Michigan teachers explored NGSS and Mi-STAR units at MSTA conference

Friday, March 25, 2016

Michigan teachers explored NGSS and Mi-STAR units through three Mi-STAR sessions at the Michigan Science Teacher Association conference earlier this month:

  • “Three-Dimensional Learning in Your Classroom: Applying NGSS through Michigan Themes,”IMG_6985
  • “Stability and Change in Michigan Ecosystems: An Example Mi-STAR Unit,” and
  • “What’s in Your Walls? Teaching Sustainability through NGSS.”

Through the sessions, participants gathered tools for designing 3-dimensional classroom activities that are Michigan-relevant, and for implementing units that are NGSS-aligned and engage students in real-world challenges. Teachers who recently completed piloting of Mi-STAR units offered their insights from the experience of implementing this curriculum. The piloting teachers shared enthusiasm for how engaged students were in science class through the Unit Challenges that related science to real-world challenges.

Barbara McIntyre, a 6th grade teacher at Midland Public Schools, piloted Unit 6.5 and co-facilitated “Stability and Change in Michigan Ecosystems: An Example Mi-STAR Unit.” Ms. McIntyre reflected on the unit with session participants-

“The depth of thinking that we saw with this unit astounded us. You know, you can teach them [the students] the different symbiotic relationships, and they can learn those at a surface level, but these kids really understood how a change in the ecosystem affected almost all of the organisms in the ecosystem. It was phenomenal- the depth of thinking that they demonstrated at the end of the unit.”

Comments from workshop participants include:

“Loved the lesson examples!”

 “I think it’s great for students to be able to connect their learning with their environment/surroundings and provide them with real world examples.”

“Unpacking and brainstorming- good to talk with others & hear their ideas.”

“I liked the fact that the students took the ownership and were making the decisions and learning how to collaborate and real world situations.”

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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.