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Science A-Z Storylines

Science A-Z Storylines, phenomenon-driven lesson plans and assessments, are carefully designed to help teachers address all three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards* within one coherent sequence of lessons. Watch this video to learn how Storylines gets students excited about science by allowing them to answer questions during science investigations and design solutions during engineering challenges.


* 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 was involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

Science A-Z Storylines get students excited about science by allowing them to answer questions during science investigations and design solutions during engineering challenges. Students play an active role in the learning process while exploring phenomena and solving problems.

Storylines are specifically designed to address all three dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards*. Each Storyline consists of a series of connected lessons that target the bundle of Performance Expectations embedded within one topic of the standards.

Students learn the Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts by engaging in Science and Engineering Practices. Within each Storyline Lesson Plan, teachers facilitate learning by guiding students through a series of phenomenon-driven lessons.

The Lesson Plan begins with an Anchoring Phenomenon that sparks student interest and gets them thinking about the Storyline topic. This experience leads to an overarching Storyline Question. Now the class embarks on a journey through several lessons. During each lesson, students ask questions about an investigative phenomenon and then use science and engineering practices to answer the questions.

While engaging in the practices, students make use of many Science A-Z resources, such as Unit Nonfiction Books, FOCUS Books, Process Activities, Science Diagrams, Science Videos, and Graphic Organizers. These supporting resources help students gather evidence, learn important vocabulary, organize information, and evaluate their own explanations against established models.

Supporting resources also help students learn disciplinary core ideas, including the scientific principles that can help explain phenomena.

During Storyline lesson activities, students learn about crosscutting concepts and how they relate to the current investigation, as well as gaining an understanding of how these concepts might apply to other areas of science.

While teachers will informally assess students at various points during Storyline activities, a formal, performance-based assessment is included with each lesson. These assessments measure each student’s mastery of all three dimensions, and can provide insights into what should be retaught.

A final, cumulative assessment covers the practices, core ideas, and concepts students explored during the entire Storyline. Each assessment includes an answer key and teaching tips that provide standards connections, help teachers evaluate student responses, and suggest ways to reteach any content and practices that students struggled with.

Access the complete collection of Storylines from the Activities Menu on Science A-Z, or find them through the NGSS link.

For each Storyline, the Lesson Plan, Supporting Resources, and Assessments are all gathered into one convenient location. The Supporting Resources and Assessments are organized by lesson number for easy access and planning. All resources are available to be downloaded and printed or as projectables for classroom display.

Teachers can also preview e-versions of the resources that are available to students on Kids A-Z.

Each Unit Nonfiction Book and Quick Read is available at three reading levels. Begin your three-dimensional journey by reading the Storyline Teacher’s Guide found at the top of each Storyline page. This guide explains how storylines address the Next Generation Science Standards, describes the resources included in each Storyline, and provides tips for successfully implementing Storylines in your classroom.

Science A-Z Storylines allow students to take an active role in the learning process by answering questions and solving problems as real scientists and engineers do.

At the same time, teachers can be confident that they are meeting the expectations of three-dimensional learning in the NGSS standards.