Big news—Twig World Ltd is becoming Twig Education!

Twig World Ltd is changing to Twig Education. Why? Because education is what we do. We’re committed to improving the quality of education around the globe, and we’re also dedicated to creating clear, intuitive, and exciting resources. We want that commitment and clarity to be reflected in our name: Twig Education.

Last year, we launched our new corporate website—twigeducation.com—where you can learn more about our company, our partners, and our full range of products. Since then we’ve been working hard to continue to expand our product portfolio around the world.

If you’re a teacher of students aged 11–16, there’s no need to panic. Twig World, our award-winning secondary resource, isn’t going anywhere and can still be found at the usual website address.

On the subject of names, you might be saying to yourself, “The ‘Education’ part makes sense… but why ‘Twig’?”

Well, we made this little video to explain…

What's in a name video learn.twigeducation.com/whats-in-a-name-twig

Look out for more award-winning, world-class products from Twig Education!

Twig Science officially adopted by the California Department of Education

The entire Twig Education team—including our partners at Stanford’s SCALE team, Imperial College London, and DC Thomson—is celebrating!

Why?

Because Twig Science has been adopted by the California State Board of Education.

It’s the moment the entire company has been working towards, and it marks the culmination of a rigorous review led by the Instructional Quality Commission.

What does this mean?
This means that Twig Science is now on the exclusive list of approved programs from which schools in California purchase their resources.

Twig Science is a phenomena-based TK–6 Science and Engineering program, built for California and the Next Generation Science Standards.

Along with our award-winning films and engaging digital and hands-on investigations, Twig Science’s print and/or digital solutions offer truly three-dimensional science and cross-curricular connections.

Also included is an assessment suite to track performance expectations.

Our partnership with SCALE means that our assessments are truly 3-D and deliver in building students’ confidence and preparing them for state assessments.

We are thrilled that all students will have access to real-world Science and Engineering as early as elementary school.

Catherine Cahn, CEO at Twig Education, said: “Twig Education has a history of creating innovative science products for students around the globe. We’re excited that students all across California will have the opportunity to explore their world through Twig Science while gaining key skills for success in the 21st century.”

Watch the Twig Science promo film here:

Students working on Twig Science hands-on tasks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’d like to see the full press release, including quotes from SCALE and Imperial College London, you can download it here.

The Power of 3-D Performance Assessments – Top 5 takeaways:

NGSS has shifted the way science educators are thinking about and designing instruction and assessment. One way to address these shifts for California educators is to consider how 3-D performance assessments can help teachers chart their students’ progress towards meeting the goals of NGSS.

Cathy Zozakiewicz recently presented the webinar “The Power of 3-D Performance Assessments: CA NGSS, CAST and Beyond.” Here are our top 5 takeaways:

1. The key to NGSS is three-dimensional learning.
With NGSS, science teaching and learning is no longer just about memorizing information. At its heart are Performance Expectations, describing what students are expected to know and to be able to do. To meet these expectations, students have to think like scientists, using knowledge in creative and analytical ways. They apply their understanding of scientific concepts to solve problems and make connections between the various STEM disciplines.

2. The three-dimensions of NGSS learning are SEPS, DCIs, and CCCs.
There are three main components of NGSS Performance Expectations. The first is Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). These are specific activities—such as using models and carrying out investigations—that scientists and engineers use in the real world. Students following SEPs behave just like real scientists. The second component is Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). These are made up of the primary knowledge and facts that students are expected to know in each discipline. The third component is Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs), which are the concepts that come up time and time again across all the science disciplines—things like patterns and cause and effect.

3. To maximize 3-D learning, we need to think about the assessments we use.
Many forms of assessments—Q&As, research projects—are good at measuring single dimensions of Performance Expectations, but ideally, we want to develop assessments that provide evidence of the three-dimensions of NGSS. That’s where performance assessment comes in. Performance assessment is learning by doing. Unlike traditional forms of assessment, in which students learn and then get assessed at the end of an instructional unit, students are assessed as they perform and demonstrate real science practices and reasoning during the entire instructional sequence.

4. Performance assessment is an assessment for and as learning.
Performance assessment is educative because it provides teachers with actionable data—to understand what students are able to do and struggling to do. This allows teachers to give feedback and guidance and actually change what and how they teach as they proceed through a course. What’s more, students assess themselves—they know what they can do right now and what they need to learn. So performance assessment is more integrated with learning and has an impact on how that learning develops, rather than just being a measure of learning already attained.

5. Twig Science’s hand-on investigations make performance assessment truly three-dimensional.
Every Twig Science module features an immersive storyline, with hands-on investigations in which students try to solve problems, analyse their results, and make improvements. The investigations are explicitly tied to the three dimensions of NGSS—students gain knowledge, develop real STEM skills, and make connections between different disciplines. Students are being assessed are the NGSS performance expectations, the practices of scientists and engineers.  Students are also expected to assess themselves as they consider how to develop their ideas, models or solutions. Often they have no idea they are being assessed because they are so involved in what they’re doing—designing solutions, manipulating data, talking to each other, learning from errors. It’s a really effective and dynamic way of learning.

Cathy provides technical consulting and supports through Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, & Equity (SCALE). She develops innovative, educational, and state-of-the-art performance assessments for evaluating student learning. The Stanford NGSS Assessment Project (SNAP) team, many of whom, including Cathy, are part of SCALE, were invited by the California Department of Education and ETS to evaluate and provide feedback on assessment items and the development process for CAST.

To watch the webinar, click here.

Spotlight: Navigating Science Texts with Wiley Blevins

April 11th saw the first webinar in the Twig Science Spotlight series. Author and Early Reading Specialist, Wiley Blevins, gave some top tips on the importance of teaching students how to navigate informational text. Here’s a quick introduction to what Wiley discussed:

 

What was the last thing you read? The chances are it wasn’t a novel. Perhaps it was a road sign, an email, or an instruction. Research suggests that 90% of what we read as adults is informational. That’s why, the balance between literary and informational text shifts as students move through the grades, with 50% of Grade 4 texts being informational compared to 70% in Grade 12.  We are preparing them for the real-world demands they’ll face when they leave school.

 

An increased emphasis on informational text can also help students to achieve more in school. High-stakes tests contain non-fiction, and some students, known as Info-Kids, prefer reading this type of text.

 

So, we know informational text is important, but why is it challenging? There are four main reasons:

 

  1. Text Features – From boldfaced words to headings, graphics, sidebars, and captions – understanding how to navigate text (what to read and in what order),  is something we have to formally teach students so they can access informational text.
  2. Text Structures – Most fiction has a common and predictable structure: a beginning, a middle, and an end. However, when it comes to non-fiction, there are lots of structures authors use. These organizational patterns are identified by the signal words that help to alert us to these structures. These signal words need to be formally taught.
  3. Content  – Understanding content is challenging for many students because it requires abstract thinking, integrating ideas across paragraphs and pages; recognizing complex cause-and-effect relationships; comparing and contrasting information from a range of sources mean that students often hit a wall.
  4. Vocabulary – Before a student leaves elementary school, they need to have learnt at least 75,000 new vocabulary words. These don’t come just from formal teaching. We know that many of these words come from Read-Alouds and from wide reading. Selecting academic words with extensive usage across texts should be the focus of our instruction.

 

For more information on these challenges and lots of ideas on how to overcome them, watch the full webinar now.

Reach Out Reporter shortlisted for Bett Award 2018

 

Well, we have just received the email – Reach Out Reporter has been shortlisted as a finalist for a Bett Award 2018!

 

With two awards (an ERA and a Learning on Screen Award) already firmly under their belt, the team at Imperial College London and Twig Education are so proud to be part of the continuing success of this digital tool for teachers.

 

Shortlisted in the ‘Free Digital Content or Open Educational Resources’ category, here is what one teacher had to say about the resource:

 

“Reach Out Reporter is easily my favourite free resource for teachers to come out in recent years. For a number of years I had been trying to come up with a sustainable way to keep children in my school up to date with current news from the scientific world that they would understand and be interested in, but it proved to be such a huge task that I did not have much success. Until now, I don’t believe there has been any collection of this sort that allows teachers to quickly and easily share current science news from a trusted and reliable source that is accessible to the children”.

Kathryn Horan
Teacher & Science Leader, Greenhill Primary School
Early Years Science PGCE Tutor, University of Leeds

 

With judging taking place early December, and the Bett Awards taking place early next year, we will have our fingers crossed as we continue to bring you the latest topical science news in Reach Out Reporter.

What is Phenomena-based Learning?

Phenomena-based learning (PhenoBL) has been in the spotlight recently. First popularised due to Finland’s decision to revolutionise their curriculum in 2016, this buzzword is back on everyone’s lips again. This time, it’s in connection to the Next Generation Science Standards. We decided to demystify exactly what phenomenon-based learning is, and why it’s becoming increasingly popular.

 

Finland’s Phenomenal Institute says that in phenomena-based learning and teaching, “holistic real-world phenomena provide the starting point for learning. The phenomena are studied as complete entities, in their real context, and the information and skills related to them are studied by crossing the boundaries between subjects”.

 

In simpler words, PhenoBL is a method of understanding a phenomenon – an observable event – using various methods and perspectives, which may often overlap. PhenoBL takes a broad, multi-faceted look at events and occurrences happening in the real world, such as climate change, migration, or even the European Union. Looking at these subjects from a number of different angles helps the students to truly understand the workings of natural and societal events. We’ve created a quick shortlist of the all the features of PhenoBL to give you a quick overview of what it means in terms of teaching in the classroom:

 

  1. Getting real: The real world is the bedrock of PhenoBL – providing a much-needed starting point that is repeated at every stage. Students and teachers choose to focus on a real-world phenomena: rain, space travel or perhaps something problematic, like soil erosion. Students study a phenomenon that interests them, and use scientific enquiry and problem-solving skills with the aim of understanding it and demystifying it.
  2. Question and more questions: PhenoBL thrives on curiosity, and so students are encouraged to question what is around them. It’s not a revolutionary concept. Centuries ago, Socrates used a similar method of questioning to guide his students: in order to find the right answers, they had to know how to ask the right questions. PhenoBL echoes this approach, prioritising how over why in order to inspire students to make observations.
  3. Contextualise: Phenomenon-based learning builds tangible connections between curriculum theory and the real world, but it also serves to link the various, separate subjects that students learn in schools: the Egyptian pyramids display an acute knowledge of physics engineering, both of which require precise, complex calculations, and the study of fossils and sedimented craters – a perfect mix of geography and science – have helped scientists come to understand the Earth’s biodiversity millions of years ago.
  4. Change in a teacher’s role: PhenoBL recasts the teacher’s role, changing them from a provider of knowledge to a guide that helps students find knowledge on their own. This might initially be a slightly uncomfortable proposition for both teachers and students – watching students struggle prompts many teachers to want to jump in with the answer. But stick with the altered lesson structure: the aim is still to achieve learning goals.
  5. Other skills: The beauty of PhenoBL is that it also integrates the learning of important social skills, such as clear communication and the ability to function in a team. PhenoBL also encourages the use of other pedagogy models: project-based learning, integrated-learning and inquiry-based learning, to name just a couple.

So do we really need PhenoBL? Absolutely! In a world that is changing rapidly, PhenoBL lays the foundation for truly preparing the next generation to think and act like real-world scientists. PhenoBL allows students to own the learning process, transforming them from passive participants within education to active learners. What’s more, PhenoBL goes a step further in addressing the STEM crisis by combining it with the creativity of the arts, giving the next generation a rounded, holistic education.