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Helping High School Teachers Build Skills and Confidence in the New Standards

science classroom with instructor observing students working on a lab exercise

Helping High School Teachers Build Skills
and Confidence in the New Standards



Simon McBride,
Millie Milstead

Tamalpais High School,
Mill Valley, California

Kristi Schertz,
Saugus High School,
Santa Clarita, California

Tonya Scott,
San Pasqual High School,
Escondido, California

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How to help high school educators learn to teach the new phenomena-based standards so students excel through three-dimensional learning


Use Carolina Kits 3D™ labs to effectively transition to three-dimensional instruction.


Teachers gain the skills and confidence needed to integrate three-dimensional learning into their lessons, capturing imaginations and promoting deeper understanding as students experience this phenomena based approach to learning.


Carolina Biological Supply Company




School districts across the country have been experiencing a seismic shift over the last few years: moving their science curricula toward the Next Generation Science Standards* (NGSS) or standards similar to the NGSS. Understandably, many teachers are asking themselves:

  • How can I learn all of these new standards?
  • How do I adjust my lessons to be NGSS compatible?
  • Can I successfully make this change?

These are valid concerns that school administrators and educators are diligently trying to address. The NGSS and many new NGSS-like state standards are based on phenomena and use the three dimensions of learning to engage students in scientific and engineering practices while applying discipline-specific ideas and crosscutting concepts. CarolinaKits 3D™ labs are built from the ground up to help teachers integrate the new standards into their lessons and engage students so they learn to use the three dimensions in all their studies.

"The Carolina Kits 3D labs helped me go deeper...,which helped my students make connections and figure out the experiment."

—Tonya Scott, Chemistry and Physics Teacher, San Pasqual High School, Escondido, California

student giving a presentation to science class

Helping Experienced Teachers Build Confidence

As a veteran science teacher of 20 years, Kristi Schertz is no stranger to evolving standards and approaches. Schertz writes new standards-based curricula for her district and, like many other science teachers in the country, has been adjusting to and implementing the new phenomena-based standards that incorporate three dimensional learning. She currently teaches AP® Environmental Science to juniors and seniors at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California. When Carolina asked Schertz to conduct a pilot test on one of its Carolina Kits 3D™ labs, she was interested to see how the kits might help teachers make the shift to the new standards. Schertz tested the Carolina Kits 3D™: Group Behavior and Social Insects investigation in which students explore how cooperative behavior in social insects—specifically bees and termites—enhances individual survival. As Schertz explored the kit, she noted several features that were particularly beneficial. She found the teacher’s manual to be exceptionally well organized and helpful with its step-by-step prep instructions, photos demonstrating key points in the investigations, and expected time to finish each lesson in the unit. "The thoroughness of the teacher’s manual made it easy to plan my prep and classroom time," Schertz explains. She was also impressed with the completeness of the materials included in the kit and the many innovative instruments and approaches the students were able to utilize. Perhaps most importantly, Schertz found the three dimensions of learning—scientific and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts—to be well thought out and integrated into the unit’s lessons. In particular, she considers the scientific and engineering practices to be very effective for teaching students to design compelling experiments.

"The lesson includes the use of dependent and independent variables, hypotheses, controls, and other crucial aspects of good experimental design," Schertz says. She adds that the crosscutting concepts identified in the kit are an effective means for preparing students for other AP® classes and college courses. Schertz’s students found the lesson and experiments fun and interesting. "They were amazed to see their termites following that line of ink," she says. Schertz also notes that her students needed minimal help following the instructions, thanks to the clarity and detail of the student guide. “The Carolina Kits 3D™ labs will be a big help for teachers who are struggling with the new standards," Schertz says. "It will help them build the skills and confidence they need to implement the standards."

"The teacher’s guide will be especially good for new teachers as they plan and manage their lessons."

—Millie Milstead, Chemistry Teacher, Tamalpais High School, Mill Valley, California

male and female student holding flasks

Helping New Teachers Build Skills

Tonya Scott began her career in education three years ago teaching chemistry and physics at San Pasqual High School in Escondido, California. As a newer teacher, Scott does not have to let go of older standards to adopt the new, and yet she still needs to develop the skills that will enable her to understand and implement the NGSS. Scott pilot tested the Carolina Kits 3D™: Chemical Bonding Kit in which students investigate ionic and covalent bonds and compounds. Like Schertz, Scott found the teacher’s guide and student manual to be very clear, well organized, and easy to follow. "As a newer teacher, it was also very helpful to have the estimated time to completion listed for each major step of the lesson," she explains. As Scott explored the kit, she also liked that the digital assessment resources can be modified, if desired, and that all the materials needed for the lesson are high quality and included in the kit. Scott found that the scientific and engineering practices identified in the lesson led her students to be more "observation oriented rather than just looking for one right answer." She saw her students connecting their observations to their science studies, helping them learn the disciplinary core material. Those same students also connected the skills they were learning as scientists to other subjects. As one student said, "That’s like what we did in math!" Scott appreciates that the lessons are based in phenomena from the start and throughout. "The labs built on each other so students could reinvestigate with the new knowledge they had gained from the previous investigations," she explains.

After testing the Carolina Kits 3D™ lab with her students, this new teacher clearly encapsulated her excitement, stating, "It helped me go deeper … which helped my students make connections and figure out the experiment."

"The Carolina 3D kit helped make my very busy schedule more manageable while helping students tie together chemistry and physics concepts."

—Simon McBride, Chemistry and Physics Teacher, Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, California

Achieving Three-Dimensional Teaching and Learning

Carolina continuously strives to help teachers build toward the NGSS and state standards by providing resources and tools that assist them as they plan, teach, and succeed. When teachers incorporate phenomena-based approaches in their classrooms, their students also succeed as they explicitly identify and implement the three dimensions. Learn more about the science-educator developed and reviewed teacher’s manuals, student guides, pre-prepped lab materials, engaging activities, and digital lab resources that comprise Carolina Kits 3D™ labs at www.carolina.com/3D.

Carolinas free e-book Your Guide to Achieving Three Dimensional Learning with Carolina

*Next Generation Science Standards® is a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards were involved in theproduction of, and do not endorse, these products.

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