This page will introduce you to the kinds of tools that are available on this site. The tools in the gallery below were created over the past five years in collaboration with classroom teachers who have used them successfully with students. Below, there are four broad types of tools that you can search for; click on any of these to learn more about the tools (the planning tools were designed by us after a thorough review of the literature on teaching and learning, all the rest by our colleagues in schools):

Also check our “How do I…?” page for quick reads on modeling, use of evidence, making thinking visible, direct instruction, group work, anchoring events, more…

Except where otherwise noted, this work by Tools for Ambitious Science Teaching, University of Washington, is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial International 4.0 License. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective owners. Images in this work are used with permission and not included in the open license.

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Grade 3 Non-contact Forces Unit

Grade-3-Magnetism-All-in-One-2020v2 Students investigate a phenomenon of how the magnets on a magnetic ring toy appear to levitate and how, after compressing and releasing them, the […]

Grade 4 Sound Energy Unit – UPDATED all-files-in-one

This sound energy unit guide is an update of the 2014 unit draft and focuses students on explaining the phenomenon of a singer shattering a […]

Sound Unit – Grade 1

Students use their analysis of force, volume, and size to explain how they can make different sound using the same lid as a drum. They can then use these big science ideas to explain other sound phenomena they find around the school.

Puddles Mini-Unit for K, 1st, 2nd grade

Get your feet wet (pun intended) with NGSS by engaging early elementary students in a 5-lesson sequence exploring where puddles go.  This mini-unit targets ideas […]

Quick Tips for Intentionally Designing a Model Scaffold

No scaffolding, just providing a blank page, for students to create their models can make some students freeze up when asked to draw about how/why […]

QR video links for the Ambitious Science Teaching book

Print-and-stick labels to easily locate and view video examples from the AST website while you read the AST Book

2nd grade Earth Systems

In this 2nd grade unit, students construct their explanations about a puzzling and historic phenomenon: Why did a town next to a mountain (the town […]

Grade 4 – Oso Landslide Unit

Unit guide for STC Land & Water Kit revised to meet Next Generation Science Standards. It reframes the kit around the 2014 Oso Landslide (north […]

All-in-one 1st grade inheritance unit

Students investigate a phenomenon where a kitten, “Creamsicle”, with cream fur is born to orange fur parents.  Readings and activities support students in making sense […]

All-in-one 2nd grade Ice Cream Unit

Throughout this unit, students investigate the properties of ice cream as a solid and liquid to help address standards about properties of matter and how […]

Rapid Survey of Student Thinking (RSST)

This is a tool you would use after eliciting students’ ideas at the beginning of a unit. We use this to document how prevalent different […]

Design an Experiment Template

Design an experiment about sound This template can be used by students to 1) help give them choices about what kind of investigation to do, […]

Template for Before and After Models

Here’s a template in Word that has most of the features we use in both initial models and final models. Note the differences and the […]

Card Sort Using NGSS

Unpacking topics like “earthquakes,” “solubility,” or “cellular respiration” begins with identifying all the big ideas mentioned in the Next Generation Science Standards. It means seeing […]

Supporting ELL explanations

Scaffolding for ELLs and others on writing causal explanations.
Developed by colleague Melissa Braaten of University of Colorado

Writing Springboard

Writing Springboard scaffolds students to push for writing “why” level evidence-based explanations.

Structured Talk PDSA/ Data Snap tool

Plan-Do-Study-Act tool for improving rigorous and equitable discussions.

Studio Model Template

Studio Days are a form of job-embedded professional development that take place during a school day. School teams develop a vision of “what is possible” […]

Structured Talk for How and Why Reasoning Change Package

The “Structured talk for how and why reasoning” change package provides an overview of the practice and how it supports student reasoning, tools teachers have used, and practical measures teacher have collected to deepen and localize the practice.

Sticky Note Student Feedback

Peer review and critique routine that engages students in providing written feedback to peers and then partner talk to revise work in light of peer feedback.

Science Journal Rubric

Science Journal Rubric

Scaffolding Students’ Written Explanations

Questions to consider when designing tasks or scaffolds for students’ written explanations.

Making Responsive Instructional Decisions

A reflective tool that helps you make instructional decisions that respond to and build on student activity.

All-in-One Curriculum – Circuits Grade 4

Unit guide for the STC Circuits Kit revised to meet Next Generation Science Standards

Magnetic Science Storyboard

Features of the Magnet Model: • Manipulate parts. This magnet board allowed students to manipulate characters and slide them around on the board to illustrate their ideas while they narrated their science story. A variety of magnet characters were available … Continued

Introduction to Volume Lab

Introduction to Volume – Data Sheet

Four Corners Discussion

Technique that supports students in articulating and potentially revising their reasoning.

Food Chemistry Unit Plan Starter

This is a draft to an elementary Food Chemistry unit plan.

Discussion Stoplight

Highlights the kinds of contributions students make in a discussion and how they relate.

Discussion Diamond

Individual and group accountability creating a written artifact of group talk.

Crosscutting Concepts graphic organizer

A blank table for students to learn about and record their ideas about the NGSS crosscutting concepts.

Crosscutting Concepts graphic organizer

A blank table for students to learn about and record their ideas about the NGSS crosscutting concepts.

Classroom observation tool

5point observational tool for four science teaching practice and two ELL practices.

Claim-evidence-reasoning template for high school

This is a template to help high school (or middle school) students to get practice at identifying a claim, selecting evidence, and writing up the reasoning for the link between the two. The sentence frames in the left hand column … Continued

Claim Evidence Reasoning Sentence Starters

These sentence starters help students coordinate evidence with their ideas as they explain the phenomenon.

CAP Writing

Interdisciplinary literacy tools are vital means of achieving equity in STEM. CAP Writing is a tiered approach to literacy for reluctant writers. Designed to engage authors using essential questions about content, audience and purpose, users then navigate their thinking and … Continued

All-in-One Curriculum – Motion & Design – Grade 5

5th Grade Unit Guide Complementing STC Motion & Design kit – Skateboard Jumping Phenomenon

All-in-One Curriculum – Microworlds Grade 5

5th Grade Unit Plan for Microworlds – Food Poisoning Phenomenon

All-in-One Curriculum – Magnets & Motors

Magnets & Motors curriculum guide designed for use with 6th graders. Phenomena: Junkyard magnet and shake flashlight

All-in-One Curriculum – Sound Energy Grade 4

4th Grade Unit Plan for Sound Energy – Singer Shatters Glass Phenomenon

Abiotic vs Biotic Data Sheet

Abiotic vs Biotic Factors Data Sheet

A/B Partner Talk Protocol

This protocol was developed to scaffold equitable partner talk for how/why reasoning. It reinforces a culture of student talk in which ideas about science are worth probing, expanding, critiquing, and revising. This protocol has been particularly useful for teachers who … Continued

5th Astronomy Unit Guide

Includes links to complete 138 page unit guide as well as folders of downloadable and editable documents

3 Student roles to facilitate discussion about text

This tool helps students in small groups discuss a text. It also helps them learn how to do this more independently over time if it is used routinely. The beginning assumption in using this tool is that you have given … Continued