Science & Technology Curriculum Framework
Owning The Questions
Owning the Questions is one of seven curriculum frameworks that, along with the Common Core of Learning, lay the foundation for Massachusetts educational reform in teaching, learning and assessment. Like its companion frameworks in the Arts, English Language Arts, Comprehensive Health, Mathematics, History/Social Science and World Languages, it was developed by practitioners working with staff from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The Common Core affirms inquiry as central to teaching and learning. In classrooms that stress inquiry, students pursue questions that connect in important ways to their lives. The goal of inquiry based learning is for students to become questioners -- not just to know the questions, but to own the questions. The core concept of this framework, owning the questions, advocates that students participate so thoroughly in the activities of scientific investigation and technical design that they become the questioners themselves.
The guiding principles provide the basis for a detailed set of underlying beliefs and tenets central to owning the questions in science and technology. These nine guiding principles articulate the ideals of teaching, learning and assessing science and technology in Massachusetts. They contain illustrations of how educators create educational environments characterized by curiosity, persistence, respect for evidence, open mindedness balanced with skepticism, and a sense of stewardship and care.
The Science and Technology content section contains four strands that are broad learning standard statements about what students should know and be able to do as learners of science and technology. Each strand reflects the process of inquiry and the importance of owning the questions, by focusing on essential knowledge, skills and strategies that students need in order to become scientifically and technologically literate. A critical focus for these learning standards is teaching and learning that helps bridge the domains of science and foster integration of science and technology.
The Science and Technology framework is designed to be used in conjunction with the other six frameworks, and with the introductory common chapters. Together these chapters articulate a vision that will stimulate interdisciplinary learning both for young people and adults in Massachusetts school communities.
Developing The Massachusetts Science and Technology Curriculum Framework
Owning the Questions is based upon two reform initiatives in Massachusetts, the Education Reform Act of 1993 and Partnerships Advancing the Learning of Mathematics and Science (PALMS). PALMS is the Statewide Systemic Initiative, a collaborative effort jointly funded by the National Science Foundation and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which began in 1992. Of the seven initial goals for this initiative, the first was to develop, disseminate, and implement curriculum frameworks in Mathematics and Science and Technology. In January 1993, a set of recommendations for PreK-8 frameworks was produced by consultants from TERC, a research and development corporation based in Cambridge. Their work was reviewed by the PALMS Curriculum Framework Advisory Committee, and formed the basis for the later drafts of the mathematics and the science and technology frameworks. With the passage of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act in June 1993 and additional funding from the U.S. Department of Education, development of the curriculum frameworks was extended to include grades 9-12.
The creation of the science and technology curriculum framework was a collaborative endeavor among members of the Framework Development Committee--teachers, school and district administrators, scientists, college faculty, parents, and representatives of business and community organizations across the state. A majority of the members are currently classroom teachers who have extensive experience teaching science and technology at elementary, middle, and high school levels.