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FOSS Grade-Level Planning Guides

Jessica Penchos | October 30, 2019 | Planning Guides

We'd like to introduce you to one of the newest FOSS tools, the Grade-Level Planning Guide. These guides, published in 2018 and available on FOSSweb, give you a new way to take a cohesive, year-long view of your FOSS instruction.

FOSS stands for Full Option Science System, and as always, your district or school may have reason to use the courses or modules in various alternative sequences. But for the first time, with FOSS Next Generation Edition, we're providing a recommended year-long sequence at each grade level. These recommendations include guidance on year-long themes and show you how to help students connect the content between the disciplines of earth, life, and physical science. You can find all this information within the Grade-Level Planning Guide.

Excerpt from Grade 4 year-long planning section

Example of a year-long theme in middle school, shown in the Grade-Level Planning Guide. Click to enlarge.

Instructional Sequences

Let's take a look inside the Planning Guide! We'll use grade 4 and grade 6 as examples to look at the features for grades K-5 and 6-8. Both elementary and middle school guides provide a year-long view of instruction. This matrix includes the Driving Questions, length of course/module, overview of student activities, and summary of three-dimensional learning (enlarge each of the graphics below for a closer view).

Grade 4 Grade-Level Planning Guide year-long view of instruction

Grade 4 Grade-Level Planning Guide year-long view of instruction. Click to enlarge.

Grade 6 Grade-Level Planning Guide year-long view of instruction

Grade 6 Grade-Level Planning Guide year-long view of instruction. Click to enlarge.

States using NGSS use the instructional sequences shown above. But some states have a customized scope and sequence to meet state standards, and this will be reflected in the planning guides for your state. The planning guides for your state will be available on FOSSweb, in the Teacher Resources section of each course/module page.

The Grade-Level Planning Guide also includes more information about grade-level three-dimensional learning, connections to NGSS Performance Expectations for each course, and connections to Common Core Math and ELA standards.

FOSS support for new and experienced users

Further in the guide, you'll find important information to help you get oriented to FOSS if you're a first-time user.

Grade 4 getting started guide

Grade 4 Grade-Level Planning Guide: Getting Started with FOSS Components. Click to enlarge.

Grade 6: Guiding Concept for Grade Level

Grade 6 Grade-Level Planning Guide: Guiding Concept for Grade Level. Click to enlarge.

The Grade-Level Planning Guide also includes an implementation progression that gives suggestions about pedagogical practices to engage with as you become more familiar with the FOSS program over the years. This is also extremely helpful for first-time users wondering where to start with the program. You don't have to master all the components in your first year.

Grade 4 Grade-Level Planning Guide: Implementation Progression

Grade 4 Grade-Level Planning Guide: Implementation Progression. Click to enlarge.

District coordinators, department chairs, and lead science teachers

Are you planning your school's first FOSS training? Consider starting early with the Grade-Level Planning Guide. After your teachers have experienced a FOSS lesson, a typical way to begin a FOSS training so that everyone experiences the excitement of active learning through FOSS, the teachers are likely to have questions around "What am I teaching this year?"

You can then present the Grade-Level Planning Guide for each teacher's grade level to give them a chance to think big picture and take it all in before getting deeper into how to teach the program. FOSS staff have been using this professional learning technique since the chapters were published, and the reception by teachers has been tremendous.

Are you already using the Grade-Level Planning Guide? Are you about to start? We'd love to hear from our teachers to learn more about how these tools can be used. You can always send us feedback at foss@berkeley.edu.