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Content Areas: Science


NGSS for California Public Schools, K-12, (2013)

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are topics from Kindergarten to 12th grade and include topics of Life Science, Physical Science, Earth & Space Science, and Engineering Design

Inclusive Practices in Science

UDL in science requires proactively revising and integrating pedagogical practices to provide students with some choice in access of the science content.

National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) provides inclusive practices across student needs.

As students with learning disabilities are the most prevalent subgroup of students with disabilities, NSTA provides ideas for class culture, teacher presentation, laboratory work, reading in science, group work, field experiences, and testing.

Some specific practices shared:

  • Have students with learning disabilities underline key words or directions on activity sheets (then review the sheets with them).
  • Clearly label equipment, tools, and materials. Color code them for enhanced visual recognition
  • In dealing with abstract concepts, use visual tools such as charts and graphs. Also, paraphrase and present them in specific terms, and sequence and illustrate them with concrete examples, personal experiences, or hands-on exercises.
  • Find materials paralleling the textbook, but written at an accessible reading level. (Also, include activities that make the reading assignment more relevant.)
  • Use Graphic Organizers to provide a visual representation of a system or expected work
  • Introduce simulations to make abstract content more concrete.
  • Consider other forms of testing (oral, hands-on demonstration, open-book etc.). Some students with learning disabilities find that large print helps their processing ability.


Tiered Science Assignment Examples

Science Activity Summary - Present an active, engaging science lesson of your choice to a group of at least three students at the elementary, middle, or high school-level who operate at three different skill levels (advanced, typical, delayed). Report on the results; (one to two pages).


  1. A short description of the lesson – include accommodations made for students’ skill levels and ELL needs
  2. Note specific NGSS connection(s), and grade level(s) associated with the lesson.
  3. A one sentence description of the student participants.
  4. A paragraph on student reactions (Their responses? What did they learn? What alternative strategies might be used to meet student needs?).
  5. A paragraph on your reaction (Your response? What did you learn?).

Cooperative Activity Presentations - Work with a group of classmates to present a lesson of your choice from one of the NSTA professional journals.

Basic criteria:

  1. Choose an activity from one of the NSTA professional journals; adapt it to your chosen grade level
  2. Develop Lesson Outline
  3. Have class work cooperatively in groups of 3-4 students,
  4. Utilize the Internet in some significant capacity,
  5. Offer suggestions for ELL and inclusion/adaptation,
  6. Clarify the grade level(s) and NGSS connection(s) involved,
  7. Present Lesson Plan reflection

My Science Lesson Plan

Part 1 – Planning Lesson

In this assignment you will now plan a science lesson that you will teach your students in your field experience.

You must use the lesson plan template that includes:

  1. An objective and driving question
  2. The NGSS performance expectation your objective is connected to
  3. An explanation of how your plan is responsive to your classroom community, funds of knowledge of students, and equity oriented
  4. How this would fit in a lesson sequence/unit
  5. How you will figure out if your teaching supported students’ learning
  6. The original resource + the adaptations you made to it. This should include the different things you and the students will do and discuss together. If your original lesson resources already list those steps, great. Just adapt and annotate. If not, type the plans out.
  7. Learning goals with connections to
    1. NGSS
    2. students funds of knowledge;
    3. list of required materials;
    4. lesson overview;
    5. lesson flow (e.g., procedures/steps) with anticipated amount of time needed,
    6. Tips for ensuring a good enactment
  8. A detailed assessment strategy and plan

Part 2 - Science Lesson Plan Enactment and Analysis AND Assessment Analysis

You will need to teach the science lesson you developed to your placement class and reflect on how your lesson plan supported student’s learning and how you would improve it in the future. This lesson will leverage students’ sensemaking skills and funds of knowledge. For this lesson, you will need to:

  1. submit a FINAL lesson plan (if you needed to change your activity sequence based on lessons learned in your lesson, you need to provide that information in your reflection);
  2. video yourself teaching the lesson and collect relevant student work that will support your assessment analysis of student work (including work from the student you interviewed for Part 2 of your case);
  3. lesson plan reflection narrative and
  4. 1-2 minute personal video reflection that combines your view of youth-centered, equity-oriented science teaching and how you will develop that in your future elementary classrooms. 

For the lesson plan reflection, in about 600 words, reflect using the following sentence starters:

  1. One new idea about student learning I have based on teaching this lesson is.....
  2. One idea about student learning that challenged my thinking or surprised me is ....
  3. My students learned new ideas about.... I know because…
  4. My students utilized their already existing expertise about.... I know because…
  5. The pedagogical moves and lesson adaptations that worked well were .... Because ....
  6. The classroom culture shaped the lesson in the following ways…
  7. The lesson supported equity-oriented science teaching by...

In addition to the 600 words, please include an assessment analysis that includes: 

  1. Pictures of your 3 students’ work with examples from teaching video where you saw the student connecting ideas based on the assessment task you provided. This means: video timestamp, transcript, and sensemaking the student did and then explain under each student’s work what you learned about them and their experience engaging in the lesson.

Finally, A 1-2 minute personal video reflection on what positive elements you noticed in your teaching in terms of how you worked to reach all students -- this reflection should be geared towards parents of your students and/or your principal, not for me or the course.

Make a TIC-TAC-TOE Activity Sheet

Sample Tic-Tac-Toe Activities:

  1. Review the website links to see samples of Tic-Tac-Toe activity sheets teachers have made for their students.
  2. Using the TIC-TAC-TOE template, choose a topic, specify the grade level, and fill in with activities that students could choose from and complete to demonstrate their knowledge. Activities should allow for a variety of learning styles and preferences

EXAMPLE: Butterfly Life Cycle
GRADE LEVEL: 2nd Grade

Draw and label the stages of the butterfly life cycle.

Develop a slideshow describing the stages of the butterfly life cycle.

Keep a caterpillar as a pet and take pictures of the stages of its life cycle.

Create an acrostic poem using the word “butterfly,” with each letter describing a characteristic of butterflies or their life cycle.

Voice record yourself explaining the butterfly life cycle to a family member.

Create a skit in which you are the tour guide who describes the butterfly life cycle to visitors of a butterfly sanctuary.

Make a poster board with pictures and descriptions of the butterfly life cycle.

Create an interpretive dance of a butterfly going through each stage of its life cycle.

Write a song describing metamorphosis.

Inquiry Lesson Plan Template – Candidates can develop 5E lesson plans or load plans they have been provided to them into the template that allows them use the UDL frame to determine barriers and solutions.


Additional Resources


Aydeniz, M., Cihak, D. F., Graham, S. C., & Retinger, L. (2012). Using inquiry-based instruction for teaching science to students with learning disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 27, 189-206.

Basham, J. D., & Marino, M. T. (2013). Understanding STEM education and supporting students through universal design for learning. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 45, 8-15.

Cox-Petersen, A., Melber, L.R., & Patchen, T.R. (2011). Teaching science to culturally and linguistically diverse elementary students. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Drew, S.V., Oblinghouse, N.G., & Faggella-Luby, M. (2020). Reconceptualizing instruction for writing in science. Teaching Exceptional Children, 52(4) 210-221.

Fulton, L., Collins, L., Poeltier, E., & Pearson, L. (2018). The use of mnemonics as an effective strategy to support the integration of writing in science for students with disabilities. Science & Children. 56(2), 45-50.

Kahn, S. & Lewis, A. (2014). Survey on teaching science to K-12 students with disabilities: Teacher Preparedness and attitudes. Journal of Science. 25, 885-910.

Kaldenberg, E. R., Watt, S. J., & Therrien, W. J. (2015). Reading instruction in science for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 38, 160-173.

Marino, M. T., Bech.t, K. M., Vasquez, E. I., Gallup, J. L., Basham, J. D., & Gallegos, B. (2014). Enhancing secondary science content accessibility with video games. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 47, 27-34

Martinez-Alvarez, P. (2017). Special ways of knowing in scienec: Expansive learning opportunities of bilingual children with learning disabilities. Cultural Studies of Science Education, 12, 521-553.

McGough, J. & Nyberg, L. (2015). The power of questioning: Guiding student investigations. NSTA Press: Arlington, VA.

Nyberg, L. & McGough, J. (2018). The power of assessing: Getting powerful practice. NSTA Press: Arlington, VA.

Steele, M. M. (2008). Helping students with learning disabilities succeed. Science Teacher, 75, 38-42.

Stephanic Eds. Inclusive Science Instruction

Szidon, K., Ruppar, A., & Smith, L. (2015). Five steps for developing effective transition plans for high school students with autism spectrum disorder. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 47, 147-152.

Watt, S. J., Therrien, W. J., Kaldenberg, E., & Taylor, J. (2013). Promoting inclusive practices in inquiry-based science classrooms. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 45, 40-48.

Watters, J., & Dietzmann, C. (2003). The gifted student in science: Fulfilling potential. Australian Science, 49 (3).

Wright, T.S., & Domke, L.M. (2019). The Role of Language and literacy in K-5 Science and Social Studies Standards, 51(1), 46-57. Retrieved from

Includes lesson plans (pre UDL) and strategy suggestions. Lesson topics  Bones (p. 93-134), Energy Transfer (p. 162-186), Energy (p. 187-204), Density (p. 205 – 236), Electricity (p. 237-282)


NGSS Videos