Workshops To Help Teachers Better Understand New Science Standards Slated At RVCC

Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) in Branchburg will host 120 K-12 educators from throughout the state this summer during two weeks of workshops designed to help them better understand the exciting and challenging shifts in science teaching and learning demanded by New Jersey’s new science standards.

The RVCC Science Institute summer workshops are set for the weeks of July 24-28 and August 7-11.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were adopted by New Jersey in 2014 and full-scale implementation across all grades from kindergarten to high school will begin this upcoming school year.

Workshops participants will focus on how to move away from “teaching about science” to figuring out how the natural world works. This requires students to be engaged in explaining what they see in the world around them, basing their findings on interesting and relevant natural phenomena or observable events. Educators will learn how to support students in developing good questions, collaboratively planning and conducting investigations, and obtaining and evaluating relevant information. They will learn how to help students analyze and interpret increasingly complex data sets, and use this information to develop models that will help students construct explanations for these natural phenomena. Participants will learn how to help students effectively communicate their explanation, support it with evidence, respectfully critique explanations offered by their peers, and come to a consensus on the best explanation. Through this kind of learning, students will not only better understand science but also acquire critical 21th-Century skills. Participants will experience daily investigations in physical, life, and earth sciences as well as engineering, in order to help clarify this new vision of science education and to better understand how these new standards can be integrated into classroom practice.

For the first time, engineering—the application of science to solve human wants or needs—is being introduced and integrated into every science classroom starting in kindergarten. Teachers will learn how to support students in translating problem-solving situations into engineering problems and how to solve these problems by applying science.

The week-long Summer Institutes are led by Dr. Wil van der Veen, director of RVCC’s Science Education Institute. He is supported by Teacher Leaders from the NGSS Teacher Leader Program, a collaboration among Princeton University, Rider University, and Raritan Valley Community College. These classroom teachers have spent the past two to three years implementing these shifts in science teaching and learning in their own classrooms. During the Institutes they facilitate group discussions, model instructional strategies, and provide support and advice to their colleagues. They also serve as leaders in their own districts as they help guide district-wide implementation.

The July week of workshops is filled, but spaces are still available for participants in the August 7-11 program, which is designed for teachers of grades 6-12. Registration is due July 15. For information and registration, visit http://www.raritanval.edu/NGSS. Both Summer Institutes are supported by a generous grant from the New Jersey Space Grant Consortium.

RVCC’s Science Education Institute offers state-of-the-art customized professional development programs in science for New Jersey school districts. Last year, the Science Education Institute provided more than 30 days of professional development to over 1,000 educators. For more information, contact Dr. Wil van der Veen at wil.vanderveen@raritanval.edu or 908-526-1200, ext. 8566. For additional information, visit http://www.raritanval.edu/NGSS.

Raritan Valley Community College’s main campus is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. Serving Somerset and Hunterdon County residents for close to 50 years, RVCC is an educational and cultural center that is nationally recognized for its innovative programming, service to the community and environmental leadership. The College offers more than 90 associate degrees and certificates, as well as career training, professional development, and adult and youth personal enrichment courses. The College also has a performing arts center and planetarium.

RVCC is committed to offering a quality and affordable education through effective teaching, liaisons with the community’s businesses, and state-of-the-art technology. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.