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Negotiating the Meaning of Next Generation Science Standards in a Secondary Biology Teacher Professional Learning Community


"This instrumental case study examines how secondary biology teachers in a professional learning community (PLC) negotiated the meaning of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in a year-long process of redesigning their curriculum. The PLC consisted of six biology teachers, five females and one male, who co-planned and taught a 10th grade biology course. The case is bounded by the PLC's first year adoption of NGSS as the teachers worked without the support of a facilitator, professional development, or curricular resources. The study is framed through the lens of Communities of Practice. Data sources included field notes and transcripts of the PLC meetings, teachers' emails, two semi-structured interviews per teacher, one focus group, and the original and redesigned curricula. The interpretations consist of the following five themes. (1) Members of the PLC negotiated specific, clearly defined, mutually agreed upon, and complementary roles as they worked to adopt NGSS. (2) The PLC developed two new tools: a road map (i.e., a year-long plan of action that reified their meaning-making and sustained the PLC's redesign efforts) and a unit template. (3) The PLC's use of a borrowed tool, the World Studies Skills Rubric, influenced their prioritization of NGSS practices focusing on obtaining, evaluating and communicating information, and reasoning with evidence (i.e., argumentation and constructing explanations). (4) The newly designed assessments did not reflect three-dimensional learning. (5) The teachers' experiences were marked by a central tension between content details and NGSS practices. Implications are given for professional development and research."