As the Core Knowledge Foundation eagerly anticipates launching the first units in our new Core Knowledge Science (CKSci™) program, we want to give you some insights into the thinking behind the program—in particular, our ongoing effort to update the Science guidelines in the Core Knowledge Sequence.

The existing Core Knowledge Sequence dates from 2010. This 2010 Sequence shaped the development of our OER (Open Educational Resources) curricular materials now available—Core Knowledge Language Arts (CKLA®) and Core Knowledge History and Geography (CKHG™).

For Science, however, the Core Knowledge Foundation—with the help of subject matter experts and experienced Core Knowledge teachers—is updating the 2010 Sequence guidelines to align with the content requirements and grade-level expectations of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The result is the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence—or, for short, the CK Next Gen Science Sequence.

Development of the CK Next Gen Science Sequence is now underway for grades 3-5. We will continue to develop updated Science guidelines for other grade levels after we release curricular materials for grades 3-5 in our new CKSci™ program (about which you’ll find more information at the end of this blog post).

Why align Core Knowledge Science to NGSS?

Given the growing influence of NGSS, the Core Knowledge Foundation decided to update the 2010 Science Sequence to support teachers by providing them with revised Core Knowledge guidelines and curricular materials more likely to align with their state-required standards in Science.

Many states have either adopted the Next Generation Science Standards or have developed Science standards heavily influenced by NGSS.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. students live in states that have education standards influenced by the Framework for K-12 Science Education and/or the Next Generation Science Standards.     

—National Science Teachers Association

The Framework, a 2011 report from the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, provided the research base and structural recommendations that underlie NGSS.

If my school has already developed Science lessons based on the 2010 Sequence, do we have to change to the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence?

Longtime followers of the Core Knowledge Sequence are not expected to abandon what they have been doing. Any Core Knowledge school that has already developed effective lessons and gathered high-quality materials based on the 2010 Science Sequence should feel free to continue following that instructional path.

For Core Knowledge schools in states that have adopted NGSS (or NGSS-influenced standards), the CK Next Gen Science Sequence is a useful guide to pursuing a new path aligned with state standards. Planning, communication, and collaboration will be critical in making the transition from the 2010 Science Sequence to the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence, to avoid gaps and ensure continuity in building knowledge grade by grade.

What advantages does the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence offer over the 2010 Science Sequence?

For the growing number of teachers in states with standards shaped by NGSS, the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence offers content-specific curricular guidelines that align with the state’s standards.

Relative to the 2010 Science Sequence, the CK Next Gen Science Sequence also incorporates the NGSS emphasis on scientific practice. NGSS prescribes a multi-dimensional approach to science learning and instruction, integrating core ideas, hands-on practices, and crosscutting concepts, as well as applications of scientific knowledge in engineering and technology. Many of these NGSS principles are reflected in the CK Next Gen Science Sequence, which also retains, from the 2010 Sequence, the characteristic Core Knowledge emphasis on specific content carefully sequenced to build coherently from one grade to the next.

If you have ever attempted to read the NGSS guidelines online, you know that they can prove daunting in their ambitious effort to interconnect various levels of scientific knowledge and practice—even an experienced and scientifically knowledgeable educator can get confused in navigating the maze of hyperlinks. One aim of the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence is to offer a valid interpretation of NGSS requirements in the form of focused, user-friendly, and content-specific guidelines of practical use to teachers.

How does the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence differ from the 2010 Science Sequence?

Changes in grade level and content: Some domains from the 2010 Sequence have been moved to different grade levels in the CK Next Gen Science Sequence. For example, Meteorology has moved from Grade 4 in the 2010 Sequence to Grade 3 in the CK Next Gen Science Sequence. In this new grade 3 unit, titled “Weather and Climate,” some content specified in the 2010 Sequence has been removed, while some new topics have been added to align with NGSS expectations.

Click the button for a comparison of units of study in the 2010 Science Sequence to those in the CK Next Gen Science Sequence.

Download the Science Sequence Comparison

A new format: The Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence guidelines are presented in the form of a three-column table.

Column 1: Core Knowledge Sequence
This first column should be familiar—like the 2010 Sequence, it identifies specific content and skills for building knowledge coherently from grade to grade.

Column 2: Suggested Learning Objectives
These objectives—for example, “Conduct an investigation to show how the speed of a moving object is related to its energy”—are designed to help Core Knowledge teachers in guiding students to meet the NGSS “Performance Expectations,” which describe specific cumulative learning goals for students. In the CK Next Gen Science Sequence, the suggested learning objectives may be modified to meet state and local standards as well as the needs of specific schools and classrooms.

Column 3: Language of Instruction 
This word list provides a sampling of the vocabulary to which students should be repeatedly exposed during instruction. The list is not intended for use in isolated drill or memorization, but as a reminder of the critical “word knowledge” in which students cognitively encode their “world knowledge.”

Click the button to see currently available units from the CK Next Gen Science Sequence.

Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence

What about the Core Knowledge Science units on the human body?

Because human anatomy and physiology are not included in the NGSS requirements, the CK Next Gen Science Sequence does not include the Human Body units featured in the 2010 Sequence. Those units, however, have long been reported as favorites by many Core Knowledge teachers. In time, the Core Knowledge Foundation plans to update those 2010 guidelines and incorporate them into the CK Next Gen Science Sequence as a coherent series of units on “Health and the Human Body.”

For now, we encourage all Core Knowledge schools to continue teaching units on the Human Body as specified in the 2010 Sequence.

When will the Core Knowledge Foundation provide curriculum materials based on the Core Knowledge Next Generation Science Sequence? What will those materials be like?

Materials are on the way, and soon! The CK Next Gen Science Sequence is the organizing framework for the new Core Knowledge Science program, CKSci™. The first CKSci™ unit for grades 3-5 will be available for free download from the Core Knowledge website in mid-December.

CKSci™ aims to integrate what NGSS calls the “three dimensions of Science learning.” CKSci™ lessons build knowledge while guiding students through an investigative, inquiry-based approach in which students are challenged to observe phenomena, collect data, pose problems, and design solutions.

Like our programs in Language Arts (CKLA®) and in History and Geography (CKHG™), our new CKSci™ program offers engaging readings for students, as well as comprehensive teacher guides that include detailed plans for conducting many hands-on investigations. For these hands-on investigations, the teacher guides provide detailed lists of required materials (commonly available items whenever possible).

Print versions of CKSci™ materials for some units will be offered for pre-publication purchase in the spring of 2019. If you haven’t already, please sign up for our mailing list to be informed of the latest CKSci™ developments.

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