How to prepare for the 2018 science SOLs

How to prepare for the Virginia 2018 science SOLs

2018 Virginia science SOLHave you heard that the Virginia science SOLs are changing? This is Kelly Chapman from Glitter in Third, and I'm going to tell you the basics about what will be occurring regarding the science standards, and some ways to prepare! 

What is it?

The Virginia SOL science curriculum framework came out in May 2019, and the standards were released in the beginning of the year. You can check it all out here! .  If you are familiar with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), you may notice a lot of similarities with the Virginia SOL 

As the previous Virginia SOL, the strands that are being focused on are:
  • scientific and engineering practices
  • force, motion, and energy
  • matter
  • living systems and processes
  • Earth and space systems
  • Earth resources
All of the science topics will fall under these six umbrella categories. The 2018 science standards support the Profile of a Virginia Graduate, mixing together skills of civic responsibility, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creative thinking.

So what changed in the 2018 science SOLs?

2018 Virginia science SOL
A flipbook aligned with the 4th-grade Virginia SOL 4.3, interrelationships between ecosystems, community, and population. Available here.

More conceptual

The 2010 standards was a lot of lists needing to be memorized. Students could not always see the forests through trees by missing the major concepts of the standard. Now, the standards are more conceptual. Although these standards look like huge changes, in actuality only the wording and the structure of the standards changed. We now see an emphasis on the development of scientific understanding instead of simply memorization of historical people or objects.

Focus on what is developmentally appropriate

Science standards were moved around that were not considered developmentally appropriate. For example, more abstract standards, like electricity, were flip-flopped between grades (moved from 4th-grade to 5th-grade). Electricity will still be on the 5th-grade science SOL, but it is shuffled when taught. How it is aligned to a particular theme will be impacted, but the content will still be tested. 

More connection across subjects

The 2018 science SOLs see an integration of subjects and repetition of themes. For example, students study Virginia Studies in social studies. The new theme of the 4th-grade science is "our place in the universe," which connects to the idea of identity and a place where students live. Virginia looked at the major themes of each school year to create a specific organization and specific connection. We now see the introduction of yearly themes for grades K-6 to support interdisciplinary lessons.

Less repetition

We see less repetition in the new science SOLs. For example, moon phases is no longer done in third-grade, 4th-grade, and 6th-grade. The redundancy of content has been eliminated.

Virginia science SOL themes by grade-level

2018 Virginia science SOL
A chart aligned with the 4th-grade Virginia SOL 4.6, motions of the Earth. Available here.


using my senses to understand my world

1st grade

how I interact with my world

2nd grade

change occurs all around us


interactions in our world


our place in the solar system


transforming matter and energy


our world; our responsibility
2018 Virginia science SOL

What is your school doing for the implementation of the 2018 Virginia Science SOLs?

Every school seems to be implementing something different for the 2019-2020 school year, many are doing a crosswalk. Several schools I have talked to said that 3rd and 4th grade teachers will be switching to the new standards next year, while 5th-grade will be staying the same. Make sure to talk with your team, instructional coach, or whoever is in charge of acting as a liaison between your district and school. The important part is for everyone to be on the same page.

How can you prepare?

First of all, don't panic! Change is scary and can feel super overwhelming. DO NOT think about this all summer. Most likely your school will give you a game-plan when you return in August regarding how to proceed, if they have not already.

Talk to your team. 

  • Some of your teammates may not know about the science changes yet, and you will want to talk about a plan of action and how you will tackle the changes this school year.

Hit up other grade levels

  • Many of the SOLs are being shifted from other grades - talk to other grade levels! For example, the 5th grade oceans standard is being moved to 4th-grade. Try hitting up other grade levels to see what resources they have to share or to give you tips on. Renewable and nonrenewable resources is moving from 3rd-grade to 5th-grade. The content will of course be more in-depth in an older grade, but you never know what resources or introduction lesson you could be able to recycle!

Look for similarities

  • Most of the content for each grade is staying the same. For example, the majority of third-grade is staying the same. It is gaining an addition on studying fossils for adaptations, but losing the entire Earth cycles unit (like tides, rotation, revolution, and moon phases!). Focusing on the similarities and remembering that the changes as a whole are quite minor is definitely anxiety-reducing.

Turn to TPT for help

  • If you are still stressing and not sure how to incorporate the new material, you can always turn to Teachers Pay Teachers for help! You can supplement a couple of the units with TPT materials while you figure out how you want to start teaching the material in the future. Many Virginia teacher-authors are starting to make the switch to the new science SOLs. For example, my fourth-grade science interactive notebook bundle is now fully aligned to the 2018 science standards. However, in order to accommodate anyone who needs the old standards as well, I will send any interactive notebooks from prior years to people who purchase. Check out TPT to find resources that you can implement to make your life easier!


What is YOUR school doing for the new 2018 science SOLs? Will they be doing a crosswalk year? I'd love to hear from you  - leave information down below in the comments!

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2018 Virginia science SOL

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