I need a middle school science curriculum that meets MSS and/or NGSS standards. Can Mi-STAR help ?
Yes! Mi-STAR is designing a curriculum for the middle grades that is aligned to MSS and NGSS. Our units meet the NGSS call that students learn disciplinary content and crosscutting concepts through science and engineering practices.
Can you give me basic information about the curriculum?
Yes! The Mi-STAR curriculum was developed by classroom teachers who worked with professional scientists, engineers, and curriculum developers to produce an entirely new curriculum that is fully aligned with the recommendations articulated by the National Academies and National Research Council in the Framework for K-12 Science Education. The Mi-STAR curriculum has the following characteristics:
- Addresses all NGSS PEs. The three-year sequence of Mi-STAR curriculum addresses all of the performance expectations assigned to the middle school grade band.
- Addresses all MSS PEs. The curriculum also addresses all of the middle school Michigan Science Standards.
- Three dimensional. Each unit is designed to help students master the science and engineering practices (SEPs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) incorporated into the performance expectations that are addressed by the unit.
- Developed by teachers, developed for teachers. The curriculum was developed by teachers with the support of scientists, engineers, curriculum specialists, and education researchers. The curriculum is pilot tested before release in classrooms in Michigan.
- Real-world topics. Each unit in the curriculum addresses a real-world topic (e.g., construction materials) that is relevant to students.
- Integrated science and engineering. By focusing on real-world topics, the curriculum naturally integrates content and approaches from all of the sciences and engineering.
- Unit Challenges. Each unit includes a problem or project that is referred to a Mi-STAR Unit Challenge.
- Embedded three-dimensional assessments. Each unit includes embedded three dimensional assessments. These assessments measure students’ mastery of science and engineering practices (SEPs), crosscutting concepts (CCCs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs).
- Available via the web. The units will all be made available via the web.
- Professional Learning. Professional learning opportunities offered by Mi-STAR prepare teachers to deliver the curriculum effectively and prepare schools and districts to support teachers’ efforts.
When will the curriculum be available?
All other sixth grade units will be tested during the 2017-18 academic year and available fall 2018. The remaining 7th and 8th grade units will be developed, tested and made accessible between 2018 and 2020. Our priority is to complete the sixth grade units first to help schools preparing for changes in state assessments.
How much will the Mi-STAR curriculum cost?
At present, Mi-STAR is making completed curriculum units available at no cost to Michigan teachers. In the future, it may be necessary to charge a nominal fee for accessing the curriculum materials in order to provide the revenue necessary to support the infrastructure (websites, software and support) required to provide teachers access to the curriculum materials. While our intention is to cover these costs with grant funding for Michigan teachers as long as possible, it is conceivable that in the future we will need to charge a nominal access fee in order to ensure ongoing access to the curriculum. Costs for teachers in other states will be kept as low as possible, based on the availability of philanthropic support. Mi-STAR owes its existence to an investment by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Mi-STAR continues to seek financial support so that it is able to serve as many schools and teachers as possible.
Can any teacher use the curriculum?
In order to be eligible to access the curriculum, teachers must have completed professional learning that will enable them to realize the full potential of the Mi-STAR curriculum. Costs for professional learning will be kept as low as possible, based on the availability of philanthropic support. Mi-STAR owes its existence to an investment by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Mi-STAR continues to seek financial support so that it is able to serve as many schools and teachers as possible.
Can Mi-STAR provide financial support to teachers who implement the curriculum?
Mi-STAR is generally unable to provide financial support to teachers or schools that implement the curriculum. Mi-STAR staff have worked hard to make sure that the materials required for implementation of the curriculum are inexpensive and easily obtained. Staff members have also worked hard to create a curriculum and associated professional learning that represent a low-cost way for schools to implement a NGSS-aligned (and Michigan Science Standards) curriculum that promotes three-dimensional learning of science.
How is the curriculum organized? What will it include?
When complete, the curriculum will consist of 22 units across grades 6-8. These units cover a range of topics that are relevant to 21st century society, including invasive species and changes in ecosystems, sustainable building materials, natural hazards, climate change, and renewable energy.
The Mi-STAR curriculum represents a shift away from the teaching of science as disjointed facts to be memorized toward teaching science and engineering in an engaging way that motivates students as learners and problem solvers. You can read more about the Mi-STAR units here.
Who is developing the curriculum? What’s the process?
The Mi-STAR curriculum is developed by teachers, scientists, engineers, and curriculum specialists across Michigan. We start by outlining a sequence of “bundles” of NGSS Performance Expectations. We then develop those bundles into units by creating a Unit Challenge for each bundle and designing lessons that lead students to complete each challenge. All Mi-STAR lessons are tested by middle school science teachers in their classrooms. We revise each unit based on the results of testing before releasing it to the public.
What makes it different? How are the units structured?
Mi-STAR units are structured around a Unit Challenge based on a real-world issue. Each grade includes seven or eight units, and all the units have between seven and12 lessons. All lessons follow the Mi-STAR Instructional Model, which is based on the 5E Instructional Model (Bybee 2001).