Last week 1,800 excited teachers descended on Palm Springs for the 2013 CSTA science conference. Every session focused on the Next Generation Science Standards was packed!
I learned volumes listening as teachers shared questions and ideas. I heard very few "why" questions - everyone understands why NGSS is being implemented. Most of the questions I heard were "how". Conference attendees wanted practical tools to launch NGSS in their classrooms. During he RAFT session, I was honored to present to a standing-room-only crowd. Amazingly, the eager audience built four RAFT kits in under one hour. In addition to asking questions, teachers shared solutions of their own. They described creative ways to apply RAFT-style learning in their classrooms. Project-based learning, inquiry-based instruction, and design challenge thinking are at the forefront now. The teachers were answering the "how" question for themselves!
At the conference, it was also interesting to learn about new technologies that have wonderful ties to RAFT. For example, one teacher assigns his students to write "TEDitorials" (personal commentaries on TED video presentations). This simple assignment has driven student interest in science. It is motivating young people to use science practices, think critically, do research, make cogent arguments and apply other 21st century skills. In a different session, teachers learned to use "Scratch" - a programming tool that is ideal for designing simple games. RAFT already has a Scratch version of one kit, and we would like to have many more! (Let me know if you are interested in Scratch.)
As a RAFT member, you are well on your way to answering the HOW question for yourself. We are here to help, and also to be inspired by you!
Greg Brown, RAFT Senior Director