Jun 27

Adopting a New Curriculum

This post was originally published at the WA CORELaborate website.


May 24 our Science Subject Area Committee (SAC) presented our plans for a new Science Curriculum Adoption. This is the third adoption in which I’ve played a role in the 20 years I’ve worked at Chimacum Middle School. I played a much bigger role in this one as I was THE middle school rep and I did all the research for the middle school, put together the middle school presentation, and presented that part of the overall proposal. It was an awesome process and I’m glad I volunteered!

In my last post, How About Robotics, I shared the research I did as I looked for kit-based, NGSS Science curriculum. I was very happy and excited with Activate Learning’s IQWST curriculum and the other middle school Science teacher (there are only two of us) loved it too. The lessons start with a phenoma, go into a lab, then end with a CER conclusion. Just what we were looking for. I also explain in my last post how I made a complete change to the 6th grade curriculum after attending a tech conference and seeing the wonders of Robotics. I was impressed by the STEM Robotics 101 curriculum so I thought, what the heck, I’m going to see if the school board will approve a STEM Robotics curriculum for the 6th grade using the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits for education.

Here’s the presentation we put together for the school board (click here if you don’t see a Google Slides presentation below – the speaker notes provide more details):

I was really the one that was on because the high school’s plan is to wait until the 2017-18 school year starts in the fall expecting more NGSS native, as opposed to NGSS-Aligned, curriculum so they were just sharing their plan and not proposing to adopt any curriculum. It also made no sense to adopt a new biology curriculum because the sophomores of 2017-18 will need to pass the Biology EOC (End of Course) exam to graduate. The high school’s current curriculum has been doing a great job of helping kids pass the Biology EOC so it would be risky to switch with one year of EOC to go. The sophomores of 2017-18 will also take the NGSA (Next Generation Science Assessment) in their Junior year but not as a graduation requirement. It is the 2017-18 freshman who will need to pass the 11th grade NGSA to graduate so it makes sense to wait and see what is available starting in the fall and wait until 2018 to look for biology curriculum to adopt for the 2018-19 school year. If high quality, NGSS native curriculum becomes available by fall the high school will present to the school again for their adoption.

The school board presentation went by very quickly. First off, the projector connection went down so we couldn’t project our Google Slides. The school board members didn’t have laptops so they couldn’t access the slides either. Luckily, one of our SAC members had the foresight to print the slides on paper so at least the school board had something to look at!

When it was my turn, I told my story. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t have the slides. Looking down at the paper, I got lost and ended up taking much less time than I would have had I gone through every single slide I prepared. Once I was done, they asked a few questions, I honestly can’t remember what. They discussed for what seemed only a few seconds then approved our proposal and were happy to do it. I looked around astounded. Was that it? Were we at the middle school getting all our new curricula? The next day I was asked to submit the requisitions by the following Tuesday! That’s when it hit me, WE GOT IT! As of today most of the 6th grade curriculum has already been delivered! Yeah, and the IQWST order has been placed and is being filled. Wow, that was cool.

Building a robot that can do something.

So 6th graders will be designing and programming EV3 robots to solve cool and fun challenges. We end the year by having the fifth grade students visit the 6th grade teacher’s classes and I let them in on the plan for next year and they were excited! I can’t wait! Here it is summer, the beginning of summer, and I’m excited for September! LoL

An EV3 Robot Design

The best part is that I had also volunteered to lead a Northwest Earth and Space Sciences (NESSP) summer camp and I chose to have it be a robotics summer camp using the EV3! That’s where all the images on this blog post came from. This camp just ended (went from June 20 to June 23) and it was amazing! The kids were great and they had incredible stamina. The camp ran for six hours a day and the kids worked through lunch all the way until it was time to leave! Seeing how involved, challenging, exciting, and engaging building and programming an EV3 robot is for kids confirms my excitement at all the great things my 6th graders are going to be doing this coming school year.

Figuring out how to connect the sensors.

For the summer camp I adapted a Mars Mission that I attended and had a great time participating in with our very own WA CORELaborate blogger, Carina, at this year’s NCCE Conference and made that the focus for the week. Here’s the presentation I prepared for the summer camp, I plan on doing this with my 6th graders next year too! 🙂 Click here if there is no Google Slide deck below.


Our first challenge was to rescue Mark Watney. Along the way, the rover had to pick up supplies because Watney wasn’t going to have enough food or oxygen to make it to the Ares IV landing site.


Practicing in class to rescue Astronaut Watney.



Another challenge – get your rover through a maze!

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