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FOSS for the Next Generation Is Here

Linda De Lucchi and Larry Malone, Co-Directors of FOSS, Lawrence Hall of Science
September 01, 2015 | Program News

Collage of students doing experiments

The latest and most comprehensive edition of FOSS has just been released—FOSS Next Generation for grades K–5. The FOSS Project staff and Delta Education are eager to partner with new and experienced users of FOSS to plan a smooth transition to the new curriculum.

When the Full Option Science System (FOSS) began in the early 1990s, the founders envisioned an elementary science curriculum that was enjoyable, logical, and intuitive for teachers, and stimulating, provocative, and informative for students. But the developers never envisioned FOSS as a static curriculum, and now the Full Option Science System has evolved into a fully realized 21st-century science program with authentic connection to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

FOSS Next Generation is a comprehensive school science program, featuring instructional guidance, student equipment, integrated student reading materials, and digital resources, and a fully integrated assessment system. FOSS has always utilized an inquiry approach to teaching and learning, but the Framework for K–12 Science Education, on which the NGSS are based, has provided a new way for the FOSS developers to design learning experiences and frame focus questions for learners. Guided by the Framework, FOSS has sacrificed some flexibility in order to provide a school science curriculum with a cohesive approach at each grade level and articulated learning progressions within and between grade levels. The FOSS instructional design now strives to:

  1. communicate the disciplinary core ideas (content) of science, while
  2. facilitating student engagement in science and engineering practices (inquiry methods) to develop knowledge of the disciplinary core ideas, and
  3. help students apprehend the crosscutting concepts (overarching concepts) that connect the learning experiences within a discipline and bridge meaningfully across disciplines as students gain more and more knowledge of the natural world.

In FOSS First Edition K–6, we developed the multisensory approach to active learning of science and in the Second Edition, we refined and enriched that approach by integrating quality reading materials. FOSS Third Edition K–6 fully integrated the use of science notebooks, outdoor applications, and formative assessment with strong conceptual frameworks through the science strands; and in the new FOSS Next Generation K–5, we built upon the previous editions, strengthening and making more explicit the connections to the three dimensions of science AND engineering (core ideas, practices, crosscutting concepts) and to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English Language Arts at each grade level. FOSS Next Generation engaged the gears between the different pedagogies so they are seamlessly integrated to optimize the science experiences for all students and their teachers. With active investigation at its core, the use of 1) formative assessment, 2) notebooks, 3) science-centered language development, 4) informational text, 5) technology, and 6) outdoor experiences makes FOSS the most effective teaching and learning tool available to prepare students to meet the performance expectations of the NGSS.

The NGSS describe the knowledge and skills we expect our students to be able to demonstrate after completing their science instruction experience. The expectations are demanding and include no small measure of ability to communicate scientific knowledge. The ability to communicate complex ideas assumes that students have had a significant amount of experience and practice building coherent explanations, defending claims, and organizing and presenting reasoned arguments in the context of their science curriculum. FOSS Next Generation experiences will prepare your students to meet these expectations.

FOSS remains strongly grounded in the realities of the classroom and the interests and experiences of the learner. The Next Generation program consists of three modules at each grade level K–5 for a curriculum of 18 modules.

FOSS Next Generation is crafted with a teaching philosophy that embraces the 21st-century skills; collaborative teamwork, critical thinking, and problem solving that applies the content of science—engineering.

FOSS Next Generation curriculum design promotes a classroom culture that allows both teachers and students to assume prominent rolls in the management of and responsibility for the learning experience. The content in FOSS is teachable and learnable over multiple grade levels as students increase in their abilities to reason about and integrate complex ideas within and between disciplines. Science notebooks are a learning tool for students to share and clarify understanding.

The FOSS Next Generation assessment system embraces the three dimensions of the Framework and NGSS and makes the connections explicit for teachers (for details on how NGSS is incorporated into the assessment system, read Kathy Long's article on page 16 of this newsletter). FOSS formative assessment creates a community of reflective practice. Teachers and students make up the community and establish norms of mutual support, trust, respect, and collaboration. The goal of the community is that everyone will demonstrate progress and will learn and grow.

FOSS Next Generation is built on the assumptions that understanding of core scientific knowledge and how science functions is essential for citizenship, that all teachers can teach science, and that all students can learn science.

FOSS Next Generation -- Recommended K-5 Scope and Sequence