Post here for questions and ideas about the link between NGSS and AP Biology...

Hello AP Biology Teachers!
At NSTA San Antonio, and again at the California State Science Fair, I fell into a conversation about connecting NGSS Science and Engineering Practices and AP Biology Science Practices 1-7. It seems to me that ideas have converged on what it looks like to "Do Science," but, this doesn't seem new to me. (Didn't we see this in previous work? We called it using the Scientific Method(s), Levels of Inquiry, whichever wrapper we're putting things into---it doesn't seem like the ideas of what constitute good science have changed, have they?...).
My question, from the best possible place of curiosity is: how is this different than what teachers have been asked to do before? Admittedly, I'm a "baby teacher..." but shouldn't science be happening in science classrooms---and doesn't that generally involve teaching the basics of engineering and experimental design? Is it merely the idea that the process of science will now be assessed in a standardized way that is new? Is that even new? Watching the droves of teachers in line for sessions on linking NGSS and Common Core made me wonder if I'm missing some integral here's what I have gleaned and please, chop this to bits if I'm wrong and point out my flaws so that I can improve my course design:
1. AP Science Practices are iterative; they should be practiced often and with selective guidance to help lead students through inquiry; ranges of inquiry from Confirmation labs to structured--->guided---->open inquiry labs are neccessary to develop the skills of scientific thinking required for students to succeed at cognitively difficult tasks. Different skills should be isolated with different labs so students aren't thrown off the deep end with a box of relevant but unknown toys (Avoiding: "Investigate your way, out, kids!---Hope you got the content!").
2. Common Core, the 7 AP Science Practices, and NGSS are already linked: science and engineering practices along with crosscutting concepts (cause and effect, modeling, using math appropriately, etc.) are embedded in the literature of effective science pedagogy. Labeling what we're doing "Common Core-Friendly" is another standard to write on the board, but doesn't change the important content-based literacy and numeracy tools we should already be using (reading science publications critically, engaging in argument, writing lab reports, collecting and interpreting appropriate data, etc.).
3. Student engagement is your best weapon for increasing authentic inquiry. POGIL, case studies, Science Fair, PBL, etc., all point to giving students relevant choices so that "Real Life" and "Schoolwork" collide and make bookwork relevant. It seems like taking a basic survey of student science interests and framing the course around their real passions could be a powerful way to teach the Big Ideas: Essential Knowledge is essential and should be integrated for aq content-rich course, but the framework gives teachers room for selection (no pun intended). Within careful limits, giving students choices over several open-ended investigations of their choices combined with teacher-prescribed investigations can create a powerful learning experiences that students own and retain---skills and information can be integrated, but students are more likely to retain that information if they can then apply it to solve a problem that they are already invested in.
4. The big element I'm leaving out: what is it? If you've read this far, hopefully you see a gaping hole in my over-simplification of teaching and something is gnawing at you that needs to be added to my list: what is it? I'd love your input, and thanks for your time!

Beth Dixon