NGSS REVIEW: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science & Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts

Here it is – the NGSS in a nutshell!


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are national science content standards for grades K-12. These standards set the expectations for what students should know and be able to do. The NGSS standards are broad (unlike many individual state science standards), giving local educators the flexibility to design classroom learning experiences that are uniquely tailored to the needs, interests, and goals of their students. The Teaching Channel has a great video that overviews the NGSS. Watch it here.


The NGSS call for a three-dimensional approach to K–12 science instruction: disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts.

  • disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) = what to teach; the content
    • view a summary chart of the DCIs here
    • watch an explanation of DCIs with real classroom examples here
  • science and engineering practices (usually referred to as just ‘practices’) = how to teach it
    • view a summary chart of the practices here
    • watch an explanation of the practices with real classroom examples here
  • crosscutting concepts = themes that are embedded in all DCIs and practices
    • view a summary chart of the crosscutting concepts here
    • watch an explanation of crosscutting concepts with real classroom examples here

I hope these definitions and resources help put the NGSS into perspective, and that you are learning your way through these dense but transformative new standards. Click here to read our post about excellent free resources to help you get started with NGSS.

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