Culver City Unified School District

Skip to main content
Main Menu Toggle
Academics » Science


Overview of NGSS
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), has three distinct and equally important dimensions to learning science.  These dimensions are combined to form each standard or performance expectation (what students are expected to be mastered by the end of the unit) and each dimension works with the other two to help students build cohesive understanding of science over time.  The three dimensions are (see NGSS 3 dimension image):
  • The Science and Engineering Practices (SEP): How students "discover" the content by taking part and becoming scientist (ex: asking questions, analyzing data, planning an investigation)
  • The Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): The content (or old standards)
  • The Cross Cutting Concepts (XCC):  How students "think" or the lens they try to understand the world around them (ex: patterns, cause and effect)
Each unit starts of with a phenomena that is observable, real-life contexts that form the basis of a question or a problem to be solved around the content (DCI).  During the introduction to the phenomena students will make observations and ask questions about what they see.  Then, students will use the science engineering practices (SEP) to discover the science content (DCI) like planning an investigation or analyzing data.  As students make new observations they may use the Cross Cutting Concepts (XCC) to "think" like a scientist by looking for patterns or cause and effect.  Students then apply their knowledge to the phenomena and they keep repeating the process until they understand the phenomena (see science unit/lesson flow image)
 NGSS 3-dimensions 
science flow  NGSS 3-dimensions 
NGSS Performance Expectations and Ca Framework
Science and Distance Learning
Examples of Distance Learning Lessons (could take more than one day):
(These are exemplars from UCLA science project.  Each of these lessons offers voice, choice, and encourage public display of thinking.  These are written for asynchronous but easily you can bring students together for breakout room discussions.)
Kindergarten Force and Motion: English/Spanish
1st: What can you see? English/Spanish
2nd Grade Seed Dispersal: English/Spanish
2nd Grade Pollination:  English/Spanish
2nd Grade:  Plants Need Sunlight and Water to Grow: English/Spanish
3rd Grade:  Force and Motion: English/Spanish
7th Grade: Water Drops English/Spanish
7th Grade:  Drops on a Penny: English/Spanish
Teacher Note: that the above lessons were created in spring when certain resources may have been free. As we proceed through the school year Erica Young will modify based on what materials/videos are available.  Each week Erica Young will provide lessons for elementary, if you want to go a different order than what she has created feel free to pull from what we used last year.
Ex:  Provide a slide show, assign a breakout rooms: 
one slide with directions, another slide a task (answer a question, complete a model)
Resources for Planning
What is a Phenomena? What are the different types?
Anchor Phenomena:  Anchor phenomena are those observable, real-life contexts that form the basis of a question or a problem to be solved.  They are very complex.  They represent questions we can't answer in a single experiment or problem we can't solve in one round of prototyping.  
  • Example:  Flooding in New York City.  There are many reasons that New York City could experience flooding, so the topic isn't something that can be "solved" or "answered" in a single session. Rather, it provides a frame for the lesson.
Investigative Phenomena:  Is an offshoot of the anchor phenomena.  
  • Example:  If we once again use New York Flooding, then then investigative phenomena related to that might be how soil and ground cover affect water seepage because that is an element that affects flooding.
Phenomena Resource Sites:
Cross Cutting Concepts:
  How students "think" or the "lens" they use to understand science
  • Cross Cutting Concepts: (Icons, Questions related to the XCC, and Questions related to the Science and Engineering Practices)
Science Talk
Discussion by SEP:
Group Accountability:
Science Notebooks
Different Ways to Introduce Science Notebooks:
1) Look at science notebooks from scientist and look for characteristics:
  • Resource Link
  • with a partner look over a scientist notebook page
  • discuss characteristics you see and write them in your notebook
  • find another partner (different example) and share with them the characteristics you see
  • swap the scientist you have and repeat the same process
2) Gallery Walk with Partners (Resource Link <-- same as above)
3) Notable Notebooks by Jessica Fries- Gaither (each site has two copies check with the librarian)
notable notebooks
4) Video of students explaining their science notebooks
Different Versions/Forms of Science Notebooks:
Science Wall
science wall
Digital Notebook
(Google Slides)
google slides
Paper Packet
paper bundled
Physical Paper Notebook
physical notebook
What are different ways to Set up a Physical Notebook? 
Notebook with label prompt
notebook with label prompt
One side Student side and one side teacher side
(also lower elementary)
side one students draw pictures side 2 class activity side
One side relate back to phenomena and the other side teacher/class side
side one relate to phenomena side two class activity
Right and Left Side Material has specific guidelines
use both sides
Notebook Content:
Cognitive Rigor Matrix for SCience
What is the Cognitive Rigor Matrix?
The following charts combine Bloom's taxonomy and Webb's Depth of Knowledge into a single chart called Cognitive Rigor Matrix.  The charts provide a comparison of varying levels or depths of knowledge related to practices within each discipline. 
How do I use the Cognitive Rigor Matrix?
  • Use a range of Depth of Knowledge.  If you are only assessing the highest DOK level you will miss out on opportunities to know what students do and don't know.  Go for a range.
  • Planning formative assessment strategies and tools can focus on differing DOK levels.
  • Performance assessments can be offering a variety levels of DOK embedded in larger, more complex task.
Rigor Matrix Specific to Science:
Science Performance Task
CAST Test Items
Students are tested in 5th, 8th, and 11th grade and the items cover items that in are previous grades.  For example they are tested in 5th grade but it covers 3-5th grade science content.
Middle School:
6th Grade
High School:
Prepare your Students for CAST: