Sunday, October 6, 2013

More Standards: An Easy Fit or So Many, So Little Time?
Rubik's Cube Alarm Clock
As a Texas teacher my curriculum is defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge  and Skills (TEKS). There is a set for physics and a set for scientific research and design (SRD). Every lesson is driven by these standards. The National Association of Science Teachers has another set of standards for physics and SRD as part of their Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Even though science is not currently part of the Common Core Standards (CSS) and Texas will probably not adopt the standards, they cannot be dismissed as students may plan to leave Texas for universities and employment. Through my course work, I have recently been introduced to yet another set of learning standards, The National Educational Standards for Students (NETS-S) developed by the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE). I appreciate all of these groups helping me know what students should be accomplishing during class time. Their guidance is welcome but overwhelming when the volume of standards is compared to the available class time. Focusing on the NETS-S, when examining the class activities that already exist and meet the TEKS, I find that in many lessons the NETS-S are already being met, or can be met by including  web 2.0 tools to the lesson.

One standard addresses student creativity, critical thinking and problem solving (NETS-S, 2007).  The creativity of thought includes the use of models and simulations to solve problems. For physics students the free Phet site gives students the opportunity to perform virtual inquiry labs that would not be possible in the classroom due to size, cost or danger. The Physics Classroom also offers a wide range of simulations that students can explore to gain understanding regarding difficult concepts. A web search for simulations will produce a long list of site to explore. 

3D Map of the World Wide Web
The requirement for students to communicate, collaborate, conduct research and use creativity can be addressed with a number of web tools (NETS-S, 2007).  Web 2.0 tools such as (for Apple products) or the many options available through Google documents can be used to communicate results from an experiment. Currently in SRD, some students have chosen to track and share their learning for a year-long project in blogs. Additionally, Google documents offers easy collaboration tools by allowing document sharing, comments, voice comments and chats. Students should be encouraged to go beyond Wikipedia  and use sites such as Encyclopedia Britannica and other encyclopedias which are also available online for research. Additional sources are available through schools and local libraries. Collaborative research can be collected in sites such as Students share results and show their creativity with larger projects using tools such as or It takes some creativity on the part of the teacher to move the products of science lessons beyond data tables, graphs and conclusions written on paper, but the tools are available for those who are willing.

The standards of good digital citizenship and correct technology can be taught and modeled in any lesson that includes technology (NETS-S, 2007). Expectations for the use of technology in the classroom must be clear to the students. The difference between their informal use and the formal use should be explained as the same tool may be used by the student in a different setting. Modeling these standards in the lessons they create will help student understand digital citizenship and how to correctly use the technology tools they are learning. 

There are plenty of web tools available for students to create, problem solve, collaborate and learn. Teacher creativity and knowledge as well as the availability of reliable, connected computers in the classroom make the difference in the ability to incorporate the NETS-S on a daily basis. Blocked sites and internet safety are an additional concern when introducing students to the learning opportunities available on the World Wide Web. All things considered, I am happy to discover that overall the standards in NETS-S can be met in my classroom along with the course TEKS for physics and SRD.

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (2013). Retrieved October 6, 2103 from
High School Physical. Science Next Generation Science Standards (April 2013). Retrieved October 6, 2013 from

Common Core State Standards Initiative (2012). Retrieved October 6, 2013 from

NETS for Students 2007 (2007). Retrieved October 6, 2013 from

Laughead, G. (2009, February 25). 3D Map of the World Wide Web Retrieved October 6, 2013 from


1 comment:

  1. Great observation: NETS Standards do not need to be -- and should not be -- an add-on in terms of additional learning tasks and use of precious class time. Instead, these can readily be met by incorporating Web 2.0 tools and other technologies in the normal curriculum process.