Monday, September 16, 2013

Teaching Science with Kidlit: NGSS Performance Expectation K-LS1-1

The Next Generation Science Standards have a complicated history. They trace back to the 2011 National Research Council report entitled A Framework for K-12 Science Education and went through multiple drafts that were commented upon by, well, pretty much anyone who had any interest in them.

In the end, the drafters developed statements called “performance expectations,” and the idea is that test questions will be closely aligned to them. So I’m going to write out the performance expectations (PEs), word for word, and work directly from them. I’m also going to include any “clarification statements” specified by the people who drafted the PEs.
Here's the first kindergarten life science PE:

K-LS1-1. Use observations to describe patterns of what plants and animals (including humans) need to survive. [Clarification Statement: Examples of patterns could include that animals need to take in food but plants do not; the different kinds of food needed by different types of animals; the requirement of plants to have light; and, that all living things need water.]

And here are some books that can be used to directly address the PE:

The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer

The Snail’s Spell by Joanne Ryder
Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah Campbell
Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole
Seed, Soil, Sun by Chris Peterson

Activity 1
Children love to learn by doing, so try this kinesthetic activity. Have your students count off by fours. Number ones are members of TEAM WATER. Number twos are members of TEAM SUNLIGHT. Threes are members of TEAM FOOD. When children are “up,” they must use sequential letters in the alphabet to name a living thing that needs his or her team name to survive. If TEAM SUNLIGHT starts, the first player might say “apple tree.” If TEAM WATER comes next, the player might say “bat.” Then a player from TEAM FOOD might say “cheetah.” Continue the game until everyone has had a turn.

Activity 2
Invite your students to create visual acrostic poems that reinforce the basic needs of plants and animals. They may choose any of the following as a starter word: water, sunlight, air, or food. Here’s an example:

W [picture of a wolf]

A  [picture of an apple tree]

T  [picture of a turkey]

E  [picture of an elephant]

R  [picture of a radish]

When the students are done, you can post their poems on a bulletin board entitled What Plants and Animals Need to Live and Grow.


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I'm so glad you tackled these connections and I can't wait to see your book when it's finally out. At NSTA in April all the sessions on making these connections were led by publishers pushing their informational texts. I only saw children's books in the Elementary Extravaganza, so thank you!
    I've been spending time this summer looking at the intersection of the standards for mathematical practice and the standards for science and engineering. It's interesting stuff. Now if I only lived in a Common Core state ...

  2. On 9/24 AAAS's ScienceNetLinks is hosting a twitter chat about the intersection of STEM/CCSS and the Common Core. Here's the link:

    1. Thanks, Melissa. I'll definitely tune in for this.

  3. Melissa, I love your activity idea. It would be especially fun for kids, like mine, who can't sit still. I'm looking forward to more in this series.

  4. Kirsten, if you do try it with your kids, please let me know. I'd love to see pictures and/or hear how it goes.