Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Natural selection--Study and teaching (Middle school); Science--Standards--Iowa--Keokuk; Science--Curricula--Iowa--Keokuk;


The project that I focused on for my Creative Component is the creation of Understanding by Design (UbD) unit lesson plans that address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in the topic of Evolution. When the final framework was released of the NGSS in 2011, the need for teachers to revisit and align their curriculum became a necessary step to ensure appropriate content was taught. In the fall of 2013, Keokuk Community School District decided science teachers would begin implementing the new NGSS, anticipating that the state of Iowa will adopt the standards.

This creative component includes lesson plans correlated with selected NGSS Performance Expectations (PE) for the discipline of Life Science. At Keokuk Middle School, students are required to take three yearlong courses in science. In sixth grade students learn a variety of content, which mainly focuses on physical science content. Life science is the focus of the curriculum in seventh grade. Students in eight grade center the time in class on earth science. In order for students to master the 59 science standards from the NGSS, Keokuk Middle School teachers needed to begin the conversation of how to accomplish such a daunting number of standards in three years.

The first step the science staff took was determine the scope and sequence of the newly created standards, which served the purpose of ensuring all of the 59 Middle School Performance Expectations (PE) were covered. After meeting numerous times throughout the school year to determine that each Middle School PE would be covered in the three years a student spends in the middle school, it was determined that during a year of Life Science students would need to meet 22 PEs. Our school year consists of 178 student days, equaling an average time commitment of eight school days on each PE.

The goal of this creative component is to create curriculum that aligns with NGSS, grouping multiple PEs in a unit. The unit covers the topic of Natural Selection and Adaptations, addressing the topics of two crosscutting concepts: Patterns and Cause and Effect. Lessons focus on meeting five Middle School Life Science Performance Expectations of the NGSS. These five Performance Expectations will be divided into two subunits, creating the unit titled Adaptation/Diversity.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Science Education Program

First Advisor

Dawn Del Carlo


A creative component, submitted, Master of Arts in Science Education

Keywords: curriculum development, Next Generation Science standards, NGSS, biology

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (iii, 111 pages)



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