HMH Into Science: Research Evidence Base

At a glance

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) embody a call to incorporate what had previously been isolated best practices in science education into a single, coherent set of standards informed by the spiraling Three-Dimensional approach advocated within the NRC’s A Framework for K–12 Science Education.

But at its core, the HMH Into Science program is designed to help educators in making the instructional shifts necessary for true NGSS learning and teaching, as described in National Research Council’s 2015 Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. The emphasis on "shifts" is important. While some traditional approaches may remain worthwhile, alignment with NGSS represents a new and different way of delivering science education.

  • Less rote memorization of facts and terminology; more learning of facts and terminology as needed to support scientific sensemaking and the designing of solutions;
  • Less learning of ideas disconnected from questions about phenomena; more systems thinking and modeling to explain phenomena as a context for learning;
  • Less teacher as “sage on the stage”; more student-centered learning with the teacher as a “guide on the side” for activities and discussions;
  • Less questions with only one right answer; more open-ended questions that require evaluation of the strength of evidence for claims;
  • Less textbook-centered reading and answering questions at the end of a chapter; and more and varied types of reading;
  • Less “cookbook” activities with a single correct approach; more investigations with a range of possible outcomes;
  • Less reliance on worksheets; more student writing in different media in order to explain and engage in argumentation about claims, evidence, and reasoning;
  • Less oversimplification for those perceived to be less able to do science and engineering; more supports so all students engage in sophisticated science and engineering practices

HMH Into Science represents a further refinement of HMH’s original approach to NGSS and takes advantage of the latest thinking about anchor phenomena and Social-Emotional Learning (SEL). The remainder of this document will highlight how the program supports both the original shifts and more recent thinking on NGSS best practices.

At its foundation, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) is an integrative, three-dimensional framework for the teaching and learning of science, with each standard consisting of Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts. The integration of rigorous content and application reflects how science and engineering is conducted in the real world and grows out of the decades of research into science learning behind the Framework for K–12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012). Since the publication of the NGSS, researchers and practitioners committed to its profound potential to revolutionize science education in the United States have called for additional fundamental shifts in how science is taught—shifts vital for the power of the NGSS to be actualized. Essential features of curricula effective in supporting the NGSS fundamentally enable students to recognize coherence of ideas within and across lessons—and from one year of learning to the next; to build meaningful conceptual understanding via incremental sensemaking; and to experience, as anchors of lessons, ongoing opportunities to question, explain, and evaluate scientific phenomena in their own worlds. A storyline approach to instruction infuses a set of lessons with added coherence that provides a dynamic approach to unfolding the sensemaking of a phenomenon. HMH Into Science breaks new ground in advancing this multifaceted process that sparks excitement and engagement in science.

The learning of science cannot be separated from the doing of science (Duschl, 2012; National Research Council, 2007). The Next Generation Science Standards outline a vision for a three-dimensional integrated approach to instruction that research demonstrates as necessary in order to provide students with high-quality science education for the 21st century. The three dimensions include Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. These are accompanied by Performance Expectations, which are learning outcomes or goals, not instructional activities. (Bybee, 2013; NGSS Lead States, 2013)

The integration of rigorous content and application reflects how science and engineering is practiced in the real world—and is how experts across related fields advocate for teaching science to better prepare students for college and careers (NRC, 2007 & 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013; Sneider, 2012). This broad initiative promises vital benefits: by developing deeper knowledge on three dimensions, students will be able to apply knowledge in new and challenging ways as well as build problem-solving, critical-thinking, communication, and self-management skills while experiencing a sense of wonder and curiosity in science (Krajcik, 2015).

Science education leaders and experts have provided substantial guidance in how to make the shift to three-dimensional learning within K-12 classrooms. The Guide to Implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NRC, 2015) clarifies that NGSS-aligned science instruction “does not mean the information that a teacher delivers to students; rather, we mean the set of activities and experiences that teachers organize in their classroom in order for students to learn what is expected of them.” (p. 24)

This integrative approach should impact all aspects of teaching science. “Engaging students in three-dimensional learning isn’t an item on a checklist; it is an orientation one takes to science teaching, and it should be used every day. Three-dimensional learning involves establishing a culture of figuring out phenomena or designs to problems.” (Krajcik, 2015, p. 50)

The capacity of the three-dimension approach to improve science instruction depends upon a number of factors. Fundamentally, however, teaching that aligns with the approach must feature a coherent progression of learning within and across lessons and units—and from year to year. A lack of coherence has long plagued K-12 science education in the United States and impeded previous standards and reform efforts (NRC, 2012). Critically, the coherence must be clear not just to curriculum developers and teachers—but also, just as importantly, to the students themselves. “[A]chieving the vision of the Framework and NGSS in classrooms requires important shifts in teaching approaches and instructional materials to support coherence from the students’ perspective…organizing learning so that students can build new ideas systematically and incrementally starting from their curiosity and initial conceptions, and supporting students in authentically engaging in science and engineering practices because of a genuine need to make progress on addressing questions or problems they have identified.” (Reiser, Novak, & McGill, 2017, p. 1).

How HMH Into Science Delivers

Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas are taught within HMH Into Science not as discrete program components, but in a fully integrated approach—as advocated in a core tenet of NCSS. Also in its alignment with NGSS, the program focuses on a deeper understanding of fewer science concepts.

HMH Into Science authors took the Three Dimensions of Learning associated with Performance Expectations and created learning stepping-stones in the form of 3D Learning Objectives. These objectives show how the curriculum is designed to develop science understanding and engagement through an intertwined, three-dimensional approach, as NGSS requires. Each lesson has its own 3D Learning Objective that pulls in components of all three dimensions and prepares learners to achieve in the Performance Expectations established in each Unit or Chapter and for their grade level by end of course.

The NGSS labeling in the HMH Into Science Teacher Guide clearly identifies all the PEs, SEPs, DCIs, and CCCs of NGSS, including math and ELA connections. This helps educators recognize the standards covered in any given lesson. The start of unit in grade-level Teacher Guides demonstrates the ways that the learning experiences in the unit will support the NGSS’s integrative three-dimensional approach.

The HMH Into Science Teacher Guide at each grade level also provides correlations showing how the three dimensions are addressed within the corresponding storyline for each unit as well as a summative overview of where within the program sequence individual dimensions are addressed.

Organizing dimensional learning within the storyline approach lends coherence to the learning experience. Throughout the HMH Into Science Teacher Guide are features that aid orientation to the critical dimensions of the EQuIP Rubric, an instrument for evaluating a curriculum’s conformance with the contours of an authentic NGSS program. While using HMH Into Science ensures that science content and instructional practices provided closely aligns with NGSS, the EQuIP Rubric allows evaluation of specific lessons or units, to help teachers identify and confirm where and how NGSS criteria are being met.

Within each lesson of HMH Into Science, the emphasis is on DOING Science—most of the lessons consist of activities designed to elicit questions and answers from students as they embark upon a coherent sensemaking journey related to the anchor phenomenon under consideration.

For the student, the sensemaking journey begins with experiencing an anchor phenomenon. Rather than being “told” science facts or concepts, students are invited to engage with a phenomenon through a video (in the digital edition) or photos (in print). “I Notice,” “I Wonder,” and “Can You Explain It” prompts guide students through the wondering and questioning parts of sensemaking.

Finally, at the end of the lesson, students will re-visit their initial explanations and evaluate and possibly revise them through a Claims-Evidence-Reasoning approach.

This approach, summarized in the chart below, describes how the program supports coherence from the students’ perspective. For the teacher, the ways the sensemaking journey unfolds are clearly elucidated through a graphic map that describes what students will achieve in each of the individual investigative phenomena featured in a lesson.

The three dimensions of science learning—Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross-Cutting Concepts—are constantly interwoven throughout all of the learning experiences in the sensemaking journey. Again, these dimensions and how they connect back to the Performance Expectation being supported within a lesson are highlighted for the teacher in an easy-to-digest chart.

At a fundamental level, science is about explaining the world around us—using evidence to construct explanations for the causes of phenomena (McNeill & Krajcik, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013). As explained within A Framework for K-12 Science Education, “[t]he goal of science is the construction of theories that provide explanatory accounts of the world. A theory becomes accepted when it has multiple lines of empirical evidence and greater explanatory power of phenomena than previous theories.” (NRC, 2012, p. 52) Research has yielded compelling evidence that when classrooms function to support real scientific practice, students’ understandings of science flourish (Michaels, Shouse, & Schweingruber, 2008). Just as scientists try to understand how and why different phenomena occur and then develop and critique related explanations, effective instruction must feature similar processes (NRC, 2000 & 2012).

A primary feature of the NGGS-driven instruction is enabling students to explore and explain phenomena (Lee, 2020; Penuel & Reiser, 2017). When students investigate compelling, meaningful natural phenomena or work on design problems by engaging in authentic practices within science and engineering, the learning progression is afforded additional coherence (Penuel & Bell, 2016).

Engagement with the process of figuring out answers to questions and resolving design problems help students construct meaning and make sense (Reiser, Novak, & McGill, 2017). Making sense of phenomena is potentially the most important shift in science instruction for students who have not previously experienced science as real or relevant in their own lives or prospective careers; this is the likely outcome of such a process and it is additionally motivating for students, particularly those from historically underserved backgrounds (Lee, 2020).

The recommended process of implementing the three-dimensional approach begins with identifying engaging phenomena or problems that build toward the NGSS Performance Expectations; from there, consider the questions students are asking about the phenomena, especially ones that can be explored over a sustained period of time and ones for which students can ask and explore sub-questions (Krakcik, 2015). Hands-on, focused driving questions that contribute meaning and authenticity as well as organize goals and tasks encourage both autonomy and collaboration among students and foster deeper understanding of content (Krajcik & Blumenfeld, 2006; Krajcik & Czerniak, 2014; NRC, 2012).

Anchor phenomena become lesson anchors about which students ask questions or address problems that, through the process of explanation or resolution, allow for students to develop understanding and build meaning. Anchor phenomena are also the focus of an instructional unit that ties together student learning throughout multiple lessons or extended periods of instruction. (Krajcik, 2015; Reiser et al., 2017)

According to Penuel and Bell (2016), an effective anchor phenomenon:

  • builds on familiar or every day experiences from students’ lives—which means it must also reflect experiences of students from non-dominant cultures or groups underrepresented in STEM;
  • requires students to develop an understanding of and apply multiple performance expectations and while also engaging in activities drawing on math, reading, writing, and communication;
  • is just beyond the reach of what students can figure out without instruction and with no quick answers—and is too complex for students to explain or design a solution for after a single lesson;
  • is observable (directly or with the aid of tools or technology);
  • accompanies relevant data, images, and text to engage students in the range of ideas needed to understand;
  • has an audience or stakeholder that cares about the findings or products; and
  • may take the form of a case, puzzle, or wonderment.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

Sense making is a continuous thread woven throughout HMH Into Science—and the journey launches and extends from investigative anchor phenomena that meet evidence-based criteria of being relevant and compelling to students.

HMH Into Science uses videos within its digital edition to introduce anchor phenomena that are familiar to students’ experiences.

Students engage in real scientific practice to understand how and why the phenomenon occurs. This begins immediately after they experience the phenomenon. The sensemaking prompts of “I Notice,” “I Wonder,” and “Can You Explain It” support students in engaging in real scientific practice to understand how and why the phenomenon occurs.

The student-driven investigation continues throughout the lesson, starting with hands-on activities that connect directly to some aspect of the anchor phenomenon.

Following the hands-on-activities, additional learning experiences continue to provide more opportunities for student-driven investigation. Rather than merely long passages to read, these experiences offer students videos and pictures of different contexts involving the same concepts. Students interact and actively respond to them to employ the Science and Engineering Practices, rather than passively reading about science facts and concepts.

Engaging students in scientific explanation and argument with the aid of scaffolding can help students view science as a dynamic and social process in which knowledge is constructed (McNeill, Lizotte, Krajcik & Marx, 2006; McNeill & Krajcik, 2008) as well as motivate students to want to study science (McNeil & Kracik, 2012; NRC, 2012).

Based on research and work with science teachers and now a well-established process in science classrooms, the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning Framework was developed by McNeill and Krajcik (2012) to: support students in developing scientific explanations and arguments; provide explicit guidance for what to include in science writing, oral presentations and classroom discussions; and encourage students in using evidence from investigation to answer questions or solve problems independently. CER begins with students being asked questions that require them to think deeply about what they have observed, experienced, or read first-hand and then integrate findings into an explanation for a specific purpose or audience.

Following are the sequential components of the CER Framework (McNeill & Krajcik, 2012):

  • Claim: a statement that answers a question or problem;
  • Evidence: scientific data that supports the claim; and
  • Reasoning: provides justification for why or how the evidence supports the claim, often including scientific principles or science ideas that students apply to make sense of the data.

When a classroom community engages in meaningful investigations in which students are co-constructors of their knowledge building, ideas are developed incrementally over time and motivated by questions about phenomena. With each step in the learning progression serving as an attempt to resolve a question or problem, students are engaged in deliberate sense making (Reiser et al., 2016

The storyline approach to science instruction is an inquiry-based teaching method rooted in strategies introduced by Egan (1986) and provides students with a framework for both conception formation and retention (Isabelle, 2007). The storyline of a science lesson refers to the sequencing and progression of learning activities that align concepts in ways that are instructionally meaningful to students’ learning of the concept (Hanuscin, Lipsitz, Cisterna-Alburquerque, Arnone, van Garderen, de Araujo & Lee, 2017; Richard, 2019).

Too often the storyline across science lessons is implicit, which is a lost opportunity for teachers to lend coherence and for students to construct meaning (Hanuscin et al., 2017; Lo et al, 2014). Storylines poise students to forge direct and relevant connection to phenomena and gain ownership of their sense making (Richard, 2019). Research has shown that the application of lesson design strategies to create a coherent science content storyline yields improved learning outcomes (NRC, 2015; Roth, Garnier, Chen, Lemmens, Schwille, Wickler, 2011).

The storyline has gained renewed interest among science educators as an effective means of implementing the NGSS. As described by the Next Generation Science Storylines Project (Reiser, Novak, McGill, & Voss, online) the storyline is a coherent sequence of lessons in which each step is driven by students’ questions that arise from their interaction with phenomena or efforts to solve a problem. Students engage in science and engineering practices to figure out the answers to their questions and new questions that emerge. Students and teachers co-construct the questions and students recognize how each activity helps them make progress on that question. Essential in this process is the student’s perspective—not the just teacher’s.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

The Claims-Evidence-Reasoning approach is employed in HMH Into Science as a key part of the sense making journey that takes place through the lesson storyline. Students begin the lesson by observing an anchor phenomenon, noticing things about it, wondering about it, and making a claim about it.

As the learning experiences unfold through the investigative phenomena in the lesson storyline, frequent prompts encourage students to use aspects of the Claims-Evidence-Reasoning approach to gather information, analyze it, and reach conclusions.

The lesson storyline culminates with students evaluating their initial claim and re-considering it in light of all of the evidence and reasoning they have done through the prompts in the investigative phenomena they’ve explored during the lesson.

CER is reinforced through Think Like a Scientist posters, which are designed to help students internalize the process as well as well as understand why it’s important to learning science.

Scientific literacy entails knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes and—especially in the 21st century, with fast-paced discoveries and advances in our natural and technological realms—is essential to citizenship and economic security. A scientifically literate person can ask questions and pursue curiosities and make predictions about every day and extraordinary phenomena and can comprehend and communicate complex ideas and evaluate information and evidence. The language-based processes of making sense of observations, constructing explanations, and communicating ideas and arguments are central to the work of scientists—and because of this, instruction that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards both supports and fosters students’ literacy skills. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening are critical components of learning science and instructional content that reflects how science is practiced in the real world has a recursive relationship with literacy, one fostering the other. For these reasons, HMH Into Science is designed to foster students’ English language arts development within the context of science while simultaneously supporting students’ learning of science.

It is estimated that reading and writing comprise over half of the work of scientists and engineers (Bell, Bricker, Tzou, Lee & Van Horne, 2012). Yet science literacy is necessary not only for scientists. “Scientific literacy for a global society in the 21st century is built on understanding science concepts and principles, as well as on engaging in the literacy practices that make investigation, comprehension, and communication of ideas possible… Although most students will not pursue careers in scientific fields, most will probably read science-related materials throughout their lives. For today’s students to participate effectively in tomorrow’s decision-making as consumers, members of the electorate, and members of society, it is imperative that educators support students in reading, writing, and communicating in science.” (Krajcik & Sutherland, 2010, p. 459)

Science reading along with writing and spoken language require and support literacy development while also being vital elements of science learning. Science teachers must help students become effective users of science text, which by its nature entails multimodal presentation and subject-specific vocabulary and word meanings, grammatical structure, and dense levels of details. Proficiency in reading science text demands its own set of strategies. (Quinn, 2015).

For many students, one of the greatest obstacles in learning and succeeding in science is to learn its language, as one of the most important features of science is the richness and specificity of the words and terms it uses. Therefore, for students to become effective readers of science texts, they need regular opportunities to learn and apply science vocabulary terms in meaningful language and literacy activities, including reading. (Michaels, Shouse, & Schweingruber, 2008; Wellington & Osborne, 2001).

Integrating science-themed literary texts, both nonfiction and fiction, within science instruction can be a powerful way of introducing and reinforcing science concepts, building background knowledge, fostering critical thinking, sparking interest in science, and making science relative to students’ lives (Barclay, Benelli, & Schoon, 2012; Mahzoon-Haghegi, Yebra, Johnson, & Sohn, 2018; Royce, Morgan, & Ansberry, 2012; Wells & Zeece, 2007). Incorporating literature within the context of science “takes children to places that they could not go on their own and allows them to explore natural phenomena that might be too small or take too long to observe directly in the classroom” (Abel, 2008, p. 54).

Illustrations are an important consideration in the selection of literature for science instruction and one that can significantly enhance learning since accompanying visuals can aid comprehension of new or complex content (Carr, Buchanan, Wentz, Weiss, & Brant, 2001). Also, the fusion of text and art allows readers to deepen their personal connections and create a unique experience (Mahzoon-Haghegi et al., 2018, p. 43).

Evaluation of sources of texts is also an essential aspect of scientific literacy and becoming an effective reader of science. Scientists must make critical judgment about their own work and that of their peers, and citizens, as well as scientists, must evaluate the validity of science-related media reports and their implications for individuals and society. “The knowledge and ability to detect ‘bad science’ are requirements for both the scientist and the citizen” (NRC, 2012, p. 71).

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science takes innovative approaches in how it interweaves English language arts instruction and support throughout the program. More than just relaying content, the reading students encounter in HMH Into Science serves to make science more accessible, interesting, and enjoyable.

HMH Into Science provides opportunities for students to engage in both fiction and non-fiction science-themed reading through the FUNomenal Leveled Readers. The program includes a reader per lesson that corresponds to the lesson material and is available at three levels, accommodating students where they are in their reading development. An additional feature of the FUNomenal Leveled Readers is that they present science through the eyes of children investigating science, adding relevance and relatability to foster engagement. In each book, fictional characters or historical figures model investigating phenomena, applying Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and using the Claims Evidence Reasoning approach.

In this way, the FUNomenal Leveled Readers work seamlessly with the activities and other investigative phenomena in the rest of the lesson to reinforce and model the same approaches students will need to apply themselves as they seek out scientific explanations or engineering solutions related to the anchoring phenomenon.

For teachers, FUNomenal Readers include front and back matter in each reader as a guide to maximizing the reading experience with effective strategy usage and skill building. These guides include recommendations for incorporating related ELA Anchor Charts as students engage with the story, further fostering metacognition and literacy development.

At Grades 3–5, HMH Into Science offers non-fiction reading opportunities in lesson explorations as well as in the FUNomenal Leveled Readers. Other features within the program support reading skill building. Language Development worksheets are used as students progress through the unit’s lesson. As students encounter a highlighted vocabulary term, they come back to the chart and fill in the blanks with words or phrases.

To promote additional reading in the content area and supplement instruction, HMH Into Science also provides teachers with extensive listings of recommended readers and trade books that align with the topical organization of the Performance Expectations and Disciplinary Core Ideas of the NGSS as well as HMH Into Science program content for each grade. Titles are arranged according to their approximate Guided Reading Levels.

HMH Into Science includes the additional features of Language SmArts, Vocabulary word wall prompts, and ELA Anchor Charts to foster literacy development—and help make students aware of how they are using English language arts in the process of learning science. A grade-based English language arts Handbook is also included as reference to aid familiarity and understanding of specific ELA terms, skills, and strategies.

Research has long established that writing plays a vital role within effective science instruction and aids improvement in specific science skills (Prain, 2006). “[W]riting in science is essential to developing scientific literacy—how to read science, how to write science and the content of science itself.” (Wellington & Osborne, 2001, p. 81). Writing has been found to improve students’ organization and application of science concepts (Rivard & Straw, 2000); help students process new information, make sense of complex ideas, and connect to their prior knowledge and experiences (Knipper & Duggan, 2006); as well boost students’ scientific reasoning, text processing, and ability to draw conclusions and formulate models (Keys, 1994). The more opportunities students have to write during science instruction, the more they learn (Hand, Hohenshell, & Prain, 2007) and these effects are enhanced when students complete writing tasks with the purpose of learning (Gunel, Hand, & Prain, 2007). Increased writing opportunities have shown to result in significantly higher test scores (Braun, Coley, Jia, & Trapani, 2009).

Note-taking has been shown to improve students’ proficiency in writing, thinking, literacy, and collaboration (Gilbert & Kotelman, 2005; Lee, Lan, Hamman, & Hendricks, 2007; Sherer, Gomez, Herman, Gomez, White, & Williams, 2008). Annotating, or taking notes while reading, helps students become more active and engaged readers (Zywica & Gomez, 2008). Exploratory writing—writing with the aim of investigation and discovery—encourages students to make sense of new ideas for which they do not yet have a solid understanding (Lance & Lance, 2006). Additionally, science journaling is recommended across phases of science instruction; it is where students should respond to initial overarching questions, plan, explore ideas to form hypotheses, record observations and data during investigative labs and collaboration with peers, construct meaning and draw conclusions out of collected information, and reflect on discussions and results. (Klentschy, 2008, 2005; Marcarelli, 2010)

Evidence notebooks, a form of science journaling, are tools for supporting inquiry and aiding understanding of content. They foster literacy generally and science literacy specifically. These notebooks encourage students to make record of their thinking about and experiences with science, and the process can effectively imitate the journaling professional scientists do when carrying out investigations (Hargrove & Nesbit, 2003; Marcarelli, 2010). The practice encourages students’ ownership of learning and self-reflection, and these are key to both engagement and to deeper understandings rather than superficial fact-based knowledge—the same shifts in pedagogy advocated by A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards. When provided digitally, science notebooks offer enhanced benefits associated with their increased interactivity (Constantine & Jung, 2019).

NGSS-aligned science instruction places heavy emphasis on writing. As stated within the Framework, “[f]rom the very start of their science education, students should be asked to engage in the communication of science, especially regarding the investigations they are conducting and the observations they are making.” (NRC, 2012, p. 77)

How HMH Into Science Delivers

Evidence-Reasoning and phenomenon-driven storyline approaches provide students with abundant opportunities to write in response to learning experiences and in the course of sense making and constructing knowledge. The program offers a consumable student activity guide to foster and record their frequent writing as well as to boost engagement. In addition, every writing opportunity provided via printed components is replicated, and in many cases, enhanced online.

HMH Into Science makes frequent use of writing prompts, starting with the “I Notice,” “I Wonder,” and “Can You Explain It?” prompts at the start of every lesson. This pattern is continued throughout the investigative phenomenon, with students writing before, during, and after a hands-on activity, to ensure they are fully engaged in sense making and reflecting upon the activity.

Throughout other explorations of investigative phenomena, frequent Evidence Notebook prompts connect those phenomena to previous ones already studied, to provide coherence for the student.

These individual responses, especially in students’ own Evidence Notebooks, provide students with a scaffolded approach for the end of the lesson, when they are challenged to write a more complete scientific explanation for the anchor phenomenon from the beginning of the lesson.

“Inquiry science is not only about engaging students in conducting investigations—it also involves students in making sense of those investigations through the process of constructing explanations. The depth of students’ ability to learn science depends on this meaning making process.” (McNeill & Krajcik, 2012, p. 4)

Students develop facility with science and engineering practices by using them in a deliberate, integrative way within language intensive tasks that support sense making about a phenomenon or system. “Engagement in any of the [NGSS science and engineering] practices involves both scientific sense making and language use. The practices intertwine with one another in the sense making process. This sense making is a key endeavor for students as it helps them transition from their naive conceptions of the world to more scientifically-based conceptions.” (Quinn, Lee, & Valdés, 2012, p. 2)

Graphic organizers are visual representations of concepts, information, verbal statements, and observations. Research has long established that graphic organizers are effective strategies for improving comprehension (Dickson, Simmons, & Kame’enui, 1996; National Reading Panel, 2000; Pearson & Fielding, 1991) and recall of key ideas (National Reading Panel, 2000; Snow, 2002). While positive effects have been found with all students, graphic organizers are particularly helpful to students with learning disabilities (Kim, Vaughn, Wanzek, & Wei, 2004) or otherwise struggling with learning content at their grade level (Guastello, Beasley, & Sinatra, 2000).

The rationale behind the effectiveness of graphic organizers is that combining text with visuals engages students’ multiple pathways to learning, as described in Paivio’s (1979, 1983, 1986) dual-coding theory. A number of studies have demonstrated that students learn better when both pictures and words are used than with text alone (Mayer, 2001; Mayer & Gallini, 1990; Levin, Anglin, & Carney, 1987; Levie & Lentz, 1982). Nonlinguistic representations are one of the nine most effective instructional strategies identified by Marzano (2003). Beyond integrating words and visuals alone, research demonstrates that when students construct their own graphic representation of material in an explanatory text, they understand content more than those who only copied an illustration or wrote a summary (Cox, 2012; Edens & Potter, 2003; Gobert & Clement, 1999; Tomkins & Tunnicliffe, 2001). Graphic organizers aid students’ understanding of informational text and the relationship of ideas within a text (Center for the Improvement of Early Reading, 2003; Robinson & Kiewra, 1995). The use of graphic organizers to graphically depict the relationships of ideas in texts has been shown to improve both students’ comprehension of the text and their recall of key ideas (Snow, 2002; National Reading Panel, 2000).

Idea organizers can be highly effective tools for teaching science and can take many forms useful in teaching inquiry process skills in science: descriptive feature charts, T-charts, flow charts, Venn diagrams, tree diagrams, and semantic maps, among others. Such organizers can be used during reading or direct observation to help students record information in response to a phenomenon or to create a descriptive model. They can also provide a picture of key ideas and information on a topic and the relationship of the parts to the whole. (Cox, 2012)

Models are another effective tool science teachers can use to aid sense making—and models also additional serve to focus cognitive activity, enhance understanding, and lend authenticity (Passmore, Gouvea, & Giere, 2014). Research has found that through peer collaboration during the making and discussing of models, students’ model use underwent a transformative process of first allowing thinking to become visible, then serving as a source of comparison to prior knowledge and new ideas to generate new ideas and questions—while offering students a powerful tool for thinking and sense making along the way. “These shifts suggest that modeling activities in this classroom were developing as instantiations of a meaningful, purposeful scientific practice.” (Krist & Reiser, 2014, p. 7).

The models referred to and advocated for within the field of science education are external representations of mental concepts that provide tools for thinking, to visualize and make sense of phenomena or experiences or to develop solutions to design problems. Models may include diagrams, three-dimensional physical replicas, mathematical formulations, analogies, and computer simulations (Krajcik & Merritt, 2012; NRC, 2012). Models can be particularly valuable in providing the symbolic representations that students need to visualize and grasp microscopic or abstract phenomena or matter (Wu, Krajcik & Soloway, 2001).

“In a classroom that is consistent with the Framework and the NGSS, students develop models of the phenomenon being studied that make explicit their understanding of both visible and invisible aspects of what is occurring…Students apply and improve their understanding of science core ideas and crosscutting concepts as they develop and refine these models.” (NRC, 2015, p. 26-27)

How HMH Into Science Delivers

Central to the HMH Into Science experience is students’ sense making journey. The program supports this through a variety of aids for students and guidance for teachers.

The digital and print versions of the program make frequent use of graphic organizers to help students improve comprehension by providing support for classification and connecting related ideas and concepts.

To support the sense making journey in each lesson, the prompts have been collected in a Making Sense graphic organizer, so students can connect them to the need to explain the anchor phenomenon.

Teachers are supported in facilitating students’ optimal use Making Sense graphic organizers via recommendations in the Teacher Guide and the provision of sample responses.

The HMH Into Science program gives students many examples to engage and work with models, including visual models, as ways to continue the sense making process. This is especially true in the You Solve It simulations, as simulations are, by their very nature, models of real-world phenomena.

Evidence-Reasoning and phenomenon-driven storyline approaches provide students with abundant opportunities to write in response to learning experiences and in the course of sense making and constructing knowledge. The program offers a consumable student activity guide to foster and record their frequent writing as well as to boost engagement. In addition, every writing opportunity provided via printed components is replicated, and, in many cases, enhanced online.

Communication is a fundamental practice of science (NRC, 2012) and literacy skills of reading, writing, and speaking are essential to science instruction across K-12 (Pearson, Moje & Greenleaf, 2010; Wellington & Osborne, 2001) Iterative cycles of engaging with science content and practices within the context of language intensive tasks that integrate reading, writing, and discourse foster deeper conceptual understanding of science; language is essential to successfully engaging with science and science provides effective language learning opportunities (Quinn, Lee, & Valdés, 2012).

Sustained reading, writing, and communication activity should be embedded in students’ science and engineering investigations; such interdisciplinary work supports vital cognitive and social learning processes and helps accomplish ambitious STEM learning goals called for in A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NGSS Lead States, 2013). “K–12 students of science should have substantial and varied experiences with reading, analyzing, writing, and otherwise communicating science so that they too can deeply engage with disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts while exploring practices associated with scientific reading and writing.” (Bell et al., 2012, p. 17)

Beyond acquiring the skills and strategies to become effective users of science text, students also need to learn how to communicate what they learn from science text. This is critical not only within their science education, but also in their lives outside the classroom. Issues humanity faces in the 21st century—environmental crises, pandemics, resource shortages—demand that our youngest members of society have the capacity to gather knowledge, think critically and constructively, and communicate and collaborate with others to solve problems. (Merritt, Rimm-Kaufman & Harkins, 2020; Sanson, Van Hoorn & Burke, 2019)

Both research findings and science standards have called for giving argumentation prominence within science instruction both to support science learning and to improve its outcomes (Duschl & Osborne, 2002; Grooms, Enderle & Sampson, 2015; Kuhn, 2010; NGSS Lead States, 2013; NRC, 2007 & 2012; Sampson & Blanchard, 2012; Sampson, Enderle & Grooms, 2013). “Argumentation is a central goal of science education because it engages students in a complex scientific practice in which they construct and justify knowledge claims.” (Berland & McNeill, 2010, abstract)

Engagement in scientific argumentation is critical if students are to understand the culture in which scientists live, and how to apply science and engineering for the benefit of society (NGSS Lead States, 2013; NRC, 2012). When students argue for their explanations of phenomena or experiences, their explanations are strengthened, and a consensus explanation can be developed (Reiser et al., 2012).

Aims and practices that integrate English language arts within science have a well-established foundation in constructivist theories about learning and development. Constructivism has both influenced how science is taught in the present day and offers additional support for innovative approaches because its most essential tenet—that learners have to construct the meaning of the subject being taught—aligns with what contemporary science education seeks to do and meaning-making is inherently language-based. (Kubli, 2005)

Lutz & Huitt (2004) summarize the philosophies and contributions of the most influential constructivists of the 20th century and offer recommendations for applying constructivistic approaches to learning within 21st century classrooms—and which have implications for instruction that integrates English language arts and science (e.g., Bruner, 1987, Dewey, 1944, Piagetia, 1950, Vygotsky, 1978).

How HMH Into Science Delivers

The HMH Into Science program emphasizes all aspects of communication, especially in terms of having students present their constructed knowledge about a phenomenon in the form of a scientific explanation.

For the younger students in Grades K–2, for whom typing a response may be a challenge, the digital program provides opportunities for alternative ways to communicate their constructed knowledge, such as to record spoken answers or submit drawings or sketches.

Even the Hands-on Activities treat this aspect as a crucial, integrated part of the process, rather than an afterthought. At the same time, they provide multiple options students can choose from for how to present their data and their understandings.

The program additionally features ELA Anchor Charts to be used alongside the FUNomenal Readers to foster students’ metacognitive application of effective comprehension strategies as they are practiced in the course of reading. Plus, discussion prompts are woven throughout Teacher Guides to facilitate collaborative, constructive dialogues that support the development of effective communication strategies and reinforce the importance of social interaction within the learning process.

Finally, as described earlier in this document, the coherent sense making storyline in each lesson that concludes with a return to the initial anchor phenomenon ensures that students use argumentation through the Claims-Evidence-Reasoning approach in their revised explanation for the anchor phenomenon.

Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process of developing within students the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that they need to make choices that support wellbeing; allow for constructive collaboration with others; and increase college and career readiness. The short- and long-term benefits of social and emotional learning are evidenced by more than two decades of research across multiple fields and measures, including academic achievement, neuroscience, classroom management, psychology, health, learning theory, and the prevention of problematic youth behaviors. In another innovation, HMH Into Science integrates social-emotional learning within science instruction—and in partnership with The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). CASEL is dedicated to making evidence-based social-emotional learning an integral part of education from preschool through high school. Through its resources, CASEL supports educators and policy leaders and enhances experiences and outcomes for students.

“[Experts] know that effective teachers do more than promote academic learning—they teach the whole child” (Yoder, 2104, p. 1). It is widely acknowledged that cognitive development is inextricably linked to social and emotional development; success in school depends upon students’ social-emotional skills and schools have widely adopted the practice of fostering such skills (Osher, Kidron, Brackett, Dymnicki, Jones & Weissberg, 2016; Jones & Bouffard, 2012). Systematic social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process of facilitating students’ development of knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that they need understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions, and deal effectively and ethically with daily tasks and challenges (CASEL, 2003; Elias et al., 1997; Yoder, 2014).

Studies have linked childhood measures of social and emotional skills, such as motivation, time management, self-regulation, communication, and pro-social behaviors to students’ later academic achievement and as well as adult outcomes across multiple domains, including higher education, employment, criminality, substance use, and mental health (Heckman, 2008; Jones, Greenberg, & Crowley, 2015). Other research demonstrates that social-emotional traits such as grit and self-discipline are greater predictors of academic achievement in adolescence than cognitive traits, such as IQ (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth, Tsukayama, & May, 2010). Research also shows that a common component of SEL, growth mindset, links to attitudes and perceptions regarding success and failure—and the amount of control one thinks he or she has in experiences with either throughout life; growth mindset is a concept pioneered by Dweck (2006), corresponding to people’s belief that their intelligence, competence, and talents can be developed through dedicated efforts and hard work (in contrast to a “fixed mindset” in which people see their abilities as immutable).

Research also shows that social and emotional skills are malleable and can be intentionally developed (Jones & Bouffard, 2012; Osher et al., 2016; Yeager & Walton, 2011). “Through systematic instruction, SEL skills may be taught, modeled, practiced and applied to diverse situations so that students can use them as part of their daily repertoire of behaviors.” (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011, pp. 406)

There is a growing body of compelling evidence demonstrating that effective SEL interventions yield benefits impacting the trajectories of students’ success within school and beyond. In a 2011 meta-review of 213 school-based SEL interventions, Durlak and colleagues found that, compared to students who did not participate in such programs, students of diverse backgrounds who participated in social-emotional programs demonstrated the following: increased academic achievement (averaging scores of 11 percentile points higher on standardized tests); increased social-emotional skills; increased motivation; improved attitudes toward self and school community; improved positive social behaviors; decreased conduct issues; and decreased emotional distress., were consistent regardless of students’ race, socioeconomic background, or school location.

Other research has shown that within academic settings specifically, students who receive SEL instruction are more motivated to learn and more committed to school (as indicated by improved attendance and graduation rates) and less likely to engage in misconduct or suffer the consequence of behavioral issues such as class disruption, suspension, and grade retention (Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). Another study showed that SEL leads to students seeking help when needed, managing their own emotions, and problem-solving difficult situations (Romasz, Kantor, & Elias, 2004).

CASEL has established a research-based integrated framework that promotes interpersonal, intrapersonal, and cognitive competence, comprised of five core competencies that can be taught in many ways and across many settings. These include the following:


The ability to accurately identify, evaluate, and reflects one’s own emotions, thoughts, and values and how they influence behavior. Also includes self-efficacy and the ability to accurately assess one’s strength’s and limitations, with a well-grounded sense of confidence and a “growth mindset.”


The ability to successfully regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors in different situations—effectively managing stress, controlling impulses, and motivating oneself. The ability to set and work toward personal and academic goals. Incorporates organizational skills.

Social Awareness

The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The ability to understand social and ethical norms for behavior and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports. Includes respect for others and appreciation of diversity.

Relationship skills

The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. The ability to communicate clearly, listen well, cooperate with others, resist inappropriate social pressure, negotiate conflict constructively, and seek and offer help when needed. Also incorporates social engagement and teamwork.

Responsible decision-making

The ability to make constructive choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on ethical standards, safety concerns, and social norms. Includes the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions and consideration of the well-being of oneself and others. Skills entail identifying and solving problems, analyzing situations, evaluating, reflecting.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

Social and Emotional Learning is a vital and defining aspect of the HMH Into Science experience. Opportunities to foster the development SEL competencies and apply them within the context of learning science are abundant throughout both student and teacher materials. As students move through the program, they are called upon to set goals, self-reflect and engage with others empathically, effectively. SEL skills are introduced and reinforced throughout, giving students ongoing practice in using the skills in their everyday lives; this aids internalization and transfer of the skills as well as helps students recognize first-hand the value of social-emotional competence, for themselves and their community.

HMH Into Science SEL activities have students consider the perspectives of peers as well as real scientists. Teacher Guides provide support in how to facilitate such thinking. These activities not only foster empathy but also augment learning with social connections and personal identification with others in similar situations. SEL activities additionally serve then to make the science content more accessible and relevant to students’ own lives.

A teacher-facing discussion of an SEL goal-setting strategy that is relevant to lesson content is provided in the Teacher Guide for each lesson. This feature also helps teachers develop students’ self-awareness and reflection, reinforcing learning with interconnected social-emotional experiences as well as boosting students’ confidence in themselves as learners and in their contributions to the classroom environment.

Learning is enhanced for students when teachers integrate social-emotional competencies with academic instruction (Elias, 2006) and when students connect with information not just cognitively, such as through memorizing, but socially and emotionally as well (Ensign, 2003). Social, emotional, and contextual factors have significant impact on positive attitudes and behaviors that yield successful science learning and achievement (Ben-Avie, Haynes, White, Ensign, Steinfeld, Sartin, & Squires, 2003; Sneider, 2018). An integrated approach to SEL holds particular promise for enhancing the experiences and outcomes of NGSS-based science instruction: indeed, researchers are pointing to how the Next Generation Science Standards calls for students to work collaboratively and participate in productive discourse—and classroom climates in which students can respectfully disagree relies upon effective social and emotional skills (Rimm-Kaufmann & Meritt, 2019; Sneider, 2019). “Engagement in the science and engineering practices requires social interaction and discussion among students. Students need support to learn how to do this productively. The classroom culture will need to support both individual and collaborative sense making efforts.” (NRC, 2015, p. 30)

“Explicit teaching of social and emotional skills and then encouraging students to apply those social skills to their academic work will elevate science instruction” (Rimm-Kaufman & Hunt, 2020, online). Such an embedded approach supports findings about optimal SEL instruction. Effective SEL goes beyond 30-minute lessons taught in isolation from core academic subjects. “A systemic approach to SEL intentionally cultivates a caring, participatory, and equitable learning environment and evidence-based practices that actively involve all students in their social, emotional, and academic growth. This approach infuses social and emotional learning into every part of students’ daily lives—across all of their classrooms, during all times of the school day, and when they are in their homes and communities.” (CASEL, 2020, online)

Science learning is improved with some specific practices that support social-emotional development alongside instruction. These include when teachers: cultivate trust and relationships with students; engage with and connect to students’ life experiences, thereby validating them; help students build confidence that allows them to take risks; and encourage healthy coping skills. (Ensign, 2003)

It is crucial that math and science concepts be relevant to students’ lives—and collaborative, productive discourse is crucial to science. Students must have the skills necessary to collaborate effectively with others to work toward solutions (Merritt, Rimm-Kaufman & Harkins, 2020; Rimm-Kaufman & Hunt, online; Sanson, Van Hoorn & Burke, 2019). Active listening and facilitated discussions in which all viewpoints are encouraged and valued are key. “In order to collaborate, students need to not just do stuff but also really listen to each other and work as a whole team. Productive discourse lends itself well to building a community where social and emotional learning is supported.” (Sneider, 2018, online)

As Yoder (2014) points out, social-emotional learning is critical for students to meet the rigorous demands of college and career readiness standards that require a greater ability to engage in deeper learning; however, the necessary integration of SEL can only happen without additionally burdening teachers:

To bridge the connection between social-emotional learning and the work that educators are already doing, educators need access to tools, supports, and resources on social-emotional learning that are integrated into existing teacher evaluation and professional development systems. Not only does this reinforce the importance of social-emotional learning, it avoids overburdening educators by layering on yet another separate initiative. (p. 1)

How HMH Into Science Delivers

Social-Emotional Learning is fully integrated within the HMH Into Science program experience. Every component includes SEL prompts that are embedded at point-of-use within units and lessons and directly related to the activity at hand. Encountering SEL prompts throughout the investigative process allows students to learn social-emotional competencies in real-world contexts and gain practice in applying them—as well as demonstrates for students their positive, essential impact. Integrated SEL additionally boosts achievement.

Activities that improve students’ executive functioning and metacognition, engage students collaboratively, and generate for students social and personal connections to content in the course of learning science augment understanding and retention of concepts and knowledge.

When social-emotional awareness, training, and engagement is interwoven within the learning process, learning goes beyond acquiring facts and expanding knowledge and becomes a personal story of curiosity, perseverance, and growth. Like the relatable characters encountered in the HMH Into Science FUNomenal Readers, students will see themselves as socially and emotionally competent, capable of academic success and contributing to their communities.

The United States is at a point—historically, economically, and pedagogically—in which issues of equity have never been more pressing nor have calls for increased equity ever been stronger. It is imperative for educators to mitigate longstanding inequities that disadvantage some students. STEM subjects and professions in particular have historically been less accessible to women, economically disadvantaged students, and students of minority backgrounds. The economic and social prosperity and stability of the United States depends to a significant extent on making science more equitable and accessible to its younger generations. HMH Into Science seeks to level equity and accessibility by providing science instruction that meets the needs and serves the interests of all students.

Connecting instruction to students’ interests and experiences as well as to the diverse backgrounds that students bring to a classroom is particularly important for broadening participation in science (NRC, 2012).

“A rich science education has the potential to capture students’ sense of wonder about the world and to spark their desire to continue learning about science throughout their lives. Research suggests that personal interest, experience, and enthusiasm—critical to children’s learning of science at school or in other settings—may also be linked to later educational and career choices. Thus, in order for students to develop a sustained attraction to science and for them to appreciate the many ways in which it is pertinent to their daily lives, classroom learning experiences in science need to connect with their own interests and experiences.” (NRC, 2012, p. 28)

When students are interested in what they are learning, they will persist in spending the time and energy needed for learning to occur. In this way, engagement leads to motivation leads to learning. As a result, effective teachers know that students must be engaged by content to be motivated to persist. (Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998; Guthrie & Humenick, 2004; Hidi & Boscolo, 2006).

When students are actively engaged in the process of observing, reasoning, and making connections through experimentation and hands-on study, they acquire necessary skills and ways of thinking (Stewart, Cartier & Passmore, 2005).

Using real-world problems engages students and helps them to see learning as relevant. “When instruction is anchored in the context of each learner’s world, students are more likely to take ownership for…their own learning” (McREL, 2010, p. 7). For students to truly understand science, they must participate in the same activities that real scientists perform on a daily basis: “… there is compelling evidence that when classrooms function to support real scientific practice, students’ understandings of science can flourish” (Michaels et al., 2008, p. 127). The Framework promotes the development of curriculum around sets of questions to generate interest and communicate relevance to students (NRC, 2012).

Interdisciplinary connections among STEM topics can boost achievement (Russo, Hecht, Burghardt, Hacker, & Saxman, 2011). Such connections build students’ knowledge and increase their perception of the content as interesting and useful—thereby increasing their motivation to learn (Czerniak, Weber, Sandmann, & Ahem, 1999).

“Engaging in the practices of science helps students understand how scientific knowledge develops; such direct involvement gives them an appreciation of the wide range of approaches that are used to investigate, model, and explain the world...The actual doing of science or engineering can also pique students’ curiosity, capture their interest, and motivate their continued study; the insights gained help them recognize that the work of scientists and engineers is a creative endeavor—one that has deeply affected the world they live in.” (NRC, 2012, p. 42-43)

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science cultivates students’ interests and fosters personal connections to everything they learn and do within the program experience, making science relevant and enjoyable. Its investigative process is student driven, hands-on, and designed to spark curiosity and wonderment.

The anchoring phenomena at the center of each investigation engages students’ interest as well as invites students to construct questions and explanations drawing on what they already know about the world around them. However, for any given anchor phenomenon, not all students may find it to be familiar from their own experience. For this reason, an “alternative anchor phenomenon” is suggested in the Teacher Guide that can be used instead. In this case, the fact that rocks tend to get smaller over time is illustrated by canyons that provide evidence that slow changes like this can have big impacts over large time scale. However, not all students may be familiar with canyon. Consequently, the alternative phenomenon is one that will get students to consider examples of erosion that occur in more urban settings.

HMH Into Science FUNomenal Readers also tap into students’ interests and experiences. The readers feature diverse characters with which students can identify, increasing the appeal and accessibility of both the stories and the science they contain. Supporting instruction around the readers call on students to relate background knowledge and personal connections to aid comprehension and expand learning.

Within the United States, students traditionally marginalized by race, ethnicity, and gender endure a unique struggle with uncertainties of academic belonging due to negative messaging about their capability and value within academic settings. Historically such messaging has been pervasive and entrenched within schools as well as both overt and unintentional—and it yields what is known as stereotype threat. For students of underrepresented backgrounds, stereotype threat adversely impacts their self-perceptions, self-confidence, attitudes toward learning, and academic performance; forces students to reconcile their own aspirations and self-concepts against the threat of stereotypes; creates anxiety over confirming negative stereotypes about their intellectual abilities; and may cause students to underperform. In a vicious cycle, these stereotype threats then reinforce inequalities and achievement gaps (Farrington, Roderick, Allensworth, Nagoaka, Keyes, Johnson & Beechum, 2012; Steele & Aronson, 1995; Walton & Cohen, 2011; Shapiro & Williams, 2012; Yeager, Walton, & Cohen, 2013).

A central goal of the Framework and NGSS is ensuring equitable science education for students of all backgrounds. A Framework for K-12 Science Education calls for rigorous standards for all students as well as accounting for diversity and equality in teaching all students:

To successfully implement the Next Generation Science Standards, teachers must transform their classrooms from places where they present information about science to students into places where they work together with students, actively and collaboratively, to construct scientific explanations, argue from evidence and develop models to understand the natural world, while at every step engaging in the same practices as professional scientists and engineers (Krist & Reiser, 2014).

To make the NGSS accessible to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups, educators must implement effective strategies that maximize learning opportunities while at the same time reflect awareness of the demands of the standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013). “The NGSS offer both opportunities and challenges for educators in enabling all students to meet the more rigorous and comprehensive standards set forth by the NGSS (Lee, Miller, & Janusyzk, 2015, p. xi). The following strategies are recommended for making learning opportunities more equitable: value and respect the experiences and perspectives that all students bring to school from their backgrounds; articulate students’ cultural and linguistic knowledge with disciplinary knowledge; and offer sufficient and effective resources to support students (Lee & Buxton, 2010).

According to Quinn (2015), the science classroom that is dedicated to developing four central foundational capacities supports diverse students well—not only to advance their science learning, but also to foster their academic progress more broadly. These foundational areas of capacity development include: language; analysis and reasoning; representation and symbolization; and social and emotional learning.

Meaningful engagement in scientific practices requires a careful design of sustained inquiry around content learning goals that are enacted in ways that offer appropriate social supports (Ford, 2008). Therefore, viewing science learning as participation in a classroom community of practice offers a useful analytical framework for understanding how teachers and students develop knowledge-building goals and learn to engage in meaningful scientific practices.” (Krist & Reiser, 2014, p. 2)

To counter inequities within science education, is crucial that all students—not only students of racial and ethnic minority backgrounds—have available to them diverse representations of models for success, ingenuity, and agency across scientific fields of study and knowing. Historically within Western education, the contributions to science and ways of being and knowing science have been erased from most curricula—and all while science has been presented as objective and established rather than as an evolving set of ideas and practices in which innovation is carried out by the disadvantaged and oppressed and not just the privileged (Gutiérrez, Cortes, Cortez, DiGiacoma, Higgs, Johnson, Lizárraga, Mendoza, Tien, & Vakil, 2017; Vakil & Ayers, 2019). Educators must value and respect the experiences and perspectives that all students bring to school from their backgrounds; articulate students’ cultural and linguistic knowledge with disciplinary knowledge; and offer sufficient and effective resources to support students (Lee & Buxton, 2010).

“[M]any of the critical challenges facing racial and ethnic minority students in the formation of strong, positive mindsets for academic achievement can be alleviated through the careful work of creating supportive contexts that provide consistent and unambiguous messages about minority students’ belonging, capability, and value in classrooms and schools.” (Farrington, et al., 2012, p. 34).

It important that science instruction does not relegate at-risk students to offerings of didactic teaching because of a false dichotomy that suggests these students have no time to play or wonder; indeed research indicates that at-risk students may benefit the most through engagement in science and engineering practices anchored in exploration of phenomena and their own wonderment and curiosity. At the same time, it is also important that in the course of being encouraged to explore and develop their own explanations of phenomena, at-risk students are still taught well-established core ideas of science. “This work helps students to process the science ideas and to make the conceptual shifts needed to truly understand and incorporate the science ideas into their way of looking at the world” (Quinn, 2015, p. 11).

In promoting equity, specific attention to English language learners is required. Disparity in language development upon school entry is a primary factor in differing education outcomes for different groups of students (Fernald, Marchman, & Weisleder, 2013; Quinn, 2015). Effective science instruction for English language learners provides learning activities that stimulate interest; explicit teaching of key words and tools; support for proficient use of science texts; and ongoing opportunities to communicate observations and ideas in writing and via discourse with peers and teachers, allowing for science thinking to be made clear and confidence to be gained. (Quinn, 2015)

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science incorporates Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s broad commitment to a Learning by Design approach to instruction (/blog/learning-by-design). This means that the program is not intended to serve as a source of discrete content imparted formulaically. Rather, HMH Into Science is built to empower teachers to create meaningful, joyful, authentic, challenging experiences and environments for students that ignite curiosity and inquiry.

To that end, HMH Into Science features design elements that underpin great learning experiences, including the following:

Compelling Content: Learning experiences that offer authentic, interdisciplinary tasks provide relevance and promote curiosity for students. HMH Into Science allows teachers to transcend discrete standards and connect content and performance expectations via real-world problems or situations for students to solve.

Learning Goals and Success Criteria: Great lessons begin with clear goals for what students need to know and be able to do and convey criteria for success. HMH Into Science identifies explicit goals and success criterions for students in a manner that clarifies expectations and serves as a guide for self-assessment.

Collaborative Culture: Learning is social; the purposeful inclusion of collaboration throughout the learning process is highly engaging for students. Across the program, HMH Into Science provides collaborative opportunities for students to learn with flexible groups, partners, and online experts.

Student Empowerment: Giving students choice over how to show mastery or create a final product or performance significantly increases ownership in their learning. Into Science encourages students to play the role of co-designer in their learning experiences, allowing their input in what they learn and how they want to engage with the content.

Authentic Tools and Resources: Providing a variety of tools and resources offers students choice and emphasizes process over product. Great learning experiences leverage such variety in both the learning process and in how students create products of their learning. HMH Into Science’s digital tools and strategies such as blended learning, flipped classrooms, and production tools alongside its print features offer rich experiences that are highly engaging and honor how students like to learn and create.

Intentional Instruction: Research has well established that evidence-based strategies suited to support goals for learning should be carefully selected in order maximize impact. HMH Into Science uses the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR) model to provide structure for direct instruction and modeling (Show Them) and guided practice (Help Them) and enable students to become independent learners (Let Them).

Focus on Literacy: Regardless of the content, reading, writing, and speaking should be incorporated into every learning experience. HMH Into Science expose students to a variety of texts, both fiction and nonfiction, as well as online resources. The program also engages students in opportunities to write and write often as they encounter phenomena and construct meaning, as well as in demonstrating learning. HMH Into Science also encourages students to engage in academic discussions, collaborative conversations, and healthy debate.

Feedback for Learning: Feedback is formative and provides students with the safety and security that allows them to take risks and try new things without the fear of failure. Throughout the learning experience, HMH Into Science has built-in feedback loops in the form of teacher-to-student, student-to-student, or self-assessment to give students guidance on their progress toward the learning goals.

HMH Into Science additionally promotes equity through inclusive representation. FUNomenal Readers center around characters, both fictional and real, from diverse ethnic backgrounds and personal circumstances. Throughout the program, scientists are shown as having a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities. These are often highlighted in particular via features describing science careers.

Teachers must meet wide-ranging needs of all learners. A typical classroom may include students who struggle with the rigorous content within the Next Generation Science Standards as well as with reading, writing, and math skills. A typical classroom may also include advanced students ready for additional challenges as well as students in need of additional support. To accommodate individual learners, “teachers need to understand how students think, what they are capable of doing, and what they could reasonably be expected to do under supportive instructional conditions, and how to make science more accessible and relevant to them.” (NRC, 2007, p. 345)

Research has consistently demonstrated that when provided with equitable educational opportunities and appropriately supported, students of all backgrounds are capable of constructing meaning, engaging in practices, and achieving in science (NRC, 2007 & 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013).

The NGSS outline research-based strategies for increasing equity in science instruction and meeting the needs of non-dominant student groups, historically underrepresented within science. Information below comes from NGSS Appendix D, “All Standards, All Students” (NGSS Lead States, 2013):

Economically disadvantaged students. Strategies to support economically disadvantaged students include connecting science education to students’ own physical, historical, and sociocultural dimensions and applying to instruction and the construction of meaning students’ background knowledge and cultural practices. Project-based science learning is an effective form of “connected science.”

Students from major racial and ethnic groups. Students from major racial and ethnic groups benefit from strategies from the following categories: culturally relevant pedagogy; community involvement and social activism; multiple representation and multimodal experiences; and support systems that feature role models and mentors of similar racial or ethnic backgrounds.

Students with limited English proficiency. Both science and language learning for English language learners (ELLs) are best supported by the following strategies, according the research literature: literacy strategies proven effective for all students; language support strategies effective specifically for ELLs; discourse strategies for ELLs; home language support; and home culture connections.

Students with disabilities. Students with disabilities have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), which mandate the accommodations and modifications that teachers must provide to support student learning in the regular education classroom. IEPs are a means of accommodations allowing students to overcome or work around their disabilities with the same performance expectations of their peers, whereas modifications generally change the curriculum or performance expectations for a specific student. Performance expectations within the NGSS were intentionally designed for flexible use to accommodate the developing knowledge and skills of specific students or groups of students. Two approaches in wide use by general education teachers in their classrooms include differentiated instruction and Universal Design for Learning.

Girls. Research suggests three main areas in which schools can positively impact girls’ achievement, confidence, and interest in science and engineering. These include: utilizing instructional strategies to increase girls’ science achievement and their intentions to continue studies in science; promoting images of successful women in science as part of science curricula; and implementing organizational structure within classrooms and schools that benefit girls in science, such as science clubs and mentoring programs.

Advanced learners require differentiation in the form of extension or acceleration activities. They need daily challenge, opportunities to work with peers, opportunities for independent learning, and varied instructional delivery (Rogers, 2007). Providing real-world, issue-based or problem-based learning activities will boost motivation and engagement of advanced learners (VanTassel-Baska & Brown, 2007). Per the NGSS, advanced learners and gifted and talented students may have such characteristics as intense interests, rapid learning, motivation and commitment, curiosity, and questioning skills. NGSS recommend that teachers additionally employ these differentiation strategies to promote science learning for advanced learners: fast pacing; level of challenge (including differentiated content); opportunities for self-direction; and strategic grouping.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science supports teachers, via professional development and practice, in how to best meet the needs of all learners. In one of the series of author articles in the program’s Teacher Resources at all grade levels, program author Bernadine Okoro provides the following guidance:

The program provides a Pacing Guide that helps teachers make the best instructional decisions given various time and scheduling constraints as well as to effectively accommodate their own students’ wide-ranging needs. Specific pacing information for learning experiences are also found at point-of-use throughout the Teacher Guide.

HMH Into Science also includes adaptable features, such as:

  • multiple options for student input (spoken, written, drawn) to flexibly accommodate individual skill levels or preferred modalities.
  • audio and close-captioning accompanying all learning experiences,
  • Web Content Accessibility Guideline 2.0 compliance that allows the digital edition to work well for all screen readers and similar adaptive devices.

HMH Into Science also offers differentiated assessment to accommodate all learners. The modified Mid-Year and End-of-Year Tests (Test B) are targeted to help struggling readers and English language learners demonstrate their science mastery with less emphasis on reading ability. These items have a slightly lower difficulty and reading level but are visually identical to the on-level test and assess the same NGSS dimensions. The digital versions of these tests include audio for added reading support.

Over the past decade, policies and practices regarding technology use in classrooms around the country have shifted incrementally to widespread—and widely varying—application. Concurrent with such trends, there has been an emergence of growing evidence attesting to the positive impacts of technology in education as well as profound advances and innovations within the technology itself. No longer a question of whether technology can improve learning, the issues became how to enable technology to deliver improved learning outcomes for all students. Since the start of the 21st century, educators in United States have broadly adopted the understanding that “[t]echnology can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. It can help affirm and advance relationships between educators and students, reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration, shrink long-standing equity and accessibility gaps, and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.“ (U.S. Department of Education, 2017, p. 3)

But when the global pandemic COVID-19 hit in 2020, digital learning suddenly, profoundly became—rather than a means of improving education—a critical mission, the only way of providing instruction to students remotely. As Fischer, Fry, and Hattie (2020) noted, teaching in 2020 wasn’t so much distance learning as crisis teaching. While ongoing health and economic crises create myriad uncertainties for schools in the years to come, one point of clarity is that education will increasingly rely on technology—which requires that educators must have available to them resources that allow for effective ways of teaching digitally. HMH Into Science leverages findings from the growing field of education technology research to provide students with quality digital learning experiences.

Before COVID-19 drove educators around the United States and the world to suddenly switch to remote teaching in early 2020, the number of students receiving instruction in online and blended learning environments had been steadily growing (Gemin & Pape, 2017; Graham, Borup, Pulham, & Larsen, 2019). While the field of education technology research is new and changing, findings that emerged over the past two decades indicate that digital learning has enormous potential to positively transform education for diverse groups of students (Abdoolatiff & Narod, 2009; Patrick & Powell, 2009; USDOE, 2016 & 2010). Increases in student-centered, cooperative, and higher order learning as well as problem solving and writing skills have been found within computer-intensive classroom settings (Ross, Morisson, & Lowther, 2010). In 2016, U.S. Department of Education reported that technology-intensive instruction can make education more equitable by closing the digital use divide and making transformative learning opportunities available to all students.

Blended learning utilizes both device-driven instruction and technology and face-to-face instruction in a conventional classroom context, with the objective to maximize the advantages of each. Research findings on the effects of blended learning are strikingly positive (Delgado, Wardlow, McKnight & O’Malley, 2015; Osguthorpe & Graham, 2003; Tamim, Bernard, Borokhovski, Abrami & Schmid, 2011). In a meta-analysis examining online and traditional face-to-face instruction with mixes of both, blended instruction emerged as the most effective of the three approaches (USDOE, 2010). Likely because blended learning teaches students through engaging media and modes that fit with their daily practices and experiences, students tend to view blended learning favorably (Uğur, Akkoyunlu, & Kurbanoğlu, 2011). Blended learning opportunities specifically expand the possibility of growth for all students while affording historically disadvantaged students greater equity of access to high-quality education, in the form of both enhanced, instructionally effective content and more personalized learning (Molnar, 2014). “[B]lended learning that combines digital instruction with live, accountable teachers holds unique promise to improve student outcomes dramatically.” (Public Impact, 2013, p. 1) An established body of evidence supports the position that effective technology use in the classroom, through web-based and multimedia learning, increases student engagement and motivation (Abdoolatiff & Narod, 2009; Chen, Lambert, & Guidry, 2010; Reinking, 2001; Tucker, 2012). In their synthesis of research on improving student engagement, Taylor and Parsons (2011) found multimedia and technology use to be a key, shared element in engaging classroom environments. Using technology can impact student engagement and motivation in the science classroom specifically. Ke (2008) found computer-based instruction in the science classroom correlated to increased student self-confidence and overall enjoyment.

Visuals are vital for science learning as many of the processes and concepts essential to scientific study are not linear by nature, and, thus, an image, visual depiction, or animation may be able to provide a more appropriate or effective description for students than a verbal one, aiding their comprehension of content. Practicing scientists use models—which might include diagrams, replicas, mathematical representations, and computer simulations—to visualize and represent phenomena or systems. (NRC, 2012). In a meta-analysis to examine overall effect and impact of instructional design principles in the content of virtual reality technology-based instruction, Merchant, Goetz, Cifuentes, Keeney-Kennicutt, Kwok & Davis (2012) found games, simulations, and virtual worlds effective in improving learning outcome gains.

Digital programming offers an additional benefit of increased automation, which can significantly simplify educators’ lives by eliminating low-value manual tasks such as attendance records and student assessment data entry. The further impact of allowing the platform to capture student achievement data in real time is a freeing up of resources so that educators can “take advantage of the things that leading brick-and-mortar schools do well, such as creating a strong, supportive culture that promotes rigor and high expectations for all students, as well as providing healthy, supportive relationships and mentorship.” (Horn & Staker, 2011, p. 7).

However, research also suggests that the best practices in blended learning reflect the same from those of traditional classrooms, but with some critical adaptations within the digital environment (Archambault, 2018. To achieve optimal growth, blended learning should support teachers in being flexible and responsive to students, to integrate multiple data sources into their constant stream of formative assessment, and to deliberately incorporate more rigorous learning activities” (Anthony, 2018). In a large-scale study, Kwon, Debruler, & Kennedy (2019) found that for online learning to be successful, it is important that teaching is structured so that students make steady attempts to complete learning tasks, ideally with students’ own self-regulated learning scaffolded by course pacing guides.

As Fischer, Fry, and Hattie (2020) point out, it is the choice of task that matters in advancing learning—not the medium. Use technology as the means and starting point, not the core of teaching diagnostically to measure what students need to learn. The effective strategies apply in digital instruction as Hattie’s (2018, with Clarke) ongoing findings about best practices endure. These include: fostering student self-regulation to help them move toward deeper learning; increase student agency; include a diversity of instructional approaches (not just some direct instruction and then some off-line independent work); include well-designed peer learning; provide feedback within a high-trust environment integrated into the learning cycle.

Simulations in the learning environments that imitate a real-life process or situation, and which allow learners to test effects of their hypotheses on intended outcomes have been shown to boost learning outcomes (Castaneda, 2008; Merchant et al., 2012). Teachers can effectively employ technology-based simulations to represent scientific phenomena or processes; research has shown that the use of interactive and simulation-based instruction via computer yields higher achievement than when students learn from more traditional instruction (Dani & Koenig, 2008). Technology can help learning move beyond the classroom and take advantage of learning opportunities available in museums, libraries, and other out-of-school settings.” (USDOE, 2016, p. 12)

Technology plays a central role in STEM education in terms of both its role within the STEM professions today’s students are being trained for as well as the potential technology has to significantly improve both experiences and outcomes for students as they learn STEM concepts and build STEM knowledge throughout their K-12 educations. Following are dimensions that support powerful STEM learning, as called for by the U.S. Department of Education (2019):

  • Dynamic representations: Students can more effectively develop STEM concepts via interactions with digital models, simulations, and dynamic representations of mathematical, scientific, and engineering systems.
  • Collaborative reasoning: Technology platforms support students’ collaborative discussion and shared construction of STEM concepts, fostering engagement and equalizing participation among group members, as well as yielding higher performance on test measures.
  • Immediate and individualized feedback: Digital tools provide students with prompt and customized feedback as they practice or demonstrate their STEM skills that yield faster and improved learning outcomes.
  • Science argumentation skills: Students use technology to present and evaluate scientific or mathematical claims. Digitally delivered scaffolds aids the development of arguments and digital platforms allow for students to effectively response to one another’s claims.
  • Engineering design processes: students plan, revise, implement, and test solutions to problems using technology-driven iterative and systematic processes and tools similar to those from the engineering field.
  • Computational thinking: students can use technology to engage in formulation, analysis, and solving of problems using algorithms, data, and simulations to investigate questions and build new understandings about phenomena.
  • Project-based interdisciplinary learning: both process and product are enriched when students utilize technology tools in the context of authentic projects or challenge-based learning activities that integrate multiple STEM fields. Technology can also be used effectively to support task management.
  • Embedded assessments: assessments aligned to ongoing STEM instruction and delivered digitally provide opportunity for students to reflect on and demonstrate and for teachers to evaluate their learning. Technology can also foster peer reviews of student work.
  • Evidence-based models: students use technology to reference or create models based on data and evidence. Digital models also facilitate revisions and refinement over time, yielding improved scientific models and accompanying understanding of concepts.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science offers a fully-fledged online experience that features dynamic multimedia content as well as advanced interactivity. Beyond serving as online editions of the print content that allow for remote access to materials, the HMH Into Science Student Ebook provides additional in-depth materials and explorations for early finishers and/or motivated students and the Teacher Ebook provides additional teaching information and strategies that help focus on 3D learning.

HMH Into Science also offers wealth of supporting resources only available online. At the start of each unit, the teacher guide identifies online only resources available to further support instruction for that unit’s content.

  • The online NGSS Trace Tool unpacks the standards and displays the connectedness and spiraling within and across grade levels.
  • You Solve It activities are engaging, open-ended computer simulations that additionally offer alternative, easy lab options.
  • Optional Unit Projects can be used to tie together bigger concepts across a unit.
  • Hands-On Unit Performance Tasks provide tactile assessment options as well as interactive and editable assessments.
  • Google Expeditions lessons plans provide virtual-reality field-trip opportunities.

“Digital learning has the capacity to transform schools into new models for education that are student-centric, highly personalized for each learner, and more productive, as it delivers dramatically better results at the same or lower cost” (Horn & Staker, 2011, p. 2). Blended learning opportunities expand the possibility of growth for all students in the form of enhanced, instructionally effective and engaging content as well as more personalized learning with preferred modalities; agency over the pace of their own learning; and more frequent and timely feedback—while affording historically disadvantaged students additional benefits via greater equity of access to high-quality education (Horn & Staker, 2011; Imbriale, 2013; Molnar, 2014; Public Impact, 2013; Tucker, 2012; USDOE 2016)

Research shows that effective technology use in the classroom motivates students to take charge of their own learning and that digital learning itself is enhanced when students are given more control over their interaction with media (Horn & Staker, 2011; Patrick & Powell, 2009; USDOE, 2010). Technology is increasingly being utilized in the United States to personalize learning and give students more choice over what and how they learn, and at what pace; this will better prepare students to organize and direct their learning in their lives even after formal schooling (USDOE, 2016). “Online learning has the potential to transform teaching and learning by redesigning traditional classroom instructional approaches, personalizing instruction, and enhancing the quality of learning experiences. The preliminary research shows promise for online learning as an effective alternative for improving student performance across diverse groups of students.” (Patrick & Powell, 2009, p. 9)

Other researchers have indicated that multimedia learning leads to increased student motivation because of the responsiveness and student control these environments allow and the subsequent engagement in active learning (Schunk, Pintrich, & Meece, 2008; Sims, Dobbs, & Hand, 2002). Zhang (2005) found students in a full interactive multimedia-based e-learning environment achieved better performance and higher levels of satisfaction than those in a traditional classroom and those in a less interactive e-learning environment, with a lack of control over content diminishing potential benefits: “This study implies that to create effective learning, e-learning environments should provide interactive instructional content that learners can view on a personalized self-directed basis.” (p. 160)

Positive effects—across content areas and with students of different ages—have been found specifically for technology environments that employ game-based learning (Henderson, Klemes, & Eshet, 2000).

Digital learning tools can provide more flexibility and support for individual students by modifying content and complexity; additionally, advances in software technology have increased adaptive learning and improved feedback (USDOE, 2016). A blended learning approach specifically offers a more consistent and personalized pedagogy helps each child feel and be successful at school. Digital science notebooks provide additional benefit over traditional forms of these tools for learning, due to the increased creativity and interactivity they offer. “Digital science notebooks can enhance student learning experiences with technology by allowing them the power to become producers, rather than merely consumers.” (Constantine & Jung, 2019, p. 392)

By providing a diverse array of online and other digital resources, technology supports learning drawn from real-world challenges and students’ personal interests and passions while also aiding the organization of a project-based curriculum (USDOE, 2016).

Digital learning can also increase the capacity for students to work together. Computer-based collaborative tools allow for online interactions that can create and strengthen a community of learners while fostering students’ communication and collaboration skills (Tucker, 2012). “What makes blended learning particularly effective is its ability to facilitate a community of inquiry.” (Garrison & Kanuka, 2004, p. 97)

How HMH Into Science Delivers

The HMH Into Science online experience offers greater interactivity to boost student engagement and enhance learning as well as customizable, adaptable content that allows teachers to better meet the needs of individual students.

Student interactive lessons deliver the same content as the print edition dynamically and with increased agency and personalization. Interactive lessons include videos and links to program features and components. Students can work at their own optimal pace and navigate easily among activities, and with the option of engaging with content and completing tasks directly online or downloading worksheets that are also editable and, then, potentially further individualized.

Online assessments are provided in Word format so that teachers have the option of editing content and personalizing evaluation. Online assessments are accompanied by standards correlations and can be saved to each teacher’s plan.

It is imperative that students in the 21st century understand the interconnectedness and mutually supportive links among science, engineering, technology, and society and how these relationships evolve over time in response to need and impact (NGSS Lead States, 2013). “Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life, and they also hold the key to meeting many of humanity’s most pressing current and future challenges. Yet too few U.S. workers have strong backgrounds in these fields, and many people lack even fundamental knowledge of them. This national trend has created a widespread call for a new approach to K–12 science education in the United States.” (NRC, 2012, p. 1) HMH Into Science provides a foundational background in STEM that supports advanced study of these subjects as well as success in STEM careers.

“Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers drive our nation’s innovation and competitiveness by generating new ideas, new companies, and new industries. …Science, technology, engineering and mathematics workers play a key role in the sustained growth and stability of the U.S. economy, and are a critical component to helping the U.S. win the future.” (Langdon, McKittrick, Beede, Khan, & Doms, 2011, p. 1) However, it is critical for K-12 students today to understand and engage with engineering and technology ideas and practices, not only in an effort producing future engineers, but also for developing lifelong creative and systematic problem-solving skills in all career paths (Keeley, Sneider, & Ravel, 2020).

A Framework for K-12 Science Education provides a vision in which technology and engineering are integrated in students’ learning and in which students across grade levels actively engage in science and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields (NRC, 2012).

Research has identified a number of beneficial impacts of an integrated approach to STEM instruction at K-12. Students master the individual facts of science content knowledge better when they have a purpose for learning the material. Connections among science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are particularly important for raising achievement as students approach the secondary level. (Russo, Hecht, Burghardt, Hacker & Saxman, 2011)

According to Sneider (2012, 2015) —contributor to A Framework for K-12 Science Education, leader of the Next Generation Science Standards Engineering writing team, and a Program Author of HMH Into Science, the elevation and integration of engineering among the natural sciences within NGSS will likely result in engaging students in engineering practices throughout their K-12 schooling, This will allow students to see how engineering is instrumental in solving many challenges confronting the world today as well as to better understand the dynamic interplay among science, engineering, and technology.

Benefits of integrating STEM and engineering instruction at K-12 include: improved achievement in science and mathematics, with effects potentially more significant for underrepresented minority groups; increased awareness of engineering and the work of engineers; understanding of and ability to engage in engineering design; interest in pursuing engineering as a career; and increased technological literacy (Katehi et al., 2009; Turner, Kirby & Bober, 2016).

Sneider (2015) and others see increased prominence of engineering instruction at the elementary level as a possible remedy against the disconcerting trend consistently documented in the research literature of declining interest in science amongst most populations of middle school students. Promising findings suggest that specifically girls and minority ethnic groups historically unrepresented in STEM are more inclined to respond positively to fields such as medical and environmental engineering that have relevance and direct beneficial application to people’s lives (Cunningham & Lachappelle, 2011; Katehi, Pearson, & Feder, 2009).

Additionally, since engineering involves students working together in teams, design challenges foster collaboration and the open-ended nature of engineering design encourages creativity and engagement (Cunningham & Lachappelle, 2011).

How HMH Into Science Delivers

An emphasis on all aspects of STEM is embedded throughout HMH Into Science. STEM is not treated as an ancillary; rather, STEM is integrated within and across the entire program.

At every grade, the first unit of HMH Into Science focuses on Engineering and Technology and features hands-on activities that support STEM development. This content is fully aligned to the NGSS for Engineering, Technology, and Science and standards correlations are provided in the Teacher Guide, both for the entire grade level sequence and for individual lessons.

HMH Into Science also engages students in engineering and the engineering design process throughout the program. It addresses engineering and STEM by integrating Engineer It! performance-task, challenge-based activities throughout the curriculum, one per unit. In addition, individual prompts and activities within lessons marked with the “Engineer It!” logo also highlight situations in which students can apply all or part of the engineering design process.

ETS standards are also addressed with online materials such as Unit Projects and You Solve It simulations, which support specific standards.

HMH Into Science reinforces students’ broad understanding and practice of engineering principles and problem solving via Anchor Charts.

Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (NRC, 2011) outlines the following goals for STEM instruction: expand the numbers of students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields and broaden the participating of women and minorities in those fields; expand the STEM-capable workforce and broaden the participation of women and minorities in the workforce; and increase STEM literacy for all students, including those who do not pursue STEM-related careers or additional study in the STEM disciplines.

Other research findings show that effective STEM education and programs: capitalize on students’ interests and experiences; identify and build on what students know; and provide experiences to actively engage students in STEM-related practices and sustain their interest. (NRC, 2011)

Real-world contexts for STEM learning are also essential. In industry and research settings, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are interconnected; in schools, these subjects should be taught as they are practiced in real-life context—which is also where the world’s issues and economies depend upon them (NRC, 2012). Tapping knowledge to analyze and propose solutions for problems in society requires both that students apply higher-order thinking skills to this knowledge, and also that the knowledge be thoroughly grounded in a framework of scientific thinking within the students’ own minds.

The practice of discussing scientific aspects of societal issues and attempting to solve problems with science gives students experience in applying science process skills. Finally, emphasis on the human side of science and real-world problems can improve students’ interest and motivation (Cunningham & Lachappelle, 2011; Katehi et al., 2009; McREL, 2010).

A Framework for K-12 Science Education calls for technology and engineering to be integrated in students’ science learning; to be successful in the science classroom, students must utilize and integrate skills from across STEM areas (NRC, 2012). The Framework emphasizes students’ abilities with data analysis, including observation, collection, and measurement as a key expectation in integrated and increasingly complex ways (NRC, 2012).

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science author Cary I. Sneider played a significant role in the development of the engineering standards for NGSS before working on the design and content of HMH Into Science. His involvement is one way that ensures that the program properly embeds engineering throughout.

HMH Into Science engages students in engineering and the engineering design processes with integrated STEM activities and hands-on design and building focused around real phenomena and questions that spark curiosity about engineering. These include Engineer It! performance-tasks, challenge-based activities throughout the curriculum. The accompanying Teacher Guide material supports teachers as they lead students through the process and best practices. The guides also help teachers recognize how the engineering tasks align with NGSS and foster students’ understanding and skills in engineering and STEM.

Each unit within HMH Into Science also includes a Performance Task that offers students multiple opportunities to apply the engineering design process by defining a problem and designing a solution.

HMH Into Science engineering content engages students in real-world phenomena and problems that have societal or environmental impact, providing relevance and motivating students to learn. Such connections and applications are made explicit to students, helping them recognize the vital role engineering plays in the world.

HMH Into Science incorporates engineering challenges that are similar to problems students may face in college courses or future careers. The tasks take students through a complete engineering process, allowing them gain experience exploring and explaining the way that actual scientists and engineers do.

But via both student and teacher materials, the challenges are provided with scaffolds and supports that break each problem to be solved into smaller, manageable pieces and make the purpose of step each clear and compelling. Social-emotional learning is embedded within these activities, providing engineering-based context to practice these skills and fostering reflection on processes and outcomes.

HMH Into Science also includes opportunities for students to learn about STEM careers. Take it Further showcases diverse People and Careers in science, engineering, and technology. These features show students the real-world applications of what they’re learning and seize upon interests ignited by their engagement in simulations of real-world purposes and processes followed by professionals in these fields.

Among the supporting resources available online for each lesson is Do the Math, which, along with a Math Handbook, provides additional explanation and support for different mathematics skills required in their science learning, such as place value, measurement, graphs, and more.

HMH Into Science also embeds technology use and supports students’ development of technological skills throughout the program. The curriculum leverages the advantages of technology while prioritizing a student-centered learning model.

“Planning, evaluating, and improving the quality of science instruction is contingent on accurately assessing students’ knowledge and skills and how these develop over time. (National Research Council, 2007, p. 344) As reported in Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards (NRC, 2014), The Committee on Developing Assessments of Science Proficiency in K–12, recommended a wide-ranging assessment system to provide all stakeholders—students, parents, teachers, administrators, policy makers, and the public—with the complete and complementary information each needs about progress in measuring NGSS performance expectations. The Committee further concluded that this new vision of science learning, while challenging, provides unique and valuable opportunities for assessment with new approaches designed to capture three-dimensional learning—an integrative approach toward teaching and testing embraced within HMH Into Science.

“Uncovering and examining the ideas students bring to their learning is considered diagnostic assessment. Diagnostic assessment becomes formative assessment when the teacher uses the assessment data in a feedback loop to make decisions about instruction that will move students toward the intended learning target.“ (Keeley, Sneider, & Ravel, 2020, p. xii).

The phrase “formative assessment” encompasses the wide variety of activities—formal and informal—that teachers employ throughout the learning process to gather this kind of instructional data to assess student understanding and to make and adapt instructional decisions. Formative assessment moves testing from the end into the middle of instruction, to guide teaching and learning as it occurs (Heritage, 2007). Effective teachers use formal tools (such as quizzes or homework assignments) and informal tools (such as discussion and observation) to regularly monitor student learning and check student progress (Cotton, 1995; Christenson, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989).

The Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills identified formative assessment as the central instructional approaches needed to ensure that students achieve 21st century competencies (NRC, 2014). As reported in Education for Life and Work, curriculum designed and developed for 21st-century learning should use formative assessment to “(a) make learning goals clear to students; (b) continuously monitor, provide feedback, and respond to students’ learning progress; and (c) involve students in self- and peer assessment” (Committee on Defining Deeper Learning and 21st Century Skills, 2012, p. 182).

Educators agree on the benefits of ongoing assessment in the classroom. “Well-designed assessment can have tremendous impact on students’ learning . . . if conducted regularly and used by teachers to alter and improve instruction” (NRC, 2007, p. 344). Researchers found that students who took a practice test after studying multimedia material outperformed students who studied the material again without the assessment (Johnson & Mayer, 2009). In a study of curriculum-based measurement, when teachers administered outcomes-based assessments regularly to monitor student progress and used data to make appropriate adjustments to instruction, students showed significant gains (Stecker, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2005). Use of these assessments produces significant gains when teachers used the data to make appropriate adjustments to instruction. Research also shows that regularly assessing and providing feedback to students on their performance is a highly effective tool for teachers to produce significant—and often substantial—gains in student learning and performance (Black & Wiliam, 1998a, 1998b).

Formative assessment is especially beneficial for lower-performing students, and, as a result, helps to shrink achievement gaps and improve overall achievement (Black & Wiliam, 1998b). After reviewing the body of research on strategies most effective with students with mild learning disabilities, researchers found regular formative assessment to be a shared element of effective interventions with this population (Christenson et al., 1989).

Keeley, Sneider, &­­ Ravel (2020) recommend that science assessment pr­­actice includes the use of probes that target students’ engagement with key ideas in science, engineering, and technology and encourage students to use their best thinking so far, to uncover different ways of thinking—rather than being right or wrong.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

As recommended by the authors of NGSS, HMH Into Science bundles the treatment of Performance Expectations across lessons, units and chapters. Learners can be exposed to multiple PEs in a single lesson, but a longer trajectory across an entire unit or even the entire school year is likely to be necessary for full mastery of all aspects of any given PE. HMH Into Science intentionally aligns questions, prompts, and performance tasks to multiple dimensions in order to assess more authentically and to provide a more complete picture of student achievement across a variety of measures.

HMH Into Science provides formative and summative options to help teachers identify how students are progressing toward mastering Performance Expectations as well as to determine if students are making sense of phenomena.

Assessment within the program includes:

  • Beginning of year readiness check
  • Unit readiness check
  • Mid-year test
  • End-year test
  • Unit tests
  • Lesson Quizzes
  • Performance-based Assessment
  • Unit Performance tasks
  • Unit Projects
  • Lesson Checks
  • Unit Reviews

HMH Into Science assessment builds in complexity and scaffolds toward higher-level thinking. It starts with a pre-test to assess learner’s readiness for the lesson. Then, formative assessments and frequent question prompts appear throughout the teacher edition at point-of-use within the learning experiences of the lesson. Lesson Quizzes and Unit Tests provide a check on understanding of the Three Dimensions of Learning. Mid and End of Year benchmark tests provide educators with valuable information about students’ progress towards the Performance Expectations. Performance-Based Assessments in the assessment package are provided via end-of-unit tasks and open-ended simulations.

HMH Into Science assessments are designed to increase in difficulty and complexity. Scaffolding occurs both within tests and between tests. Within each test, scaffolding occurs as assessment begins with lower DOK items to help bolster student confidence. This allows students to build on demonstrated knowledge and understanding throughout the test. Several of the assessment strategies provided be used either as formative or as summative instruments, depending on whether teachers use them primarily for instruction or primarily for evaluation.

Accompanying evaluation rubrics help teachers assess open-ended responses and identify the underlying causes of misunderstanding, therefore supporting targeted remediation.

HMH Into Science additionally provides modified assessment options to meet the needs of all learners and provide accurate evaluation of science knowledge and skills unimpacted by an individual student’s reading level. Differentiated Mid-Year and End-of-Year Tests (Test B) are targeted to help struggling readers and English language learners. These items have a slightly lower difficulty and reading level but assess the same NGSS dimensions and are visually identical to the on-level. The digital versions of these tests include audio for added reading support.

Performance-based assessments connect to the important content and process skills emphasized in instruction and offer the opportunity for students to show how well they can use what they know to classify, compare, analyze, or evaluate (Hibbard, 1996) and create a response or product. Performance-based tasks may take different forms, require different types of performances, and be used for different purposes (formative or summative), but they are typically couched in an authentic or real-life scenario and require high-level thinking.

Assessment systems in high-performing nations “emphasize deep knowledge of core concepts within and across the disciplines, problem solving, collaboration, analysis, synthesis, and critical thinking. As a large and increasing part of their examination systems, high-achieving nations use open-ended performance tasks …to give students opportunities to develop and demonstrate higher order thinking skills…” (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 3)

Research has established the benefits of performance-based assessment. A review of classroom assessment practices in an age of high-stakes testing led Schneider, Egan, and Julian (2013) to conclude that “the value of high quality performance tasks should not be diminished and should be encouraged as an important tool” (p. 66).

Performance-based assessments look like what we want students to do in the classroom (Fox, 2004)—and, as a result, can inform classroom practice in positive ways. Performance tasks allow teachers to engage students in real-world activities; they “emulate the context or conditions in which the intended knowledge or skills are actually applied” (American Educational Research Association [AERA], American Psychological Association [APA], and National Council on Measurement in Education [NCME], 1999, p. 137). They model “what is important to teach and … what is important to learn” (Lane, 2013, p. 313).

Performance-based assessment also better aligns with most standards—including and especially the Next Generation Science Standards. In defining the elements of an effective student assessment system, Darling-Hammond (2010) said that such a system must “address the depth and breadth of standards as well as all areas of the curriculum, not just those that are easy to measure.” (p. 1) This calls for performance on challenging tasks.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science provides an assessment solution that scaffolds toward true performance tasks called for in NGSS, while also preparing students for a more advanced and challenging assessment environment, including for high-stakes science assessment, with technology-enhanced items. Performance-based assessment is a key program feature within HMH Into Science and both formative and summative assessment are integrated within instruction.

The Performance Tasks at the end of units and the Performance-Based Assessments in the assessment package provide a culminating authentic assessment that emphasizes the application of the science and engineering practices from NGSS. HMH Into Science supports teachers in using the performance assessments as effective evaluation with accompanying rubric and scoring guides.

The open-ended “You Solve It” interactive simulations throughout the program at each grade level provide yet another way to assess student performance authentically within the context of a specific challenge.

HMH Into Science features effective approaches to professional learning that support teachers in becoming developers of high-impact learning experiences for their students. Comprehensive blended professional learning solutions are data and evidence driven, mapped to instructional goals, and centered on students—and they build educators’ collective capacity. HMH allows teachers to achieve agency in their professional growth through effective instructional strategies, embedded teacher support, and ongoing blended professional learning relevant to everyday teaching.

Teachers’ professional learning should be high-quality, ongoing, and accessible to help all students develop proficiency in STEM. Research on teacher learning shows that one core feature of effective professional learning is that it must be ongoing and based on a clear framework. Student learning goals should be clear; teachers should observe what is happening in the classroom, assess how teaching has impacted students, and then modify and improve teaching (Hiebert & Grouws, 2007). Effective professional learning is embedded and ongoing as part of a wider reform effort, rather than as an isolated activity or initiative (Wei, Darling-Hammond, Andree, Richardson, & Orphanos 2009; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman & Yoon, 1999). “The duration of professional learning must be significant and ongoing to allow time for teachers to learn a new strategy and grapple with the implementation problem.” (Gulamhussein, 2013, p. 3).

Teachers’ professional knowledge and capacities develop throughout their careers as they interact with more students, participate in professional learning opportunities, and make use of research-based, educative print and online resources. One way of thinking about this growth is movement from being a novice teacher toward being one who demonstrates mastery (Snow, Griffin, & Burns, 2005). Novices depend almost entirely on declarative knowledge—what they learned in their teacher education program. The process of working toward professional mastery increases stores of what have been called “expert/adaptive” knowledge and “reflective” knowledge. Master teachers have the procedural knowledge—strategies and practices—to deal successfully with a full array of instructional challenges and to then evaluate, analyze, and reflect upon their effectiveness (Snow et al., 2005).

In addition to teachers’ own tendencies to evaluate and analyze their practice, many external factors and experiences contribute to their development as professionals. Feedback from principals, colleagues, coaches, parents, and students contribute significantly to an individual teacher’s professional growth (Hattie & Timperley, 2007).

As with student learning, teacher learning is part of a long and complex process. In fact, as noted in an article on teacher learning, “Some schools have begun to create new models of induction...and ongoing professional learning for teachers and principals” (Garet et al., 1999, p. 921). Providing teachers the opportunity to learn—sustained over time—allows for in-depth discussion and study, as well as the chance to try out new strategies and approaches. In their research, Garet and colleagues looked at the impact of duration on teacher learning and found that it has a substantial positive impact on opportunities for active learning and has a moderately positive influence on content knowledge (1999).

Research indicates that an approach consisting of a single-session workshop independent from job-embedded learning will likely have minimal impact (Ball & Cohen, 1999; Gulamhussein, 2013). In a meta-analysis of research on teacher training, Joyce and Showers (2002) found that when professional learning consisted only of theory and discussion of a targeted practice—such as through a workshop session—gains in knowledge and ability to demonstrate the new skills were modest in the transfer to actual classroom situations. However, demonstration, practice, and feedback—such as through follow-up and coaching—combined with theory and discussion yielded more substantial gains. Joyce and Showers (2002) also emphasized that on average, teachers may make 20 or more attempts to implement a new instructional practice before it becomes effective, and this number is likely higher when the skill is exceptionally complex. This means that teachers must see enough value in the content of their professional learning sessions to put them to use in their classrooms and work toward mastery; this process is the same one students use when learning new, challenging strategies, skills, and concepts.

Fortunately, the transfer rate of learning for teachers is much higher when instruction and practice are coupled with coaching. In Visible Learning, John Hattie (2008, 2012) summarizes and explains the findings of his meta-study and notes that “microteaching” has a strong influence on student achievement. Hattie describes microteaching as a practice that typically involves teachers conducting short, or micro, lessons to a small group of students and then engaging in a discussion about the lessons, with the goal of improving teaching methods.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Into Science includes a comprehensive professional development model to support teachers as they guide all students' learning. HMH's approach to professional learning includes Implementation Success, Coaching, and Leadership Advisory services.

Implementation Success for HMH Into Science helps all teachers get started with their new science program, providing the foundational program knowledge teachers need for a strong start. As a follow-up to the getting started session, HMH Into Science Implementation Success also features topic-specific professional learning to extend and deepen program understanding. Topics include:

  • Make Science Accessible for all Learners
  • Use Data to Monitor Progress and Inform Science Instruction
  • Plan Effective Science Learning Experiences
  • Integrate Meaningful STEM Experiences
  • Maximize Learning with Digital Resources
  • Support English Learners In Science
  • Goal Tracker - Allows teachers to create and track growth goals personalized to them.
  • Model Lesson Library - Hundreds of HMH classroom and expert videos of best practices.
  • Collaboration Hub - Discussion forums, resource-sharing, and video-based reflection to drive collaboration with coach and peers
  • Video-Powered Coaching - Allows teachers to upload video of their instruction for reflection or to share with their coach and peers

To ensure educators have access to sustained professional development support for HMH Into Science, Teacher's Corner is available in the Ed platform. Teacher's Corner includes a library of on-demand resources, tips from other teachers, and live events with thought leaders and practicing teachers. Dig deep into the HMH Into Science program's components or explore instructional strategies aligned to areas like STEM, Social Emotional Learning, or Culturally Responsive Teaching.

HMH Coaching for HMH Into Science offers individuals or teams of teachers sustainable, data-driven, and personalized support aligned to each teacher's learning goals. Our research-based blended coaching model is student-focused and proven to help teachers improve their practice and raise student achievement.

HMH Coaching is customized to educators' busy schedules as well as to their learning needs. Our coaches work with teachers virtually via live online sessions or in a blended combination of in-person and online. The HMH Coaching Studio makes it easy for teachers and coaches to stay connected, share resources, upload and reflect on classroom videos, and make continuing progress on learning goals. Through the HMH Coaching Studio, teachers have access to:

HMH's Leadership Advisory services provide a systemwide approach to implementation that can maximize HMH Into Science's success. Through a focus on culture, organization, and instructional leadership actions, HMH's Leadership Advisory services provide school and district leaders with access to strategies, guidance, and resources needed to implement HMH programs to align with and achieve district strategic goals.

HMH Professional Learning is recognized as a provider of effective and relevant professional learning by the Professional Learning Partners Guide. HMH Professional Learning received a “high-quality” rating in three key areas; Launching Instructional Materials, Ongoing Professional Learning for Teachers, and Ongoing Professional Learning for Leaders. To learn more, go to

As research has shown for years, traditional forms of professional learning, like one-day workshops, are not effective, usually resulting in minimal impact (Bush, 1984). However, with continued interest in improving teaching and learning, there is strong awareness surrounding teachers’ professional learning. Hattie’s work in Visible Learning (2009) revealed a core set of instructional methods that have a high impact on student achievement. It is important that teachers are clear about what they want their students to learn; adopt evidence-based teaching strategies; monitor their impact on students’ learning and adjust their approaches accordingly; and actively seek to improve their own teaching.

As educators have known for decades, modeling is a critical component of learning and now numerous research studies have demonstrated its effectiveness. (Knight, Lloyd, Arbaugh, Gamson, McDonald, Nolan, & Whitney, 2015) Effective modeling of targeted instructional practices is purposeful, deliberate, and based on research (Taylor & Chanter, 2016). Gulamhussein (2013) reports that “Modeling has been shown to be particularly successful in helping teachers understand and apply a concept and remain open to adopting it.” (p.17)

According to a large-scale survey commissioned by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2014), teachers seek more opportunities to be coached in learning new practices and instructional techniques, believing these professional learning efforts are more valuable. And what does Knight’s research reveal about how teachers respond to modeling efforts? “At the Center for Research on Learning, we have completed two studies to capture teachers’ perceptions of the value of model lessons. The results of both studies strongly support . . . [that] modeling is where the rubber meets the road.” (Knight, 2009, p. 116)

The most effective professional learning affirms what the Center for Public Education refers to as the “dual roles teachers play:” teachers as technicians and teachers as intellectuals (Gulamhussein, 2013, p. 20). Teachers who are strong technically can draw on reserves of procedural knowledge to tailor instruction to their students’ needs. As intellectuals, teachers are empowered to reflect on theory, research, and their practice to innovate and implement new instructional strategies and approaches. This process of reflection can lead to teachers turning to their colleagues for advice and clarification—a process sometimes called “collective sense making” (Coburn, 2005). Research shows that collective sense making, often in the form of professional learning communities, can be a powerful motivator for school improvement.

Teachers who seek to improve their practice and student outcomes can also turn to print, online, and in-person resources to help them continue successfully on their path toward professional mastery; this process represents blended learning, which has the advantage of allowing teachers to control the place, pace, and path of learning. Individually and collaboratively, they engage in a process sometimes called “self-coaching that addresses the common question: ‘The professional development is over, so now what?’” (Wood, Kissel, & Haag, 2014).

There are five steps to self-coaching and they represent high-quality teaching. They include:

  1. Collecting data to help answer one’s questions about instructional improvement. Formative and benchmark data are important, but so, too, is information about students’ interests, styles of learning, and work habits.
  2. Reflecting on the data as a whole and on the data that result from looking back on each days and each week’s instruction.
  3. Acting on the reflections, trying things out, and, as appropriate, sharing the results of teachers’ actions in a collaborative and mutually supportive group.
  4. Evaluating one’s practice, especially through video self-reflection; for example, asking questions about effectiveness of instruction and students’ receptivity to the instruction.
  5. Extending one’s actions, for example, trying out a successful approach to teaching students to understand complex narrative texts to instruction on reading, social studies, or science textbooks or other informational texts.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

HMH Coaching for HMH Into Science offers individuals or teams of teachers sustainable, data-driven, and personalized support aligned to each teacher's learning goals. Our research-based blended coaching model is partner-based, student-centered, goal-driven, and proven to help teachers improve their practice and raise student achievement.

Partner Based

For coaching to be effective, we must quickly establish a professional and trusting relationship with the educators we support. "Partnership, at its core, is a deep belief that we are no more important than those with whom we work and that we should do everything we can to respect that equality. This approach is built around the core principles of equality, choice, voice, dialogue, reflection, praxis, and reciprocity." (Jim Knight, 2007) Coming into school districts as outside consultants can make it more challenging to establish partnership relationships. We establish a coaching partnership by communicating our purpose and goals, deliver coaching in a consistent structure, and empowering the educators we coach to be real partners in the conversation during every step of the process.


The most effective results occur when we focus coaching conversations on improving student learning rather than teaching practices. In student-centered coaching, we begin conversations by focusing on what students should do then consider instructional practices that can achieve those targets. "Student-centered coaching is about providing opportunities for a coach and teachers to work in partnership, too (1) set targets for students that are rooted in the standards and (2) work collaboratively to ensure that the targets are met." (Diane Sweeney, 2014) Leading with student learning targets puts teachers at ease and allows for richer instructional conversations.


The impact can only be measured if goals are clearly defined and action steps are outlined at the outset of the coaching relationship. HMH's five-step coaching process, shown below, is grounded in a continuous improvement model. The model recognizes that improvement is a process that allows for incremental and ongoing analysis, reflection, and revision.

Whether side-by-side or remotely, the coach and the teacher work together to:

  • Analyze student data, like formative assessments, student work, and testing data, to establish goals for the coaching process.
  • Set student learning targets with measurable goals based on the student data to increase student understanding and learning behaviors.
  • Learn new instructional skills directly related to the established student learning targets to have the most significant impact.
  • Apply the instructional skills in the classroom with students.
  • Reflect and Review Progress by reflecting on the measurable results demonstrated by student learning behaviors and student data from the classroom.

We believe planning, analysis of student work, and progress monitoring are integral parts of the coaching cycle.

Online and Blended Coaching

We recognize that professional growth does not occur through isolated engagements but through a sustained learning process where the personal needs of each participant are elevated and supported strategically and systematically. Online and blended coaching provides a sustained, personalized, flexible, and collaborative professional learning experience. HMH Instructional Coaches work shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers in a remote environment through each step in our five-part coaching model, adjusting seamlessly from the in-person to the online medium. During live, online sessions, Coaches work with teachers to analyze student data, set student-learning targets, learn new skills, apply them, and use data to continue collaboration throughout the year. Teachers use Coaching Studio resources between sessions.

HMH Coaching Studio

HMH online and blended coaching grants teachers the opportunity to leverage HMH's web-based coaching platform, the Coaching Studio, to ensure that learning is a sustained process. It gives teachers the ability to stay connected to their coaches and colleagues as they implement new practices and strive toward success. Through the Coaching Studio, teachers and leaders are empowered to make continued progress on their goals, reflect on their learning, and set goals for their next coaching session.

HMH Coaching Studiois a 2020 EdTech Awards Cool Tool Finalist, 2019 and 2021 SIIA CODiE Finalist, and a Tech & Learning Awards of Excellence winner.

Learn more at /coaching.

A critical component to teachers’ professional services and learning is that teachers have on-demand access. Early research has shown that online, sustained professional learning can have a positive impact on teaching and learning (Bahr, Shaha, Farnsworth, Lewis, & Benson, 2004; Benson, Farnsworth, Bahr, Lewis, & Shaha, 2004; Magidin, Masters, O’Dwyer, Dash, & Russell, 2012; Rienties, Brouwer, & Lygo-Baker, 2013; Cho & Rathbun, 2013). The positive impact continues as learners become decision makers about their path, place, and pace. Providing teachers with professional learning opportunities that are readily and easily available allows for flexibility in time and need—again, supporting learners to control path, place, and pace. Teachers can access the resources they need based on their own schedules, and they can determine which resources best suit their needs.

A study of the effects of on-demand, online professional learning conducted by Shaha and Ellsworth (2013) found that higher levels of teacher engagement (e.g., quantity and quality of utilization and participation) correlates with higher student achievement and successes for educators and schools (e.g. teacher retention, student discipline). Conclusions were that higher levels of teacher utilization, engagement, and active use are correlated with higher student achievement and successes for educators and schools.” (p. 19).

One specific type of online, on-demand resource that has shown benefits is the use of videos or clips for professional learning. Viewing video clips allows teachers the opportunity to reflect on instructional practices and content (Marzano, Pickering, & Pollock, 2012). As noted by Hiebert and Grouws (2007), using video clips or recordings can also reinforce the message that teaching mathematics is not just an isolated practice—reflecting on instruction is an opportunity to improve professionally. Further, a study conducted by the Harvard University Center for Education Policy (2012) revealed that the use of video technology can help teachers engage in the process of opening instruction to observation and feedback to improve instruction.

Researchers who study professional learning that supports teachers in effective improvement of practice remind professional learning developers and providers that teachers’ active involvement may make them feel vulnerable because they are being asked to take the stance of “learner.” As Bryk, Gomez, Grunnow, and LeMahieu (2015) noted in a study of reform efforts that included professional learning, positive changes happen in the presence of teachers’ “good will and engagement,” which is often rooted in teachers having choice and autonomy in their own learning. These qualities are essential whether teachers meet for large group professional learning, attend professional learning communities within their schools, or work on their own to find experts to guide them through self-study with print or online resources.

How HMH Into Science Delivers

To ensure educators have access to sustained professional development support for HMH Into Science, Teacher's Corner is available in the Ed platform. Teacher's Corner puts real-world classroom videos and best practices at your fingertips on your schedule. Plus, free Live Events allow you to build a community around solutions to today's instructional challenges. Your subscription includes continuous implementation support all year long. Get energized about your new program and learn best practices to maximize your time.


  • On-demand, solution-specific teaching resources
  • Live events with your colleagues
  • Printable parent and caregiver letters in English and Spanish to help with at-home support and more!
  • Getting Started resources are the perfect refresher for a returning teacher or a thorough introduction for someone teaching a new program.
  • Program Support features in-depth teaching support and professional learning based on the programs a teacher is using.
  • Breakroom was designed to be a place where teachers can extend their learning beyond the program(s). It includes teacher reflections and ideas, inspirational videos from prominent researchers, speakers, practitioners, practical support for relevant or hot topics, and self-care advice.
  • Live Events
  • Getting Started
  • Program Support
  • Breakroom
  • And much more!

What types of resources are included?

Ongoing professional learning and support for HMH Into Science isn't limited to teachers – Leaders can also view on-demand resources like classroom videos and live events via Leader's Corner.

Leader's Corner Resources Support:

  • Live Events
  • Getting Started
  • Program Support
  • Breakroom
  • And much more!

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