What’s New in Mi-STAR for Fall 2022

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
The Mi-STAR curriculum was officially completed in fall 2020, but we’ve never stopped working to make it even more engaging and effective for students and teachers. Here are some of the new features Mi-STAR subscribers can expect this fall.

Updated units
Three units, including 6.1 - The Water Cycle, 7.3 - Moving Thermal Energy,  and 8.3 - Sound and Light, have been reworked to enhance their educational value. Keeping in mind the needs of busy teachers, the units have been shortened and made easier to navigate whenever possible.

One key area developers addressed was assessment. They revisited the entire process, streamlining assessments when possible and tying them together to accomplish more in less time. “We’re also trying to develop richer, more-interesting phenomena, so students will be more engaged in solving the problems,” said Gregg Bluth, senior research scientist for assessment and curriculum. “I’ve been finding at conferences that what Mi-STAR is doing is now a best practice.”

Differentiated resources have also been added. New readings allow students to “choose their own adventure” based on their interests and abilities. Some include career information and other real-world scenarios that tie into the lesson. Others are text-book style readings that reinforce students’ discoveries. Because the readings are optional and can be done independently, they are a perfect fit for hybrid classrooms and substitute teachers. 

We’ve also incorporated feedback from educators who taught the first versions of the units. Developers have injected more variety to keep students engaged and moving forward, and bubble maps are better integrated into the lessons. Models, instructions, and other aspects of the units have been reworked to make them easier to understand and implement.

Taking it to the next level: V2 Units

Mi-STAR has completely reworked three additional enhanced units to include new storylines and new Unit Challenges. These V2 units, which have undergone extensive beta testing in the classroom, are now available for use in fall 2022. Teachers are now able to access 7.1: Off the Grid Gaming and 8.1: Bugs in the Beds.  Unit 6.6: Failing Fishermen will be released in November.

“The testing was so helpful,” said Tony Matthys, curriculum development associate. “Each unit had about 40 beta test teachers, and they flagged many of the small-but-irritating problems that pop up, like wrong links or unclear instructions. Thanks to their efforts, teachers this fall should be able to jump into these units and have a seamless, positive experience.”

A fourth V2 unit, Unit 6.4, will be released for beta testing in November.

Mi-STAR: More than lesson plans

Since its inception, Mi-STAR has been developing our Mi-STAR Network and Professional Learning Program, giving teachers access to a suite of tools that assure success in the classroom. In addition to the regular curriculum, a Mi-STAR subscription this fall includes the following:
  • ​Introduction to NGSS online course
  • Introduction to the Curriculum online course; includes PLCs (Professional Learning Communities)
  • Unit Primers—These courses provide tailored support around specific units to help educators to prepare to teach units. 
  • Curriculum Study Sessions—Offered synchronously or asynchronously. Topics include The Unit Bubble Map, System Models, Productive Talk, CER (Claim-Evidence-Reasoning), and Assessment.
  • Off-The-Shelf Lessons—Short, “grab and go” lessons that target specific SEPs, CCCs, or DCIs​
  • Remote Learning Lessons—Originally designed during the pandemic for remote learning, they can be taught in person as an Off-the-Shelf Lesson. Each focuses on an SEP.
  • Mi-STAR Learning Series—Virtual presentations and discussions via Zoom on a variety of topics
  • Mi-STAR Community Forums—Online portal where Mi-STAR educators can share their adapted or new lesson materials
  • Curriculum Helpline—A Mi-STAR exclusive. Got a problem or a question? Reach out via our online helpline and hear back from curriculum developers and expert teachers, typically by the next business day.
  • Differentiated reading resources in all enhanced units.
  • Additional Lesson Resources including Career Connections in select units and Substitute Teacher Lesson Plans for all units.

For more information on joining the Mi-STAR Network, check out our website or contact us. We’d love to hear from you.

Copyright © 2024 Mi-STAR
Mi-STAR was founded in 2015 through generous support provided by the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation. Mi-STAR has also received substantial support from the National Science Foundation, the MiSTEM Advisory Council through the Michigan Department of Education, and Michigan Technological University.