SEPs and CCCs; there are many instances where students do not use either an SEP or a CCC for sensemaking with the other dimensions. Across the series, lesson objectives are consistently provided but the formative assessment tasks are not designed to reveal student understanding of the three dimensions related to the learning objectives and the materials do not provide support or guidance for teachers to adjust instruction based on student responses. Additionally, the materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives (performance expectations) for the units, but the summative tasks do not completely measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit on a consistent basis.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they consistently integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs) into student learning opportunities. Throughout the series, some learning sequences integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities, while others do not integrate all three dimensions, often excluding the CCCs.

Each lesson includes one or more investigations. In some lessons, students engage in three-dimensional learning integrating SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs within an investigation. The remaining investigations are consistently two-dimensional with the integration of SEPs and DCIs occurring most often.

Examples where materials integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 17: How the Ocean Affects Climate, students monitor temperatures, map global circulation, and model the flow of energy through the ocean system. Students apply their understanding of climate (DCI-ESS.D-M3) to create a plan measuring average ocean temperature and provide feedback to classmates’ plans (SEP-INFO-M5). After analyzing different video models of currents, temperature, and wind patterns in the oceans, students draw and compare diagrams of the impact of wind and density on currents. Using the diagrams, students create models to show how energy flows through ocean systems and impacts coastal climates (CCC-EM-M4).
  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Lesson 1: Earth’s Atmosphere, Investigation 1: Journey to the Exosphere, students collect temperature and density data for atmospheric layers and plot the data on a graph. Students look for patterns (CCC-PAT-M2) then analyze the results to better understand the properties of each atmospheric layer (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Students explain their understanding (SEP-CEDS-E4) by writing a proposal of what travelers need for a balloon ride.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: The Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Lesson 23: The Motion of Particles, Investigation 1: Modeling States of Matter, students model (SEP-MOD-M5) the states of matter using their bodies to represent molecular motion and structure on a microscopic level (CCC-SPQ-M5). Students use a digital simulation to model states of matter (SEP-MOD-M3) through a lens of energy (CCC-EM-M2). Students use the models as a simplified representation of a system to explain and predict particle motion (DCI-PS1.A-M1) in different states of matter.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 6: Sustaining Local and Global Diversity, Lesson 31: Artificial Selection, Investigation 1: Comparing Natural and Artificial Selection, students compare natural selection and artificial selection processes. They simulate (SEP-MOD-M5) successive generations of aurochs by measuring their aggressiveness with each simulated generation. Students use the data to discuss cause and effect relationships (CCC-CE-M3) and how the average of these changes differed in the population experiencing natural selection compared to artificial selection (DCI-LS4.B-M2).

Examples where materials do not integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming and Living Systems, Lesson 20: Climate Today and Tomorrow, students examine how climate change can impact humans and propose plans to adapt and mitigate human impact on the environment (DCI-ESS3.C-M1, SEP-AQDS-M8) to design a solution (SEP-CEDS-M4). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students design a solution to mitigate human impact.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 2: Molecules and Extended Structures, students ask and answer questions (SEP-AQDP-M1) about different materials to explain the 92 naturally occurring elements but many different materials (DCI-PS1.A-M1, DCI-PS1.A-M2). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students examine pictures and their classroom for examples of materials.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, students compare the buoyancy of cans of regular soda and diet soda. Students are given various spheres, predict which they think will sink or float, and test if heavier objects sink and lighter objects float (DCI-PS1.A-M2). They record the mass of the objects first, but decide what evidence they will need to support the explanation (SEP-INV-M4). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students investigate density.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 15: Chemical Engineering and Society, students read about the synthetic material, sodium lauryl sulfate, in three sources. Students evaluate the information and the different sources of information. The lesson primarily focuses on students evaluating competing information in science and technical texts (SEP-INFO-M3), but connects to part of the DCI from PE-MS-PS1-3, understanding that synthetic materials impact society. The materials do not integrate a CCC as students evaluate resources.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Lesson 4: Types of Waves, Investigation 2: Identifying Waves, students watch videos of a variety of phenomena and use their model of waves to decide whether the phenomenon in each video is a wave. Students determine if the phenomenon in each video aligns with their definition of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Students make a claim whether each video shows a wave or not (SEP-ARG-M3). The materials do not integrate a CCC as students apply their understanding of the characteristics of a wave to their claims.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that the materials are designed to consistently support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. Materials are not designed for SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions.

Throughout the series, lessons frequently include all three dimensions, but students do not have opportunities in nearly all learning sequences to use one or more dimensions to understand and use the other dimensions to support their sensemaking. In many lessons the SEPs and CCCs are present and connect to DCIs, but students do not use the dimensions to make sense of DCIs or to meaningfully support sensemaking with the other dimensions. When two dimensions are used together, the SEPs are typically used to help students understand and apply the DCIs.

Examples where the materials are designed for students to understand and apply SEPs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climate, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 20: Climate Today and Tomorrow, students examine how climate change can impact humans (DCI-ES3.C-M1). Students gather information on effects of climate change and use their understanding to create a plan to mitigate the impacts of climate change (SEP-CEDS-M4). Students apply their understanding of the DCI as they construct their explanation and design a plan.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, Investigation 1: Describing Density, students compare the density (DCI-PS1.A-M2) of two different cans of soda, investigate mass and volume of different materials, and measure objects to determine densities (SEP-INV-M4). During the investigations, students decide what evidence they would need to support the explanation using the investigations to critically understand the concept of density.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: Modeling Light in the Solar System, Lesson 11 Eclipse, Investigation 1: Modeling an Eclipse, students use their bodies and a light bulb to model the Earth-Sun-Moon system during a lunar eclipse and solar eclipse (SEP-MOD-M5, DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Students use the model and the orientation of the bodies to explain what causes eclipses and why they are rare.

Examples where the materials are not designed for students to understand and apply SEPs and CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Lesson 1: Earth’s Atmosphere, students create a scale model (SEP-MOD-M5) of earth’s atmosphere that includes temperature, density, altitude, and boundaries between the five layers of the atmosphere. While students use a model to represent a system, they do not use the model of the atmosphere to develop an understanding of how the layers of the atmosphere affect weather (DCI-ESS2.D-M1). Instead of understanding and applying the inputs, outputs, processes, or matter and energy flows within a system (CCC-SYS-M2), students copy the data onto their scale model.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Traits, Engineering Design Challenge: Designing a Seed Dispersal Device, students research plant seed dispersal mechanisms and structures of different seeds (SEP-AQDP-M4, CCC-SF-M2). Students define constraints of the design task (ENG-ETS1.A-M1) using their research on seed types. Students develop, test, and revise seed dispersal prototypes to optimize dispersal performance (ENG-ETS1.C-M1, ENG-ETS1.B-M3). While students use understanding of the life science DCI to inform their design, the design challenge and engagement with the SEP does not help students understand why plants have specialized features for reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M3). Additionally, students review the structures of several types of seeds to determine how they function, but the CCC is not incorporated in a manner to help students apply their understanding of why plants have adaptations.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students design a microclimate to grow a vegetable not typically capable of growing in their local environment. Students identify criteria and constraints, develop and test their designs, and describe how they can modify their designs (DCI-ETS1.B-M2). Students engage in multiple SEPs as they work on their designs. However, neither the SEPs nor CCCs are used by students to understand and apply the DCI, interactions affecting climate, weather, and oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).  
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 11: Scales of Change on Earth’s Surface, students engage in a series of activities and investigations focused on understanding the CCC of scale, proportion, and quantity as it relates to earth’s processes. Students rank various phenomena based on the size of the phenomenon and the rate or time scale of each phenomenon. Students conduct an investigation where they allow crystals to form and consider the scale of time and space needed to see the crystal development. Finally, students compare time and spatial scales of different earth processes. While several SEPs and DCIs are connected to this lesson, the lesson is focused on students developing the concept of time and spatial scales of phenomena, and does not provide opportunities for students to use the CCCs or SEPs to critically understand and apply a DCI.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Across the series, lesson objectives are provided through an Objectives button, but are not consistently three-dimensional.

The formative assessment tasks are not consistently designed to reveal student understanding of the three dimensions. Additionally, the formative assessment tasks include classroom discussions, student notebook entries, lesson games, investigation tasks, and engineering challenges., Vocabulary Cards and the Lesson Game can be used to check student understanding of key terms and concepts within the lesson and are typically assess student understanding of one dimension. Lesson Games provide students with two opportunities to incorrectly answer a multiple choice question before providing the correct answer. No guidance is provided to the student as to why an answer is incorrect. While the Gradebook allows teachers to track questions and student responses, the materials do not provide guidance on how to use the evidence elicited from formative assessment tasks to support instruction. In some instances, the Lesson Guide suggests teachers may need to provide vocabulary support, however there is no method of assessing if this support is necessary. Further, wrap-up questions are present in whole-group instruction without providing guidance for teachers to support instruction. Lesson Support buttons inserted within various parts of a lesson typically direct teachers to previous slides, videos, or text, rather than providing new ways of approaching or explaining the content.

Examples where materials do not reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions supporting three-dimensional learning objectives and assessment tasks do not support the instructional process:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 21: Proteins, Genes, and Chromosomes,  lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “explain how genes can influence the traits of organisms”, “make a model that shows the relationship between chromosomes, DNA, and genes”, and “predict the traits that result when individuals have different structured genes, or alleles, in their cells.” Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide teachers with an answer key but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 1: Atoms and Elements, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “differentiate between energy and matter using observational data”, “utilize scientific notation to communicate very large and very small numbers relating to the size and quantity of objects”, and “organize similar objects in a logical way by arranging them according to their chemical and physical properties.” Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. The materials consistently provide teachers with an answer key but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Lesson 6: Wave Energy, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “using data from wave energy converters, determine the relationship between wave amplitude and energy produced”, “graph data on wave amplitude and energy and identify the mathematical relationship between the variables, which can be expressed using an algebraic equation”, “use logic and patterns in ratio reasoning to predict the mathematical relationship between wave frequency and energy.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. The materials consistently provide teachers with an answer key but do not provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Lesson 15: Electricity, lesson objectives are provided. The lesson objectives are: “Conduct investigations to observe the behavior of electrical forces, including static electricity”, “find patterns in the way objects are interacting within an electrical system”, and “ask questions to discover what factors affect the strength of electrical forces.” While these objectives appear to build towards three-dimensional objectives of the larger learning sequence, student use of the SEPs are often prescriptive and assessments do not reveal student knowledge and skill related to all three dimensions for these objectives. Multiple opportunities are provided to check for student understanding of the targeted DCIs and SEPs. The materials consistently provide teachers with an answer key but do not  provide additional teacher guidance to support instruction for students who did not correctly answer the questions.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The materials consistently incorporate summative tasks at the end of every unit, at least one or two per segment.

Since the materials inconsistently include explicit three-dimensional learning objectives for students, the performance expectations are assumed to be the learning objective. Units consistently list multiple performance expectations and the corresponding Performance Assessments frequently list a subset of the unit performance expectations, but do not consistently measure all targeted performance expectations of the respective unit.

Materials provide additional opportunities to assess learning by providing lesson-level multiple choice and constructed-response tests and assessment banks. Test banks are included at the end of each lesson, are specific to each lesson, and are not designed to be the primary mechanism for assessing student learning across the unit. Additionally engineering design PEs are more consistently assessed through Engineering Challenges at the lesson level.

Examples of assessments that do not address the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Performance Assessment: Modeling Synthetic Cells, the prompt is intended to assess two performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-1, PE-MS-LS1-2). Students plan an investigation to discover if a structure is a living or non-living thing, including how cells will be observed at a different scale in the investigation. The task does not measure student achievement of one targeted SEP (SEP-INV-M2) and a focus DCI (DCI-LS1.A-M1); additionally, the student task to create a clay model of a cell is aligned to an SEP below the middle school grade-band (SEP-MOD-E4). Therefore, the summative task does not elicit evidence of students’ three-dimensional learning of both performance expectations in this unit.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Performance Assessment: Conserving Coral Reefs Using Genetics, the prompt is intended to assess two performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-5, PE-MS-LS3-2). The assessment elicits student learning of why asexual and sexual reproduction have different results in offspring genetics (PE-MS-LS3-2) and how environmental and genetic factors influence the growth of organisms (PE-MS-LS1-5). The assessment does not assess one targeted performance expectation of the unit (PE-MS-LS3-1) for students to model the relationship between chromosomes, DNA, and genes.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Performance Assessment: Determining the Best Material for a Makeup Pen Base, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-PS1-1). Students test three substances for the properties of solubility, density and melting points (DCI-PS1.A-M2). After comparing data (SEP-DATA-M7), they develop a pitch as to which material would make the best makeup base. Neither the DCI nor SEP are associated with the learning objective (PE-MS-PS1-1), but they do work together to provide evidence of two-dimensional learning. Students are also provided models and identify the chemical formula for each. The assessment task does not measure student achievement in developing models (SEP-MOD-M5). In addition, the scientific concept of chemical formulas is not connected to the DCI or CCC (DCI-PS1.A-M2, CCC-SPQ-M1) associated with the targeted performance expectation. The assessment does not assess one targeted performance expectation for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-1) and partially assesses another targeted performance expectation for the unit (PE-MS-PS1-2).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: Modeling Light in the Solar System, Performance Assessment: Designing a Light Art Piece, the prompt is intended to assess one performance expectation (PE-MS-PS4-2). Students include the following concepts into the design and explanation of the light art piece they design: refraction, absorption, reflection, and transmission (DCI-PS4.B-M1). Although students must construct an explanation of the light properties in the art piece (SEP-CEDS-M4), the summative task solely elicits evidence for learning about structure and function (CCC-SF-M2). Other crosscutting concepts taught during the lessons but not included in the summative task include: patterns (CCC-PAT-M3), cause and effect (CCC-CE-M2), and system and system models (CCC-SYS-M2). The assessment does not assess one targeted performance expectation for the unit (PE-MS-ETS1-4).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Performance Assessment: Investigating a Drone Motor Design, the prompt is intended to assess three performance expectations (MS-PS2-3, MS-PS2-4, MS-PS2-5). Students explain the effect of gravitational force on the drone and earth (DCI-PS2.B-E3) and demonstrate magnetic fields on a test object (DCI-PS2.B-M3). To evaluate the design of the drone, students determine how the drone’s mass would affect its flight and determine which motor would be the strongest (CCC-SYS-M2). Students discuss the drone design with classmates and communicate how a drone motor works (SEP-INFO-M5). The assessment does not assess the remaining six targeted performance expectations for the unit (MS-ESS1-2, MS-ESS1-3, MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, MS-ETS1-4).
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials incorporate phenomena consistently connected to grade-band appropriate DCIs, but the materials do not consistently present problems in a way allowing students to engage with physical, earth and space, and/or life science DCIs. The materials present phenomena and/or problems to students as directly as possible in multiple instances, but not consistently across the series. The materials provide multiple lessons across the series that use problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning, but phenomena do not consistently drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in lessons or activities. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 17% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 59% of the lessons. The materials consistently elicit students’ prior knowledge, but do not support teachers to use student responses to modify instruction. The materials incorporate few units using phenomena to drive student learning across multiple lessons.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas. Materials consistently connect phenomena to grade-band DCIs and their elements. Problems in the materials are included as Engineering Challenges. Although they are connected to the grade-band engineering, technology and application of science (ETS) DCIs, problems are not consistently connected to grade-band physical, earth and space, and life science DCIs. Further, some Engineering Challenges are connected to DCIs below grade level.

Examples of phenomena and problems connecting to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 22: Inheriting Genes, the phenomenon is some organisms, like bacteria, are identical to their parents but other organisms, like dogs, are not. The phenomenon connects to understanding variations of inherited traits between parent and offspring arise from genetic differences resulting from the subset of chromosomes inherited (DCI-LS3.A-M2). As students explain how some offspring are not identical, they focus on the mechanism behind how sexually reproducing organisms vary from one generation to the next as opposed to asexually reproducing organisms (DCI-LS3.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things are Made of Atoms, Lesson 8: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those at the top. This phenomenon connects to understanding how scientists interpret a relative, geologic time scale from rock strata (DCI-ESS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Lesson 14: Gravity, the phenomenon is when a piece of paper is placed on top of a book, and both are dropped together, they fall straight to the ground without the paper fluttering. Students engage in an investigation and simulation on gravitational force to explain the gravitational forces (DCI-PS2.B-M2). In addition, the lesson incorporates a study of forces acting at a distance (DCI-PS2.B-M3).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design a seawall to prevent erosion on beaches. Prior to building their seawall, students investigate seawalls and other structures already in use to prevent erosion. In order to evaluate solutions (DCI-ETS1.B-M2), students apply their understanding of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1) to solve the problem of coastal erosion.

Examples of phenomena or problems not connected to grade-band DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to build a microclimate to grow one specific vegetable. The activity connects directly to DCI-ETS1.B-M2, but designing a microclimate for a specific plant does not require students to use or apply their understanding of interactions affecting climate, weather, and oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns (DCI-ESS2.D-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Segment 4: Sustaining Living Systems in a Changing World, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Fishing Net, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design a fishing net for a specific species. While this challenge falls within the unit on biodiversity, the challenge does not call for students to use the concept in their design. The data collected includes counting what is caught from the targeted species and from the non-targeted species; however, the role of biodiversity is not incorporated into designing the net. This engineering challenge is not connected to a life science grade-band DCI even though it connects to engineering DCIs, DCI-ETS1.B-M2 and DCI-ETS1.C-M1.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Damping Device, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design a damping device for filming on a space station (DCI-ETS1.B-M4, DCI-ETS1.C-M2). The problem does not connect to the DCI of gravity, which is the focus of the unit (DCI-ESS1.B-M1).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Materials present phenomena and/or problems to students as directly as possible in multiple instances, but not consistently across the series. Materials present all Integrated Phenomena and Anchoring Phenomena as videos and some also include photographs and text. Phenomena at the lesson level are mostly presented to students as images; problems and some phenomena are presented with a video, text description, or explanation; and several phenomena are presented through teacher demonstration or student participation in an activity.

The different types of presentation are used for instances where first-hand observations are not accessible, but are also used in place of opportunities where phenomena lend themselves to more direct means of observation. In some lessons, the publisher provides guidance for teachers on how to present the phenomena more directly than videos, photographs, and text, but these recommendations often do not fully represent the entirety of the science ideas connected to the lesson phenomenon. Few lessons across the series present the phenomena or problems through first-hand observation.

Examples of phenomena or problems presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, Lesson 10: Traits for Survival, the phenomenon is humans have opposable thumbs, but turtles do not. Students compare and contrast their own hands to images of animals and engage in a hands-on activity simulating not having opposable thumbs.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Bodies, Engineering Design Challenge: Designing a Prosthetic Hand, the challenge is to design a prosthetic hand with movable parts. Students are presented with an image of a prosthetic hand and students examine their own hands, making observations about all of the ways their hands and fingers can move.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things Are Made of Atoms, Lesson 3: Substances and Their Properties, the phenomenon is some liquids do not mix with others and form distinct layers in a bottle. The materials provide instructions to the teacher on how to make a solubility and density column to provide students with first-hand experience of directly observing the density column, shaking the column, and discussing what happens after shaking it.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 13: Atoms in Chemical Reactions, the phenomenon is burning steel wool causes its mass to increase. The teacher demonstrates burning steel wool and records the mass of the steel wool before and after burning.

Examples of phenomena or problems not presented to students as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Lesson 2: Taking Earth’s Temperature, the phenomenon is ice melts faster on a metal surface than a ceramic surface. The phenomenon is presented to students as a photograph of a park with snow on the grass and puddles on the sidewalk or road.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Lesson 10: Energy in Earth’s Systems, Observing a Phenomenon, the phenomenon is water being heated, rising, cooling, and falling. This phenomenon is presented in a video, with teacher guidance to explain that a special camera is used to show warm areas red, white, and yellow and cold areas are blue and purple. Further, the teacher tells the students “when the bottom of a tank of water is heated, warm water rises, cools, and falls back again.” In the Connections to Your Life button, students are asked to think about a bowl of hot soup or a mug of hot cocoa in a cold room and to think about how their senses tell them something. However, this is not a common experience all students are having with the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: Modeling Light in the Solar System, Lesson 10: Phases of the Moon, the phenomenon is the moon changes appearance every night. The phenomenon is presented to students as a photograph showing a full moon over a city.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Lesson 15: Electricity, Observing Phenomena, the phenomenon reaching for a doorknob and experiencing a shock or seeing a spark. Students watch a video to see and hear the spark. Suggestions are provided to the student in Connections to Your Life button that suggests for students to turn off the lights and rub a silk on a glass rod prior to touching another object to see the phenomenon. However, there is not silk or glass rod on the materials list nor supports for the teacher in providing the experience to all students.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. While the materials provide multiple lessons across the series using problems (Engineering Challenges) to drive student learning, phenomena do not consistently drive student learning and use of the three dimensions in lessons or activities.

Each lesson begins with students watching a video or viewing an image with a description intended to engage students with a phenomenon. However, some of the publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, problems, or directions and not observable occurrences requiring students to generate questions or develop an explanation to advance their own learning. Throughout the lesson, students engage in one or more investigations but there is often no direct connection between the lesson-level phenomenon and the focus of the investigations. While the lesson often builds understanding of the three dimensions, students do not interact with the phenomenon while engaging in the activities. Students only interact with the lesson-level phenomenon at the end of the investigations when they reflect on their learning and review their initial notes about the phenomenon.

The materials contain 18 Engineering Challenges throughout the series, which are included across all three grades and within most segments. The Engineering Challenges present students with a problem they must solve, typically in the form of a design challenge. After being presented with the challenge, students develop their own, add to, or revise a list of specific criteria and constraints before creating and testing a prototype, and then use data from their tests to improve their original design. The problem presented in the Engineering Challenge usually drives student learning of the lesson, but not all Engineering Challenges engage students in all three dimensions. Additionally, the challenges are designed to build student understanding of ETS DCIs, but often miss opportunities to connect to the grade-band DCIs in physical, earth and space, or life science.

Examples of problems driving student learning and engaging students with all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to build a microclimate to grow one vegetable from outside of their climate zone. The challenge drives the use of three dimensions throughout the lesson. Students design and construct an artificial microclimate (DCI-ESS2.D-M1) of a vegetable growth system. The system design supports the growth of a plant by creating and maintaining a microclimate meeting the needs of the particular plant. In designing the system (SEP-ADQP-M8), students note and are aware of inputs, outputs, and the system impact of those factors (CCC-SYS-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: Resources in Ecosystems, Engineering Challenge: Preserving Frog-Bat Interactions, the problem is there are plans to build a highway through the rainforest very near to a major pond, which could impact a population of frogs and bats living near the pond. Students identify the possible disturbances a noisy road would have to the ecosystem (DCI-LS2.A-M1). Students use information about how bats and frogs rely on acoustic interactions, and the impact this disruption could cause to the ecosystem as a whole. Students create a structure that can reduce the environmental impact of the highway’s sounds on the frogs and bats (CCC-SF-M2). Students place their sound shield between a speaker and sound meter to model the actual conditions between the road and ecosystem to test their prototype and generate data about how well their solution works, comparing their data to data in a provided table showing examples of decibel level equivalents (SEP-MOD-M7).
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: Mechanical Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, students address the problem by engaging in a challenge to design and test a seawall to prevent erosion of the coast and save the nearby highway. Prior to building their seawall, students investigate (SEP-INV-M4) seawalls and other structures already in use to prevent erosion. They apply understanding of waves (DCI-PS4.A-M1) and identify criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.B-M2) as they evaluate how the proposed structure (CCC-SF-M2) can solve the problem of coastal erosion.

Examples of phenomena and problems not driving student learning:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, Lesson 6: Air Pressure and Wind, the phenomenon is some days are windy and others are not. During the investigations, students collect data and calibrate a barometer to answer what correlation exists between the local weather (e.g., wind, storms, etc.) and the barometer readings. While the investigations provide content knowledge required for understanding air pressure, students interact with the phenomenon—why some days are windy and others are not—at the start and end of the lesson, when they respond to questions in their notebook, but not during the investigations.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Changes in Genes, Lesson 24: Genetic Mutations, the phenomena are some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red. During the investigations, students show the relationship between genes, proteins, and traits. Students create a flowchart showing structure and function of genes and proteins, the mechanism for how changes in genes can cause changes in proteins, and how mutations can affect an organism’s survival in different environments. While these investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining mutations, students interact with the phenomena—some people have six fingers on one hand and some grapefruit are bright red—at the start and end of the lesson, when they respond to questions in their notebook, but not during the investigations.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things are Made of Atoms, Lesson 7: Global Cycles of Matter, the phenomenon is fertilizer runoff into a pond triggers the growth of green muck. During the investigations, students develop understanding of the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles and how the elements move between biotic and abiotic systems. While the investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining biogeochemical cycles, students interact with the phenomenon of algal blooms at the start and end of the lesson when they respond to questions in their notebook, but not during the investigations. Students do not explain the role of nutrients in the formation of algal blooms
  • In Grade 8, Segment 2: The Earth-Sun-Moon System, Lesson 9: Earth’s Tilted Axis, the phenomenon is each year, “trees sprout leaves which grow, change color, die, and fall off.” During the investigations, students learn the axial tilt of earth and energy from the sun during different parts of the year contribute to the different seasons. While the investigations provide content knowledge required for explaining what causes the seasons, the lesson does not support students in explaining the mechanism of the phenomenon of tree leaves sprouting, growing, changing color, dying, and falling off.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in 17% of the lessons (19 of 109 lessons) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials 59% of the lessons (64 of 109 lessons) focus on explaining phenomena. Performance Assessments are not included in the calculations for the lessons, since those are considered summative assessments.

Each grade is structured to include three to six segments. Each segment has an Integrated Phenomenon and typically includes two or three units, labeled as Anchoring Phenomena. Each unit has an Anchoring Phenomenon and typically includes two to four lessons. Most units also include an Engineering Challenge; problems are typically found in the Engineering Challenges and often connect to the Anchoring Phenomenon for the unit. While the materials consistently identify a phenomenon with each segment, unit, and lesson, several of the publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, or directions, rather than observable occurrences engaging students in asking questions to advance their own learning or explaining the phenomena.

Examples of problems (Engineering Challenges) within the series:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Engineering Challenge: Minimizing and Maximizing the Rate of Heat Transfer, the challenge is to create a device that will insulate or conduct heat energy using a beaker of ice water exposed to light energy.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, the challenge is to design a microclimate to support growth of a plant not native to the local environment.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: The Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Engineering Challenge: Test and Improve a Solar Distiller, the challenge is to build and improve a solar distiller taking into consideration rates of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation of water.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Hot Pack, the challenge is to design a one-time use hot pack.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Engineering Challenge: Engineering a Damping Device, the challenge is to develop a damping device around a camera to reduce vibrations during a rocket launch.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Engineering Challenge: Preventing Coastal Erosion, the challenge is to design and test a seawall to prevent erosion on beaches.

Examples of phenomena within the series:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, the Integrated Phenomenon is when a person takes a dog on a long walk in the summer, the person sweats but the dog pants.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Sciences, Anchoring Phenomenon: The Atmosphere and Energy, the phenomenon is “Cold food in a cooler stays cold, and food in a solar cooker gets hot.”
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 15: Climate Patterns, the phenomenon is “Earth’s surface is warmer at the equator than it is at the poles.”
  • In Grade 7, Segment 4: Sustaining Living Systems in a Changing World, Anchoring Phenomenon: Humans and Changing Ecosystems, the Anchoring Phenomenon is “abalone populations in southern California have been in decline since the 1960s.”
  • In Grade 7, Segment 1: Organisms and Nonliving Things are Made of Atoms, Lesson 8: Investigating Rock Strata, the phenomenon is rock layers at the bottom of the Grand Canyon are much older than those at the top.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 6: Anchoring Phenomenon: Thermal Energy, the phenomenon is “jack rabbits' ears help them survive in the extreme heat of the desert.”
  • In Grade 8, Segment 1: The Speed of Objects and Waves, Lesson 1: Describing Motion, the phenomenon is “sitting in a train alongside other trains, you might look out the window and be unsure which train is in motion.”
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. The materials elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences of phenomena.

All units and lessons begin with a phenomenon presented through either videos, pictures, or demonstrations. The materials include the same prompt for all lesson-level phenomena: “What questions do you have about this phenomenon?” For the unit-level phenomena, all units elicit students’ prior knowledge and experiences through a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart. The materials do not leverage the information elicited from the unit-level and lesson-level phenomena, and do not provide guidance for teachers to connect students’ responses to subsequent learning opportunities helping them apply what they already know as they make sense of the phenomena. Students return to their questions and KWL charts at the end of the units and lessons, but are not afforded the opportunity to incorporate their prior knowledge and experiences during the learning in the lessons.

The materials elicit but rarely leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to problems in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge, and to build on the knowledge and experience students bring from both inside and outside of the classroom. The Engineering Challenges begin by presenting a problem as a design challenge, but do not consistently prompt students to ask questions or write notes on their prior knowledge and experiences. Instead, students are prompted in their notebooks to answer specific questions about the problem.

Examples where materials elicit but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Lesson 15: Climate Patterns, the phenomenon is “Earth’s surface is warmer at the equator than it is at the poles.” The materials pose questions to the whole class about where they think it is warm and cold on earth, but students do not respond in their notebooks. While the questions elicit student knowledge related to the phenomenon, no guidance is provided for teachers to leverage student responses in subsequent investigations. Students are presented with a diagram showing various climate zones and write questions about the phenomenon in their notebooks before they begin investigations. Students return to their notebooks to record their understanding at the end of the lesson, but they are not prompted to incorporate, use, or build on prior knowledge during the investigations.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 4: Sustaining Living Systems in a Changing World, Anchoring Phenomenon: Humans and Changing Ecosystems, the instructional materials present the Anchoring Phenomenon “abalone populations in southern California have been in decline since the 1960s.” Students write in a KWL chart what they already know about the phenomenon, but their experiences with this phenomenon are not explicitly elicited. Additionally, teachers are not provided guidance on how to incorporate the students’ prior knowledge and experiences to leverage this information during the lesson.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Lesson 20: Formation of the Solar System, the phenomenon is humans weren't around to watch the solar system form, but have observed patterns which may explain its formation. At the beginning of the lesson, the materials ask students to record any questions they have about the phenomenon. After this point in the lesson, materials do not ask students to engage with, use, or build on their prior knowledge or experiences. Additionally, the materials provide no guidance to help teachers leverage students' prior knowledge and experiences.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 6: Anchoring Phenomenon: Thermal Energy, the phenomenon is “jack rabbits' ears help them survive in the extreme heat of the desert.” Students are shown images and a short video mentioning heat transfer of jack rabbits’ ears. Students complete a KWL chart. In the subsequent lessons and performance assessment of the unit, students are not given any opportunities to connect their prior knowledge and experiences written in the KWL chart to make sense of the phenomenon.

Examples where materials elicit but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experiences related to problems:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 1: Systems and Subsystems in Earth and Life Science, Engineering Challenge: Minimizing and Maximizing the Rate of Heat Transfer, the challenge is to create a device that will insulate or conduct heat energy using a beaker of ice water exposed to light energy. Students’ prior knowledge is elicited as students respond to questions in their notebooks, but not leveraged during the challenge.
  • In Grade 6, Segment 3: Regional Climates, Global Warming, and Living Systems, Engineering Challenge: Designing a Microclimate, the challenge is to design a microclimate to support growth of a plant. When designing their solution, the materials instruct students to “Think about plants that do not naturally grow in your local environment. Developing the microclimate should be a challenge.” Within the scope of assigned criteria and constraints, students design and build their microclimate based on their group’s ideas and research. Student prior knowledge is elicited as students think about plants, but prior knowledge is not leveraged during the challenge.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Materials do not consistently provide units using phenomena or problems to drive student learning across multiple lessons; few units use phenomena or problems to engage with all three dimensions across multiple lessons.

The instructional materials present an Anchoring Phenomenon at the start of each unit and students are prompted to ask questions about the phenomenon in their notebook through use of a Know-Want to Know-Learned (KWL) chart and a handout called “Developing a Model to Explain a Phenomenon.” A Connecting to Phenomenon button is provided at the end of most investigations prompting teachers to give students opportunities to review their notes on the unit-level phenomenon and make revisions if necessary; this connects student learning to the Anchoring Phenomenon but student learning is not driven by the Anchoring Phenomenon. Connections to phenomena are different than phenomena driving student learning, where students are expected to figure out phenomena. The Wrap Up section at the end of the lesson provides a similar prompt for students to add new learning. Students return to their KWL chart and initial model after each lesson and at the end of the unit transfer their learning from the lessons to the context provided by the phenomenon. The structure provides students opportunities to transfer learning to new contexts and to revise their initial thinking using ideas they learned; however students are not driven towards these contexts with a desire or questions to figure out regarding the Anchoring Phenomenon. The “Anchoring Phenomena” are most often used as examples of the content topic or concept as opposed to a driving mechanism for student questions and sensemaking.

The materials are designed to include Performance Assessments at the end of each unit; these are designed to match the context of the Anchoring Phenomenon and assess what students learned throughout the unit. The Performance Assessments generally engage students in transferring learning from the context of the activities done throughout lessons in the unit, to the context of the phenomenon, but consistently has students revisit information learned in the lessons instead of allowing for deeper engagement and reflection of how thinking has changed over time related to explaining the phenomenon. This structure for the Performance Assessments provides students opportunities to transfer learning from the investigations and lesson to a new context; however since the unit-level phenomenon is typically used as part of the assessment occurring at the end of the unit, it is not driving student learning.

Further, Integrated Phenomena are incorporated at the beginning of a segment to provide context to the aggregation of units and to provide connections helping students understand how the topics are related. After the phenomena are introduced, students write their generated questions and develop an initial model to explain the phenomena. Whereas the content of these are touched upon over the course of the associated units, student engagement at the unit and lesson level is not used during the learning to help explain the Integrated Phenomenon. Within the lessons, the instruction does not refer back to the Integrated Phenomenon. Instead, when the Integrated Phenomenon is initially presented, the materials instruct students to return to their explanation at the end of the segment. Overall, phenomena (Integrated, Anchoring, and Investigative) are consistently placed at the beginning and end of learning opportunities and sequences, but are missing the opportunity for students to make sense of the phenomena during their learning and be supported in continually revising their thinking about the phenomena.

Problems are typically embedded within the Engineering Challenges. These are at the lesson level and occur in a little more than half of the units across the series; the problems are not used to connect multiple lessons in the unit nor do they support students in figuring out the Anchoring Phenomenon.

Examples where phenomena do not drive student learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 6, Segment 2: Earth Systems, Weather, and Organisms, the Integrated Phenomenon is “when a person takes a dog on a long walk in the summer, you might see that the person is sweating but the dog is panting.” Students answer a prompt in their notebook about what questions they have and how they might investigate to find an answer. Students develop an initial model and are prompted to return after each lesson to record information learned and revise the model. Students engage in several units: weather, including lessons on the different factors contributing to weather; traits in organisms, including lessons on traits used for survival and reproduction; and bodies, including lessons in body systems, levels of organization, and information processing. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon.
  • In Grade 7, Segment 3: The Distribution of Earth’s Resources, Anchoring Phenomenon: Resources in Ecosystems, the Anchoring Phenomenon is some captive species of cichlid fish stop eating to the point of dying when other cichlid species are in the aquarium. Students fill out a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about the phenomenon. Students engage in a series of lessons on the role of resource availability on populations of dart frogs, ecosystem interactions with ants and acacia trees, and the effect of ecosystem disruptions on populations around Mount St. Helens’ eruption. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. At the conclusion of each lesson, students reflect on the investigations and transfer their learning to the context of the phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart. However, the phenomenon is also used as the context for the Performance Assessment where students use prior learning from the lessons to try to solve the problem of making the cichlids healthy again.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 3: Noncontact Forces Influence Phenomena, Anchoring Phenomena: Noncontact Forces, the Anchoring Phenomenon is drones are able to overcome gravity. Students fill out a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about the phenomenon. Students engage in a lesson to explain how a book and piece of paper fall at the same rate. The remaining lessons in the unit focus on electricity, magnetism, and electromagnetism, including constructing circuits and testing an electromagnet. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. At the conclusion of each lesson, students reflect on the investigations and transfer their learning to the context of the flying drones as they revise their KWL chart. However, the phenomenon is also used as the context for the Performance Assessment; students engage in activities assessing learning from the lessons related to how a motor works, how a motor compares to a generator, and how gravity and mass affect the flight of an object to help answer the question of how drones defy gravity.
  • In Grade 8, Segment 4: Major Collisions in the History of Life, Anchoring Phenomenon: The Solar System and Beyond, the Anchoring Phenomenon is that celestial bodies follow distinct patterns of movement. Students fill out a KWL chart to capture their initial thinking about this phenomenon. Students then engage in a series of lessons that focus on understanding the role of gravity in the formation of the solar system and understanding scale and distance between celestial bodies. During the unit’s Engineering Challenge, students develop a damping device around a camera to reduce vibrations during take off of a rocket. Students define criteria and constraints, design different solutions, and test and improve their devices. The design problem only engages students in the engineering performance expectations and does not connect back to the phenomenon of celestial bodies moving in predictable patterns. While these lessons are related to the DCIs connected to the anchor phenomena, student questions about the phenomena are not what drives the learning. Instead, the activities and lessons are designed in a manner that provides students information related to the DCIs that they write down in their notebook instead of students asking questions about the lesson-level phenomena to try to understand them and to help them make sense of the Anchoring Phenomenon. At the conclusion of each lesson, students reflect on the investigations and transfer their learning to the context of the phenomenon as they revise their KWL chart. However, the phenomenon is also used as the context for the Performance Assessment; students evaluate an existing movie script about space and write a movie scene based on their understanding gravity’s effects on celestial bodies.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Bring Science Alive! Integrated Program Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning. Gateway 2 is not reviewed since Gateway 1 expectations are not met.

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Discovery Science Techbook for California NGSS Middle School (2017-2018)

Discovery Education | Grades 6-8 | 2017 Edition

Sixth to Eighth

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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. The materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning. 

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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. Approximately half of all learning sequences engage students in use of the three dimensions and the materials do not consistently provide opportunities for students to use both SEPs and CCCs to make sense of and with the other dimensions. The materials incorporate lesson objectives that do not consistently incorporate the three dimensions and formative assessment tasks are present but do not consistently yield information about student progress in learning and using the three dimensions. Further, the materials include three-dimensional objectives at the unit level, but the summative assessments for each unit partially address or do not address the objectives listed for the same unit. 

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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are consistently designed to integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) into student learning.

Across the series, the materials integrate the three dimensions in student learning opportunities at the lesson level in approximately half of all learning sequences. Discovery Education Science Techbooks are organized by unit (four per grade level) and then by supporting concepts (four to five per unit). Each learning sequence (concept) is designed to follow the 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate) format of instruction and is typically completed over 10-15 instructional periods (45 minutes each).

When the three dimensions are present, they are most frequently within the Explore or Elaborate sections, but may be found within select Engage and Explain portions of concepts. Within each concept, the Elaborate with STEM section contains two to four STEM Project Starters. The minimum suggested time estimate in the Model Lesson PDF corresponds to the minimum suggested time associated with the STEM in Action assignment, labeled as core interactive text (CIT), and interpreted to be the required component of this section. The maximum suggested time estimate allows for students to additionally complete one or more STEM Project Starters. For example, in Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.2: Evolution and Natural Selection, the Model Lesson PDF recommends 90-180 minutes of instructional time to complete the Elaborate with STEM section. The suggested time for the STEM in Action section is 90 minutes. Additionally, this section includes three STEM Project Starters: What Did Darwin Do? (45 minutes), Helicopters and Hummingbirds (45 minutes), and Traits over Time (90 minutes). The total recommended time to complete all four activities within the Elaborate with STEM section is 270 minutes, yet the suggested range for the entire Elaborate with STEM section is only 90-180 minutes. Insufficient guidance is provided to support students in selecting and teachers assigning these project starters; it cannot be assumed that all students will complete every option within the series. As such, any individual STEM Project Starter is considered to be optional within the materials and is not considered as a factor in scoring. Additionally, the Evaluate portion of each lesson assesses, rather than engages students in new learning, and is not considered a factor in the scoring of this indicator.  

Examples of student learning opportunities that integrate the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, Explore 1, students collect and analyze temperature data of ice as it is melted and heated to boiling, and subsequently relate changes in temperature to changes in energy states. Students engage in a teacher-led discussion identifying the relationship between water temperature and its state, and then modify a changes in state diagram incorporating prior collected evidence. Within the instructional sequence, students use observed data (SEP-DATA-M4) to identify cause and effect relationships (CCC-CE-M2) between temperature, energy state, and material phase (DCI-PS1.A-M6) as they modify a model to reflect identified relationships (SEP-MOD-M2).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.2: Earth’s Natural Resources, Explore 4, students investigate how groundwater travels through rock and sand, participate in small group and whole class discussions on the effects of human populations on groundwater resources, and describe the consequences of groundwater depletion in an extended response question. Within the instructional sequence, students conduct an investigation to produce data (SEP-INV-M2) that describe the uneven distribution of groundwater as a resource (DCI-ESS3.A-M1), and then describe the negative effects (CCC-CE-M1) of groundwater depletion by human populations.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.2: Energy for Launch, Engage, students design an investigation to identify a fuel mixture that will propel a small rocket to an altitude of ten meters; create and modify a model to demonstrate the forces acting on a rocket as it launches, climbs, and descends; and identify evidence to explain how mass and energy affect the acceleration of a rocket. Within the instructional sequence, students develop and modify a model to represent a system (CCC-SYS-M2) to include interactions observed in a designed investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to evaluate the sum of forces acting on an object (DCI-PS2.A-M2).

Examples from learning sequences where student learning opportunities do not integrate the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.1: Body Systems, students read a passage and watch several videos describing the functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems, interact with an animation that describes which parts of the brain control several bodily functions, sort activities by nervous subsystem, and complete a paragraph by selecting vocabulary terms from drop down menus within a diagram. Within the instructional sequence, students do not engage in an SEP as they evaluate the differences between the subsystems of a larger complex system (CCC-SYS-M1) composed of tissues and organs specialized for particular body functions (DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flows, Concept 2.2: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Explore 3, students read a passage comparing cellular respiration and photosynthesis, watch an animation and several videos about the cycling of matter and the flow of energy, and make posters to explain how matter cycles and energy flows through organisms. Within the instructional sequence, students do not engage in an SEP as they represent how energy and matter flow (CCC-SYS-M2) as plants use sunlight and carbon dioxide to make and store food (DCI-LS1.C-M1).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.1: Earth’s History and the Fossil Record, Explore 4, students examine a table of extinction event data, watch several videos, read multiple passages about fossil records, and perform an optional physical measurement activity. Within the instructional sequence, students do not engage in an SEP or CCC as they read and hear about how the fossil record documents the history of life on earth (DCI-LS4.A-M1).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are consistently designed to support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions. The materials are designed for SEPs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions in nearly all learning sequences.

In instances where the materials include all three dimensions within an instructional sequence, students do not consistently use both the SEPs and the CCCs to make sense of and with the other dimensions. The materials contain some instances where SEPs or CCCs meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions. Where CCCs are included, the relationships illustrated by the CCCs are often stated in the student text or explicitly scripted for the teacher to identify during discussion. Student use of SEPs to meaningfully make sense of DCIs occurs in nearly all learning sequences and typically occurs within the Hands-on Activities.

While students engage in multiple SEPs across the series, the materials rely heavily on the practice of the students constructing explanations from evidence. In most instances, students explain using evidence from text and/or video segments and less frequently from direct observation and hands-on-activities.

Examples of student learning opportunities where students make sense with the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, Explore 1, students make sense of how changes in temperature relate to changes in energy states (DCI-PS1.A-M6) with the other dimensions. Students utilize the practice of identifying appropriate evidence to support an explanation (SEP-DATA-M4) as they analyze and interpret data from a laboratory exercise and teacher demonstration to build understanding of changes in state (DCI-PS1.A-M6). Students utilize the concepts of cause and effect (CCC-CE-M2) and energy transfers (CCC-EM-M4) to build understanding of the relationships between temperature, energy state, and material phase (DCI-PS1.A-M6).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.2: Energy for Launch, Engage, students make sense of the forces acting on a rocket (DCI-PS2.A-M2) with other dimensions. Students utilize the practices of designing an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) and testing solutions (SEP-INV-M5) as they build understanding of how the motion of an object is determined by the forces acting on it (DCI-PS2.A-M2). Students utilize the concept of using models to represent systems and their interactions (CCC-SYS-M2) to build understanding of total and net force (DCI-PS2.A-M2).

Examples of students using an SEP for sensemaking with a DCI:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s Interacting Systems, Explore 1: students are asked the question, “What causes sea levels to rise?” To answer this question, students watch videos and read text to build background knowledge on earth’s water sources (DCI-ESS2.C-E1). In the Hands-on Activity, students create a physical model (SEP-MOD-M5) to compare sea level rise from melting glaciers to melting sea ice to explain rising sea levels.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.1: Earth’s Moving Surface, Explain, students are asked the question, “Why do so many earthquakes occur along the west coast of the United States?” Students look at maps showing global earthquake distribution then read text, and watch videos that provide information about plate movements. Students engage in a Hands-on Activity to create a paper reconstruction of Pangea. Students restate explanations provided in the text to build understanding of the movement of Earth’s plates (DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Students make a claim and support it with evidence from the text, maps, and videos (SEP-CEDS-M3) to make sense of how mapping the historical occurrences of earthquakes can help forecast future events (DCI-ESS2.B-M1, DCI-ESS3.B-M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.2: Earth’s Natural Resources, Explore 4, students conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) to test the porosity of sand and permeability of different types of rocks to help them determine which components make a good aquifer. Students read additional text and watch several videos to learn about sources of groundwater, movement and storage of groundwater, and depletion of groundwater. Students are provided with a list of consequences of groundwater depletion to build understanding of the mechanisms affecting groundwater depletion (DCI-ESS3.A-M1) as they make sense of geologic conditions that determine the availability of groundwater as a natural resource.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.3: Colliding Objects, Explore 1, students make sense of Newton’s third law (DCI-PS2.A-M1) with scientific practices, but not with the crosscutting concepts.  Students utilize the practice of analyzing data (SEP-DATA-M4) to make sense of how force is transferred from one object to another as objects collide (DCI-PS2.A-M1).
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​​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Across the series, the provided Lesson Objectives frequently focus on student learning of the targeted DCIs and do not consistently integrate the SEPs or CCCs. Formative assessment tasks are present within each of the learning sequences. Digital activities are available to periodically check students knowledge throughout the concept and sometimes including the use of a practice, but they do not consistently yield information about the students’ progress in learning and using all three dimensions.

Examples of lesson objectives that are not three-dimensional and the subsequent formative assessment tasks do not elicit information about students understanding and use of the three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s Interacting Systems, students explore the interconnectedness of Earth’s systems. The Lesson Objectives include describing energy transfers from the sun that drive thermal expansion (DCI-ESS2.A-M1), the role of gravity in the hydrologic cycle (DCI-ESS2.C-M3), and the role of plants in the water cycle (DCI-ESS2.C-M1). However, no lesson objectives focus on the SEPs or CCCs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 1.3, but the activities do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, the Lesson Objectives include seven objectives focused on DCIs related to matter to support PE-MS-PS1-4. One additional objective, “Model the movement of particles in solids, liquids, and gases,” includes an SEP to support this PE. However, no lesson objectives focus on the CCCs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 1.1, but they do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 4: Sustaining Ecosystems, Concept 4.3: Human Impact on Ecosystems, the Lesson Objectives include seven objectives focused on DCIs and SEPs related to understanding and developing solutions to environmental problems. However, no lesson objectives focus on the CCCs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 4.3, but they do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: LIfe’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.1: Earth’s History and the Fossil Record, the Lesson Objectives include five objectives focused on DCIs and the CCCs of patterns and cause and effect. However, no lesson objectives focus on the SEPs. Digital activities are available to periodically check student knowledge throughout Concept 3.1, but they do not yield information about the students’ progress in learning and usage of the three dimensions.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The Discovery Education Science Techbook Assessment Cycle in the Teacher Edition includes a description of “medium-cycle” assessments to be given at the end of the unit or quarterly. These include the  Performance Based Assessment (PBA) and the Unit Assessment which includes a series of technology enhanced items (TEIs). Additionally, the materials provide “short-cycle” assessments that include the optional STEM Project Starters.

Across the series, the materials present a performance-based assessment at the end of each unit to assess the learning objectives, identified as performance expectations (PEs), for that unit. These summative assessments generally consist of five to seven questions that are designed to assess two to six PEs. Assessments typically include multiple technology enhanced items (TEIs) such as drag-and-drop matching and labeling, drop-down menu fill in the blank, true/false statements, and multiple select/choice questions. All of the performance-based assessments include one extended response question. While the performance-based assessment for Grade 6, Unit 4 meets the requirement to produce evidence of three-dimensional learning, the summative assessment items do not consistently meet this requirement in units across the series. Across the series, the summative assessments frequently partially address or do not address the listed learning objectives for the unit (PEs).

Examples where summative assessments are not three-dimensional in design and do not connect to the three-dimensional learning objectives for the unit:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, the performance-based assessment consists of one extended response question and four TEIs intended to assess student achievement in relation to the performance expectations of MS-PS3-4, MS-ESS2-4, and MS-ESS2-5. This assessment does not fully address the intended PEs, as students do not fully demonstrate understanding of the SEPs or CCCs as indicated. Further, the assessment does not attempt to address the unit learning objectives MS-PS3-3 and MS-PS3-5.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, the performance-based assessment consists of one extended question and four TEIs intended to assess student achievement in relations to the performance expectations of MS-PS1-2, MS-PS1-5, MS-LS1-6, and MS-ESS2-1. This assessment does not fully address the intended PEs, as students do not fully demonstrate understanding of the SEPs or CCCs as indicated. Further, the assessment does not attempt to address the unit learning objectives MS-PS1-6, MS-LS1-7, and MS-ETS-1, 2, 3, and 4.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Monitoring Biodiversity, the performance-based assessment consists of one extended response question and six TEIs intended to assess student achievement in relations to the performance expectations of MS-PS4-1, MS-PS4-2, MS-LS4-4, MS-LS4-6, MS-ESS1-1, and MS-ESS3-4. This assessment does not fully address the intended PEs, as students do not fully demonstrate understanding of SEPs or CCCs as indicated. Further, the assessment does not attempt to address the unit learning objectives MS-ETS1-1, MS-ETS1-2, MS-ETS1-3, and MS-PS4-3.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials include phenomena at unit and concept levels and are consistently linked to grade-band appropriate DCIs. The materials do not consistently present phenomena and problems as directly as possible. The materials incorporate some phenomena at the lesson or concept level, but those phenomena do not connect student learning experiences within the lesson or concept. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in up to 10% of the lessons, and explain phenomena in 33% of the lessons. The materials elicit student prior knowledge, but do not leverage student prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems. Additionally, the materials consistently incorporate phenomena at the unit level, but those phenomena do not drive student learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons or concepts.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet the expectation that phenomena are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas. Across the series, problems are found in some performance-based assessments or presented within the Elaborate with STEM section of each concept as optional extension resources; because of this design, problems were not considered when scoring this indicator.

The materials follow a 5E model. Each grade-band sequence is composed of four units, each comprising three to five conceptual 5E subunits. Phenomena are presented at the unit (anchoring) and concept (investigative) level. Within the Engage and Explore portions of each instructional sequence, students watch videos, read passages, engage in class discussions, and perform hands-on activities to build understanding of grade-band DCIs. The instructional materials include phenomena linked to grade-band appropriate DCIs or their elements in nearly all instances.

Examples of phenomena linked to grade-level appropriate DCIs:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climates, Concept 3.3: Reproducing to Save a Species, students investigate the phenomenon of climate changes signaling sea turtles to reproduce. Throughout the learning sequence, students work to build an understanding of the nature of reproductive success. Students synthesize information from multiple video segments and several reading passages to build an understanding of animals engaging in characteristic behaviors to increase odds of reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M2) and that human caused changes to the environment will have impacts on the ability of living things to reproduce (DCI-ESS3.C.M1).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow. Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, students investigate the phenomenon of matter changes that occur during a wildfire. Throughout the learning sequence, students work to build an understanding of the nature of chemical change. Students synthesize information from multiple video segments and several reading passages to develop an understanding that substances have characteristic physical and chemical properties (DCI-PS1.A-M2).  Students also perform investigations to demonstrate evidence characteristic of chemical change (DCI-PS1.B-M1) and mass conserved during a chemical reaction (DCI-PS1.B-M2).
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.2: Evolution and Natural Selection, students investigate the phenomenon of the effect of drought on the beak depth of finches. Throughout the learning sequence, students work to build an understanding of adaptation by natural selection. Students evaluate several images and graphs to build an understanding of how changes to an environment cause traits in a populations to change (DCI-LS4.C-M1) and investigate the role of natural selection in the variation of traits expressed in a population (DCI-LS4.B-M1).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Within the materials, investigative phenomena are presented in either the Engage or the Explore sections of concepts or, in the case of anchoring phenomena, the opening of each unit. Both anchoring and investigative phenomena are present throughout most of the series and are introduced to students through a brief reading passage and a video segment or image. Problem solving scenarios in the materials are presented as optional extensions, thus they are not considered for scoring.

Throughout the materials, when phenomena are present, they are presented as directly as possible approximately half of the time. In multiple instances, the phenomena are introduced via video or still photo, which is appropriate due to issues of scale, geographical access, or in consideration of student safety. In some instances, passages engage students in phenomena via a crosscutting concept, which provides access points for students who may lack contextual background knowledge of phenomena. However, the materials contain many instances in which videos and images are employed to introduce phenomena and where first-hand observation is feasible. Across the series, phenomena are not consistently presented to students as directly as possible.

Examples of phenomena that are presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, Engage: Where Did the Water Go?, the investigative phenomenon of water evaporating from Lake Mead is presented to students via the passage “Where Did the Water Go?", a video segment “Lake Mead”, and through whole class observations of changing water levels in two beakers of water. These resources provide students with geographical and first-hand conceptual context with which to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climates, the anchoring phenomenon of the causes of different climate regions across the globe is presented to students via a world map of average annual temperatures and a brief passage which directs students to identify visible patterns on the map. These resources provide students with a scale-appropriate context with which to engage in the phenomenon. Additionally, the crosscutting concept of patterns provides an access point for students who may lack background knowledge.
  • Grade 6 Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climate, Concept 3.2: Environmental and Genetic Influences, Engage: Engaging With Earth’s Environments, the investigative phenomenon of how loss of sea ice affects the migration of caribou is presented to students via the passage “Engaging with Earth’s Environments” and several video segments including; “Caribou on Thin Ice”. These resources provide students with scalar and geographical contexts with which to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter all Around, Concept 1.2: Energy and changing States, Engage: Liquid Nitrogen - Very Strange Stuff, the investigative phenomenon of phase changes of nitrogen is presented to students through the passage “Liquid Nitrogen - Very Strange Stuff”, and several video segments, including “Liquid Nitrogen”, in which a presenter makes ice cream with the supercooled liquid. These resources provide students a safe environment in which to engage in the phenomenon.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.1: Earth’s Moving Surface, Engage: The 1989 San Francisco Earthquake, the investigative phenomenon of the frequency of earthquakes in California is presented to students via a video and passage, both titled “The San Francisco Earthquake of 1989”. Included in the passage are two images: the first, a map showing worldwide distribution of earthquakes and the second, a relief map of the ocean floor. Language within the passage tasks students with identifying patterns between the two maps. These resources provide students with an historical and geographical context with which to engage in the phenomenon. Additionally, the crosscutting concept of patterns provides an access point for students who lack background knowledge.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Moving Planets, Concept 2.2: Planetary Forces, Engage: Life on Mars, the investigative phenomenon that life might have existed on Mars is presented to students through a video that explores the presence of water as necessary to support life on Mars. These resources provide students with a scalar and geographical context with which to engage in the phenomenon.

Examples of phenomena that are not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s interacting systems, Engage: Earth’s Vital Signs, the investigative phenomenon of sea level change is presented to students through a graph of changing sea level over time. A more direct presentation is possible to help students focus their questions on how the increase in sea level impacts plants near the coast.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter all Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, Engage: Dry Ice a Really Cool Substance, the investigative phenomenon of dry ice is presented to students through a video of dry ice sublimation. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining classroom safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1:Matter all Around, Concept 1.3:The Composition of Matter, Engage: Matter Changes in a Burning Match, the investigative phenomenon of a burning match is presented to students through a video of a match being burned. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining classroom safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow. Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, Engage: Changing Matter in a Wildfire, the investigative phenomenon of fire and what happens to matter as it burns is presented to students through video of wildfires in California and a discussion on the nature of fire. A more direct experience is possible to help students experience and observe this phenomenon in greater detail while still maintaining classroom safety.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, Concept 2.2: Matter and Energy in Living System, Engage: The World’s Largest Trees, the investigative phenomenon of giant trees growing from tiny seeds is presented to students through a video of the sequoias along the coast of California. The video provides information about Sequoia National Park that includes information about the distribution, age, weight, and size of sequoia trees in the park but does not provide information about the tree's seeds or different stages of growth. A more direct presentation is possible to help students focus their questions on how the tree gains matter as it grows.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Within the materials, Investigative Phenomena are presented in either the Engage or Explore sections of concepts and are present throughout most of the series. Phenomena are generally introduced to students through a brief reading passage and a series of video segments. In most instances, the materials either do not connect the learning experiences to the phenomena or they do not engage students using all three dimensions. Problem solving activities are presented only as optional extensions within the materials; thus, they are not considered for scoring.

Examples of phenomena that are presented but not used to drive student learning:

  • In Grade 6: Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.3: Earth’s Interacting Systems, Engage: Earth’s Vital Signs, students are introduced to the phenomenon of an increasing sea level height between 1993 and 2017. In subsequent parts of the learning sequence, students learn about factors that do not contribute to sea level rise and factors that do. The materials do not support students in collecting evidence to explain the phenomenon of sea level rise in the time frame shown in the initial graph. The phenomenon is used as an introduction only and students are not utilizing the three dimensions to make sense of it or figure it out.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.3: Evidence for Evolution, Engage: Flu Evolution, students are introduced to the phenomenon of needing different flu shots each year to prevent influenza. Students then read about the meaning of a scientific theory, the fossil record, evolution in whales, homologous structures, and cladograms. The materials do not address flu evolution during the learning sequence after the Engage portion of the lesson, thus this phenomenon does not drive student learning. The phenomenon is used as an introduction only and students are not utilizing the three dimensions to make sense of it or figure it out.
  • In Grade 8: Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, Concept 3.4: Modifying Organisms, Engage: Thinking about Where Dog Breeds Come From, students are introduced to the phenomenon of “dog breeds” via a teacher guided discussion. The Teacher Notes direct the instructor to elicit student ideas about the various characteristics of different dog breeds, learned versus inherited traits, and the sources of the variety of breed traits. Students then read a text, “Thinking about Where Dog Breeds Come From,” and watch several video segments. Although the domestication of dogs is mentioned in the Explore section, the phenomenon does not form the basis for any investigations or discovery throughout the subsequent activities to support students in making sense of the phenomenon.

In cases where phenomena drive learning without engaging students in all three dimensions of instruction student explanations do not include the broader scientific ideas found in the crosscutting concepts.

Examples of phenomena that do not engage students in all three dimensions:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes and Effects of Regional Climates, Concept 3.2: Environmental and Genetic Influences, students are introduced to the phenomenon of impacts of climate change on caribou populations in the Arctic in the Engage section. This phenomenon is revisited in the Explain section of the concept where students write a scientific explanation to address the question, “How do the environment and genetics influence the growth of caribou in the Arctic?” In this case, students address interdependent relationships in ecosystems (DCI-LS2.A-M1, DCI-LS2.A-M3) and inheritance of traits (DCI-LS3.A-M2), while constructing an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M3).
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, students watch a video segment showing the phenomenon of dry ice. The materials reference the phenomenon multiple times throughout the Engage, Explore, and Explain sections of the concept. This engagement is supported in the Teacher Notes, where the instructor is guided to elicit students’ prior knowledge and to help students make connections to the phenomenon. Throughout the concept, students consistently address matter and its interactions (DCI-PS1.A-M4), and construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M2, SEP-CEDS-M4).
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 were designed for students to solve problems in up to 10% of the lessons/activities compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 33% of the lessons or 13 of 40 concepts, focus on explaining phenomena.

Across the series, problems are found in several locations throughout the materials: Hands-on Activities, STEM Project Starters, and performance-based assessments. Performance-based assessments are not included in the calculations for the lessons, since those are considered summative assessments and occur at the conclusion of learning.

Within each concept, the Elaborate with STEM section contains a STEM in Action extension resource and two to four STEM Project Starters. STEM Project Starters may ask students to solve a design problem or explain a topic, concept, or phenomenon. Most units have at least one STEM Project Starter that is focused on solving a design problem. Within each concept, the Elaborate with STEM section contains two to four STEM Project Starters. The minimum suggested time estimate in the Model Lesson PDF corresponds to the minimum suggested time associated with the STEM in Action assignment, labeled as core interactive text (CIT), and interpreted to the be required component of this section. The maximum suggested time estimate allows for students to complete one or more STEM Project Starters. For example, in Grade 7, Unit 3: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, the Model Lesson PDF indicates that the Elaborate with STEM section requires 45-135 minutes of instructional time. The suggested time for the STEM in Action section is 45 minutes. There are an additional three STEM Project Starters: The Chemistry of Skunks (90 minutes), Wildfire! (90 minutes), and Chemical Engineering of Ice Packs (90 minutes). Because the suggested total time to complete all four activities within the Elaborate with STEM section is 315 minutes and the suggested range is 45-135 minutes, it cannot be assumed that all students will complete the Chemical Engineering of Ice Packs project or any of the other two options. As such, this design problem is not considered for scoring purposes since insufficient guidance is provided on which STEM Project Starters students will select or teachers will assign.

Hands-on Activities are typically found in the Explore section of each concept; some of these engage students in engineering design problems. A Student Investigation Sheet provides standardized questions across all the Hands-on Activities that focus on asking students to write questions, make predictions, plan, collect evidence, and support or refute their hypothesis related to their investigation. In few instances, the Hands-on Activities that engage students with design problems also provide an additional Engineering Design Sheet that provides standardized questions related to defining the problem, developing the solution, and optimizing the design. This Engineering Design Sheet is not consistently provided for all problem-focused Hands-on Activities.  

Across the series, the materials present anchoring phenomena at the opening of each unit and investigative phenomena in either the Engage or Explore sections of each concept. Both anchoring and investigative phenomena are present throughout most of the series and are introduced to students through a brief reading passage and a video segment or image. Frequently, students are engaged in answering a Can You Explain? question as it relates to the phenomenon. While the materials consistently identify a phenomenon for each unit and concept, several of the publisher-identified phenomena are actually scientific concepts, core ideas, or topics, rather than observable occurrences that engage students in asking questions to advance their own learning or explain the phenomena.

Examples of problems within the materials:

  • In Grade 7: Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy, Concept 2.1: How Matter Can Change, students design, construct and test a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy through chemical reactions. The materials provide both the Student Investigation Sheet and the Engineering Design Sheet for students to record their thinking during the activity.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Our Changing Climate, Concept 4.3: Reducing Human Impacts on the Environment, STEM Project Starter: Reducing Waste in My House, students define criteria and then design a process to help reduce the amount of trash that ends up in landfills. The materials provide the Engineering Design Sheet for students to record their thinking during the project before presenting their process to the class. This project is one of two projects in the Elaborate with STEM section of this concept where students are provided a problem to design a solution. The materials recommended 45-135 minutes of instructional time for the Elaborate with STEM section: STEM in Action (45 minutes for this Core Interactive Text), Reducing Waste in My House (45 minutes), and Cow Pollution (90 minutes), yet the suggested time to complete all three components totals 180 minutes. Based on the suggested instructional time, it cannot be assumed that all students will complete the same problem(s) within this lesson and as such, they are considered optional extension resources.

Examples of phenomena within the materials:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.1: Body Systems, Engage, students read a brief a passage, watch a short video, examine several images, and respond to several Technology Enhanced Items about the investigative phenomenon of their hearts racing when they are scared. Students define and identify the components of systems, explore how bodies sense and respond to their environments, and investigate how the body reacts to stress throughout the remainder of this instructional sequence.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, students read a brief passage, view an image of an erupting geyser, and respond to several guiding questions about the unit phenomenon, the Yellowstone supervolcano. Students investigate the San Francisco earthquake of 1989, the distribution of mineral resources throughout Earth, and how the availability of resources can shape a population throughout the subsequent instructional sequences.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, Concept 1.1: Particles in States of Matter, Engage, students watch videos of dry ice and liquid nitrogen and observe the changes in appearance when a match is burned. Students investigate the relationship between particles of matter, energy involved in phase changes, and chemical reorganization of matter.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, Concept 1.2: Energy for Launch, students watch a short video about rockets or experiment with their own rockets from a prior hands-on activity. Students investigate how mass and energy affect the acceleration of a rocket.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 4: Monitoring Biodiversity, students read a brief passage, watch a video, and answer several guiding questions about the unit phenomenon, sensing biodiversity from the sky. Students investigate the energy released from a supernova, the interactions of energy waves and matter, the relationship between solar energy and climate, and how remote sensing can provide datasets of large areas throughout the subsequent instructional sequences.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Across the series, the materials provide opportunities to elicit students’ prior knowledge or experiences of phenomena via Technology Enhanced Items (TEIs) embedded throughout the Engage section or at the close of each Engage section, through one or two Can You Explain? (CYE) questions. The materials generally repeat these items later on in the instructional sequence.

Across the series, Teacher Notes and Model Lessons consistently include commentary detailing what students should already know, along with common alternative conceptions related to phenomena. These sections also contain Connections to Student Lives, a scripted piece used to guide the initial discussion about the phenomenon. Overall, these sections are informational and, while they provide guidance for the elicitation of students’ prior knowledge and experiences, the materials do not provide supports to address the different entry points to learning possible in diverse student populations. Connections to Student Lives also does not provide strategies to connect back to student experiences, to build contextual relevance for students, or to address students’ alternative conceptions. When used as designed, the materials review and elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena and problems across the series in a way that allows them to make connections between what they are learning and their own knowledge.

Examples that elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior understanding of phenomena:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, Concept 1.2: The Cell as a System, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, cancerous tumor on a colon, is elicited in the Engage section with a CYE question, “What happens to the body when someone gets cancer?” Cancer is not directly addressed again until an assessment at the end of the Explore 2 lesson, and then the original CYE question is presented again in the Explain section. The associated teacher materials do not provide guidance to the teacher for the purposes of leveraging student responses to the initial or subsequent CYE questions.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 2: Causes of Weather, Concept 2.1: Energy Transfer in the Water Cycle, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, disappearing water from Lake Mead, is elicited in the Engage section by several TEIs about the water cycle and the CYE question, “How does energy transfer cause water levels to drop in Lake Mead?” The original CYE question is presented again in the Explain section. The teacher materials provide some guidance for discussion via a Teacher Note that instructs the teacher on how to engage students in the phenomenon in addition to the general discussion scripting in the Model Lesson. The remaining teacher materials do not provide any further guidance to the teacher for the purposes of leveraging student responses to the initial or subsequent CYE questions.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, Concept 2.1: How Can Matter Change?, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon and changes that occur in matter during combustion, is elicited in the Engage section by several TEIs describing the combustion of hydrogen and the CYE “How and why does matter change when it burns?” Students respond to the original CYE question again in the Explain section. The Model Lesson suggests that the teacher facilitate a conversation around student ideas; however, the learning activities that follow are not based on or driven by student responses.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, Concept 3.3: Interactions in Ecosystems, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, organism survival in Death Valley, is elicited in the Engage section by a teacher led discussion, several TEIs about population dynamics and energy flows, and the CYE question, “How do organisms survive in Death Valley, California?” The original CYE question is presented again in the Explain section. Teacher materials provide limited scripting to elicit student background knowledge through class discussion and students’ initial engagement with the phenomenon; however, no guidance is provided to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences.
  • In Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity: Concept 3.2: Evolution and Natural Selection, Engage: Finches and Famine, student prior knowledge of the investigative phenomenon, the change in beak size among a population of finches, is elicited in the Engage section by several TEIs about evolution and natural selection and the CYE question, “What is natural selection and how does it work?” Students respond to the original CYE question again in the Explain section. The Model Lesson elicits what students already know, but does not provide guidance to adjust further learning to leverage students’ prior knowledge or experiences.

Example of that elicits and leverages students’ prior knowledge and experiences to drive instruction, in few instances:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 2: Moving Planets, Concept 2.1: Observing Planetary Objects, students’ prior knowledge of the phenomenon, objects beyond our solar system, is elicited and leveraged in the Engage section as students engage in several TEIs exploring their understanding of the Sun-Earth-Moon system and then respond to the CYE question, “How do we obtain data about the properties of exoplanets and objects in our solar system?” Teacher Notes within the Engage section provide explicit instruction on how the teacher should address several misconceptions pertaining to scale and orbital motion. In Explore 1, the teacher is guided to have students evaluate their prior thinking against new evidence and incorporate the new evidence into a model of their thinking. Within the same section, teachers are guided to include students’ prior experiences in a discussion about modeling systems and to differentiate a graphing exercise based on students’ math skill level. This conceptual subunit provides explicit direction that supplements instruction to leverage the prior knowledge and experiences of students.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena or problems are utilized across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions.

Across the series, Anchor Phenomena are presented within the introduction of each unit generally in the form of a photograph or brief video, then followed by several guiding questions. While a variety of phenomena are present throughout the series at the unit level, there are no problems presented at the unit level across the series. Additionally, the materials provide an individual instance where a unit uses a phenomenon to drive student learning across multiple lessons or concepts. While not explicitly identified in the PDF or digital version of the Model Lesson (Lesson Overview, The Five Es, Teacher Preparation, or Assignments and Resources Tab), the materials do revisit the unit phenomena within the final STEM Project Starter in each concept. For example, in Grade 8, Unit 4: Monitoring Biodiversity, the Anchor Phenomenon is identified as Sensing Biodiversity from the Sky and the final STEM Project Starter in Concept  4.5 is Bringing Back from the Brink, a capstone project where students “explore the challenges presented in species restoration.” This project is one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign. The PDF of each Model Lesson states “STEM Project Starters provide additional real-world contexts that require students to apply and extend their content knowledge related to the concept. STEM Project Starters can also serve as an alternative instructional hook presented at the beginning of the learning progression. The project can then be revisited throughout and at the end of the 5E learning cycle for students to apply content knowledge.” However, most of the STEM Project Starters are identified in the Teacher Notes and the Model Lesson PDF as summative assessments.

Examples of units where phenomena do not drive student learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 6, Unit 1: Systems on Earth, the phenomenon is presented to students as an image of the Biosphere 2 habitat, with a brief paragraph describing the goals of the project and two guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit, there are no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials that make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Martian Biosphere, in Concept 1.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this “summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to see both the effects of sea level rise and the effects of saltwater inundation on plants” and the materials provide this as one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 3: Causes & Effects of Regional Climates, the phenomenon of different climate regions across the globe is presented to students via a map of annual average temperatures, with a brief statement describing observable patterns and several guiding questions. In Concept 3.1 of the unit, the phenomenon is loosely linked to the guiding question, “Why is the climate so different in different regions of the planet?” Throughout the remainder of the unit, no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Engineering a Better Banana, in Concept 3.4 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this is a “summative assessment that connects students with trait selection and the engineering of desirable traits in food and links these ideas with the climates where fruit is usually grown” and the materials provide this as one of two project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 6, Unit 4: Our Changing Climate, the phenomenon of global temperature changes between 1981 and 2017 is introduced to students via a map showing land and sea temperature increases above average temperatures and several guiding questions. In Concept 4.1: Causes of Climate Change, students read information about natural processes and human activities that affect global temperature. Throughout the remainder of the unit, no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Cow Pollution, in Concept 4.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this is a “summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to consider how cows influence atmospheric chemistry and asks students to design a solution to reduce their impact” and the materials provide this as one of two project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 1: Matter All Around, the phenomenon of two prosthetic legs made of different materials is presented to students as an image of an athlete holding his prosthetic leg and includes a short description of the unit learning targets and three guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials connect student understanding to the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, Engineered Materials for Better Living, in Concept 1.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this is a “summative assessment provides students the opportunity to research a material developed by scientists and engineers” and the materials provide this as one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 2: Matter Cycles and Energy Flow, the phenomenon, is presented to students as an image of an ocean beach and includes a brief description and three guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter, The Importance of Beaches, in Concept 2.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates that “students will explore how energy flows and matter cycles through beaches” and the materials provide this as one of two project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.
  • In Grade 7, Unit 3: Shaping Earth’s Resources and Ecosystems, the phenomenon of a supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park is presented to students as an image of an erupting geyser and includes a brief description and three guiding questions. Throughout the remainder of the unit no learning activities, lessons, or teacher materials help students make sense of the unit phenomenon until the final STEM Project Starter,The Yellowstone Supervolcano, in Concept 3.3 of the unit. However, the Teacher Note in the lesson indicates this “summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to research the effects of the Yellowstone volcano on the park’s ecosystem” and the materials provide this as one of three project options students can choose or teachers can assign, the anchor phenomenon is not driving the anchor phenomenon is not driving student learning across the unit.

One out of 12 units across the materials used phenomena to drive learning, but only within one of the four lessons.

Individual instance where a phenomenon drives student learning of all three dimensions within one lesson:

  • In the Grade 8, Unit 3: Life’s Unity and Diversity, the phenomenon of the end of the dinosaurs drives meaningful instruction of all three dimensions across an instructional sequence, but not across multiple lessons. In Concept 3.1: Earth’s History and the Fossil Record, Explore 2, students consider the phenomenon of why dinosaurs no longer exist on Earth as they engage in an evidence-based argument (SEP-ARG-M3) about the history of life on earth (DCI-ESS1.C-M1) with respect to the formation of fossils over different time scales (CCC-SPQ-M1). Students engage in making sense of the phenomenon in Concept 3.1, but in subsequent lessons do not connect back to the unit phenomenon.

One out of 12 units across the materials used phenomena to drive learning across multiple lessons and build student understanding of all three dimensions.

Individual instance where a phenomenon drives student learning of all three dimensions across multiple lessons:

  • In Grade 8, Unit 1: Objects Move and Collide, the phenomenon of the Antarctica impact crater drives meaningful instruction of all three dimensions across an instructional sequence involving multiple concepts. In Concept 1.1: Falling Objects, Explore 1, students explain how a space object falls to the earth (DCI-PS2.A-M2) as they collect and analyze data of moving objects and identify algebraic relationships (CCC-SPQ-M3, CCC-SPQ-M4) using digital tools (SEP-DATA-M1) to help them understand the unit phenomenon. In Concept 1.3: Colliding Objects, Explore 1, students define and analyze the energy transferred to Earth’s surface from an asteroid impact (CCC-SYS-M1) and design an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to collect and analyze data (SEP-MATH-M4) to determine how force and mass affect collisions (DCI-PS2.A-M1) to help them understand the unit phenomenon. Throughout the unit and across multiple concepts, students make sense of the Antarctic impact crater in meaningful ways using the three dimensions.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Science Techbook for California NGSS Middle School do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

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HMH Science Dimensions® Grades 6-8

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | Grades 6-8 | 2018 Edition

Sixth to Eighth

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. The materials partially meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning.

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The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Gateway 2: Coherence and Scope. The materials meet expectations that the materials are designed for coherence and include the full scope of the three dimensions.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include opportunities for students to learn and use three dimensions and consistently present opportunities for students to use SEPs for sense- making with DCIs, but do not consistently present opportunities for sense- making with the CCCs. There are some instances where students do not use either an SEP nor a CCC for sense- making with the other dimensions. The materials present three-dimensional learning objectives for the Explorations, but the formative tasks do not reveal student knowledge and use of three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives. Further, the materials do not provide support or resources for teachers to interpret and use student responses to modify instruction. Additionally, the materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives for learning sequences, but the summative tasks consistently do not completely measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they are consistently designed to integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) into student learning.

Overall, the materials consistently include the three dimensions at the lesson level and integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs into student learning opportunities. Within each disciplinary-specific module, the Teacher Edition provides an overview of the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs that are addressed in the lessons that make up a larger unit. The overview also details how individual lessons prepare students for mastery of two to three targeted NGSS Performance Expectations. Further, the materials include a digital NGSS Trace Tool that is intended to show instances of where the publisher intentionally designed learning opportunities addressing specific SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs.

Lessons are built around a 5E sequence, with the Engage section presenting the lesson-level phenomenon. Through the course of a typical lesson (three to four instructional periods, 45 minutes each), activities consistently build on each other to include all three dimensions by the final Evaluate section of the lesson. Additionally, every lesson includes digital-only resources, such as virtual labs and simulations (e.g., “You Solve It” simulations), which generally include the three dimensions.

Examples of student learning opportunities that integrate the three dimensions present in the materials:

  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 1: Inheritance, students use CCCs and SEPs to understand why there are variations of inherited traits between parents and offspring (DCI-LS3.A-M2). Students read about Mendel’s experiments on pea plants and observe a visual flow chart depicting phenotypic changes between parents and offspring over two generations (SEP-INFO-M2). Students construct an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) to illustrate the connections between Mendel’s observations of pea plants and his hypothesis regarding inheritance. Students then engage in a hands-on lab demonstrating how random pairings of alleles affect the genotype and phenotype of the offspring. Students perform a simulation (SEP-MOD-M5) to illustrate the connections between genotypes, phenotypes, and selection pressures (DCI-LS4.C-M1). Working with beads to represent alleles, they model multiple generations of fish that differ in body color under various environmental conditions. Students then use their interpretation from the simulation to predict (SEP-CEDS-M1) what would happen to the fish population after many generations in both an unchanged and changed environment (CCC-CE-M2).
  • In Module E: Earth’s Water and Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 2: Circulation in Earth’s Oceans, students explore factors that drive global ocean circulation. Students watch a video of global ocean currents and surface winds based on NASA satellite data (SEP-MOD-M5) and then answer questions related to patterns they observe (CCC-PAT-M4). Students then read about factors that affect surface currents (e.g., global winds, continental deflections, the Coriolis Effect) and analyze a map of global sea surface temperatures. To make connections between water temperature, density, and ocean circulation (DCI-ESS2.C-M4), students watch a video and record their observations of the effects of bottles of hot and cold water coming into contact (SEP-MOD-M5). Their observations are followed by a hands-on lab in which students design an investigation (SEP-INV-M1) to build a physical model (SEP-MOD-M4) demonstrating the relationships of temperature and salinity to the density of water (DCI-ESS2.C-M4). Students assess their observational data from their model for trends and use the trends as evidence to make claims (SEP-ARG-E4) about how temperature and salinity affect the density and circulation of ocean water (CCC-EM-M2, DCI-ESS2.C-M4). Finally, students consider how ocean circulation connects to broader patterns of matter and energy flows (CCC-PAT-M3, DCI-ESS2.D-M3) by using and creating models (SEP-MOD-M5) connecting global ocean circulation to the carbon cycle.  
  • In Module I: Energy and Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, You Solve It Simulation (Stand-Alone Activity; Digital Version Only): “How can you use the sun’s energy?”, students engage in a virtual simulation using the sun’s energy to heat two different volumes of water to specific temperatures and cook an egg (CCC-SYS-M2, DCI-PS3.B-M2). Students manipulate thermal conductivities and solar absorbance through different container materials (e.g., glass, clay, cast iron) and the amount of time the container is exposed to the sun (SEP-MATH-M5). Students use the data obtained through the simulation as evidence to generate and support claims (SEP-CEDS-M3) about why the parameters they chose were successful.
  • In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 3: Engineer it: Thermal Energy and Chemical Processes, students read about how different types of energy flow through systems, such as thermal energy moving around ice cubes on a kitchen counter (CCC-EM-M2, DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students watch videos of household items being combined (e.g., rock salt and ice; steel wool and vinegar) and the resulting changes in the solutions’ temperatures, to visualize how different chemical processes affect thermal energy in those systems (CCC-EM-M4, DCI-PS3.A-M5). Students read about other factors that can affect reaction rates, such as concentration of reactants or presence of catalysts, and use the information to sketch a model showing how thermal and chemical energy interact in a system of water and ammonium chloride (SEP-MOD-M4, DCI-PS1.B-M3). The lesson culminates with a hands-on lab in which students apply their knowledge of energy flows (CCC-EM-M3, CCC-SF-M2) as they conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M4). Students are challenged to design a chemical cold pack (SEP-CEDS-M6) and collect observational and temperature change data on the chemical processes that result from combining a variety of solid and liquid materials (e.g., baking soda, vinegar, ammonium chloride). The design and analysis activity enables students to choose which materials they would use in the design of their cold pack, and connects to understanding chemical reactions and their relationships to thermal energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are consistently designed to support meaningful student sensemaking with the three dimensions.

Within each disciplinary-specific module, the Teacher Edition provides an overview of the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs that are addressed in the lessons that make up a larger unit. The overview details how individual lessons prepare students for mastery of two to three targeted NGSS Performance Expectations. While the materials consistently include three dimensions throughout each 5E lesson-level learning sequence, in some lessons, students are not explicitly using all three dimensions for sensemaking processes. Students are clearly and frequently using the SEPs to develop their understanding of the DCIs. However, in some lessons, the students are not using CCCs to make sense with the DCI or SEP. There are other instances in which neither an SEP nor a CCC is incorporated to support students’ sensemaking with a DCI.

Examples of student opportunities for sensemaking with the three dimensions present in the materials:

  • In Module G: Earth & Human Activity: Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Reducing the Effects of Natural Hazards, students engage in a hands-on lab to develop and evaluate a mitigation solution for building new structures in a village located near a river that frequently overflows its banks after heavy rains. Students collaborate to undertake the engineering design process to define the problem (SEP-AQDP-M8). Students first identify mitigation needs that must be addressed by their solution, as well as, the relevant criteria and constraints (DCI-ETS1.A-M1).  Students brainstorm, evaluate, and test solutions using a table of various building materials and their characteristics to help determine which to use in their flood-resistant structure (CCC-SF-M2). As such, students are directly leveraging a CCC and SEP to make sense of how to design a solution to combat natural hazards (DCI-ESS3.B-M1).
  • In Module I: Energy and Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, You Solve It Simulation (Stand-Alone Activity; Digital Version Only): “How can you use the sun’s energy?”, students use SEPs and CCCs in a simulation to determine what materials should be brought on a backpacking trip when planning to use the sun’s energy to raise the temperature of water to cook food. Students manipulate the amount of time the material is exposed to the sun’s rays to make sense of how a model is used to represent energy inputs to a system (CCC-SYS-M2). Students then use the digital simulation to collect data to test and compare which materials and at what length of sun exposure, raise the temperature enough for two different volumes of water (SEP-MATH-M5). Engaging in both the CCC and the SEP deepens students’ understanding that the amount of energy transfer needed to change the temperature of a water sample to cook an egg depends on the nature of the matter, the size of the sample, and the environment (DCI-PS3.B-M2).
  • In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Thermal Energy and Chemical Processes, students model energy flow in a system by drawing arrows to show the direction of thermal energy transfer and explain the direction of energy flow in a device that warms food without using a flame or electricity is from warm to cold. In this activity, students use their understanding of energy transfer in a closed system (CCC-EM-M4) to make sense of thermal energy transfer (DCI-PS3.A-M3). Students test and collect data, including temperature change, about combinations of different household chemicals (e.g., vinegar, water, calcium chloride, baking soda) to determine which resulting chemical processes would be the most useful in designing a cold pack (SEP-CEDS-M6). By using scientific principles of energy transfer to test and evaluate data against design criteria (DCI-ETS1.B-M2), students make sense of heat as thermal energy is transferred between two objects of different temperatures (DCI-PS3.A-M3) and some chemical reactions release energy, while other chemical reactions store energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).

Examples of student opportunities where three dimensions are present, but only for sensemaking with two dimensions within a learning sequence:

  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 1: Inheritance, students engage in sensemaking with two dimensions to understand the foundations of genetic inheritance (DCI-LS3.A-M2). After students read about Mendel’s experiments on pea plants and the difference between dominant and recessive traits, they are asked to synthesize the information by constructing an explanation (SEP-CEDS-M4) about the connections between Mendel’s observations of pea plants and his hypothesis regarding inheritance. In a sidebar of the Teacher Edition, cause and effect is identified as the relevant CCC. However, while students observe the effects of cross-pollination through the previous activity, students are not directly using the CCC for sensemaking as they write their explanation.
  • In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 2: Earth Through Time, Lesson 2: Earth’s History, students’ sensemaking is not supported by SEPs or CCCs as they examine rock layers to determine relative ages (DCI-ESS1.C-M1). Students are provided with detailed images of an undisturbed set of rock layers, accompanied by statements regarding the timescale of each rock layer. They are asked to use the images as evidence to support each of the statements. While the answer guidance in the Teacher Edition states students’ answers should include an explanation of geologic changes that happened in the area, students are not directly asked to provide an explanation. This lesson does not include a CCC for student sensemaking.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Although the materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives at the Exploration level building toward the learning objectives of the larger learning sequence, the assessment tasks are not consistently designed to reveal student knowledge and use of the three dimensions to support the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives.

The materials contain multiple formative assessment tasks within lessons, at the end of each Exploration that result in a 5E lesson sequence. The tasks are embedded tasks located in the digital version of the Student Edition and as teacher prompts in the sidebar (labeled as Formative Assessment) in the print version of the Teacher Edition. However, the tasks do not consistently align with the stated learning objectives. A general pattern is evident in which formative assessment tasks address three dimensions when they are combined over the lesson.  The formative assessment tasks do not address the three dimensions for the Exploration-level learning objective, where the the task is located and as a result, some formative assessment tasks assess dimensions that are not part of the learning objective. In many instances, one of the three dimensions in the stated learning objective is not assessed.

The materials provide lesson-level formative assessment tasks in the form of quizzes, located in both the digital materials and print Assessment Guides. The quizzes are identically structured across modules, consisting of seven multiple choice and three open-ended questions. The quizzes do not consistently seek to elicit direct, observable evidence of students’ three-dimensional learning, as the majority are not designed to address CCCs. When CCCs are addressed in lesson quizzes, it is usually in one question.

The instructional materials do not incorporate tasks for purposes of supporting the instructional process. The materials do not provide teachers with adequate support or resources to interpret and use students’ responses to the formative assessment tasks to modify instruction. The materials provide teachers with sample student responses for both types of the formative assessment tasks described above, however, the materials do not provide teachers with guidance to support the instructional process, such as how to respond if the students do not produce the correct answers. Additional resources for reteaching certain concepts or additional strategies to support struggling students based upon assessment results is not evident.  

The Student Edition of the digital materials provides opportunities for diagnostic feedback to students during the course of instruction, but teachers’ ability to access the digital diagnostic materials is limited.

For example, several interactive questions throughout the lessons provide students with instant feedback in the form of a correct answer. The interactive questions provide students with instructional guidance when they have the wrong answer, in the form of a question or guiding hint. The teacher does not have a way of accessing this feedback or how students’ thinking may have changed over time. As an example, if a student only makes one attempt and it is wrong, the teacher can see their first incorrect answer and that there was not a second attempt. If the student gets the answer correct on the second try, the teacher only sees that the student got the answer correct, but does not see the original incorrect answer.

Examples of formative assessments that elicit student understanding, but do not address the three dimensions found in the learning objective:

  • In Module D: Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, Lesson 2: Patterns of Change in Life on Earth, Exploration 1: Analyzing Evidence about the History of Life, the three-dimensional learning objective is to “compare anatomical similarities and differences of organisms in order to construct explanations about how life forms have changed over time. They analyze the geologic time scale to identify patterns in data.” In the course of the exploration, students undertake multiple activities to learn about the patterns demonstrating understand of how life on earth has increased in complexity over time. The exploration culminates with a formative assessment task in which students analyze changes in morphological features of five different whale ancestors. Students answer questions about how the organisms’ pelvic bones changed over time and how their body structure relates to functions in different habitats (DCI-LS4.A-M2, CCC-PAT-M4). The task does not prompt students to use the focal SEP (SEP-CEDS-M3); students do not construct explanations. The Teacher Edition has a formative assessment sidebar accompanying this activity.  The sidebar includes guidance to adapt the activity for pair and whole class interactions by having students generate additional questions about whale ancestors and how their anatomy changed over time (SEP-AQDP-M1). Incorporating this suggestion makes the formative assessment task address three dimensions, but not the specific elements targeted in the Exploration’s learning objective.
  • In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 3: Earth’s Plates, Exploration 1: Analyzing Continental Data, the three-dimensional learning objective is to “gather evidence in order to analyze and interpret continental data. They then find patterns and construct an explanation of how Earth’s surface has changed over time. By investigating a variety of data, including scale models, students develop an understanding that Earth’s plates have moved great distances over time.” In the course of the exploration, students read and make observations about the multiple lines of evidence for tectonic plates. In the culminating formative assessment of the exploration, students are prompted to reconsider their initial ideas about whether the Earth’s continents have moved over time, given the evidence they have examined (SEP-DATA-M4, DCI-ESS2.B-M1). Although there are two CCCs identified in the learning objective (CCC-PAT-M3, CCC-SPQ-M1), neither are addressed in the formative assessment task.
  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 3: Plant Reproduction and Growth, the lesson level learning objective is to “explain how genetic and environmental factors affect the growth and reproduction of plants. Throughout the lesson, students gather evidence to explain how the structure of the sacred lotus flower contributes to the reproductive success of the plant.” The targeted dimensions for this lesson are two SEPs (SEP-CEDS-M3, SEP-ARG-M3), two elements of a DCI (DCI-LS1.B-M3, DCI-LS1.B-M4), and one CCC (CCC-CE-M3). The quiz for this lesson does not address these dimensions. The life science DCIs (DCI-LS1.B-M1, DCI-LS1.B-M2, DCI-LS1.B-M3) are addressed through one-dimensional multiple choice questions asking students to identify different concepts related to structures and characteristics of plants. The three open-ended questions on the quiz require students to write an explanation to demonstrate their understanding of the DCIs, therefore using a different element of one of the targeted SEPs (SEP-CEDS-M4). The other targeted SEP (SEP-ARG-M3) is never addressed. Although it is not identified in the Assessment Guide, the final question addresses three dimensions, given it also requires students to use the targeted CCC for the lesson (CCC-CE-M3) as they describe the causes for variation in growth of plantlets from the same plant. Overall, the quiz addresses three dimensions, but not all of the three dimensions included in the learning objective for this lesson.
  • In Module K: Forces, Motion & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motion, Lesson 4: Engineer It: Collisions between Objects, the lesson level learning objective is to “apply Newton’s laws of motion to design a solution that reduces the negative effects of a collision on an object. Throughout the lesson, students gather evidence to explain how Newton’s laws can be applied to protect a smartphone screen during a collision.” The targeted dimensions for this lesson are two SEPs (SEP-CEDS-M6, SEP-AQDP-M8), two DCIs (DCI-PS2.A-M1, DCI-ETS1.B-M2), one CCC (CCC-SYS-M2), and one engineering-related CCC (ENG-INFLU-M2). The quiz for this lesson does not address these specific dimensions. Two physical science DCIs (DCI-PS2.A-M1, DCI-PS2.A-M2) are addressed through one-dimensional multiple choice questions describing various scenarios involving physical motion.  Students are asked to identify the underlying forces of the physical motion. The three open-ended questions on the quiz require students to write an explanation or design a solution, therefore using one of the targeted SEPs (SEP-CEDS-M4, SEP-AQDP-M8) in tandem with demonstrating their understanding of the DCIs. One question requires students to use a CCC (CCC-SF-M2) as they work through a scenario involving selecting packing material to keep a fragile object from breaking. Overall, the quiz addresses three dimensions, but not the three dimensions of the learning identified in the objective for the lesson.

Examples of formative assessments that do not support the instructional process:

  • In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 2: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, Exploration 1: Analyzing the Chemistry of Cells, the formative assessment task is accompanied by a sidebar in the Teacher Edition providing a series of three questions related to the students’ task. For example, "In what direction is the arrow [in the photosynthesis chemical equation] pointing?". A single sample response is given for each question including student-facing formative assessment task questions, but no further guidance or instructional support is provided for teachers.
  • In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Unit Opener, the digital version of the materials provides a multiple-choice question for students: "Which statement describes the size of the moon’s shadow on Earth’s surface?". If the student selects the wrong answer and clicks check, the student is given conceptual guidance (“The moon’s diameter is 3,475 km. Compare that size to the diameter of the shadow shown on the map.”) and can try again. If they answer the question incorrectly a second time, the correct answer, “It is smaller than the actual size of the moon” is provided, along with explanatory text, "The shadow will vary in size, but it will always appear smaller than the actual moon" to support students’ understanding.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Although materials consistently provide three-dimensional learning objectives for learning sequences, the summative tasks are not consistently designed to measure student achievement of the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives.

The materials include several types of summative tasks in a consistent design across modules:

Lessons have an overall learning objective for the 5E sequence. Although the lesson-level learning objectives found on the Engage page are not specifically three-dimensional, the opening section of the Teacher Edition highlights the targeted three dimensions for each lesson. Each Exploration within the lesson has its own 3D Learning Objective as well. Lessons end with an Evaluate section in which students have the opportunity to explain the initial phenomenon presented in the Engage section, through a two-part prompt focused on claims, evidence, and reasoning. The Teacher Edition provides scoring guidelines for teachers to assess students’ answers to the prompts and lists the conceptual ideas students should have gathered from the lesson’s Exploration sections to use as evidence in their final explanation. Although these lesson-level assessments are consistently designed to measure student achievement of the lesson’s learning objective, they do not necessarily align to the specific three dimensions stated in the opening section of the lesson. The same SEP element (SEP-CEDS-M4) is consistently used across the materials and asks students to use evidence from the lesson to construct an explanation for the driving question.

Units are structured to prepare students for mastery of two to three performance expectations, and feature a table in the Teacher Edition outlining the targeted SEPs, DCIs, and CCCs for the unit, as well as, how they are addressed by each lesson within the unit. The Assessment Guide includes two alternate versions of 20-question Unit Tests and are purposefully designed to scaffold from one- and two-dimensional items to three-dimensional assessment tasks. For each item on the Unit Test, the Assessment Guide provides the targeted dimension(s), NGSS performance expectation, and a Webb’s Depth of Knowledge rating. For open-ended questions, multi-dimensional rubrics are provided to assess students' performance relative to each of the question's targeted dimensions. Across the materials, the majority of test items are multiple choice or short answer. There are numerous instances of Unit Test questions not relating to the listed dimension or performance expectation, nor to the unit’s three-dimensional learning objective. Additionally, individual items on Unit Tests are labeled as three-dimensional, but sometimes do not incorporate a CCC therefore making the item two-dimensional.

Each unit contains at least one Performance Task designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of students’ three-dimensional learning by requiring students to design a solution to a problem. All three dimensions are addressed as students engage in SEPs and use CCCs to make sense of the targeted DCIs. In contrast to the lesson-level Evaluate assessments and Unit Tests, which are generally three-dimensional but not always aligned to the stated three dimensions of the lesson’s learning objective, the Performance Tasks consistently align to the stated three dimensions of the unit’s learning objective.

At the module level, the Assessment Guide provides one Performance-Based Assessment, and some modules have additional Performance-Based Assessments that are digital only. Performance-Based Assessments give teachers opportunities to assess students’ understanding of key concepts from the module as they engage in a hands-on series of two to three tasks, either independently or collaboratively. The Performance-Based Assessments end with a three-dimensional set of analysis questions and clearly align to the stated learning objectives while consistently involving the three dimensions.

Finally, each module concludes with an End-of-Module Test, which is similar in structure to the Unit Tests, but are comprised of 40 items intended to address all of the focal performance expectations for the module. The Assessment Guides include two alternate versions of the tests, which are designed to consist primarily of one- and two-dimensional multiple choice or short answer items, with one or two open-ended three-dimensional assessment tasks. The Assessment Guide provides the targeted dimension(s), performance expectations, and a Webb’s Depth of Knowledge rating for each assessment question, with multi-dimensional rubrics provided for open-ended questions. Across the materials, the End-of-Module Test items vary in how they align with the targeted dimensions listed by the publisher and with the embedded dimensions of the focal performance expectations for the module.

Examples of assessments that address the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Module E, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Performance Task, students analyze authentic data to determine if a dam should be built in an area bordering Georgia and South Carolina. By completing the activity and describing the benefits and consequences of the dam, students are assessed on the three dimensions that align to the unit-level learning objectives (PE-MS-ESS2-4, MS-ESS2-6).
  • In Module H, Unit 1: Patterns in the Solar System, Performance Task, students design and construct a working model of the earth-sun-moon system and use the system to explain moon phases, eclipses, and seasons to a third-grade class. By completing the activity and describing their process of intentional design, students are assessed on the three dimensions that align to the unit-level learning objective (PE-MS-ESS1-1).
  • In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, the “Bone Detectives” Performance-Based Assessment consists of two tasks that are intended to address three different performance expectations (PE-MS-LS2-1, PE-MS-LS2-5, PE-ETS1-2). In the first task, students initially generate a hypothesis about the number and types of prey animals they expect to find in a barn owl pellet and what kind of resources are required by the different prey and and owl populations. After students dissect owl pellets in groups and identify the prey animals they found, students use their dissection notes as evidence to revisit their hypothesis and write a conclusion about the resources available to the owl that produced the pellet. In the second task, students use a provided time series of animal bones found in owl pellets in a cave to determine the fluctuations in biodiversity over time and evaluate different design options for a road that is planned to be constructed near the cave.
  • In Module J: Chemistry, the “Ice Cream Energy” Performance-Based Assessment consists of two tasks that are intended to address two different performance expectations (PE-MS-LS1-6, PE-MS-PS3-3). In the first task, students address a design challenge of creating a device to make ice cream using chemical processes and no electricity. Students conduct a series of investigations to determine which kind of salt they want to use in their device and the ideal ratio of ice to salt, using temperature data they collect during the investigations. Throughout the process, students document their design decisions and describe relevant criteria and constraints as they learn more about the chemical reactions that occur. In the second task, students critique the design of a hot box and cold box meant to keep picnic food at different temperatures, using chemical processes.
  • The End-of-Module Test A for Module A: Engineering & Science assesses students’ achievement in relation to the module’s focal performance expectations (PE-MS1-1, PE-MS-ETS1-2, PE-MS-ETS1-3, PE-MS-ETS1-4). Overall, the 40 questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCI-ETS1.A, DCI-ETS1.B, DCI-ETS1.C). Two- and three-dimensional items generally assess the embedded SEPs (SEP-AQDP, SEP-MOD, SEP-DATA, SEP-ARG) and CCC (ENG-INFLU) of the focal performance expectations, which are the same as those identified by the publisher for individual assessment tasks.

Examples of assessments that do not address the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives:

  • In Module B: Cells and Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Unit Test A does not assess students’ achievement in relation to the focal performance expectations that serve as the learning objectives for the unit (PE-MS-LS1-4, PE-MS-LS1-5, PE-MS-LS3-2). The 20 questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the unit (DCI-LS1.B-M1, DCI-LS1.B-M2, DCI-LS1.B-M4, DCI-LS3.A-M2, DCI-LS3.B-M1, DCI-LS3.B-M2), but do not address the targeted CCC (CCC-CE) or SEPs (SEP-MOD, SEP-ARG, SEP-CEDS). Of the four questions designed to assess cause and effect, only one question actually assesses cause and effect. Similarly, only one question on the assessment has students engaging in the stated SEP.
  • In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Unit Test A does not assess students’ achievement in relation to the focal performance expectations that serve as the learning objectives for the unit (PE-MS-ESS3-2, PE-MS-ETS1-1). The 20 questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the unit (DCI-ESS3.B-M1, DCI-ETS1.A), but do not address the targeted CCC (CCC-PAT) or SEPs (SEP-AQDP, SEP-DATA). Of the three questions that are designed to assess patterns, none of the questions actually assess patterns. Similarly, only one question on the assessment has students engaging in the stated SEP.
  • In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, the End-of-Module Test A assesses students’ achievement in relation to the module’s focal performance expectations (PE-MS-PS2-1, PE-MS-PS2-2, PE-MS-PS2-3, PE-MS-PS2-4, PE-MS-PS2-5), although not all of the SEPs (SEP-AQDP, SEP-INV, SEP-CEDS, SEP-ARG, NOS-BEE) and CCCs (CCC-CE, CCC-SYS, CCC-SC, ENG-INFLU) associated with these performance expectations are fully assessed. Overall, the 40 questions assess students’ understanding of the relevant DCIs for the module (DCI-PS2.A, DCI-PS2.B). However, one-third of the questions identified as two-dimensional by the publisher were only one-dimensional, with three additional questions only partially relating to the stated SEP or CCC. Additionally, the only item that is identified by the publisher as three-dimensional does not address the listed CCC (SYS-M2), so therefore is only two-dimensional.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials incorporate lesson-level phenomena that consistently connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs, but the materials do not present phenomena and problems as directly as possible. The materials consistently incorporate lesson-level phenomena that drive student learning and use of the three dimensions within individual lessons. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 15% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 85% of the lessons. The materials consistently elicit students' prior knowledge but do not support teachers to use student responses to modify instruction. The materials do not incorporate phenomena that drive student learning and use of the three dimensions across multiple lessons.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas or their elements. Across the materials, each lesson begins in a consistent pattern with a Can You Explain It? prompt. The prompt presents a phenomenon (or occasionally, a problem) and the prompt is revisited during the 5E lesson sequence. Throughout lessons, prompts for students to collect evidence from each learning activity enable them to make specific connections related to the driving question. All lessons culminate in a Lesson Self Check.  Students use elements of the disciplinary core ideas addressed in the learning activities to explain why or how the phenomenon or problem occurred.

Examples of Can You Explain It? lesson-level phenomena that connect to grade-band disciplinary core ideas present in the materials:

  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 4: Information Processing in Animals, the phenomenon of reaction to motion is presented in the lesson, driven by the central question, "Why is it so difficult to catch a fly?" Students learn how animals process information - specifically electromagnetic and mechanical receptors detect light and motion signals, which then travel along nerve cells to the brain sending a message for muscles to move (DCI-LS1.D-M1). Students transfer this knowledge to explain how a fly uses various body parts to detect and avoid motion (DCI-LS1.A-M3).
  • In Module G: Earth & Human Activities, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards,  Lesson 1: Natural Hazards, the phenomenon presented is a city that is suddenly buried. The lesson is driven by the question, “How was this city suddenly buried without warning?”. Students investigate causes and evidence of various types of natural hazards (e.g., floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions) and use data to make predictions regarding their occurrence and impacts (DCI-ESS3.B-M1). In revisiting the phenomenon, they use the picture of the ash-covered city to explain it was likely the result of a volcanic eruption.
  • In Module L: Waves & Their Applications, Unit 2: Information Transfer, Lesson 3: Communication Technology, the phenomenon presented is differences in clarity of images from space. The lesson is driven by the question, “Why is the image sent from Mars clearer than the image sent from the moon?”. Through the lesson, students learn how visual and auditory information can be encoded as wave signals. In their explanation to address the lesson’s driving question, students incorporate the concept of the quality of signal transmissions is higher in a digital format relative to analog format (DCI-PS4.C-M1) and has improved over the centuries as technology has advanced.

Across the majority of the materials, problems are addressed in a variety of learning activities outside of the lesson-level Can You Explain It? driving questions. Every lesson includes at least one Engineer It opportunity, which allows students to practice discreet engineering skills and relate them to the relevant conceptual knowledge of the lesson’s DCIs. The Unit Performance Tasks, one for each unit, present a content-related problem for which students need to design a solution. The You Solve It simulations, one or two per module, also present students with a problem to solve through comparing and analyzing different design solutions in a digital environment. The exception to this pattern is Module A: Engineering & Science, in which the majority of the lessons’ Can You Explain It? prompts, Unit Performance Tasks, Unit Projects, and You Solve It simulations are problem based. The two units in this module are meant to address the four engineering design performance expectations and do not make explicit connections to other DCIs.

Examples of problems that connect to grade-band disciplinary core ideas present in the materials:

  • In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Unit Performance Task, students undertake research to define the criteria and constraints related to the problem of vermicomposting at their school. As students engage in the engineering design process, students apply what they have learned in the unit about energy flow and cycling of matter (LS2.B-M1) to the closed vermicomposting system.
  • In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 2: Natural Selection, an Engineer It activity describes how artificial selection has been used to increase crop production. Students consider how artificial selection can be used to address the problem of pesticide runoff polluting groundwater, and compare natural selection and artificial selection as they consider solutions (DCI-LS4.B-M2).
  • In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Properties and Equations, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Thermal Energy and Chemical Processes, students design a chemical cold pack to solve the problem of having a small, portable cold pack to use in case of injury on a hike. In designing the cold pack through the engineering design cycle, students apply their understanding of chemical reactions (DCI-PS1.B-M1) and resulting changes in thermal energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Across the series, the phenomena and occasional problems that are used to drive instruction are at the lesson level and are introduced through a Can You Explain It? in the opening Engage section of each 5E lesson sequence.

Phenomena and problems are often introduced or presented using a still photograph. Opportunities for students to have more direct or even first-hand experience with the phenomenon are absent. Some of the phenomena lend themselves to being recreated for direct student engagement and allow students to have a common experience and entry into learning.

Examples of phenomena and problems that are not presented as directly as possible:

  • In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Maintaining Biodiversity, students are presented with a problem through the driving question, “How can biodiversity be maintained in the Everglades without shutting humans out of this endangered ecosystem?”. The problem is introduced through a still photo of a manatee that is visibly close to human built structures.  The photo includes an explanation about the manatee being one of many endangered species in the Everglades.
  • Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, Lesson 1: The Fossil Record is focused on the phenomenon of how fossils enable an understanding about the morphology and ecology of extinct species. The phenomenon is introduced with a video about how scientists have used fossils of extinct whales to reconstruct what the whale species looked like. While the unit phenomenon is presented as directly as possible, the remaining seven lessons in Module D introduce the lesson-level phenomena with only still images.
  • In Module L: Waves & Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 1: Introduction to Waves, the phenomenon is presented as a still photo of a person’s finger pointed towards a line of dominoes that are beginning to fall. A Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Edition suggests providing students with dominoes and having them observe what happens when they create their own row of falling dominoes. However, this prompt is not included in the digital version of the materials.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Each lesson begins with a Can You Explain It? section, which presents the phenomenon or problem through a driving question accompanied by questions for students to address. As students proceed through the lesson activities, they gather evidence in their Evidence Notebook to support their understanding of the opening phenomenon or problem. There are two Evidence Notebook prompts embedded within the Explore/Explain segments of the lesson. Students consistently apply the three dimensions to gather evidence and make sense of the phenomenon or problem. Some prompts engage students in only two dimensions, but the three dimensions are addressed throughout the lesson activities and in the last Evidence Notebook entry. At the end of the lesson, students revisit the phenomenon or problem in a Lesson Self-Check and write an explanation of the phenomenon or problem using a claim-evidence-reasoning format.

There are two limitations noted across the materials. Due to the design of the Can You Explain It? format for lessons, students consistently engage in the same SEP (SEP-CEDS-M4) in the Lesson Self Check by using evidence from the lesson to explain the phenomenon or problem. Additionally, the Can You Explain It? sections that introduce the driving question for the lesson consistently ask students specific, close-ended questions related to the focal phenomenon or problem.

Examples of phenomena and or problems driving student learning at lesson or activity level using the three dimensions:

  • In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 1: Matter and Energy in Organisms, students are presented with a time-lapse video of decomposing fruit as their phenomenon. The question, “What happened to the matter and energy that were in these fruits when they were first picked?” drives students’ three-dimensional learning throughout the lesson pertaining to energy in the bonds of food molecules and how organisms at different trophic levels obtain and use energy (DCI-LS1.C-M2, DCI-LS2.B-M1, CCC-EM-M2, SEP-INFO-M1, SEP-ARG-E4). Students conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M4) to directly model (CCC-SYS-M2) the decomposition of fruits in different substrates (DCI-LS2.B-M1), and finally discuss how the cycling of matter relates to energy transfer (DCI-LS2.B-M1, CCC-EM-M2, SEP-CEDS-M3).
  • In Module D: Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 1: Genetic Change and Traits, the phenomenon of blue lobsters is presented and the lesson is driven by the question, “How can a change to just one gene cause a lobster to be blue?”. This question drives students’ learning about DNA, genes, proteins, and how they impact organisms’ phenotypes (DCI-LS3.B-M1, DCI-LS3.A-M2). In the lesson, students create a physical model (SEP-MOD-M5) to understand how amino acids determine the shape of a folded protein (CCC-SF-M1), which they connect to the phenomenon. As students further investigate how genetic mutations occur and can be inherited, they add this new understanding to explain the phenomenon (SEP-CEDS-M4).
  • In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Reducing the Effects of Natural Hazards, students consider the problem of how to reduce harmful effects of flooding in communities. The problem drives students’ learning about research-based strategies (CCC-INFLU-M2) to mitigate various natural hazards (DCI-ESS3.B-M1). They use these strategies to develop a flood mitigation plan using engineering design principles (DCI-ETS1.A-M1), and then explain how their plan helps to solve the problem (SEP-CEDS-M4).
  • In Module H: Space Science, Unit 1: Patterns in the Solar System, Lesson 2: Seasons, students consider the phenomenon of shorter days in winter. The question, “Why is winter cold with shorter days than summer?” drives student learning about how earth’s shape, angle on its axis, and orbit cause seasonal variations (DCI-ESS1.B-M2). Through the lesson activities, students create a variety of models and use interactive simulations (SEP-MOD-M4) of the sun and earth to explore seasonal patterns (CCC-PAT-M3). This lesson also incorporates mathematical and computational thinking (SEP-MATH-E2) from the prior grade-band to explore how sunlight varies in concentration on a surface, depending on its relative angle.
  • In Module I: Energy and Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Transforming Potential Energy, students are presented with a video showing the phenomenon of two balls dropped from different heights. The lesson is driven by the question, “Why do these two balls bounce differently?”. Students design a toy (SEP-MOD-M7) to demonstrate potential energy to a younger child. As they learn about different types of potential energy and undertake an engineering design cycle to create their toy, they revisit the phenomenon to consider how a system (CCC-SYS-M2) can be adjusted to change the amount of potential energy (DCI-PS3.A-M2) to make a ball bounce higher or lower.
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The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 are designed for students to solve problems in an average of 15% of the lessons across the series (14 of 92 lessons) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Across the series, approximately 85% of the lessons ask students to explain phenomena.

Across the 11 modules that cover the life sciences, earth & space sciences, and physical sciences disciplines the units are generally structured similarly in how they present phenomena and problems and the instructional time spent on each. The Can You Explain It? prompts at the beginning of each lesson present a photograph of a phenomenon or a problem, and a question intended to drive students’ learning through the lesson. Within each lesson, approximately 24% of the instructional time is related to introducing or revisiting the Can You Explain It? phenomenon or problem. Modules G, I, J, and K each contain two Engineer It lessons, which focus on problems rather than phenomena.

Module A: Engineering & Science focuses specifically on the intersection of engineering and science.  It is made up of two units (six lessons) that address the four engineering design Performance Expectations. In contrast to the other modules, the Can You Explain It? prompts within this module are largely focused on solving problems through engineering design rather scientific phenomena. 

Examples of problems listed in the series:

  • In Module A: Engineering and Science, problems focus on solving questions such as, “How can you define the need to build an exciting, but safe, roller coaster as an engineering design problem?” and “How can you determine the best way to keep plates from breaking on hard floors?”. Both units’ Performance Tasks involve conducting research related to solving defined problems such as: “What is the best feature for a new pool entry ramp?”. The Unit Projects also focus on problems by prompting students to research and design a solution to a problem at their school. Additionally, in the You Solve It simulations, students act as the shipping manager for a Korean company that builds battery-powered cars. They modify different financial variables in order to recommend a strategy for transporting the cars in a time- and cost-efficient way.
  • In Module F: Geologic Processes and History, one of the unit-level Performance Tasks includes an engineering design challenge to solve a problem by inquiring, “What is the best location for a new bridge?”.
  • In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, the Unit Performance Task entails an engineering design challenge to solve a problem where students design a seating area for an outdoor play production with no microphones. Additionally, the You Solve It simulation is designed for students to solve a problem by analyzing ocean wave data by proposing the best location to build a wave energy generator farm.


Examples of phenomena listed in the series:

  • In Module F: Geologic Processes and History, the lesson level Can You Explain It? prompts include phenomena associated with the driving questions, “How was the rock in this image of the Grand Canyon formed and shaped over time?” and “How do we know when these ancient animals [pictured in images from Dinosaur Provincial Park] lived?”.
  • In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Can You Explain It? prompts include phenomena associated with driving questions, “How can a map of the seafloor be generated using mechanical waves?” and “Why does the same room lit with the same flashlight look different in these photos [in which the light is shone on different surfaces]?”.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Materials consistently elicit, but do not leverage, students’ prior knowledge and experiences in the Can You Explain It? section that introduces the phenomenon or problem during the Engage phase of each lesson. These prompts encourage students to describe their prior knowledge and experiences related to a phenomenon or problem, or prompt teachers to do so, but support for the teacher to build on students’ responses during subsequent instruction is absent.

The materials do not provide opportunities for follow-up prompts for teachers to leverage students' knowledge and experiences as students make sense of phenomena or problems.  

Examples of eliciting, but not leveraging students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems:

  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 1: Levels of Organization in Organisms, the lesson-level Can You Explain It? phenomenon asks students to consider how the digestive tract of a cow and a worm can have the same function with such different structures. The Collaboration section in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition, prompts the teacher to direct students to talk with a partner about what the two systems have in common and how each organism’s diet might affect the way the system is structured. Students’ prior knowledge of these organisms’ diets and how a digestive system works is elicited. The Alternative Engage Strategy section in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition has students list known body systems, parts of each system, and the functions of each part. While this activity elicits students’ prior knowledge of human body systems, prior knowledge is not leveraged throughout the lesson.
  • In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 3: Earth’s Plates, the lesson-level Can You Explain It? prompts students to consider how an island off the coast of Japan could have formed overnight. Students’ prior knowledge is elicited by asking students more specifically if this phenomenon could “happen anywhere, or might there be something special about the location that made it possible?". Additionally, the Collaboration section in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition prompts the teacher to show students a video (included in the digital version of the materials) of the island emergence and discuss as a whole class “in order to assess prior knowledge.” Through the course of the lesson, students accumulate and record evidence that they use to revisit their explanation at the end, but there are not opportunities in the materials to share or leverage their initial thinking.
  • In Module L: Waves & Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 4: The Behavior of Light Waves, the lesson-level Can You Explain It? phenomenon is about why the amount and quality of light from a flashlight in a dark room changes depending on the surface on which it is shone. The accompanying question to students elicits their prior knowledge about the phenomenon by asking, “What could explain how the same light source in the same room can produce such different results?”. There is also an Alternative Engage Strategy in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition that prompts teachers to ask students to observe the source and amount of light in their classroom. Students write an explanation about how varying amounts of light impacts how objects appear. Through the course of the lesson, students accumulate and record evidence to use as they revisit their explanation at the end.  Opportunities to share or leverage initial thinking are not evident. 
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Across the materials, Unit Openers are intended to present unit-level phenomena, while Unit Projects are designed to present phenomena and problems. The Unit Openers are found in the digital materials at the beginning of each unit and are designed to introduce a phenomenon through a picture or short video, followed by an interactive activity. However, they present a fact or idea related to the disciplinary core ideas in the upcoming unit ahead, as opposed to provoking student questioning and engagement through a phenomenon. Additionally, the Unit Openers are not revisited throughout the unit, nor do they challenge students to use and build knowledge by engaging in the three dimensions.

The Unit Projects follow the Unit Openers at the beginning of each unit. Some of the Unit Projects are focused on problems, while the majority are intended to focus on phenomena. However, the topics of the projects  are not consistently centered around an observable event, do not lead to students’ sensemaking related to the three dimensions, nor do they allow for students to pursue their own questions. Instead, the projects follow a general structure of students conducting research on a topic related to the focal DCIs for the unit, in service of activities related to the predefined project topic. Although the Unit Projects consistently address the three dimensions, they do not drive student learning, as they are not explicitly incorporated into subsequent lessons. After the Unit Projects are introduced at the beginning of the unit, they are briefly revisited in the print version of the Teacher Edition in a sidebar on the first page of each lesson within the unit; the Unit Projects are not incorporated into the digital version of the lessons for either teachers or students.

Examples of Unit Openers that do not address the three dimensions, nor embed phenomena to drive learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, the Unit Opener for students presents a video and images of different organisms that live in the Sonoran Desert. There are brief descriptions of the relationships between these organisms and an overview paragraph on the concepts addressed in the next unit. No questions are posed in relation to the Sonoran ecosystem for students to answer, and it does not drive learning across the unit's lessons; other ecosystems such as forests and rivers are used as examples instead.
  • In Module K: Forces, Motions, and Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motion, the Unit Opener for students presents a video and images of people engaged in a variety of athletic activities (e.g., ice skating, parkour, rowing). There is a brief description about how sports and other everyday activities involve a variety of forces and motion, both observable and unobservable (DCI-PS2.A, DCI-PS2.B). No questions are posed in relation to the athletic activities for students to answer, and it does not drive learning across the unit's lessons; other phenomena are used at the lesson level instead.

Examples of Unit Projects that address the three dimensions, but do not drive students’ learning across multiple lessons:

  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 1: Cells, the Unit Project is “Analyze Bioindicators to Assess Water Quality”. Through carrying out the project, students research microorganisms in healthy and polluted water, and investigate a local water sample (SEP-INV-M4). With the sample, students use the microorganisms they identify and distinguish from non-living organisms under a microscope as evidence for the quality of the sample (SYS-PAT-M3, DCI-LS1.A-M1). Students complete a worksheet that summarizes their findings and use their research as evidence to support their claim about the quality of the water sample.  Students have the option to create a poster communicating what they discovered. The other lessons within the unit do not build towards or support student completion of the project, only the print version of the Teacher Edition makes reference to the Unit Project at the start of each lesson.
  • In Module L: Waves & Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, the Unit Project is “Design Wave Interactions”. Through carrying out the project, students conduct research and build a model (SEP-MOD-M6, CCC-SYS-M2) to minimize the effects of a type of wave on people (e.g., soundproofing a house to minimize the effects of a sound wave). Students complete a worksheet that summarizes their findings, and use their research as evidence to support their claim about how their model demonstrates the effects of minimizing the wave type for their chosen problem (DCI-PS4.A-M1, DCI-PS4.A-M2). The other lessons within the unit do not build towards or support student completion of the project, and only the print version of the Teacher Edition makes reference to the Unit Project at the start of each lesson.
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The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations for Criterion 2a-2g: Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions. The materials do not inappropriately include science content and ideas from outside the grade-band DCIs. The materials include all DCI components and all elements for physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The materials include all SEPs and nearly all elements, except are missing one element from Asking Questions and Defining Problems and one element from Engaging in Argument from Evidence. The materials include all CCCs and nearly all elements are fully addressed. Further, the materials incorporate multiple instances of nature of science connections to SEPs and DCIs and engineering connections to CCCs. However, the materials do not connect the dimensions from unit to unit in a way that is visible to students, do not provide a suggested sequence, and include instances of SEPs and DCIs presented in a scientifically inaccurate manner. Additionally, while the materials meet expectations for Gateway 2 in terms of aggregate scoring, they do not meet indicator 2b, which is a nonnegotiable and prevents the materials from being reviewed for Gateway 3.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they connect the dimensions from unit to unit. Across the materials, some connections are made for teachers between the DCIs (and occasionally SEPs or CCCs) in the Build on Prior Knowledge section of each lesson in the Teacher Edition. SEPs and CCCs are otherwise not connected across lessons, units, or modules. There is a missed opportunity to utilize structures in the materials that would support teachers and students in making these connections. For teachers, the Connections to Other Disciplines section at the beginning of each unit in the Teacher Edition lists the page numbers on which Connections prompts can be found in the sidebar of the Teacher Edition. The majority of these explain a connection to another discipline for the teacher but do not include instructions to prompt students to make connections from any previous lessons, units, or modules. The Unit Connection section provides three research prompts for students to complete that connect the unit to other disciplines. While this recurring structure engages students in a specific learning activity, it consistently involves a research project that draws on DCIs from two different disciplines, rather than addressing all three dimensions. For students, the digital version of the materials provides occasional Tip Boxes that provide them the opportunity to read about an SEP or CCC that is being used in that exploration. While the Tip Boxes provide information or considerations for the student as they engage in a particular SEP or CCC, they do not help connect student learning of the SEPs or CCCs from unit to unit.

Examples where the materials make connections for teachers, but do not help students see the connections:

  • In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, the first three lessons focus on the same DCI (DCI-LS1.A) and students build knowledge across the DCIs using the same SEP (SEP-ARG) and CCC (CCC-SYS). In Lesson 1: Levels of Organization in Organisms, the Build on Prior Knowledge section in the Teacher Edition suggests that students should already know and be prepared to build on their knowledge of two DCIs about cells and cellular structures (DCI-LS1.A-M1, DCI-LS1.A-M2). Although these DCIs are addressed in the previous unit, this is not specifically referenced. Additionally, across the three lessons, the materials do not provide instructions to teachers to help students make connections from any previous lessons, units, or modules.
  • In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 2: Resources in Earth Systems does not demonstrate evidence of connecting to the previous unit on natural hazards. In Lesson 1: Natural Resources, the Build on Prior Knowledge section in the Teacher Edition suggests that students should already know and be prepared to build on their knowledge of a DCI (DCI-LS2.A-M1) that relates organisms to their environmental factors. This DCI is addressed in a different module (Module C, Unit 2, Lesson 1), which is referenced in this section. A CCC related to energy flow in a system (CCC-EM-M4) is also listed in the section, and is also referenced as being addressed in a different module (Module C, Unit 1, Lesson 3). Additionally, although Lesson Two: The Distribution of Natural Resources builds on the previous lesson, the materials do not provide instructions to teachers to help students make connections from any previous lessons, units, or modules.

Examples of missed opportunities for supporting teachers and students in connecting SEPs or CCCs between units:

  • In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 2: States of Matter and Changes of State, the Unit Connections section lists specific interdisciplinary connections to health, art, and earth science. The earth science connection describes how volcanic islands are formed and prompts students to describe the role different states of matter play in volcanic eruptions and island formation. However, it does not provide supports for teachers to help students make connections between units or modules.
  • In Module J: Chemistry, three Tip Boxes in the digital version of the student materials focus on the modeling SEP. In Unit 2: States of Matter and Changes of State, Lesson 1: States of Matter, Develop a Model describes various reasons that models are developed in science and references an interactive question in which students “describe and draw a model to explain the arrangement and motion of particles in a solid, liquid, and gas.” In Unit 2: States of Matter and Changes of State, Lesson 2: Changes of State, Use a Model describes how models can be used in science and references an animation in which students see how a substance changes state based on the amount of thermal energy present. In Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 2: Chemical Equations, Use a Model describes how models can be used to communicate information or describe a system, but does not reference molecular models of chemical formulas. Although the content of these boxes differ, they do not reference the other boxes or connect students’ engagement in or understanding of modeling over time.
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The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they have an intentional sequence where student tasks increase in sophistication. The materials are not designed with an intentional sequence, nor do they provide a suggested sequence for modules. In the Teacher Edition, the introduction to each lesson contains a Build on Prior Knowledge section that describes concepts students should be prepared to build on. There are occasional references to other modules, units, or prior K-5 grade levels, but this is not consistent throughout the materials. The references to other modules and units that are present in this section seem to assume that the modules are being completed in a particular sequence, but guidance on a suggested sequence is not provided.

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The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they present DCIs, SEPs, and CCCs in a way that is scientifically accurate. Although the materials generally present most of the dimensions in a scientifically accurate way, some of the dimensions are occasionally presented in a scientifically inaccurate way. For example, the practice of modeling is misrepresented multiple times throughout the materials; having students look at maps or images is not an accurate way to engage them in the SEP, Developing and Using Models. Additionally, the materials include a few inaccuracies, including instances in which a DCI is presented in an inaccurate way that can fuel student misconceptions, and one minor error.

Instances of SEPs presented inaccurately:

  • In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 2: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, the lesson-level learning objective is for students to “develop a model to explain the conservation of energy and matter in the chemical processes that all organisms perform to sustain life.” Developing and using models is also highlighted in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition next to the lesson’s culminating activity in which students label a diagram that relates photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Components and outputs such as a chloroplast, mitochondrion, and energy are already in the diagram, as well as arrows between the components. This is an inaccurate use of this SEP, as developing and using models goes beyond providing a visual representation of a system and asking students to label the component parts.
  • In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 1: Genetic Change and Traits, part of the lesson-level learning objective is for students to “use a model to understand that genes are located on chromosomes, and they contain the instructions for the production of proteins.” Developing and using models is highlighted in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition next to the opening activity in which students are provided with an image of DNA connected to a chromosome, which is connected to a cell nucleus; each component is accompanied by a brief descriptive caption. The sidebar prompts teachers to inform students that this illustration is a simplified representations of genetic material in a cell, and then encourage students to explore models of DNA and chromosomes using Internet medical library sources. This is an inaccurate use of this SEP, as students are not directly using the provided model. Additionally, the sidebar information is not included in the digital version of the Teacher Edition and thus could be easily missed.
  • In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, End of Unit Assessment Test A, Question 14, students are given a map image of the Pacific Ring of Fire with the locations of volcanoes marked on the map and asked how they can use this "model" to "predict patterns of volcanic activity" and "represent the history of volcanic activity." While this question accurately addresses the target DCI (DCI-ESS3.B-M1) and CCC (CCC-PAT-M4) identified in the assessment guide, the map showing data is not a model. The practice in which students are engaging as they answer this question would be more accurately characterized as Analyzing and Interpreting Data (SEP-DATA-M2).

Instances of DCIs presented inaccurately:

  • In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Transforming Potential Energy, Exploration 3: Testing, Evaluating, and Optimizing a Device, a formative assessment prompt in the Teacher Edition of the materials has the potential to reinforce student misconceptions and misses key DCIs targeted by this lesson and unit (DCI-PS3.A-M2, DCI-PS3.C-M1). Students are asked to consider how energy to a system of a balloon-powered boat in a tub of water could be lost without moving the boat. The sample answer provided to the teacher states that "By adding more air, more potential energy is added to the system…" but does not address the idea that potential energy is stored in the expanding elastic material of the balloon (which is an idea addressed in Exploration 1 of the lesson) which may lead to an inaccurate student understanding of this idea.
  • In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 1: The Structure of Matter, Lesson 1: The Properties of Matter, Exploration 2: Measuring Volume and Density, a formative assessment prompt in the Teacher Edition of the materials directs students to model expansion of an object without changing its mass, specifically by using putty or modeling clay. The prompt directs the teacher to ask students to consider what happens when they stretch the putty. This is then followed by a question that implies that students can connect the experience of stretching putty to a decrease in density because the volume has increased. However, simply stretching putty or modeling clay does not change its volume.
  • In Module K: Forces, Motion & Fields, Unit 2: Electric and Magnetic Forces, Lesson 2: Electric Forces, the images that are meant to illustrate the idea of the conservation of charge (DCI-PS2.B-M1) promote a scientific inaccuracy that has the potential to reinforce student misconceptions. The first picture shows a person rubbing a balloon against her head, with three negative and two positive charges while the person’s hair has three positive and two negative charges. The second picture shows that both the positive and negative charges move, which is inaccurate since only the electrons (negative charges) should move. The accompanying captions correctly state what has happened in the images in regards to the conservation of charge.

Instance of a minor error present in the materials:

  • In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 3: Light Waves, Exploration 2: Analyzing Human Perception of Light Waves, Question 10, the online interactive text incorrectly tells students that changing wavelength and frequency "changes the amplitude" (the print version and answer key have the correct answer). Amplitude does not depend on these properties.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that they do not inappropriately include scientific content and ideas outside of the grade-band DCIs. Although there were instances throughout the materials of learning activities extending outside the grade-band DCIs, they are in service of appropriate learning goals, such as preparing for above grade-band DCIs or a more rigorous application of a below grade-band SEP. These instances generally do not distract from the focal grade-band DCI being addressed in a given learning activity; the single example in which the materials inappropriately addressed a high school grade-band DCI is noted below.  

Examples of learning activities that include but appropriately address DCIs outside the grade band:

  • In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, Lesson 2: Patterns of Change in Life on Earth, a formative assessment prompts students to write a series of logical steps to use fossil record evidence to infer the type of climate that existed during the Carboniferous Period. Although this activity draws from content that is considered part of the elementary grade-band (DCI-LS4.A-E2), the Teacher Edition of the materials directs the teacher to allow students to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each argument (SEP-ARG-M2). As such, students are able to more rigorously engage with content that is below the grade band.
  • In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 1: Introduction to Energy, students identify the transfers and transformations of energy necessary to operate technology or an appliance that they use regularly. This draws on content related to the movement of energy (DCI-PS3.A-E2) and the transfer of energy by electric currents to produce motion, sound, heat, or light (DCI-PS3.B-E3), which are both elements from the elementary grade band. However, this activity helps to launch a lesson and unit; students then build upon these initial ideas in subsequent learning activities.

Learning activity that inappropriately addresses a DCI outside the grade band:

  • In Module K: Forces, Motions & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motion, Lesson 3: Newton’s Law of Motion, students engage in a series of learning activities that address acceleration in a way that goes beyond the relevant middle school grade-band DCIs (DCI-PS2.A-M2, DCI-PS2.A-M3). Although Newton’s Laws of Motion are addressed in these DCIs, the assessment boundary for the relevant PE (PE-MS-PS2-2) makes it clear that these ideas should be explored in qualitative terms, not mathematical terms. However, the materials address this content quantitatively; for example, students engage in a hands-on lab in which they design a method to measure acceleration. The lab further has students collect quantitative data on their method, such that they calculate force based on acceleration due to gravity and plot acceleration versus force on a line graph and describe the relationship when mass is constant. This type of activity is representative of others throughout the lesson and is not necessary to understand the content at the middle school grade band; as such, they align with high school grade-band elements of DCI-PS2.A in a way that may be inappropriate for the middle school level.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimension Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate all grade-band components and nearly all the associated elements of the physical science DCIs across the series. The physical science DCIs are primarily addressed in four modules: Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer; Module J: Chemistry; Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields; Module L: Waves and Their Applications, with some DCI elements (especially those related to respiration and photosynthesis (DCI-PS3.D-M1, DCI-PS3.D-M2) addressed in Module C: Ecology and the Environment.

Overall, students have opportunities to engage with the elements of the physical science DCIs, through a varied set of learning activities (e.g., reading text, online simulations, hands-on labs, writing an evidence-based explanation about the lesson-level phenomenon) and prompts for teachers’ instruction found in the Teacher Edition (e.g., student collaboration activities). Students frequently engage with elements multiple times and in a variety of ways.

Examples of grade-band physical science DCI elements present in the materials:

  • PS1.A-M1. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 1: The Structure of Matter, Unit Project: Simple or Complex?, students create a model of a complex carbohydrate that shows the relationship between simple and complex carbohydrates, demonstrating that the way atoms combine (i.e., their structure) determines how the substance is used in the body.
  • PS1.A-M2. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 1: The Structure of Matter, Lesson 1: The Properties of Matter, the lesson-level phenomenon presented is a picture of two shiny black rocks and the question: “How can you tell the difference between the materials in these two rocks?” Students’ explanation of the phenomenon requires them to describe the physical and chemical properties they would use to distinguish the two rocks.
  • PS1.A-M3. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 2: States of Matter and Changes of State, Lesson 1: States of Matter, students read about and watch a guided animation about particle motion for different states of matter. They then match the state of matter with the appropriate kinetic model.
  • PS1.A-M4. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 2: States of Matter and Changes of State, Lesson 1: States of Matter, students relate particle motion and contact to different images of people in a crowd to identify and explain which analogy best matches each state of matter.
  • PS1.A-M5.  In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 1: The Structure of Matter, Lesson 3: Molecules and Extended Structures, students observe and describe the structural model of diamond. They are then shown models of three solids, two extended structures and one molecule, and asked to match them to the appropriate description of a substance (table sugar, silver metal, and table salt).
  • PS1.A-M6. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 2: States of Matter and Changes of State, Lesson 2: Changes of State, students analyze a graph relating temperature and state changes for a substance over time to determine and predict what happens as energy in the system changes.
  • PS1.B-M1. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 1: Chemical Reactions, students are asked to respond in their Evidence Notebook how knowing the indicators of a chemical reaction could help them to explain the lesson-level Can You Explain It? question (“What happens when sulfuric acid is added to powdered sugar?”) and relate it to the rearrangement of atoms that occur in a chemical reaction.
  • PS1.B-M2. Students have multiple instances to understand conservation of matter as described in the first part of this element. For example, in Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 1: Matter and Energy in Organisms, students construct an explanation for how a tiny plant can become a giant tree if matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Additionally, in Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 2: Chemical Equations, students read text, view an image, and answer questions related to the concept of conservation of matter and mass during chemical reactions.
  • PS1.B-M3. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Thermal Energy and Chemical Processes, students complete a hands-on lab in which they record observations and temperature changes of different chemical reactions and conclude that one reaction absorbs thermal energy and the other three release thermal energy.
  • PS2.A-M1. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Unit Project: Collision Course, students build a device “which causes a rolling ball to knock over a target or ring a bell without you touching the ball or the target/bell.” Students are asked to identify the forces involved, and to relate how Newton’s laws of motion apply to their design.
  • PS2.A-M2. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Lesson 1: Introduction to Forces, students compare a balanced versus unbalanced diagram of people on a seesaw and asked to explain if forces are being applied in both diagrams. The sample answer provided in the Teacher Guide includes that when both people exert force, the forces are balanced and it does not move; when only one person does, this creates an unbalanced force and the see saw moves.
  • PS2.A-M3. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Lesson 1: Introduction to Forces, students read about force diagrams and are then asked to add arrows to force diagrams for a rabbit jumping off the ground and a bat hitting a ball.
  • PS2.B-M1. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Lesson 1: Introduction to Forces, students complete a hands-on lab in which they test how bar magnets can lift metal objects out of a box and draw a force diagram explaining the direction of the magnetic forces.
  • PS2.B-M2. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Lesson 2: Gravity and Friction, students read about gravitational forces and then compare two robots—one on Earth and one on the moon. Students are asked to explain why the robots have different weights, but the same mass.
  • PS2.B-M3. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Lesson 2: Gravity and Friction, students complete a hands-on lab in which they design and test parachutes to examine the effect of air resistance on falling objects.
  • PS3.A-M1. Students have numerous opportunities to understand kinetic energy as described in the first part of this element. For example, in Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 1: Introduction to Energy, a Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Guide prompts teachers to ask students to draw a picture of a hill and label the potential and kinetic energy a boulder would have at the top, middle, and bottom of the hill. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 2: Kinetic and Potential Energy, students read text describing the relationship between mass and kinetic energy then relate mass and kinetic energy data to graphs of equations. Students are provided with a set of graphs that show a linear relationship and a squared relationship and choose which graph best represents their plot of mass and kinetic energy, “to identify the relationship between mass and kinetic energy.”
  • PS3.A-M2. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, You Solve It Simulation: How Can You Transform Potential Energy to Do Work?, students are given design criteria that they must satisfy as they determine the optimal mass and height for a post driver to operate successfully on the Moon and on Mars.
  • PS3.A-M3. Thermal energy is defined for the students several times throughout the materials and the transfer of energy between objects of different temperatures is addressed. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Thermal Energy Transfer in Systems, students read text that describes thermal energy in terms of the motion of atoms or molecules; a Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Guide prompts teachers to ask students to draw a model that represents the three types of thermal energy transfer.
  • PS3.A-M4. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, Lesson 2: Temperature and Heat, students read text that describes that temperature is proportional to the average internal kinetic energy and potential energy per atom or molecule and that the details of that relationship depend on the type of atom or molecule and the interactions among the atoms in the material. Students design an investigation to determine what factors impact the amount of thermal energy contained within objects made up varying materials and with different masses. Students have multiple opportunities in the materials to learn that thermal energy is dependent on the temperature, the total number of atoms in the system, and the state of the material.
  • PS3.B-M1. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Transforming Potential Energy, a Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Guide prompts teachers to ask students to discuss where and how energy is transferred or transformed in four different prototypes of systems designed to demonstrate potential energy.
  • PS3.B-M2. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, You Solve It Simulation: How Can You Use the Sun’s Energy?, students simulate using the sun’s energy and different materials to raise the temperature of water to cook an egg.
  • PS3.B-M3. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, Lesson 2: Temperature and Heat, students read text that describes the direction of energy transfer and then complete fill in blank questions. They are then asked to describe how energy is flowing between a glass of cold water and a hand.
  • PS3.C-M1. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, Lesson 1: Changes in Energy, students engage in a hands-on lab in which they roll balls of different masses down a low ramp and a high ramp into a cup and measure the distance that each of the balls is able to move the cup. They relate this distance to the transfer of kinetic energy.
  • PS3.D-M1. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 2: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, students complete a hands-on lab in which they investigate the effect of sunlight on elodea and observe the oxygen bubbles being produced by photosynthesis. In the section that follows the lab, they read about the inputs and outputs of photosynthesis and complete the chemical equation for the process.
  • PS3.D-M2. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 2: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, students read about the inputs and outputs of cellular respiration and complete the chemical equation for the process.
  • PS4.A-M1. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 1: Introduction to Waves, students discuss wave characteristics shown in an image that includes wavelength, amplitude, crest and trough. They are prompted to explain how patterns allow us to measure wavelength.
  • PS4.A-M2. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 2: The Behavior of Mechanical Waves, students read about and observe models of waves’ motion in different types of media. They select the statement that best describes how the particles of the medium behave when a mechanical wave moves through it.
  • PS4.B-M1. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 4: The Behavior of Light Waves, students compare the different ways that light interacts with three sandwiches wrapped in three different materials. In a subsequent part of the same section, students read about and fill in an interactive text to describe how light is refracted when it enters a glass prism from air.
  • PS4.B-M2. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 4: The Behavior of Light Waves, students draw a series of ray diagrams to model their observations of a penny from different angles in an empty beaker and when the beaker is filled with water.
  • PS4.B-M3. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 3: Light Waves, students observe an animation of changes in wavelength, frequency and amplitude to see how they affect the color of light. Students subsequently fill in an interactive text to demonstrate their understanding that as wavelength changes, so does color.
  • PS4.B-M4. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, Lesson 3: Light Waves, students compare sound waves and light waves by watching a video of a buzzer in a jar as the air is removed. Students create a model that explains the behaviors of the sound and light waves when the air is completely removed from the jar.
  • PS4.C-M1. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Unit 2: Information Transfer, You Solve It Simulation: How can you compare digital and analog communication signals?, students run a simulation to compare the results of an image being sent through analog and digital signals. They use the collected data to support a claim for which type of signal is more reliable for encoding and transmitting information.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate all grade-band components and all the associated elements of the life sciences DCIs across the series. The life sciences DCIs are addressed in three modules: Module B: Cells & Heredity; Module C: Ecology & the Environment; Module D: The Diversity of Living Things.

Overall, all elements of the DCIs are incorporated in these modules, and, for the majority of the elements, students have multiple opportunities to engage with the content. They do so through a varied set of learning activities (e.g., online simulations, hands-on labs, writing an evidence-based explanation about the lesson-level phenomenon) and prompts for teachers’ instruction found in the Teacher Edition (e.g., student collaboration activities). There are some inconsistencies in the frequency of coverage of life sciences DCI elements across the materials, with some of the elements addressed multiple times, and others only addressed once.

Examples of grade-band life sciences DCI elements present in the materials:

  • LS1.A-M1. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 1: Cells, Lesson 1: The Characteristics of Cells, students are provided with a microscopic image of an elodea plant and are prompted to record their observations of the plant’s cells. In a subsequent activity, they identify organisms as multicellular or unicellular, based on a picture and written description.
  • LS1.A-M2. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 1: Cells, Lesson 2: Cell Structures and Function, the lesson-level Can You Explain It? task is a picture of a eukaryotic cell and a sports stadium, accompanied by the question: “How is a cell like a sports stadium?” Students’ explanations require them to describe the cell as a system, with specialized functions of cell organelles and the cell membrane.
  • LS1.A-M3. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 1: Levels of Organization in Organisms, students complete a hands-on lab in which they design and develop a model to demonstrate how cellular structure relates to the function of the cellular subsystems that comprise tissues in organs.
  • LS1.B-M1. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 2: Asexual and Sexual Reproduction, students undertake a hands-on lab to simulate asexual and sexual reproduction in apple trees. They use their resulting genotype and phenotype data to determine how the type of reproduction affects genetic variation in the population.
  • LS1.B-M2. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, You Solve It Simulation: What Factors Affect Reproductive Success?, students analyze trait data to determine how female mate choice and environmental factors influence the reproductive success of different types of peacocks. Students observe that male peacocks with inherited longer tails and more eyespots are more desirable, and that environmental factors (e.g., temperature and food supply) impact offsprings’ chances of survival.
  • LS1.B-M3. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 3: Plant Reproduction and Growth, students read about different modes of reproduction for seedless and seeded plants. Based on pictures of different seed structures, students then explain the dispersal method, citing evidence from the prior reading.
  • LS1.B-M4. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 3: Plant Reproduction and Growth, students read about and explain how seed germination is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • LS1.C-M1. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 2: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, students complete a hands-on lab in which they investigate the effect of sunlight on elodea and observe the oxygen bubbles being produced by photosynthesis. In the section that follows the lab, they read about how the resulting sugars can be used by the plant or stored for later use.
  • LS1.C-M2. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 2: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration, students read about, examine a model, and complete a chemical equation about the process of cellular respiration. They are introduced to how energy is released through this process, and how the chemical reactions involved in respiration are used by organisms to sustain life.
  • LS1.D-M1. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 4: Information Processing in Animals, there is a series of activities that addresses all parts of this DCI element. Students identify which type of receptors are being used by different animals as they respond to a particular type of stimulus. Next, students examine two different images of the human brain and explain how damage to the temporal lobe would affect a person and their sensory receptors. Finally, students analyze an image of a lion and porcupines interacting to determine what behaviors the animals are displaying and what memories may be stored from this experience.  
  • LS2.A-M1. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Lesson 1: Parts of an Ecosystem, students read about, analyze models, and list how organisms interact with the living and nonliving parts of their environment, and how abiotic and biotic factors are interdependent.
  • LS2.A-M2. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Resource Availability in Ecosystems, students read about and explain how limited biotic and abiotic resources impact populations with similar resource needs. Students are then asked to predict how an increase in the hyena population would affect the lion population as they compete for the same food resources.
  • LS2.A-M3.  In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Resource Availability in Ecosystems, students relate how resource availability affects the growth of organisms and populations by observing how the availability of water affects plant growth. Students are then asked to interpret a graphical representation that shows how the availability of resources impacts population size.
  • LS2.A-M4. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Unit Project: How Organisms Interact, students research an ecosystem of their choice and investigate the different types of organismal interactions found in the ecosystem. They also analyze data to make predictions about how resource availability may affect the organisms involved.
  • LS2.B-M1. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 3: Matter and Energy in Ecosystems, students examine models of food chains and food webs in ponds and rainforests. They use these models to explain and answer questions about how matter and energy are transferred within an ecosystem.
  • LS2.C-M1. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 1: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, students use a model showing the resulting impacts on biodiversity in ecosystems with different amounts of rainfall to explain how rainfall could influence species abundance over time.
  • LS2.C-M2.  In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Unit Project: Evaluate Biodiversity Design Solutions, students investigate and present on a design problem related to biodiversity loss. Completing the project requires students to understand this DCI element, as they are asked to determine whether an ecosystem with high or low biodiversity would recover more quickly after a disturbance.
  • LS3.A-M1.  In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 1: Inheritance, students read about, examine a model, and explain the relationships between DNA, chromosomes, genes, and traits.
  • LS3.A-M2. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 2: Asexual and Sexual Reproduction, a “Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning” sidebar in the Teacher Edition prompts students to explain why white pea flowers appeared in a second generation of all purple pea plants. To correctly explain this, students need to demonstrate understanding of sexual reproduction and recessive alleles.
  • LS3.B-M1.  In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 1: Inheritance, students use the laws of inheritance and a Punnett Square to explore how traits (e.g., flower color) can be determined genetically.
  • LS3.B-M2. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 1Z: Genetic Change and Traits, students are asked to explain how a single gene could cause a lobster to be blue through the lesson-level Can You Explain It? question. Throughout the lesson, they learn about genetic mutations and the possible changes to proteins and traits that can result.
  • LS4.A-M1. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, Lesson 1: The Fossil Record, students engage in a number of different activities that address this DCI element. They first read about relative dating and the different laws that guide the process. They then research an index fossil of their choice and explain how their fossils would help determine the ages of other fossils, followed by using an absolutely dated rock layer to estimate the ages of fossils. At the end of the lesson, students research one of the five major mass extinctions and determine the effect on the diversity of life, using the fossil record as evidence.
  • LS4.A-M2. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, Lesson 2: Patterns of Change in Life on Earth, students create a flowchart showing the changes in body and limb anatomy over time to show the evolutionary changes that took place in the transition from aquatic to land-dwelling organisms.
  • LS4.B-M1. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, You Solve It Simulation: Is Antibiotic Use Related to Antibiotic Resistance in E. coli?, students investigate how natural selection plays a role in the antibiotic resistance of E. coli by analyzing simulated data from different states to compare the number of prescribed antibiotics to the percentages of resistant bacteria.
  • LS4.B-M2. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 3: Human Influence on Inheritance, Lesson 1: Artificial Selection, students engage in a hands-on lab in which they make observations about wild cabbage and vegetables bred from the wild cabbage. They then make a claim about how one of the vegetables might have developed through selective breeding.
  • LS4.C-M1. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 2: Natural Selection, students read several case studies on trait variation in different organismal populations. They use trait distribution graphs and information on the environment to answer questions relating the two factors. Then they look at the distribution of traits of ground finches on the Galapagos Islands before and after a drought and use that information to predict the distribution after an unusually wet season.
  • LS4.D-M1. In Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Maintaining Diversity, students learn about the services that ecosystems provide, such as water filtration and erosion control. The lesson discusses how loss of biodiversity can impact ecosystem health - such as cutting down trees increasing erosion and fertilizer runoff into streams. Students have several opportunities throughout lesson to consider how human impacts can severely reduce biodiversity.

Example of grade-band life science DCI element partially addressed in the materials:

  • LS4.A-M3: In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: History of Life on Earth, Lesson 3: Evidence of Common Ancestry, students compare pictures of different vertebrate species’ embryos. They answer a multiple-choice question about the characteristics shared when the organisms are embryos and that they do not share when they are fully developed. This DCI element is weakly addressed, given the minimal amount of student engagement with the concept.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate all grade-band components and all the associated elements of the earth and space sciences DCIs across the series. The earth and space sciences DCIs are addressed in four modules: Module E: Earth’s Water and Atmosphere; Module F: Geologic Processes and History; Module G: Earth and Human Activity; Module H: Space Science.

Throughout these modules, students have multiple opportunities to engage with the elements of the earth and space sciences DCIs, through a varied set of learning activities (e.g., online simulations, hands-on labs, writing an evidence-based explanation about the lesson-level phenomenon) and prompts for teachers’ instruction found in the Teacher Edition (e.g., student collaboration activities). There are some inconsistencies in the frequency of coverage of earth and space sciences DCI elements across the materials, with some of the elements addressed multiple times, and others only addressed once. Additionally, in some cases, individual elements are met through student engagement in multiple activities or lessons, rather than being fully met through a single activity.

Examples of grade-band earth and space sciences DCI elements present in the materials:

  • ESS1.A-M1. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 1: Patterns in the Solar System, Performance Task: How can you model the Earth-Sun-Moon System?, students design and construct a working model of the Earth-Sun-Moon system to be used with third graders to explain moon phases, eclipses, and seasons.
  • ESS1.A-M2. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 3: Earth’s Place in the Universe, the lesson-level Can You Explain It? task asks students “How can we make a model of the Milky Way galaxy that shows Earth’s location?” Students’ explanation in response to this question requires them to draw on their understanding from the lesson about the properties of the Milky Way galaxy and the lines of evidence that allow us to know about those properties.
  • ESS1.B-M1. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 2: Earth and the Solar System, students analyze data that supports and refutes early models of the solar system, which include the sun, planets and their moons, asteroids, comets and meteoroids.
  • ESS1.B-M2. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 1: Patterns in the Solar System, Lesson 1: Patterns in the Solar System, students engage in a hands-on lab to model the Earth-Sun-Moon system to explain solar and lunar eclipses. In Lesson 2: Seasons, students engage in another hands-on lab to model sunlight distribution during different seasons by shining a light on a foam ball at different angles and calculating the area.
  • ESS1.B-M3.  In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 1: The Formation of the Solar System, students explain how criteria for a space object to be classified as a planet relates to Kant’s nebular hypothesis, focusing on how planets “cleared the neighborhood” because their mass attracts smaller bodies as they orbit. They next identify characteristics of the solar system that are explained by Laplace’s hypothesis of solar system formation by analyzing a graphic and online animation of gravity drawing together dust and gas.
  • ESS1.C-M1. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 2: Earth Through Time, Lesson 1: The Age of Earth’s Rocks, students determine the relative ages of rock layers in a diagram. They then read about the difference between relative and absolute ages of rocks, and analyze data on half-lives of different elements to understand absolute dating.
  • ESS1.C-M2. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 3: Earth’s Plates, students explain the age of the ocean floor at ridges and trenches using patterns in global rock age data.
  • ESS2.A-M1. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 2: The Rock Cycle, students describe and model the rock cycle, including the energy source that drives each part of the process.
  • ESS2.A-M2.  In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Unit Project: Feature Future, students choose a geological feature to research the timeline of its formation and geological processes that have changed this feature over time. Students then use evidence to predict how the feature will change in the future.
  • ESS2.B-M1. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 3: Earth’s Plates, students explain how their observations of fossil and landform data on maps has changed their thinking about whether the continents have moved over time.
  • ESS2.C-M1. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 3: The Water Cycle, students closely examine the water cycle. Students are shown a picture of glaciers and snow covered mountains and the ocean, and describe two ways that liquid water could have come to this location on Earth. Students also model the formation of clouds and rain through condensation, precipitation, and then deposition in a hands-on investigation.
  • ESS2.C-M2. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 2: Weather and Climate, Lesson 1: Influences on Weather, students explore how the patterns of the movement of water can cause atmospheric changes that affect the weather in an area. They examine maps of prevailing winds and ocean currents and explain how winds cause surface currents.
  • ESS2.C-M3. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Unit Project: Energy Flow in the Earth System, students explore how energy from the sun and gravity power the water cycle as they create a model to show energy flow through Earth’s systems.
  • ESS2.C-M4. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 2: Circulation in Earth’s Oceans, students develop a model, read about, and examine a diagram of convection currents. They then explain how a drop of water would travel in a convection current due to changes in density from salinity and temperature.
  • ESS2.C-M5. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 1: Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition, students look for evidence of weathering and erosion in a picture of the Mesa Verde Canyon in Arizona. They are asked to predict and draw what the canyon will look like in one million years if water continues to flow.
  • ESS2.D-M1.  In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 2: Weather and Climate, Lesson 3: Influences on Climate, students analyze data on the albedo effect and how it changes with seasons. They then read about and summarize patterns related to how latitude impacts climate and interacts with other factors like ocean currents, wind, and elevation.
  • ESS2.D-M2. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 2: Weather and Climate, Lesson 2: Weather Prediction, students examine the usefulness and limitations of predicting the weather. Students analyze data to see the complex relationships and understand how predictions are made using mathematical models.
  • ESS2.D-M3. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 2: Weather and Climate, Lesson 3: Influences on Climate, students use a diagram of Earth’s regional climates to answer the question (in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition): “How does a large body of water lead to a milder climate for a coastal area, as compared to one inland at the same latitude?”
  • ESS3.A-M1. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 2: Resources in Earth’s Systems, Lesson 2: The Distribution of Natural Resources, students compare nonrenewable and renewable energy resources, as well as mineral and freshwater resources. They observe a U.S. map and relate regional resource availability to differences in to the geologic processes that formed those regions.
  • ESS3.B-M1. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, students analyze data on lightning and human-caused fires and the monthly occurrence of fires in general. They use that information to determine in which states and during which months they should focus a public awareness campaign.
  • ESS3.C-M1. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 3: Using Resources, Lesson 2: Resource Use and Earth’s Systems, students use claim, evidence and reasoning to explain the impact the Elwha Dam has had on migrating fish species. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 4: Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Lesson 2: Engineer It: Reducing Human Impacts on the Environment, students view a map of a town and use that information to determine what areas should be monitored in order to minimize impacts of pollution on the environment.
  • ESS3.C-M2. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 3: Using Resources, Lesson 1: Human Population and Resource Use, students read and analyze data in two different graphs to assess the negative impacts that population size has on water use and timber consumption.
  • ESS3.D-M1. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Lesson 3: Climate Change, students engage in a hands-on lab to model the impact that a greenhouse has on temperature and relate that to greenhouse gases and their effect on Earth’s temperatures. Later in the same lesson, students use a pie chart showing U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by source to brainstorm how that individuals, businesses, and governments could reduce their emissions. Students also evaluate two different possible solutions for reducing emissions.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate all grade-band components and all the associated elements of the engineering, technology, and applications of science (ETS) DCIs across the series. One module (Module A: Engineering and Science) focuses particularly on the ETS DCIs, but all other modules provide opportunities for students to undertake engineering-related DCIs as they simultaneously engage with the science DCIs (life, physical, and/or earth/space). These opportunities are consistently labeled as Engineer It activities and are generally embedded within lessons; occasionally, an entire lesson sequence is an Engineer It activity.

Throughout the materials, students have multiple opportunities to engage with the elements of the ETS DCIs, through a varied set of learning activities (e.g., online simulations, hands-on labs, writing an evidence-based explanation about the lesson-level phenomenon) and prompts for teachers’ instruction found in the Teacher Edition (e.g., student collaboration activities).

Examples of grade-band ETS DCI elements present in the materials:

  • ETS1.A-M1. In Module I: Energy and Energy Transfer, Unit 2: Energy Transfer, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Thermal Energy Transfer in Systems, students define criteria and constraints as they work through a lesson-level design challenge to develop a lunch carrier that minimizes the amount of heat transfer.
  • ETS1.B-M1. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Unit 2: The Practices of Engineering, Lesson 2: Developing and Testing Solutions, students read about the importance of testing solutions to iteratively improve designs, and they then engage in a hands-on lab to design a model car. The lab entails testing their design to make improvements. Students also are asked to explain their own ideas about the purposes of carrying out multiple tests for a designed solution.
  • ETS1.B-M2. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 3 Engineer It: Maintaining Biodiversity, there is a Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Edition, in which students are presented with a design problem related to pollution and asked to evaluate solutions to reduce pollution per person. Students list criteria and constraints of a solution (e.g., low-cost, impacts on livelihood) and then evaluate each solution on a peer’s list to determine which best meets the criteria and constraints.
  • ETS1.B-M3. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Unit 2: The Practices of Engineering, Lesson 3: Optimizing Solutions, students read about the development of the modern day cell phone and consider how the engineering design process works much better with multiple ideas that can be combined to make the best solution. Students then explain their ideas about what might happen if they were limited to only one idea during the engineering design process and should describe that the number of possible solutions would be limited.
  • ETS1.B-M4. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 2: Weather and Climate, Lesson 2: Weather Prediction, students practice using a mathematical model to predict temperature. They read about how snowy tree crickets chirp at different rates depending on the air temperature and are then given a set of chirp data and the rate equation to calculate temperatures
  • ETS1.C-M1. In Module A: Engineering & Science, You Solve It Simulation: How Can You Plan Efficient Cargo Shipping?, students iteratively analyze data on the cost of shipping cars in a cargo ship, in order to minimize the cost for a car company. As they run different simulations set to different criteria, they incorporate the strategies that worked from previous runs, in order to optimize their solution to the design problem and recommend a transportation strategy in their final report for the activity.
  • ETS1.C-M2. In Module I: Energy and Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Transforming Potential Energy, students engage in the design cycle to test a toy they have designed to teach about potential energy. In a hands-on lab, they iteratively analyze their results from testing the toy and make changes to their design. Students also read about how this evaluation process helps to optimize solutions for design problems.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Asking Questions and Defining Problems and nearly all the associated grade-band elements across the series, and include few elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

While this SEP is generally present throughout the modules, certain elements of the practice are used less frequently than others (SEP-AQDP-M3, SEP-AQDP-M6) and one element is missing entirely (SEP-AQDP-M7). Additionally, the Asking Questions element of this SEP is present at the end of each lesson within a Collaboration sidebar that is only found in the print version of the Teacher Edition (and could be missed by teachers). In the Collaboration sidebar, students are prompted to identify new questions, often as a way to extend student learning after the lesson is over. As such, the materials are designed with this SEP and its elements often present as an extension activity.

Examples of grade-band elements of Asking Questions and Defining Problems present in the materials:

  • AQDP-M1. In Module K: Forces, Motions, and Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motions, Lesson 3: Newton’s Laws of Motion, an ELA connection activity prompts students to generate their own questions about the forces involved after observing a photo of bumper cars.
  • AQDP-M2. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 1: Circulation in Earth’s Atmosphere, a Collaboration sidebar prompts students to construct models to show what they know about air circulation, wind, and Earth’s rotation. They are then asked to give feedback to group members on their respective models by asking clarifying questions or explaining why they agree or disagree with their answers.
  • AQDP-M3. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 2: Plant Bodies as Systems, a Collaborate opportunity at the end of the lesson prompts students to define questions to ask about plant growth (dependent variable) in space (independent variable). Students determine what evidence they would need to collect to answer their questions.
  • AQDP-M4. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Unit 1: Introduction to Engineering and Science, Lesson 1: Engineering, Science, and Society, students watch a video of volcanologist exploring a volcano and generate questions about the purpose of the engineered items used by the scientist.
  • AQDP-M5. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 2: Circulation in Earth’s Oceans, students generate three questions that could be investigated by physical oceanographers.
  • AQDP-M6. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Lesson 1: Parts of an Ecosystem, students undertake a hands-on lab in which they observe an area of their schoolyard and ask a question that involves a specific part or parts of the environment of study. This question is then used to design an investigation.
  • AQDP-M8. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Reducing the Effects of Natural Hazards, students are given a chart of tornado-related mitigation needs (e.g., “protect cattle from a tornado”). They articulate the engineering problem for each mitigation need and identify criteria and constraints.

Example of grade-band element of Asking Questions and Defining problems missing from the materials:

  • SEP-AQDP-M7. The materials do not require that students ask questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument or the interpretation of a data set.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Developing and Using Models and all the associated grade-band elements across the series, and include few elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The materials include numerous opportunities for students to develop or use models.

Examples of grade-band elements of Developing and Using Models present in the materials:

  • MOD-M1. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Unit Project: Museum Model, students design a museum exhibit that models the Milky Way and the role of gravity in the formation and motions of the galaxy. Step 6 of the project involves students evaluating their classmates’ models by assuming the role of the museum board considering the proposals.
  • MOD-M2. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 1: Cells, Performance Task: “How can doctors explain what sickle cell anemia is to affected children?”, students construct two comparative models of red blood cells: one from a healthy person and one from a person with sickle cell disease. Models show what happens to the cell when a person has this disease.
  • MOD-M3. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Unit Project: Energy Flow in the Earth System, students develop a model of a specific path of energy flow of their choice, showing changes in energy types, energy transfer, and energy cycling through the four spheres of the Earth system. Through the project debrief, students consider how changing one factor in their model could cause other changes, as well as the uncertainty of aspects of their particular model.
  • MOD-M4. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 4: Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Lesson 3: Climate Change, students construct and use a model that represents the greenhouse effect. Students gather temperature data from their model, and then propose improvements so that the model could better represent the Earth system.
  • MOD-M5. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 1: Genetic Change and Traits, students use paper strips to model the process of protein folding. They go through the process twice with two different “proteins,” and then answer questions about the differences in the resulting protein based on the differences in the amino acid sequences and how they were folded.
  • MOD-M6. In Module K: Forces, Motions, and Fields, Unit 2: Electric and Magnetic Forces, Lesson 3: Fields, students plan an investigation using provided materials to model the magnetic fields around magnets. Students create models using field lines of three different magnets. Then they choose a model and explain why the model provides evidence that magnetic fields exist between magnets that are not touching.
  • MOD-M7. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 2: Kinetic and Potential Energy, students create three different systems with materials given and describe how the kinetic and potential energy of the objects in the system (e.g., pendulum, bouncing ball) change over time. Students then choose one situation and list the inputs and outputs of energy, the energy transformations that took place, and where maximum kinetic and potential energy exist in the system.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations and all the associated grade-band elements across the series, and include few elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

Examples of grade-band elements of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations present in the materials:

  • INV-M1. In Module C: Ecology & The Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Resource Availability in Ecosystems, students plan and conduct an investigation to examine the relationship between a limiting factor (water or sunlight) and bean plant growth. Students identify variables and controls, the type of data they will collect, and how it will be recorded. Students make a claim based on results and are given an opportunity to suggest how they could improve their procedure to obtain clearer results.
  • INV-M2. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 2: Natural Hazard Prediction, students conduct an investigation to model the process of predicting a landslide. Students set up four different slopes of different angles. Students place damp soil on the slope, spray with water until saturated, and make observations. This evidence is then used to determine the areas most at risk in a town situated on a slope.
  • INV-M3. In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 2: Information Transfer, Lesson 3: Communication Technology, students plan and carry out an investigation to accurately record a rolling ball’s position as many times as possible. They consider major issues that prevented collecting more or accurate data. Students then plan for how they can use technology to increase precision and accuracy of measurements.
  • INV-M4. In Module K: Forces, Motions, and Fields, Unit 2: Electric and Magnetic Forces, Lesson 1: Magnetic Forces, students investigate the amount of mass that can be held by different sized magnets. After making observations and collecting data, students develop a process to increase the accuracy of measuring the maximum amount of mass that each magnet can hold. Students use evidence and reasoning to explain how the type of magnet affects the strength of the magnetic force.
  • INV-M5. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, You Solve It simulation: "How can you design a heat pack?", students design and test heat packs for relieving injuries. Students adjust the simulated experiment parameters, including the temperature of the room, to collect data to determine which conditions are best for the heat pack to meet design criteria.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Analyzing and Interpreting Data and all the associated grade-band elements across the series, and include few elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The elements were present multiple times and distributed across the discipline-specific modules. Two elements were only present once in the materials (SEP-DATA-M3, SEP-DATA-M6).

Examples of grade-band elements of Analyzing and Interpreting Data present in the materials:

  • DATA-M1. In Module C: Ecology & The Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems, Lesson 2: Resource Availability in Ecosystems, students examine the relationship between population size and the availability of resources through a graphical display showing linear relationships. A sidebar of the Teacher Edition prompts teachers to ask students to determine if population size is directly or inversely related to the amount of resources.
  • DATA-M2. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 2: Resources in Earth Systems, Lesson 2: The Distribution of Natural Resources, students analyze graphical data through a map of mineral deposits in North America. They identify areas which have cluster of deposits and consider what the resources have in common. Students also consider landforms and features in the western U.S. and explain why resources might be concentrated there.
  • DATA-M3. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards,  Lesson 1: Natural Hazards, students are asked to analyze maps showing historic earthquake locations and earthquake hazard level and determine if there is a correlation between these two factors.
  • DATA-M4. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 3: Earth’s Plates, students explain how their observations of fossil and landform data on maps has changed their thinking about whether the continents have moved over time.
  • DATA-M5. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 3: Reproduction, Heredity, and Growth, Lesson 3: Plant Reproduction and Growth, students analyze a large dataset on honeybee colony loss and determine factors such as the average total annual loss and the percentage of acceptable loss for given years. They use their analysis of these data to make sense of bee colony collapse disorder.
  • DATA-M6. In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 2: Information Transfer, Lesson 3: Communication Technology, students plan and carry out an investigation to accurately record a rolling ball’s position as many times as possible. They consider major issues that prevented collecting more or accurate data. Students then plan for how they can use technology to increase precision and accuracy of measurements.
  • DATA-M7. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 2: Earth and the Solar System, students are asked to “analyze data that do not fit the model.” They explain similarities and differences between observations used to support geocentric models of the solar system and other observed phenomena.  
  • DATA-M8. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Unit 2: The Practices of Engineering, Lesson 2: Developing and Testing Solutions, students use a decision matrix to evaluate different solutions to the design problem of designing a container to take soup to school. They use specific criteria to rate and rank each solution.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking and all the associated grade-band elements across the series, and include few elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP. The elements were generally present multiple times and distributed across the discipline-specific modules. Two elements were only present once in the materials (SEP-MATH-M1, SEP-MATH-M3).

Examples of grade-band elements of Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking present in the materials:

  • MATH-M1. In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 1: Waves, You Solve It Simulation, “How can we harvest energy from ocean waves?”, students use a simulation of a wave-power generator to collect data on the relationship between wave height and period when generating electrical energy. Students then use additional data sets that include wave height and period for all twelve months of the year for three different locations to argue for the best place for a wave-energy generator farm.
  • MATH-M2. In Module I: Energy and Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 2: Kinetic and Potential Energy, students plot data of two different graphical relationships and determine whether they are linear or nonlinear. Then they describe the relationship between kinetic energy and mass and kinetic energy and speed, and give examples of how changing an object’s mass or speed changes its kinetic energy.
  • MATH-M3. In Module L: Waves and Their Applications, Unit 2: Information Transfer, Lesson 2: Analog and Digital Signals, students learn to code and decode graphs of binary signals used in computers. They then collaborate with a partner to create a way to send a digital signal using light and test out their method.
  • MATH-M4. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 1: Cells, Lesson 2: Cell Structures and Function, students use gelatin cubes as cell models to investigate cell size and the function of the cell membrane. They use equations to describe the relationship between surface-area-to-volume ratio and time it took for the cubes to dissolve. They then compare their results to the functioning of the cell membrane and how a larger ratio would impact movement of materials in and out of the cell.
  • MATH-M5. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 4: The Chemistry of Materials, You Solve It Simulation, “How can you make a Synthetic Magnet?”: Using an online simulation, students design different cow magnets by changing the grade, shape and volume of a magnetic alloy to meet specific volume, strength, and resistance criteria. Students use concepts of percentage when choosing material amounts to create new alloys and volume when determining the size of different magnet designs. They then test and compare their designed magnets in the simulation to make an argument for the best design solution.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions and all the associated grade-band elements across the series, and include few elements of this SEP from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this SEP.

This SEP occurs regularly throughout the materials. Every 5E lesson sequence ends with a Can You Explain It section that requires students to write a claim in response to the lesson-level phenomenon, support their claim with evidence from the lesson’s activities, and explain using scientific reasoning. While the materials do incorporate all elements of this SEP, certain elements are present more frequently than others. For example, SEP-CEDS-M4 is the element with which students most frequently engage through the Can You Explain It prompt at the end of each lesson, while students engage in SEP-CEDS-M5 the least frequently throughout the materials.

Examples of grade-band elements of Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions present in the materials:

  • CEDS-M1. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 4: Information Processing in Animals, students explain trends in data on hazel dormice hibernation. They identify variables to express the amount of weight gained by dormice in different times of the year, and then explain their interpretation of the hibernation patterns.
  • CEDS-M2. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 1: Circulation in Earth’s Atmosphere, students use evidence from a picture of a windstorm to write an initial explanation on how air moves matter and transfers energy.
  • CEDS-M3. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Unit Project, “Feature Future,” students use evidence from their own research to predict how their chosen geological feature will change in the future.
  • CEDS-M4. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 1: Matter and Energy in Organisms, students consider how a tiny plant can become a giant tree if matter cannot be created nor destroyed. They construct an explanation for how an organism grows if new matter is not created.
  • CEDS-M5. In Module H: Space Science, students make a claim and use evidence and reasoning to explain why the Earth is a planet. They then choose another space object, such as Pluto, to explain why it is not a planet, according to criteria for classifying planets.
  • CEDS-M6. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 4: Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Lesson 2: Engineer It: Reducing Human Impacts on the Environment, students design a method to monitor solid waste from their school. They research and define the problem, brainstorm and evaluate solutions, and propose how to test their chosen solution.
  • CEDS-M7. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Performance-Based Assessment (Digital Only Material): “Stopping Road Erosion,” students analyze a road that is being damaged by erosion. Students need to use the design process to research causes of erosion and potential solutions. Students construct a solution that meets the following design criteria and constraints: materials and processes, environmental impacts, and estimated cost of design.
  • CEDS-M8. In Module J: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Transforming Potential Energy, students design a toy to teach potential energy. They use criteria and constraints and then research possible solutions for the problem. Students then choose the design they believe is most promising and build a prototype to test their toy design. Students analyze their results, determine how well it meets the criteria and constraints specified, and explain the changes they will make to their design. After implementing those changes, they re-analyze the performance of the toy to see if it better meets the criteria and constraints.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Engaging in Argument from Evidence and nearly all the associated grade-band elements across the series. The elements were generally present multiple times and distributed across the discipline-specific modules. However, one element (SEP-ARG-M1) is not present in the materials and SEP-ARG-M4 is only partially addressed by the materials.

Examples of grade-band elements of Engaging in Argument from Evidence present in the materials:

  • ARG-M2. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 1: Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition, students work with a partner to identify where they should first search for gold in a drawing of a model landform area. Using their knowledge of erosion, weathering and deposition, students use evidence from the model to derive an argument for their decision.
  • ARG-M3. In Module L: Waves and their Applications, Performance-Based Assessment, “Researching Light Detectors,” students research analog and digital methods to propose a device to view detailed structures of nearby galaxies. Students then create and present a poster arguing why their design should be selected by a company.
  • ARG-M5. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Unit 2: The Practices of Engineering, Lesson 2: Developing and Testing Solutions, students are given data on the time it took for parachutes of different sizes to slow the fall of an egg. They evaluate the claim that a parachute with a larger area is always better as it provides more air resistance, using the dataset to explain whether it supports or refutes the claim presented.


Example of grade-band element of Engaging in Argument from Evidence partially addressed in the materials:

  • ARG-M4. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Maintaining Biodiversity, students present a written argument to support or refute a claim about clear-cutting being justified in order to have more space to grow crops. Through this activity, they are evaluating a process, but do not consider if the technology meets relevant criteria and constraints (as defined in this SEP element).

Example of grade-band element of Engaging in Argument from Evidence missing from the materials:

  • ARG-M1. The materials do not require that students compare and critique two arguments on the same topic and analyze whether they emphasize similar or different evidence and/or interpretations of facts.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the science and engineering practice of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information and all of the associated grade-band elements across the series. The materials incorporate the use of this SEP throughout a variety of types of learning activities. Additionally, there was one example of SEP-INFO-M4 in the materials, and it was partially addressed.

Examples of grade-band elements of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information present in the materials:

  • INFO-M1. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 3: Engineering It: Maintaining Biodiversity, students find evidence from the text that supports the claim that a reduction in tiger shark population will have a large impact on the population of other species.
  • INFO-M2. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 2: Weather and Climate, Lesson 2: Weather Prediction, students read about how weather forecasts at different timescales are generated from models. They then cite evidence from the text and a 1-day precipitation forecast map to explain how a weather forecast can be useful. They use the information to give advice to someone planning a vacation to a specific place on the map.
  • INFO-M3. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 4: The Chemistry of Materials, Lesson 1: Natural and Synthetic Materials, students are given a list of possible sources of information to conduct research about synthetic vanillin. They first evaluate the reliability of the sources and then conduct research on how synthetic vanillin is made and the advantages of disadvantages of using it. Students use their research to write a marketing pitch for synthetic vanillin for a consumer audience.
  • INFO-M5. In Module A: Engineering & Society, Unit 1: Introduction to Engineering and Science, Lesson 1: Engineering, Science, and Society, students use multiple sources to write about how scientific discoveries (e.g., circuits and semiconductors) have resulted in the development of new technologies (e.g., computers).

Example of grade-band element of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information partially addressed in the materials:

  • INFO-M4. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 2: Earth and the Solar System, students explain similarities and differences between the observations used to support Aristotle and Ptolemy’s models of the solar system and other observed phenomena which do not fit their models of the solar system. This partially addresses the element, in that explaining similarities and differences is a limited way of “evaluating,” as stated in the element description.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Patterns and all grade-band elements across the series and the materials include few elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials incorporate the use of Patterns throughout a variety of types of learning activities across the modules. Materials are designed for students to directly engage in building and using all elements of this CCC.

Examples of grade-band elements of Patterns present in the materials:

  • PAT-M1. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 2: Circulation in Earth’s Oceans, students observe a NASA satellite data model of water movements on the ocean surface. They are asked to identify patterns to consider why there is so much movement in the ocean, and relate those patterns to the movement of water molecules.
  • PAT-M2. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 2: Electric and Magnetic Forces, Lesson 4: Electromagnetism, students create a graph of data to determine how current changes with relation to the number of loops in a solenoid (a cylindrical coil of wire acting as a magnet when carrying electric current.).
  • PAT-M3. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 2: Resources in Earth Systems, Lesson 2: The Distribution of Natural Resources, students use a map showing the distributions of natural gas, oil, and coal and relate their distributions to the processes that formed them.
  • PAT-M4. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 1: The History of Life on Earth, Lesson 1: The Fossil Record, a Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Edition prompts students to analyze images of coprolites from five different ancient animals and use the patterns found in their shapes to determine whether the organism was most likely a carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Cause and Effect and all grade-band elements across the series and the materials include few elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials incorporate the use of Cause and Effect throughout a variety of types of learning activities across modules. Materials are designed for students to directly engage in building and using all elements of this CCC. However, there is some variation in the frequency with which the materials draw upon the elements, with the materials using CCC-CE-M2 more frequently than the other two elements, and CCC-CE-M1 is addressed only partially in the materials.

Examples of grade-band elements of Cause and Effect present in the materials:

  • CE-M2. In Module K: Forces, Motions, & Fields, Unit 1: Forces and Motion, Lesson 4: Engineer It: Collisions between Objects, students consider the impacts of a satellite colliding with space debris. They draw a diagram showing the collision, force arrows, and the likely resulting effects.
  • CE-M3. This CCC element is only partially addressed in the materials. For example, in Module C: Ecology and the Environment, Unit 3: Ecosystem Dynamics, Lesson 1: Biodiversity in Ecosystems, the Can You Explain It? activity for the lesson entails students examining images of a riverside community before and after a flood. They generate cause and effect statements regarding the impacts on the ecosystem shown in the photos. In the Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Edition for this activity, teachers are prompted to have students work in groups to identify other cause and effect relationships between the heavy rains and ecosystems shown in the photos; however, neither of these activities addresses the probability aspect described in the second part of this CCC element.


Example of grade-band element of Cause and Effect partially addressed in the materials:

  • CE-M1. Although this CCC element only appears once in the materials, it is fully and clearly addressed. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 4: Human Impacts on Earth Systems, Lesson 3: Climate Change, students read about the differences between correlation and causation and how scientists gather data to distinguish between the two. They compare the relationships between two sets of line graphs showing changes over time: ice cream sales and air temperature, and pet adoptions and air temperature. They then analyze two graphs showing global temperature data and atmospheric carbon dioxide and determine whether there is a correlation. Finally, students generate questions they would investigate to confirm if there was a causal relationship between the two variables.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity and nearly all the associated grade-band elements across the series. The materials incorporate the use of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity throughout a variety of types of learning activities. The majority of the CCC elements are used to help students understand the relevant DCIs for each discipline-specific module, but are especially concentrated within the Earth & Space Science modules (E, F, G, & H). Additionally, the materials do not fully incorporate the element CCC-SPQ-M2, as only one partial example was found throughout the materials.

Examples of grade-band elements of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity present in the materials:

  • SPQ-M1. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 1: Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition, students use images of specific geologic features as models for the processes of weathering and erosion. They observe the processes over different time scales and predict what a canyon will look like after 1 million years of the processes taking place.
  • SPQ-M3. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 2: Earth and the Solar System, students undertake a hands-on lab in which they build a scale model of the Solar System. By comparing the diameter of solar system objects to their distances from the sun, students learn that these objects are very tiny compared to the spaces between them.
  • SPQ-M4. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transfer, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 2: Kinetic and Potential Energy, students plot data relating mass and kinetic energy and match the shape of their graph to a graph of an equation (showing linear versus exponential relationships). They repeat this process for data relating speed and kinetic energy. Students then describe the relationship between an object’s mass, speed, and kinetic energy.  
  • SPQ-M5. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Unit Opener, a Collaboration sidebar prompts teachers to have students work in small groups. Half of the groups brainstorm examples of systems that are scaled down so that they can be easily analyzed; the other half brainstorms systems that are scaled up so that they can be easily analyzed.

Example of grade-band element of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity partially addressed in the materials:

  • SPQ-M2. This CCC element was found once in the materials, and is partially addressed. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 1: The Formation of the Solar System, there is a Tip feature in the Student Edition of the digital materials. Students first consider how the concept of relative size and distance are useful for modeling the solar system. They then have the option to click on a Tip Box, which opens up to describe how the scale of physical models is crucial to accurately depict the phenomena that they are meant to model. The element is only partially met because designed systems are not addressed; additionally, it is not clear how students are meant to use the information, and it could be easily missed since it is in an optional Tip Box.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Systems and System Models and all grade-band elements across the series and the materials include few elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials incorporate the use of System and System Models throughout a variety of types of learning activities across modules. Materials are designed for students to directly engage in building and using all elements of this CCC. However, there is some variation in the frequency with which the materials draw upon the elements, with CCC-SYS-M2 used more frequently than the other elements, and the element CCC-SYS-M3 is addressed once in the materials.

Examples of grade-band elements of Patterns present in the materials:

  • SYS-M1. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 4: Earth’s Changing Surface, students describe subsystem interactions for different natural hazards. Students examine a photo of a forest fire and explain the cycling of matter and energy that could occur in each subsystem interaction.
  • SYS-M2. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 3: Chemical Processes and Equations, Lesson 3: Engineer It: Thermal Energy and Chemical Processes, students explain the flow of thermal energy in a system consisting of a hot metal object submerged in water. Students also explain what the arrows in the model represent. They subsequently draw a model of how thermal energy flows in a system of ice cubes on a kitchen counter.
  • SYS-M3. Although this CCC element only appears once in the materials, it is fully and clearly addressed. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 4: Human Impacts on Earth’s System, Lesson 3: Climate Change, students complete a hands-on lab in which they model the greenhouse effect using a plastic model. As part of the lab debrief, they describe differences between their model and the real world. Then students suggest how they might improve their model to better represent the Earth system.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Energy and Matter and all grade-band elements across the series and the materials include few elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials incorporate the use of Energy and Matter throughout a variety of types of learning activities across the modules. Materials are designed for students to directly engage in building and using all elements of this CCC.

Examples of grade-band elements of Energy and Matter present in the materials:

  • EM-M1. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 1: Matter and Energy in Living Systems, Lesson 1: Matter and Energy in Organisms, students consider how a tiny plant can become a giant tree if matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Students collaborate with a partner to construct an explanation for how an organism gains mass if new matter is not created.
  • EM-M2. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 2: The Rock Cycle, students write a story about a teaspoon of sediment moving through the rock cycle. In addition to demonstrating their understanding of the rock cycle through this writing activity and a visual diagram, students are prompted to include the “energy source that drives each part of the process.”
  • EM-M3. In Module E: Earth’s Water & Atmosphere, Unit 1: Circulation of Earth’s Air and Water, Lesson 1: Circulation in Earth’s Atmosphere, students analyze various scenarios describing atmospheric interactions of air and water. They identify the different transfers of energy in the scenarios, which requires them to apply their understanding of different forms of energy (e.g., kinetic, thermal).
  • EM-M4. In Module I: Energy & Energy Transformations, Unit 1: Energy, Lesson 2: Kinetic and Potential Energy, students engage in a hands-on lab in which they evaluate different systems (e.g., “a mass hanging from a string, swinging back and forth”) to describe how kinetic and gravitational potential energy of the objects in the systems change over time.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Structure and Function and all grade-band elements across the series and the materials include few elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials incorporate the use of Structure and Function throughout a variety of types of learning activities across modules. Materials are designed for students to directly engage in building and using all elements of this CCC.

Examples of grade-band elements of Structure and Function present in the materials:

  • SF-M1. In Module D: The Diversity of Living Things, Unit 2: Evolution, Lesson 1: Genetic Change and Traits, students engage in a hands-on lab to model protein folding of two different proteins. They then compare the two to determine how the change in the structure of the protein affects their functions.
  • SF-M2. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 4: The Chemistry of Materials, Lesson 2: Engineer It: The Life Cycle of Synthetic Materials, students explain how the end of the life cycle of a plastic bottle can be the beginning of the life cycle for a polyester jacket.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate the crosscutting concept of Stability and Change and all grade-band elements across the series and the materials include few elements of this CCC from above or below the grade band without connecting to the grade-band elements of this CCC. The materials incorporate the use of Stability and Change throughout a variety of types of learning activities across modules. Materials are designed for students to directly engage in building and using all elements of this CCC. However, the element CCC-SC-M1 is not addressed as frequently as the other CCC elements. There are only two examples of this element in the materials, and neither example fully addresses the element.  

Examples of grade-band elements of Structure and Function present in the materials:

  • SC-M2. In Module C: Ecology & the Environment, Unit 2: Relationships in Ecosystems,  Lesson 3: Patterns of Interaction, students engage in a hands-on simulation to model how seasonal changes affect populations of rabbits, clover plants, and coyotes. Students model what happens to each population during each season and then analyze how changes to one population have impacts on the other populations.
  • SC-M3. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 2, The Rock Cycle, students compare the amounts of time needed to form extrusive igneous rock versus metamorphic rock.
  • SC-M4. In Module B: Cells & Heredity, Unit 2: Organisms as Systems, Lesson 4: Information Processing in Animals, students describe how an animal reacts to changes to normal body temperature. They need to identify warming behaviors that help warm up a cooling body and the opposite feedback mechanisms as well. Students continue to investigate homeostasis throughout this lesson.

Example of grade-band element of Structure and Function partially addressed in the materials:

  • SC-M1. In Module J: Chemistry, Unit 4: The Chemistry of Materials, Lesson 2: Engineer It: The Life Cycle of Synthetic Materials, students explain why engineers need to consider how synthetic materials are disposed of, and whether the materials can break down over time or be reused. The materials miss an opportunity to engage students in examining the process at different scales.
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The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 meet expectations that the materials incorporate grade-band NGSS connections to nature of science (NOS) and engineering (ENG) within individual lessons or activities across the series. Elements from all three of the following categories are included in the materials:

  • grade-band nature of science elements associated with SEPs
  • grade-band nature of science elements associated with CCCs
  • grade-band engineering elements associated with CCCs


These elements are included in the lesson-level overviews provided in the Teacher Edition that list the SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs that are addressed in the lessons. However, the elements are not consistently included in two of the digital features in the materials (HMH NGSS Trace Tool and View by Standards option for each module) that are meant to show instances of where the publisher intentionally designed learning opportunities that address specific SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs. According to these tools, several of these elements do not exist. This is a missed opportunity to clearly highlight the connections that the materials make to these important NGSS elements.

Additionally, some of the elements are presented without allowing students any chance to engage with the concept, instead listing a fact or statement. This is a missed opportunity for the materials as incorporating a few questions around the elements would have provided students with an opportunity for deeper engagement.  

The materials incorporate the majority of the connections to NOS elements associated with SEPs. The elements that are present are explicitly introduced, and the category is addressed in a range of modules across different disciplines. However, the materials do not address the following NOS elements: VOM-M1, VOM-M2, VOM-M4, ENP-M1, ENP-M4, and ENP-M5. Given that students consistently undertake investigations across the modules, it is a missed opportunity to incorporate explicit connections to elements related to investigations (e.g., NOS-VOM-M1, NOS-VOM-M2).

Examples of grade-band connections to NOS elements associated with SEPs present in the materials:

  • NOS-VOM-M3. In Module G: Earth & Human Activity, Unit 1: Earth’s Natural Hazards, Lesson 2: Natural Hazard Prediction, students engage in a hands-on lab to model the impact slope has on landslides. They use their findings to explain where the greatest risk of damage from a landslide might occur in a town, given the slopes of different areas. Students evaluate the model that led to their explanation and propose improvements to the model.
  • NOS-BEE-M1. In Module K: Forces, Motions & Fields, Unit 2: Electric and Magnetic Forces, Lesson 4: Electromagnetism, a Connection to Earth and Space Science sidebar in the Teacher Edition lists this category and provides information about how scientists use empirical evidence to study space phenomena, such as how knowledge of light waves and color, are used to determine a star’s temperature and distance from Earth. This is an example of presenting information that addresses the element without prompting teachers or enabling students to engage with the concept.
  • NOS-ENP-M2. In Module F: Geologic Processes & History, Unit 1: The Dynamic Earth, Lesson 3: Earth’s Plates, a Misconception Alert sidebar in the Teacher Edition addresses the possible student misconception that old theories are completely wrong. The text prompts teachers to have students explain how theories evolve over time with new evidence.

The materials incorporate the majority of the connections to NOS elements associated with CCCs. The materials present some of the elements on several occasions and across disciplines. For example, NOS-HE-M4 is introduced in many occasions and throughout many modules. Other elements were only incorporated once throughout the materials, such as NOS-AOC-M2 and NOS- HE-M1. Additionally, the materials do not address the following NOS elements: WOK-M1, HE-M2, AQAW-M2.

Examples of grade-band connections to NOS elements associated with CCCs present in the materials:

  • NOS-WOK-M2. In Module H: Space Science, Unit 2: The Solar System and Universe, Lesson 1: The Formation of the Solar System, a Collaboration sidebar in the Teacher Edition prompts teachers to “facilitate a discussion about how Pierre-Simon Laplace built upon Immanuel Kant’s hypothesis” about the formation of the solar system. The guidance for the discussion further states that students should recognize that scientists regularly expand on the work of others and that significant discoveries are often the work of multiple people.
  • NOS-HE-M4. In Module L: Waves and Their Application, Unit 2: Information Transfer, Lesson 3: Communication Technology, students conduct a short research assignment about how the internet has revolutionized a scientific field. In an accompanying formative assessment prompt in a sidebar of the Teacher Edition, students develop an evidence-based claim to explain why new technologies are linked to scientific advances.
  • NOS-AQAW-M1. In the HMH Google Expedition: Spirit: The Life of a Robot (Teacher’s Edition, digital materials only), students learn that without the development of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, scientists would not have evidence of the possibility of water on Mars in the past. The data collected by these rovers allowed scientists to construct explanations using patterns of rock formation to suggest water once flowed on this planet. This leads to the discussion of the possibility of life on Mars.

The materials incorporate all of the connections to ENG elements associated with CCCs. The elements are incorporated across all disciplines, but are especially concentrated in Module A: Engineering & Science.

Examples of grade-band connections to ENG elements associated with CCCs present in the materials:

  • ENG-INTER-M2. In Module K: Forces, Motions & Fields, Unit 2: Electric and Magnetic Forces, Lesson 2: Electric Forces, a Connection to Earth and Space Science sidebar in the Teacher Edition lists this category and provides information about how understanding the nature of charge and electric force led to invention and development of electric circuits. This, in turn, led to advances in communication in the early 19th century. This is an example of presenting information that addresses the element without prompting teachers or enabling students to engage with the concept.
  • ENG-INFLU-M3. In Module A: Engineering & Science, Unit 2: The Practices of Engineering, Lesson 1: Defining Engineering Problems, students consider what questions they should ask to help define the problem of open kitchen fires and simple stoves. They analyze an infographic from the World Health Organization to consider how different economic conditions lead to different types of technologies for cooking food, with potential safety implications for people’s safety and the surrounding environment.
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The instructional materials reviewed for HMH Science Dimensions Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials partially meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning. In Gateway 2, the instructional materials meet expectations for Gateway 2: Coherence and Scope. Expectations for Criterion 2a-2g: Coherence and Full Scope of the Three Dimensions are met, in that they incorporate the full scope of the three dimensions and the nature of science connections to DCIs and SEPs and engineering connections to CCCs. However, the materials do not incorporate unit-unit coherence or a suggested sequence for the series and include multiple instances of scientific inaccuracies related to how the three dimensions are presented.​ Additionally, while the materials meet expectations for Gateway 2 in terms of aggregate scoring, they do not meet indicator 2b, which is a nonnegotiable and prevents the materials from being reviewed for Gateway 3.

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Science and Technology Concepts™ Middle School

Carolina Biological Supply Company? | 6-8 | 2019 Edition

Sixth to Eighth

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    [revised_date] => 2019-02-28
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Gateway 1: Designed for NGSS. The materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and that phenomena and problems drive learning.

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The instructional materials reviewed for G​rades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1a-1c: Three-Dimensional Learning. The materials include some learning sequences that include and integrate the three dimensions, but CCCs are not consistently included. Further, the materials incorporate SEPs for students to make sense of and with DCIs, but do not incorporate CCCs to support student sensemaking. Additionally, the materials do not consistently incorporate three-dimensional learning objectives or include formative tasks addressing the three dimensions. The materials include few to no summative assessment tasks that are three-dimensional in design.

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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed to integrate the science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs) into student learning. Throughout the series, some learning sequences include three dimensions and consistently integrate SEPs, CCCs, and DCIs in student learning opportunities.

The materials are divided into nine units with each unit divided into nine to twelve lessons.  Each lesson contains three to five investigations, which serve as the primary driver of all student learning. Throughout the series, each SEP is present. Students most often use the SEPs of developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing explanations and designing solutions when conducting investigations. Through the investigations, students consistently improve their understanding of the DCIs by engaging with the SEPs. Across the series, all CCCs are present in the materials. However, the CCCs are not consistently included throughout the materials and connections to the CCCs are often limited to one reflection question related to individual investigations. The materials provide few opportunities that include more than one question for students to use the CCCs. In addition, many investigations do not include a reflection question or mention a CCC. Therefore, some learning sequences include and integrate the three dimensions into student learning, but the CCCs are not consistently included or integrated.

Examples of materials integrating the three dimensions into student learning:

  • In Unit: Structure and Function, Lesson 4: Photosynthesis, Investigation 4.1, students investigate how plants use carbon dioxide during photosynthesis (SEP-INV-M2) and analyze data to determine similarities and differences in findings between each sample and investigative group (SEP-DATA-M7). Prior to designing the investigation, students discuss how the parts of the plants relate to each other when plants photosynthesize (CCC-SF-M1). After determining how plants function with photosynthesis and its relationship to the health of the plant, students design their investigation. Students use evidence from the investigation to explain how plants use the energy from light to make sugars (DCI-LS1.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 6: Modeling Waves, Investigation 6.1, students create a model of a wave showing the relationship between amplitude, wavelength, and frequency (DCI-PS4.A-M1). Students use a beaded chain to create model waves, modify the model (SEP-MOD-M2), and record the effect. Students use the model to determine how waves have a repeating pattern (DCI-PS4.A-M1) and read about wave characteristics before measuring and recording the wavelength and amplitude of model waves (SEP-INFO-M1). Students discuss the relationship between the energy transferred to the chain and the amplitude of the model wave (CCC-PAT-M3).
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 2: The Nature of Matter, Investigation 2.3, students plan and carry out an investigation to find out how different liquids affect the reactivity of iron (SEP-INV-M1). Students develop an understanding how different liquids cause the iron to react dissimilarly (DCI-PS1.B-M1), which in turn helps students understand chemical reactions (CCC-CE-E1).  
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 2: The Sun-Earth-Moon System, Investigation 2.1, students model the sun-earth-moon system (SEP-MOD-P3) and calculate the relative sizes of the bodies in the system using ratios (SEP-MATH-M4). In Investigation 2.2, using the model created in Investigation 2.1, students develop a sense of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky (DCI-ESS1.A-M1). Students use their models to understand the relative proportions of the sun-earth-moon system (CCC-SPQ-M1).

Examples of the materials integrating, at most, two dimensions into student learning:

  • In Unit: Weather and Climate System, Lesson 4: Wind and Air Pressure, Investigation 4.4, students answer the question, “How do you think air pressure and weather relate to one another?” Students conduct the experiment and record their data and observations in their notebooks and determine trends (SEP-DATA-P1, SEP-DATA-P3). Students do not engage with a CCC during this learning sequence. Additionally, while students are engaged in the SEPs, the engagement does not lead to a deeper understanding of the intended DCI.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate System, Lesson 9: Introduction to Climate, students analyze data for five different locations and use the data to determine the climate classification for the observed areas (SEP-DATA-P3, DCI-ESS2.D-E2). Students record their climate zone and cite the average high and low temperatures, average precipitation in inches, the number of days of precipitation, and the hours of sunshine (SEP-ARG-E4). Students discuss why their group chose the classification they did for each location, based on climate as the range of an area’s typical weather conditions (DCI-ESS2.D-E2). The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 7: Selection, Investigation 7.2, students demonstrate how plants use specialized features or animals to aid in their reproduction (DCI-LS1.B-M3). Students discuss how seeds are able to remain dormant and be transported to islands in the ocean. Students plan and carry out an investigation to test how different seeds are dispersed in nature (SEP-INV-M1). The students observe different methods (wind, water, gravity, animals, and mechanical propulsion) used by six different plants to move their seeds. Students record their results and answer questions. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 5: Genetics, Investigation 5.3, students create “creature babies” to understand how traits and variation of those traits are inherited from parents (DCI-LS3.A-M2). Students create a model by combining alleles for the creature’s inherited traits (SEP-MOD-M6).  Students are not required to use their model to explain the underlying content of inheritance; students are simply asked to identify similarities and differences between parents and offspring. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 3: Density Makes a Difference, Investigation 3.3, students calculate the density of objects with irregular shapes (PS1.A-M2, SEP-INV-M1, SEP-DATA-M7). They collect and analyze their data, then compare their data to the data collected during Investigation 3.2. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Investigation 4.3, students use a computer simulation to model different phases of matter at the particle level (DCI-PS1.A-M6). After making observations, students pause the simulation then make a prediction by using a jar of plastic cubes to model changes in a system (SEP-MOD-M4). Students record their prediction and proceed with the simulation. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
  • In Unit: Weather and Climate Systems, Lesson 3: The Water Cycle, Cloud Formation, and Air Masses, Investigation 3.2, students follow a prescriptive set of instructions to build an apparatus they will use as a model for the water cycle  (DCI-ESS2.C-M1, SEP- MOD-M5). Students answer questions at the end of the activity. The students are not directed to consider the CCC.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 partially meet expectations that they are designed for SEPs or CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions in nearly all learning sequences. Across the series, SEPs and CCCs are present in the materials and students most often engage with the SEPs in investigations to improve their understanding and use of the DCIs. In many instances, SEPs from previous grade-bands are used by students. Additionally, one instance was found where students used SEPs to make sense with a science content idea from outside of the grade-band DCIs. Further, the materials are not consistently designed for the CCCs to meaningfully support student sensemaking with the other dimensions; investigations typically do not reference the CCCs or they are often limited to one reflection question related to individual investigations.

Examples of students using SEPs to make sense with DCIs:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 2: Cells, students observe, draw, measure, and compare onion cells and a paramecium (DCI-LS1.A-M1). In Investigation 2.3, students view prepared slides from a variety of other organisms, then draw and label structures within those cells (DCI-LS1.A-M2). Students read, “Introduction to Cell Types” to learn about different organelles and their structures. Students collect observations and measurements serving as a basis for their comparison (SEP-INV-E3), but CCCs are not included for students to make sense with the DCI or SEP.
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces and Motion, Lesson 4: Newton’s First and Second Laws, Investigation 4.1, students draw force diagrams (SEP-MOD-E5) of a stone arch, pushing a car compared to a bike and swinging a baseball bat to hit a ball. Students answer questions about the forces acting on a car hooked to pulleys, but do not observe the motion of the car. In Investigation 4.2, students plan and carry out an investigation (SEP-INV-M2) to collect data about the acceleration of a small plastic car. Students then write a paragraph describing motion using a force diagram (SEP-MOD-E5) to illustrate the forces acting on the car (DCI-PS2.A-M2). Students use the SEPs to understand how an object with greater mass will need a greater force acting on it to make it move (DCI-PS2.A-M2), but CCCs are not included for students to make sense with the DCI or SEP.


Example of students using SEPs to make sense with DCIs, but the DCI was not from the appropriate grade-band:

  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 7: Gravity: Bending Space-Time, students begin the lesson by reading and interpreting graphs to determine the difference between causal and correlational relationships (SEP-DATA-M3). In Investigation 7.1, students read information from a table to answer questions comparing how much they would weigh on different planets. Students then use provided information to graph planet mass versus surface gravity factors and answer questions. Students use additional information to graph and describe the relationship between planet mass and radius (SEP-DATA-E1). Students read, “Mass and Weight: What is the Difference?” to understand the differences across planets. In Investigation 7.2, students read, “What is the Space-Time Continuum?” before using the Planetary Motion Model to observe how different sized objects interact with each other on the plastic sheet. Students also construct and support a claim about the space-time continuum (SEP-CEDS-M2). While students used this SEPs to make sense of the content, the space science content wasn’t aligned to any Grade 6-8 DCIs.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence for three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. Each lesson is comprised of multiple investigations. The Teacher Edition provides one or more learning objectives for each investigation, but the objective(s) for each investigation are rarely three-dimensional, as they frequently exclude the crosscutting concepts. Further, the formative assessment tasks do not consistently reveal student learning and use of the three dimensions.

Additionally, the Lesson Planner in the Teacher Edition indicates formative assessments located within each investigation, but the formative assessments are not clearly labeled within the lesson materials. During the investigation, teachers assess what students understand about the investigations through class discussions, student worksheets and assignments, or student presentations. The Reflecting on What You’ve Done section at the end of lessons and investigations provides an Exit Slip question in addition to multiple questions students can answer as part of a class discussion or in their notebooks.

Examples where materials do not have three-dimensional learning objectives, nor include formative assessment tasks addressing three dimensions:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 4: Cellular Reproduction, Investigation 4.5, the learning objective is for students to “compare and contrast mitosis and meiosis using a Venn diagram.” Students answer a series of questions about the two processes (DCI-LS3.B-M1) before making their own Venn diagram. They compare their answers with a partner then in a class discussion before making any revisions. The Exit Slip at the end of the investigation asks, “Where do cells come from?” (DCI-LS3.B-M1). The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 5: Building Blocks of Matter, Investigation 5.2, the learning objective is for students to “Use physical models to describe the atomic composition of simple molecules.” Students use a molecular model set to construct molecules for N2 and H20, drawing and labeling each in their science notebook. Students compare similarities and differences between the two molecules (DCI-PS1.A-M1). The Exit Slip at the end of the investigation, asks “How does a compound differ from an element?” (DCI-PS1.A-M1). The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 9: The Electric Body, Investigation 9.2, the learning objectives are for students to “Describe the types of stimuli the nervous system respond to” and “Investigate factors that affect the time it takes for the body to respond to a stimulus.” Students plan and conduct an investigation (SEP-INV-M5) related to reaction time (using different hands, while distracted, visual or auditory stimuli, etc.), performing multiple trials and recording their predictions, hypotheses, data, and claims in their science notebooks. Students answer questions about factors affecting reaction time (DCI-LS1.D-M1) in the Student Guide and share answers during a class discussion. The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 8: Gravity’s Role in the Universe, Investigation 8.1, the learning objective is for students to “Use a model to examine the relationships between relative body mass and the speed of an orbiting body.” Students swing a Moon Orbiter over their heads, recording the number of revolutions in a specified time period. Students repeat the task multiple times and calculate the average orbital period (SEP-INV-M4). Students then add different numbers of washers to change the mass to model the relationship between the mass of a planet and the speed of the orbiting body. Students analyze their data and compare it to the provided Planet and Moon Data before answering questions in the Student Guide (DCI-PS2.B-M2). The learning objective did not include the three dimensions and the formative tasks did not assess student understanding of the three dimensions.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that they are designed to elicit direct, observable evidence of the three-dimensional learning in the instructional materials. The Teacher Edition does not provide specific learning objectives for each unit; rather, it provides a list (usually 10-15) performance expectations intended to be met by the end of the unit.

The materials include two types of summative assessments: performance assessments and written assessments. Written assessments include multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. The final lesson in each unit serves as a performance assessment for the unit and is intended for students to apply learning from the unit as a performance task that includes research, preparing proposals or posters, and class presentations. Across each content area, neither type of assessment is consistently designed to measure student knowledge and use of all three dimensions, frequently omitting the crosscutting concepts.

Examples where the summative assessment tests and tasks are not three-dimensional in design and do not fully assess the targeted three-dimensional learning objectives (listed as multiple PEs):

  • In Unit: Earth’s Dynamic Systems, Lesson 12: Assessment, the Teacher Edition shows alignment to seven performance expectations within the assessments and the alignment at the start of the unit includes 11 PEs; the ETS PEs are not included in the summative assessments and not all of the other seven PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students are guided by questions in the Student Guide as they research historic earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and develop a proposal for geodynamic event preparedness. The written assessment includes ten questions which do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs and SEPs are assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs. 
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 10: Assessment, The Teacher Edition shows alignment to 10 performance expectations, while the alignment at the start of the unit includes 13 PEs; three of the ETS PEs are not included in the summative assessments and not all of the other 10 PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students are guided by questions in the Student Guide as they research neurological disorders and support a claim related to how the researched disorder could affect job function. The written assessment includes 10 questions, yet they do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs, SEPs, and the CCC of cause and effect are assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 11: Assessment, The Teacher Edition shows alignment to six performance expectations, but not all of the PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students answer questions in the Student Guide as they research a technology used to develop or influence a desired trait of an organism; students create a poster showing what they learned about the technology and how it was used to influence the trait. The written assessment includes 15 questions, yet they do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs, SEPs, and the CCC of cause and effect are assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions: Lesson 11: Assessment, The Teacher Edition shows alignment to 12 performance expectations while the alignment at the start of the unit includes 13 PEs; the assessment also includes MS-LS1-7, not listed at the start of  the unit. Not all of the other 13 PEs are fully assessed across the two assessments. During the performance assessment, students answer questions in the Student Guide as they research a threat to an ecosystem service in the area they live, create a plan for reducing the threat in their area, and create a poster to report their findings to the class. The written assessment includes 12 questions, yet they do not fully assess the three-dimensional learning objectives (PEs) for the unit. Across the two assessments, several DCIs and SEPs area assessed.  Assessment of the CCCs is not evident within the targeted PEs.
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​The instructional materials reviewed for G​rades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Criterion 1d-1i: Phenomena and Problems Drive Learning. The materials infrequently incorporate phenomena and problems, but when present they do connect to grade-band appropriate DCIs. The materials do not present phenomena or problems to students as directly as possible. The materials incorporate few investigations across the series using phenomena or problems to drive students' learning and use of the three dimensions. The materials provide information regarding how phenomena and problems are present in the materials, with students expected to solve problems in 11% of the lessons and explain phenomena in 7% of the lessons. The materials do not consistently elicit and do not leverage students' prior knowledge and experience related to phenomena or problems. Further, the materials do not incorporate phenomena that drive learning across multiple lessons and when problems are used to drive student learning, students are not provided the opportunity to use all three dimensions to solve them.

) [8] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 1d [type] => indicator [points] => 2 [rating] => meets [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 meets expectations that phenomena and/or problems are connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). While there are few phenomena and problems in the series, those that are present connect to grade-band disciplinary core ideas or their elements.

The materials are divided into nine units with each unit containing nine to eleven lessons. Each lesson contains three to five investigations. While phenomena or problems are found within most units, they are found in very few lessons in each unit. When present, the phenomena are generally located on the first page of the unit with the Focus Question or are located near the start of individual investigations. When present, the problems usually occur as an investigation.

While the examples provided are connected to a grade-band DCI, these examples represent most of the phenomena and problems from across the series. There is a dichotomy between number of phenomena and/or problems present in the materials in conjunction with the number of lessons in each unit.

Examples of phenomena in the series connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 5: Genetics, the phenomenon of how puppies from the same litter look different is used to help students understand that variations of inherited traits between parent and offspring arise from genetic differences resulting from the subset of chromosomes, and therefore, genes inherited (DCI-LS3.A-M2).
  • In Unit: Matter and Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Getting Started, the phenomenon of how the scent of peppermint oil is able to leave an open bottle and distribute through the classroom is used to help students understand molecular motion in different states of matter (DCI-PS1.A-M4).


Examples of problems in the series connected to grade-band disciplinary core ideas:

  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, students design a calcium chloride instant hot pack to produce heat on demand. While engaging in this design problem (DCI-ETS1.B-E1), students apply prior learning related to chemical reactions releasing energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit (DCI-LS2.A.M1).
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range (DCI-LS2.C-M1).
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, Investigation 8.2, students are challenged to design and build a prototype roller coaster that has the highest velocity, the largest loop, or the highest hills (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2).
) [9] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 1e [type] => indicator [points] => 0 [rating] => does-not-meet [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems in the series are presented to students as directly as possible. Few lessons and associated investigations present phenomena designed for students to explain. When phenomena are present, they are typically presented to students in a reading passage as an example or to illustrate a larger science concept or topic without further student engagement. When problems are present, students are generally given the problem and then directed to solve the provided problem. Only two instances were found where phenomena are presented as directly as possible. This is a missed opportunity for the materials to consistently present phenomena and problems more directly to support students' meaningful participation.

Example of a phenomenon presented in the materials, but not as directly as possible:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 9: Selection, the lesson phenomenon is how multiple varieties of cabbages have been derived from a single wild cabbage species. This phenomenon is presented to students with a picture of wild cabbage and five varieties (e.g., broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.) with the Focus Question, “How do natural and artificial selection change a population over time?” A more direct presentation is possible for students to visualize the different varieties.

Examples of problems presented in the materials, but not as directly as possible:

  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit. After researching an assigned organism’s habitat, population, community, and ecosystem, students read how ecosystems are organized. Students then view a picture of a sloth bear exhibit at a zoo and the teacher tells students to determine if their organism would be a good candidate for a zoo exhibit. A more direct presentation is possible for students to visualize requirements for zoo exhibits.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range. Students view a picture of freshwater mussels which have been reintroduced to parts of their historic range. The teacher (and Step 1 in the Procedure) tells students to determine whether their assigned organism should be reintroduced to a part of its historic range. A more direct presentation of species reintroduction is possible.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer Unit, Lesson 5: Transforming and Transferring Energy, Investigation 5.2, the problem is focused on designing a device to maximize or minimize thermal energy from containers (used in the prior investigation). The problem is presented to students by reading text accompanied by three pictures (i.e., person in coat and gloves, pot of water boiling, mug of hot chocolate) and instructions in Step 1 of the procedure.  A more direct presentation of thermal energy transfer is possible.
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, the problem is focused on designing and building a prototype roller coaster that has the highest velocity, the largest loop, or the highest hills. This problem is presented to students with a picture of one loop in a roller coaster and the Focus Question, “How do energy transformations inform the design of a roller coaster?” A more direct presentation is possible for students to visualize the motion and full design of a roller coaster.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on designing solutions to support humans living in space. This problem is presented to students with a picture of mars and the Focus Question, “What are the criteria and constraints for humans to live in space?” A more direct presentation is possible for students to help students visualize requirements for space habitation.


) [10] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 1f [type] => indicator [points] => 0 [rating] => does-not-meet [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that phenomena and/or problems drive individual lessons or activities using key elements of all three dimensions. Materials provide few investigations across the series using phenomena or problems to drive student learning. For the majority of investigations, a science topic is used as the basis for learning.

When a phenomenon is present, the materials consistently provide students with an explanation of the phenomenon in the next step or paragraph. This represents a missed opportunity for students to engage with all three dimensions to make sense of the phenomenon. Problems drive learning within individual investigations more frequently than phenomena. However, when problems are used to drive student learning, key elements of all three dimensions are not incorporated, and most often exclude the CCCs.

Examples of lessons that use a problem to drive learning, but do not use key elements from all three dimensions, most often excluding CCCs:

  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, students design a calcium chloride instant hot pack to produce heat on demand. While engaging in this design problem (DCI-ETS1.B-E1, SEP-INV-M5, SEP-CEDS-M7), students apply prior learning related to chemical reactions releasing energy (DCI-PS1.B-M3).
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining which organisms are good choices for zoo exhibits (DCI-ETS1.A-E1). Students select or are assigned an animal. They research the animal’s habitat, population characteristics, and community (DCI-LS2.A.M1). Students identify what is needed to house their animal at a zoo (what does the animal need, what does the zoo need to do to meet that need - and is it possible/practical/cost efficient to do so). Students make a poster with a claim as to whether their animal would be a good choice as a zoo exhibit and support the claim with evidence about the animal’s habitat, needs, and the costs/constraints for the zoo (SEP-CEDS-M2).
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range. Students research the organism assigned by the teacher and its role in an ecosystem, the proposed area for reintroduction, other reintroductions, and the stakeholders with an interest or concern in the problem. Students research and identify criteria that would be met for a successful reintroduction (e.g., food, shelter, impact on livestock). Students research and identify constraints (size of range, cost, stakeholders) that would impact the reintroduction plan. Students gather evidence to support their argument for whether the organism would be a good choice for reintroduction (SEP-ARG-M3, DCI-LS2.C-M1). Students make a poster to communicate their solution.
) [11] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 1g [type] => indicator [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 were designed for students to solve problems in 11% of the lessons (9/85 lessons) compared to 15% of the NGSS grade-band performance expectations designed for solving problems. Throughout the materials, 7% of the lessons (6/85 lessons) were designed for students to explain phenomena. For this determination, the final lesson of each was not counted since the lesson was designed as a summative assessment. Problems students solved were typically found as a single investigation within a lesson; phenomena students explained were typically found at the start of a lesson. While few phenomena or problems were found across the series, at least one instance occurred within each discipline.

Examples of problems in the series:

  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range.
  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, Investigation 8.2, students design and build a prototype coaster to solve the problem of highest velocity, the largest loop, or the highest hills.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, students gather information about using calcium chloride to create a new hot pack, design a prototype, collect data, evaluate their prototype, and make a recommendation to their company.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer Unit, Lesson 5: Transforming and Transferring Energy, Investigation 5.2, students design a device to maximize or minimize thermal energy from containers. They use information from the previous investigation to create a new hot pack, design a prototype, and collect data. Students evaluate their prototype and make a recommendation to their company.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on humans living in space. Students define criteria and constraints considering technology needed to live in space and begin to design solutions in support of human survival in space.

Examples of phenomena in the series:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 5: Genetics, the phenomenon is puppies from the same litter looking different even though they have the same parents.
  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 9: Selection, the phenomenon is multiple varieties of cabbages having been derived from a single wild cabbage species.
  • In Unit: Electricity, Waves, and Information Transfer, Lesson 4: Electricity in Motion, the phenomenon is a compass needle moving when near an electrical circuit.
  • In Unit: Matter and Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Getting Started, the phenomenon is the scent of peppermint oil and its ability to leave an open bottle and distribute throughout the classroom.
) [12] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 1h [type] => indicator [points] => 0 [rating] => does-not-meet [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials intentionally leverage students’ prior knowledge and experiences related to phenomena or problems. Lesson 1 of each unit is designed as a pre-assessment for each unit. Students are provided with a Focus Question and often an image related to that focus question, but the image is often not connected to a phenomenon students are asked to explain. The Getting Started section asks students additional questions related to the focus of the unit. If a phenomenon is present, these questions may elicit prior knowledge and experience about the phenomenon, but the questions generally elicit prior knowledge related to the broader science concept. Additionally, an investigation in Lesson 1 of a unit frequently has students begin a KWL chart related to the topic of the unit, but it is not specific to the phenomenon or problem, if present.

Examples where the materials do not elicit or leverage students’ prior knowledge or experience related to the phenomenon or problem:

  • In Unit: Genes and Molecular Machines, Lesson 9: Selection, the phenomenon is multiple varieties of cabbages having been derived from a single wild cabbage species. This phenomenon is presented to students with a picture of wild cabbage and five varieties (e.g., broccoli, kale, cauliflower, etc.) and the Focus Question, “How do natural and artificial selection change a population over time?” Student prior knowledge or experience specific to cabbage varieties is not elicited or leveraged.
  • In Unit: Matter and Its Interactions, Lesson 8: Releasing Energy, Investigation 8.2, the problem is for students to design a calcium chloride instant hot pack to produce heat on demand. Before engaging in this design problem, students learned in prior investigations about chemical reactions releasing energy, but prior knowledge or experience specific to hot packs was not elicited or leveraged.
  • In Unit: Ecosystem and their Interactions, Lesson 2: Ecosystem Organization, Investigation 2.3, the problem is focused on determining if an organism is a good choice for a zoo exhibit. Student prior knowledge or experience specific to zoos and designing zoo habitats is not elicited or leveraged.
  • In Unit: Ecosystems and Their Interactions, Lesson 9: Biodiversity, Investigation 9.2, the problem is focused on determining whether an organism should be reintroduced to part of its historic range. Student prior knowledge or experience specific to species reintroduction is not elicited or leveraged.

The materials infrequently elicit students’ prior knowledge and experience related to a phenomenon or problem, but when they do it is typically through a class discussion or students recording their ideas in their science notebooks. These student ideas are not leveraged in subsequent learning as students make sense of the phenomenon or solve the problem; often the explanation or solution immediately follows in the next step of the lesson or investigation. There are minimal instances where materials only elicit student ideas and experiences related to phenomena or problems, however, the elicitation is not found consistently across the series.

Examples where the materials elicit, but do not leverage students’ prior knowledge or experience related to the phenomenon or problem:

  • In Unit: Matter and Interactions, Lesson 4: Just a Phase, Getting Started, the phenomenon is the scent of peppermint oil is able to leave an open bottle and distribute through the classroom. Student prior knowledge and understanding of this phenomenon is elicited by students describing the phenomenon and drawing a diagram of what they think happened with the peppermint oil particles. While student drawings are revisited and modified during a subsequent lesson in the unit, their understandings are not leveraged during the other lessons.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on designing solutions to support humans living in space. Student prior knowledge and understanding of this problem is elicited by a series of questions from the lesson that students discuss with partners and record in their science notebook. While student ideas are revisited and modified during subsequent lessons in the unit, their understandings are not leveraged during the other lessons.
) [13] => stdClass Object ( [code] => 1i [type] => indicator [points] => 0 [rating] => does-not-meet [report] =>

​The instructional materials reviewed for Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations that materials embed phenomena or problems across multiple lessons (or investigations) for students to use and build knowledge of all three dimensions. Across the series, the materials provide few lessons using phenomena or problems to drive student learning of the three dimensions across multiple investigations. For the majority of lessons, a science topic is used as the basis for learning.

Each unit consists of multiple lessons; Lesson 1 of each unit is designed as a pre-assessment for each unit and the final lesson of the unit is intended to be a summative assessment. Each lesson provides a Focus Question and often an image related to that focus question. The Focus Question is rarely connected to a specific phenomenon that students are asked to explain or a problem students are asked to solve, but rather it is connected to a broader science concept or topic. As a result, the investigations within the lesson are typically connected to the science topic of the lesson, but not to a specific phenomenon or problem.

When a phenomenon is present, the materials consistently provide students with an explanation of the phenomenon in the next step or paragraph. Multiple examples of phenomena driving learning were not found. In two instances, problems drive learning across multiple investigations in a lesson. Additionally, when problems are used to drive student learning, key elements of all three dimensions are not incorporated, and most often exclude the CCCs.

Examples of lessons using a problem to connect multiple investigations for students, but do not use and build knowledge of all three dimensions:

  • In Unit: Energy, Forces, and Motion, Lesson 8: Transforming Energy, students design and build a prototype roller coaster. In Investigation 8.1, students follow procedures to build a basic roller coaster, then test how various heights will affect marble velocity (SEP-INV-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2). In Investigation 8.2, students sketch a design, build a prototype, test whether their roller coaster design works, and plan modifications (SEP-INV-M1, DCI-ETS1.C-M1). After completing the design, students answer questions about energy transfers (DCI-PS3.A-M1, DCI-PS3.A-M2) and read several articles and answer questions.
  • In Unit: Space Systems Exploration, Lesson 9: The Challenges of Space Exploration, the problem is focused on humans living in space. In Investigation 9.1, students read scientific text and explore particular criteria and constraints regarding living in space, particularly on mars (SEP-INFO-M1, DCI-ETS1.A-M1). They present their group’s list to the class and accept feedback, as well as, provide feedback to other groups (SEP-ARG-M3). In Investigation 9.2, students brainstorm challenges of living in space (e.g., ground support, technology needed for moving around, supporting life, etc.) and gather additional information from assigned readings to support an argument for or against habitation in space (SEP-ARG-E6 ). In Investigation 9.3, students define criteria and constraints related to their specific topic for supporting life in space (ENG-INFLU-M1, ENG-INFLU-M2).
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​The instructional materials reviewed for Science and Technology Concepts Middle School, Grades 6-8 do not meet expectations for Alignment to NGSS, Gateways 1 and 2. In Gateway 1, the instructional materials do not meet expectations for three-dimensional learning and phenomena and problems drive learning.

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