REGIONAL—The Boyden-Hull School District is working on elevating its science curriculum.
Grades 2, 4 and 5 at Boyden-Hull Elementary in Boyden and seventh- and eighth-grade classes at Boyden-Hull Junior High School in Hull are piloting a new science curriculum called Elevate Science during the 2018-19 academic year.
The new science curriculum comes from Pearson, a London-based company that offers educational products and services, assessments and professional development globally for all stages of learning.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” said Boyden-Hull Elementary principal Tom Kerr. “You can definitely sense the energy from the teachers and the students.”
The district is trying out Elevate Science because of new science standards that the Iowa Department of Education adopted in August 2015 to align with the Next Generation Science Standards.
At that time, the state agency approved a four-year plan to have the Iowa Science Standards fully implemented statewide by the fall of 2019.
The Next Generation Science Standards were developed in order to create a set of research-based, up-to-date K-12 science content standards that could be adopted across the country.
The National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, a nonprofit education organization, worked together to develop the Next Generation Science Standards.
Like the Next Generation Science Standards, the Iowa Science Standards are written as three-dimensional performance expectations, according to the state Department of Education.
All three dimensions — science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts — are included in each Iowa Science Standard.
According to Pearson’s website, Elevate Science — designed to address the Next Generation Science Standards — “helps students investigate real-life phenomena through project-based learning.”
Boyden-Hull’s new science curriculum has many components to it, including physical and online versions of science textbooks.
“There are science kits that are a part of it,” Kerr said. “There are more hands-on activities and experiments for the students.
“There’s a lot more writing with this as well,” he said. “There’s more problem-solving and higher-order thinking.”
The district settled on Elevate Science after a committee of Boyden-Hull administrators and science teachers spent the past year looking into updating the district’s science curriculum.
Kerr said Pearson especially appealed to Boyden-Hull because the company and the University of Iowa in Iowa City are developing new statewide assessments to replace the Iowa Assessments next spring.
“School districts are required to administer those during the last quarter of the school year,” he said. “They’re required in grades 3 through 11 for math and English language arts, and grades 5, 8 and 10 for science.”
Boyden-Hull teachers who are using Elevate Science worked with a Pearson representative for a half day of training on Aug. 17. The company will hold more training throughout the 2018-19 academic year.
“If things go well, we’ll finalize it for K-8,” Kerr said. “Those teachers can be resources or trainers when we fully adopt it, if we were to do that. We just want to make sure it’s what we want.”