When I first came to the Foundation I made four cornerstone investments to support teachers in understanding the Common Core, only one of them was a full curriculum. The investment was in the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) at UC Berkeley. At the time we were only supporting middle and high school investments, and I only made this investment because I knew there would be a lack of high quality science curriculum aligned to the Common Core. What was special about the LHS investment was actually their focus on literacy and science together. They based their work on the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading project at the elementary school level led by David Pearson and Jacquey Barber. I was so impressed with the program’s results at increasing literacy and science rates of English Language Learners. Fast forward six years and with funding from multiple foundations and some private investment: the middle school curriculum is finally available on the market and is now being distributed by Amplify Science. LHS had complete design control over both the content and the pedagogy and it shows–the design of the curriculum is so elegant. The middle school curriculum is designed for a 1:1 device ratio (and that might be the only drawback for most districts) but they use technology smartly—not to provide bells and whistles but only to enhance the learning possibilities and do it in the way scientists really use technology. The LHS curriculum is also a reminder to us that Common Core is not just taught in math and ELA classes. Their attention to problem solving, argument, and investigations are aligned to both the thinking behind the Common Core and the Next Generation Science Standards. I challenged a colleague to think bigger about Common Core the other day and asked, “What’s next for Common Core?”. After visiting LHS, I’m thinking it’s science. Science is the new way in which Common Core can be brought to life with high levels of rigor and engagement. If I were a math and ELA teacher trying to help my students reach the targets in the Common Core, I’d want my science teachers to have something that looks as good as the LHS curriculum.
*Photo from Awesome Sasquatch