Using Inquiry Groups to Meet the NGSS

Kolling, Kathleen

Inquiry and Design Thinking


Dole, Laurie. (2013). Using inquiry groups to meet the next generation science standards. LMC, 32(2), 34-36.


The NGSS standards are almost mirrors of the steps of the inquiry model. Students ask questions and define problems, develop and use models, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, use math and computational thinking, construct explanations and design solutions: engaging in argument from evidence, and obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information. These steps and goals are very similar to other inquiry models that have a goal for students to be engaged in active wonder and questioning.


I love that all of the inquiry models we studied in class this semester can also be applied to NGSS topics. It’s often difficult for me to think of ways to connect to curriculum, other than language arts and social studies, but it can be done. Taking students all the way through a complete inquiry project also reinforces the scientific process, and creates a generation of people who will know how to delve deeply into exploring a topic.

Understanding by Design

Hertz-Newman, Jenny


Bowen, Ryan S., (2017). Understanding by Design. Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching. Retrieved May 2018 from

This is almost like a mini-class in the backwards design model for constructing courses and units of study.  It reminds me of standards based planning/instruction in which instruction is based on the goal of students mastering the standard and lesson follows from that end goal.  This site has both text and video and the main aspects of backwards design are broken down clearly and in an interesting way.  There are also lesson planning templates and ideas for assessment.  I appreciate the focus on design for understanding and critical thinking in this model.


Where Standards Come From

Bradley, Rebecca


McClure, p. (2005). Where standards come from. Theory into Practice, 4(1),4-10. doi:  10.1207/s15430421tip4401_2

In this article Phyllis McClure gives a brief and very clear historical overview of how the standards movement originally arose. In the simplest terms, in the past folks thought that children from privileged backgrounds would rise to the top to occupy positions of power and leadership while those less fortunate would get an adequate education for their lower stations in life. As time went by this policy was deemed unjust, which led to the idea of common curriculum standards for all students. 
The article goes on to mention key court decisions that pushed standards forward as well as the financing structure of schools that needed to be overhauled. It also touches on the fact that expecting all students to meet the same high standards has caused a lingering “achievement gap.” The article ends with information about the emergence of Title 1 and the No Child Left Behind Act and states that the standards movement shows no sign of being a “fad” or going away anytime soon. 
I recommend this article to anyone who has little or no idea of how the standards movement came about in our country. In particular, this article would be helpful to people who are just starting out in the field of education or who might have been in another profession while all of these significant shifts were occurring. In my case, I was living outside the US from 1991 to 2009, so I found the overview McClure provides in this article to be very helpful.