Tell us a bit about your role and how you became a part of the team at Twig.
I am a consultant but I also help with many different things for the company. I help run the Facebook page, conduct training, helped write the distance learning lessons, and am in the model lesson videos. I got introduced to Twig by a sales consultant who asked me to join the team. At that time, I was teaching full-time (10 years) and was looking for something fun and new in education. My first big Twig experience was going to Las Vegas for our first sales meeting where I was in awe because I got to meet the team who wrote the curriculum and meet our CEO, Cathrine.
In 3 words, how would you best describe Twig Education to our followers?
Innovative, engaging, and student-centered.
What is your favorite thing about your role at Twig?
Meeting teachers from all over! I love being able to share my own experience of teaching Twig with others who are new to it. It’s fun to pass on that “spark” for Twig to others.
What helps motivate you on those days when you need a little push?
The students and teachers! If I give a dull presentation then teachers won’t be excited to use Twig, which will affect the students. I always think about how great this program is and how it can influence future scientists and engineers in the world, so I always try my best to make sure teachers see how easy it is to use and implement.
If you weren’t working at Twig Education, what would you be doing?
Teaching. Or my dream job right now would be a Peloton instructor.
If you could go back in time and give advice to your 16-year-old self, what would it be?
Trust yourself and have fun! It is a big world out there!
Could you share an interesting fact about yourself for our followers? Something that we don’t already know about you?
I use to be a portray character at Disneyland and even met one of my students during my student teaching as Buzz Lightyear. I am addicted to my Peloton. I have 2 kids under 4.
Weld North Education, the largest provider of digital curriculum solutions in the US, has announced the acquisition of Twig Education, creators of high-quality science curriculum products designed to improve science literacy globally. Based in the UK, with a strong team in the US, Twig’s flagship product, Twig Science Next Gen, is a highly engaging, multimedia-rich, digital-first science program, grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), with unique partnerships with Imperial College London, Stanford University, and BBC Studios.
The acquisition of Twig is an important step forward as Weld North continues to expand its digital core curriculum offerings, delivering on its mission to empower educators to drive learning breakthroughs and support each student’s unique learning journey. Founded in 2009, Twig entered the US market in 2018 with an innovative program designed to meet the NGSS, integrating visual, digital, and hands-on learning. Today, Twig has a 30% share of the elementary science market in California with plans to expand across the US. Twig CEO Catherine Cahn, based in California, will continue to manage the business.
“Our purpose—to ignite learning breakthroughs—has never been more important as we partner with schools, districts, parents, and students to unlock the power of digital solutions to enrich the learning experience,” said Jonathan Grayer, founder and CEO of Weld North Education, “Twig’s engaging science curriculum fits perfectly with our other K–12 core offerings in math and English Language Arts—LearnZillion and StudySync—and has an exceptional reputation among educators using the program. By expanding Twig’s footprint across the country, we can inspire more students to understand the world around us and pursue STEM careers.”
Twig Science Next Gen is a phenomena-based core science program embracing the investigative, hands-on nature of NGSS, with a focus on storytelling and making science relevant for learners through a multimedia-rich product that is visually appealing. It has been adopted by major school districts, such as Irvine and Garden Grove, CA; Beaverton, OR; and Oklahoma City.
“In Weld North we have found a partner who shares our goal to improve global science literacy and understands the important role that science education plays in the development of 21st-century citizens,” said Catherine Cahn. “We are excited to introduce our products to many more classrooms across the US through Weld North’s unrivaled reach and to provide teachers the tools they need to create aha! moments for their students.”
Are you a new science lead feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing for your new role? We know there is a lot to think about, so here are our best tips for tackling a new year as a science lead.
Create an action plan
A good place to start is looking at what you want to achieve in the coming year. What are your main goals? Are there any challenges you might have to tackle? Try not to overcomplicate things – instead, decide on a small number of areas you want to prioritise and create achievable action points in each area.
Create a whole-school vision
One of the goals for science leads is making sure that everyone shares the same vision for how to teach science. This is something that you need to build up over time. As a starting point, you can look at your action plan and identify key themes. As the first term progresses, collaboration with staff, parents, and students should help you come up with a clear vision.
Take stock of resources
What resources are your staff currently using to teach science? Is the quality of these resources up to scratch, or do you find them lacking? Have they been recently updated, or are they outdated? Find out what teachers and students think and figure out how things can be improved, if necessary. If the resources are lacking, present a case for investing in a new program or new supplemental products.
In need of high-quality classroom material for STEM? Check out our award-winning, video-based STEM resources for ages 4–16: Twig World, Tigtag, and Tigtag Junior.
Figure out and plan CPD
It is, of course, important to keep developing both subject knowledge and pedagogy for any teacher. Check with your staff if there is anything specific they think they need more training in, and ask yourself what you think they need, as well as what areas you yourself need to develop in. Once you have a clear idea of what is needed, book relevant courses for the coming year and let your staff know what’s coming up.
A great starting point for science educators is Reach Out CPD – a free online CPD, developed in collaboration with Imperial College London, that will increase your staff’s confidence with the primary science curriculum.
Observe lessons and provide feedback
As a science lead, it’s your job to not only support your teachers, but also make sure that they are adhering to the science curriculum. Once or twice a year, conduct class observations and provide constructive feedback to each of your staff members. This gives you a chance to see what areas they may need support in, as well as recognise what areas they excel in.
Scheduleregular team meetings
Regular team meetings are a great way to give your staff a chance to safely voice their opinions and exchange ideas with colleagues. This can help promote a sense of unity when it comes to achieving your goals for the year and will also help with achieving a whole-school vision, as mentioned above.
Talk to students
Students are at the centre of all your work, so it’s a good idea to get to know their needs and opinions. Try to collect their thoughts and ideas about science class. What do they like? What’s boring? How much are they learning? What would they like to see more of? You might want to host an in-person feedback session during a free period, or you can ask teachers to collect feedback from their students in writing.
Plan science enrichment activities
A great way to get students interested in science is taking it outside the classroom. Keep an eye out for local events to attend, and plan trips to nearby spaces like science centres or nature reserves. If you have the resources, you might even consider holding a science week with activities like competitions, talks by scientists and more!
Keep an eye on gender stereotyping and representation
Issues such as gender stereotyping and lack of representation are still common in schools. It’s important to address these if you see them, ensuring that all students feel represented and supported. This involves making sure resources represent people of all backgrounds and abilities and that students get equal opportunities and treatment in the classroom.
Keep up to date with developments in science and science education
New discoveries in science and engineering are made all the time. Keeping up to date with these developments and sharing them with teachers and students is a fantastic way of making sure science feels current and relevant. A good starting point is Twig Science Reporter, our free weekly science news service for primary school students.
Lead by example
An important part of being a science lead is to be someone other staff can look to for guidance. Part of that is leading by example, so make sure that you are following your own advice in your own science classes and allow staff to observe you for best practice, if they so wish. This can be especially beneficial for NQTs who are still gaining confidence.
Connect with other science leads
Being a science lead comes with a lot of responsibility and, as a result, a lot of pressure. It can be very helpful to connect with others who are in the same position as you through local science lead networks, or even over social media. This can help you get advice and support with any issues you may encounter, as well as get inspiration for how you can improve science education at your school.
This might sound like a lot to think about, but with a solid action plan, the support of colleagues and a genuine passion for your mission, you will with no doubt have a great time as a science lead.
Looking for high-quality supplemental resources for your school? Find out more about how Twig Education’s resources for ages 4–16 can help improve engagement and achievement levels in the classroom: Read now.
In episode 4 of Twig Education On…, Dr. Kim Mueller talks to Lauren Stoll, an assessment and curriculum designer for Stanford’s SCALE (The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity) team. Listen as they discuss the partnership between Twig Science and the SCALE team, 3-D science standards, and what it really means to take a student-centered approach when teaching science. Just click the play button above!
Twig Science is a phenomena-based science program for TK/Pre-K to Grade 6, built for 3-D science standards such as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). When developing the Twig Science program, Twig partnered with Stanford’s SCALE team to develop engaging and reliable assessment in which students demonstrate thinking, knowledge, and practices to unpack phenomena and solve design challenges.