How We Rate Resources

Once we’ve inventoried a resource, and categorized it, the next step is referring it to our review team. The team uses a rubric that is adapted from some of the existing review resources out there:

First we look for features of Quality Design:

  • Accuracy: Is the resource biologically accurate?
  • Cultural Relevance: Student sense-making or problem-solving is promoted via student questions. Ideas are related to the context of the students’ home, neighborhood, lived experiences, and community as appropriate.
  • Student Ideas: Opportunities are provided for students to express, clarify, justify, interpret, and represent their ideas. Students respond to peer and teacher feedback.
  • Building on Students’ Prior Knowledge: Students’ prior learning is identified and built on and in a way that is explicit to both teacher and students.
  • Formative Assessment: Provides quality rubrics that emphasize a true progression of learning. Alternatively, has other forms of assessment explicitly mentioned.
  • Educator Connections: The resource provides enough background and supplemental material so that a teacher feels comfortable using it.
    • Student preconceptions are identified with guidance for how to work with them.
    • Material lists are clear and comprehensive.
    • Safety concerns addressed if needed.
  • Links with Mathematics and Graphing: Students create, interpret, use, and evaluate graphical displays of data.
  • Differentiation: instructional resources provide ideas to accommodate all learners, including secondary languages.
    • Students have multiple pathways for showing their understanding of concepts, and have choices.
    • All visual images have transcripts and alt-text.

A resource must have at least 5 of these elements (in addition to being biologically accurate) to be recommended for inclusion as a Recommended Resource.

Next, we look for evidence of NGSS Alignment:

  • Explaining Phenomena or Designing Solutions: The resource focuses on supporting students to make sense of a phenomenon or design solutions to a problem.
  • Three Dimensions: The learning resource helps students develop and use grade-appropriate elements of the science and engineering practices (SEPs), disciplinary core ideas (DCIs), and crosscutting concepts (CCCs)
  • Three Dimension Integration: The lesson elicits student artifacts that show direct, observable evidence of three-dimensional learning.

Many great resources are not explicitly aligned with NGSS, so having standards visibly stated on the resource isn’t a requirement for Recommendation by the Lesson Hive. If the resource has all three of the alignment criteria above, that’s good enough. A good example is this fantastic free ebook about nature journaling.

Sometimes we find resources that don’t fit in our categories, but are so good that we think everyone should know about them. A great example is this online visual key to macroinvertebrates.

That seems kind of arbitrary?

We know, and we’re working on that. Our rubric works well at standardizing ratings between reviewers, but doesn’t always work at identifying what’s best in some of the special cases we mentioned above. It’s a work in progress.

What about supplemental materials?

Identifying high-quality supplemental materials can be helpful in increasing student engagement, meeting diverse needs, and filling instructional gaps. This time-lapse video showing honey bee development is a great example; it’s not a lesson, but instantly helps students visualize the metamorphosis process.

Videos, art projects, and sound recordings all can help support and scaffold learning. But it can be hard to know if what you found online is accurate, so we have included some of those resources here. Here’s our checklist for inclusion.

How can I help?

You can volunteer to help out! We would love to have your help reviewing lessons. And please submit your teaching resources for inclusion.