NGSS Hub - Planning an NGSS Curriculum

Planning an NGSS Curriculum

The following steps show how to develop an NGSS curriculum that spans multiple years and grade levels. You’ll form a team to examine how the standards are grouped together and sequenced and where they fit into your curriculum. You’ll also think about instructional strategies and resources you will need to implement them in your school or district.

Gather a Team

The NGSS is a complex document that spans 13 grade levels and four scientific disciplines. You’ll need a team with a wide variety of experience and expertise to develop instructional materials and provide professional development for your school or district.

Recommended Review Team

Building a team based on this table will help you break out the standards by section and focus on developing curriculum by grade level and discipline. You could also consider adding team members in the early education levels who are assigned to different scientific disciplines, to match the team structure suggested for middle and high school levels.

Grade Level Life Science Physical Science Earth & Space Science
K-2 2-5 team members
3-5 2-5 Team Members
6-8 2-5 Team Members 2-5 Team Members 2-5 Team Members
9-12 2-5 Team Members 2-5 Team Members 2-5 Team Members

At the middle and high school levels, after initial discussions, teams from different disciplines should begin to collaborate and work toward a coordinated curriculum. This approach is particularly necessary for districts and schools that take an integrated approach to middle and/or high school curriculum.

Get to Know the Framework

The best way to get started with integrating the standards into your curriculum is for everyone on your team to review the foundational document, Framework for K–12 Science Education.

The Framework describes the major science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that all students should be familiar with by the end of high school. It also outlines how these practices, concepts, and ideas should develop across grade levels, so understanding the Framework will help you build these connections into your curriculum plan.

Go To the Standards

The standards are organized in two ways: by topic and by disciplinary core idea. Before you begin, check to see if your state has selected one of these organization methods and, if so, follow it in your study group. Then in your small groups, examine a single page of the NGSS at a time using our list of discussion questions.

Identify Gaps

After your review team makes its way through the standards page by page, summarize your findings in a report to use as a resource when making decisions about implementation. Having your own team walk through the standards step by step, you should be able to determine some of the following for your school or district:

  • What kind of professional development will your teachers need to incorporate these standards into their lesson plans?
  • How much will the structure of your K–12 curriculum need to change?
  • Will you need to buy or revise instructional materials?
  • How much time and funding will this implementation cost?
  • What are your next steps?

When and how you address these questions will depend on how quickly and thoroughly you want to implement the NGSS in your school or district.

Make a Plan

Consider your state’s role in the process, and make sure your team is aware of any official positions on NGSS adoption or implementation strategies in place. Then you can work with your group to define what a successful implementation would look like for your school system. You might choose strategies like adding NGSS training to teacher training programs, considering NGSS alignment when purchasing textbooks and learning materials, or adjusting graduation requirements to reflect NGSS performance expectations.

Set Targets and Timelines

Determine measurable goals and timelines for the steps in your implementation plan. Apply concrete numbers or percentages to the strategies your group selected, and set achievable deadlines for each one.

For more advice on how to put the standards into action, see the NGSS writer’s implementation workbookfor a comprehensive step-by-step guide to the process.

Additional Curriculum Planning Resources

Other Steps in the Process