This Curriculum document consists of five areas which are congruent with the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology. They are Scientific Inquiry (from Standard 1: Analysis, Inquiry and Design), Physical Setting and The Living Environment (Standard 4: Science), Interconnectedness (Standard 6: Common Themes), and Interdisciplinary Problem Solving (Standard 7). Each NYS Standard is divided into the appropriate Key Ideas and Performance Indicators, with integrated Essential Questions as well as sample tasks for each. While developing "Understanding by Design" units, teachers include the information from this curriculum into Stage 1 to include NYS Standard, Key Idea, Performance Indicator (using our standard codes) and Essential Question. After Assessments are developed in Stage 2, grade level teams of teachers develop Learning Activities (Stage 3) that are specifically aligned to this curriculum. [The sample tasks have been provided to guide teachers' planning and lesson constructing. Teachers are encouraged to alter the sample tasks to meet the needs of their students in keeping with the Coalition of Essential Schools philosophy.]
The areas of Physical Setting and The Living Environment outlines specific declarative knowledge that students should explore in a constructivist approach. A suggested model for teaching science includes five essential phases: engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation. One characteristic of a constructivist classroom is that time for teaching lessons will vary considerably, some requiring only one day, other lessons requiring several weeks.
The areas of Scientific Inquiry, Interconnectedness, and Interdisciplinary Problem Solving should be taught within the context of the Physical Setting and The Living Environment areas so that students can discover and construct an understanding of natural phenomena. In a "nutshell," the performance indicators in these areas contain the "how" of science as the sample tasks in Physical Setting and The Living Environment contain the "what."
In addition, sample tasks have been suggested that integrate Standard 5: Technology to include the areas of Engineering Design; Tools, Resources, and Technological Processes; Computer Technology; Technological Systems; Impacts of Technology; and Management of Technology. While these sample tasks are specific, they are meant to be a starting point to integrate technology. Other content area documents will also include performance indicators from this NYS Standard.