New Tool: Is it important to distinguish between the explanation and argumentation practices in the classroom?

Posted on September 03, 2014

We were working with the Seattle and Renton school districts to design a year of teacher professional development to support the implementation of the Next Gen Science Standards (NGSS), and we ran into a problem. The NGSS focuses on explanation and argumentation as separate practices to engage students in while some leading PD resources combine the two practices into a "claim-evidence-reasoning" (CER) framework and call it "explanation." We were using an excellent book by our colleagues Kate McNeill and Joe Krajcik—which framed the CER work as an explanation framework (because that is how the National Science Education Standards from 1996 had framed it). But given how the practices show up in NGSS, is it important to distinguish the explanation and argumentation practices with students? What is the difference? How do the two practices fit together? These questions led to our first STEM Teaching Tool. Check it out!