August 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 12

What Is the Role of Lecture in NGSS?

by Peter A’Hearn

Is there a role for lecture in NGSS classrooms? Anyone who has spent much time working on the NGSS knows that NGSS is learner centered, more about helping students to develop the tools to investigate the world than about teachers supplying knowledge. The traditional teaching style of the teacher talking and students taking notes seems to be opposite of this vision.

This vision is supported by research indicating that traditional lecture is not an effective way to teach science. Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Carl Wieman makes a strong case against lecture as a way to teach science.  Click here to read a summary of his findings. Learn More…

Middle School Integrated Science – Getting Over It!

by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

Last spring I wrote an article/blog post that addressed the growing discussion about the decision to teach middle school integrated or discipline specific science. The article gives the rationale for the change and also some different models that were considered for how to transition.

There was a lot of feedback to that post: strongly supportive, deeply skeptical, and many follow up questions. Now that Palm Springs USD has finished the first year of the transition, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how it went.

The middle school teacher leaders who helped to make the decision chose the “fast” transition plan below. Year 2 was what we just finished. 6th grade teachers (and kids) were introduced to structure and function in living things. 7th graders tried chemistry for the first time, and 8th graders played with waves. Everyone tried a little (or a lot) of engineering. Learn More…

Where California K-12 Science Teachers Go for NGSS

RegisterNowMedNow is the time to register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference presented by the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  Attending the CSTA 2015 conference is a great way to gain professional development, and network with other science teachers from across the state, and obtain new classroom ideas, in one place over three days!

The California Science Education Conference is your best source of information on implementing NGSS in your classroom.

The California Science Teachers Association hosts this conference to focus on what California science educators need to know to hone their craft, stay updated on standards, and apply best practices gleaned from experts throughout the state. Learn More…

Where to Go in Sacramento: Field Courses for the CSTA Conference

by Peter A’Hearn

When it comes to conferences I’m pretty much a workshop guy. You get lots of great ideas in a short time, lots of choices, and you are hearing it straight from teachers. But looking at the field studies being offered at the 2015 California Education Conference in Sacramento this October, I’m thinking I might just spend the whole conference learning science on the amazing field courses being offered.

Here are your choices:

AHearn_Field_Course_Photo_1The Science in Your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Sudwerk Brewery – Visit with the scientists at the UC Davis Brewing Program, the yeast geeks at White Labs, and the brewers of Sudwerk Brewery to learn about the biochemistry and microbiology that goes into the beer you love to drink. We will share NGSS aligned activities (classroom appropriate) on reaction rate and population biology. You will also explore the chemistry of beer flavor and learn how to make taste testing scientifically rigorous! Learn More…

Starting the School Year Right

by Joanne Michael

In my position, I teach hands-on science for an entire elementary school (Kindergarten-5th grade). I begin my school year about a week after the first day of school, after the classroom teachers have begun establishing their room protocols. Even though I see the students year after year as they come into my classroom, because they change over the course of a year, and especially over the summer, we often need to start as if I have never seen the students before.

My sample to show younger students

My sample to show younger students

One thing that I started doing this past school year was to initiate the mindset that everyone is interconnected to each other as students in the same school, that every person is unique, but is an integral part of the school. I found some interlocking puzzle piece figures online, and bought a class set for each of my 18 classes (they were on clearance!). On the first day of class for each of my classes, after going over the expectations, I handed out colored pencils and the people. I gave very few directions, other than they should look like them (whatever that meant). For the younger classes, I created one for myself, made a “shirt”, and drew the NASA symbol, as space exploration is something I am very interested in. The students were only given the rest of their time with me (about 20 minutes) to complete their puzzle piece, put their name and room number on the back, and handed it in. Learn More…

Celestial Highlights, August Through October 2015

by Robert C. Victor and Robert D. Miller

Venus and Jupiter, about to depart in the west, are slowly separating after their spectacular pairing on June 30, while Saturn passes its high point in the south at dusk in July. Telescopic views of a thin crescent Venus, Jupiter and its four bright Galilean moons, and the rings of Saturn can make an exciting evening for students, so we hope you’ll arrange it

This summer, there are many strikingly beautiful events involving the Moon, planets, and stars, some at dusk and some at dawn, plenty to keep students well engaged during vacation. Publicize these events to encourage your current students and their families to continue watching the sky.

We include information on the spectacular events of September and October, to encourage you to plan sky watching early in the new school year. Learn More…

Making the Leap from the Classroom to TOSA

by Kirsten Franklin

After 25 years as an elementary teacher, I decided to take the leap two years ago to become a TOSA (teacher on special assignment) to support K-12 teachers in my district in science and the common core state standards.  There is no specific handbook for doing this, but luckily, there have been great local and state resources to help. I have relied mainly on the trainings and guidance received from BaySci, a San Francisco Bay Area Science Consortium headed up by the Lawrence Hall of Science that my district has been part of since 2008. Membership in CSTA and NSTA, Twitter, reading the NRC Science Framework and the NGSS performance expectations over and over have also helped me to build understanding and confidence in the content and pedagogical shifts. Wrapping one’s head around the NGSS definitely takes time and multiple exposures! Learn More…

What Does It Take to Get Kids Outdoors?

by Lori Merritt

Our environment faces many challenges. Human behavior has greatly contributed to these negative changes. Children will be inheriting a world with many environmental problems and need to be prepared to face them. In order for children to care about the environment and have positive environmental behavior they first need to have experiences outside in natural environments (Chawla & Cushing, 2007; Handler & Ebstein, 2010). Unfortunately, children are spending less time in nature, making them less connected to their natural environment. In Louv’s Last Child in the Woods, nature-deficit disorder is described as “the human costs of alienation from nature, among them: diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, and higher rates of physical and emotional illnesses” (p.36). In order for our students to be healthy, and environmentally proactive members of society we need to lead them outdoors. Learn More…

Me? A Leader? In Science?

by Barbara Woods

To move work forward in any kind of initiative, it takes all sorts of leaders. It can be especially powerful when leaders emerge that don’t necessarily consider themselves leaders, at least at the outset. In the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District’s (GJUESD) efforts to move the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into implementation with a gradual district-wide roll-out, this leadership mix has proven essential to the work. Learn More…

Conversation with a Leader in Science Education: Maria Chiara Simani

by Minda Berbeco

Maria Simani, Physicist and Executive Director, California Science Project

Maria Simani, Physicist and Executive Director, California Science Project

CSTA promotes and supports leadership in science education as part of its mission to promote high quality science education. This newsletter regularly features contributions from emerging and established leaders in our CSTA community. For my article this month, I elected to spotlight a leader in California science education to share with our readers about the path of leadership. Teachers are inherent leaders, so it’s no surprise that I was able to find a really great person to chat with about her leadership positions. Maria Simani is the Executive Director of the California Science Project, a statewide network that provides professional learning to science teachers. If you are a science teacher in California, chances are high that you have been involved in one of Simani’s programs, or know someone who has. A tough job, but an incredibly importance one, Simani sat down with me a few weeks ago to talk about how she got into science education leadership and what makes her love every minute of it. Learn More…

Staying Connected by Volunteering

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. Learn More…

Stages of NGSS Grief

by Jill Grace

So here we are in August. You are likely a responsible science educator and have spent some time digging into NGSS and considering how you will be making some changes this school year. Observing so many teachers across California these past two years of NGSS awareness, I get the sense we could all use a good laugh at this point! (I would like to express that in no way is this intended to trivialize those suffering from grief.)

As we settle in, we realize that we have a lot of work to do get ready for the NGSS. I am experiencing a lot of emotions with respect to this change and I’ve been witnessing similar emotions in other teachers during the course of this journey we’ve been on together. Learn More…

Greetings from Your New Director in Region 1

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

I wanted to begin my new term as CSTA Region 1 Director with a brief introduction and then some highlights from our region. I am Marian Murphy-Shaw, I currently live about as far north in California as you can get, in Mount Shasta City. I am entering my 15th year with Siskiyou County Office of Education as an Educational Services Director. Prior to that I taught for 10 years in grades 5 through 12 both in Siskiyou and Alameda counties, I worked as an intern on a controlled life support system at NASA Ames and proudly attended Mills College, then CSU Eastbay (Hayward State back then). I have to take a minute here and thank my Hayward faculty advisor Dr. Stronck for introducing me to CSTA! Learn More…

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates California Math and Science Teachers Receiving Presidential Honors

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California teachers who are among the 108 educators nationwide recently announced by President Barack Obama as recipients of the 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The California science awardee is Scott Holloway, a college prep and Advanced Placement physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District. The California mathematics awardee is Marianne Chowning-Dray, who teaches Algebra II/Trigonometry and Advanced Placement Calculus BC at Eastside College Preparatory School, an independent school in East Palo Alto. Learn More…

CSTA Prepares to Provide Feedback to CDE on New Science Curriculum Framework

by Jessica Sawko

Twenty five CSTA members are volunteering their time to review approximately 1,000 pages of the early draft of the new Science Curriculum Framework to support NGSS instruction in the classroom and provide guidance to publishers of instructional materials. They are reviewing the document and submitting their feedback to CSTA who will represent science educators from across the state at the end of this month, on August 27-28, when the Science Subject Matter Committee will meet. The Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) is a committee of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) (formerly known as the Curriculum Commission) and is responsible for reviewing drafts of the framework and considering public feedback and incorporating that as appropriate as well as providing input based on their expertise. They then forward the draft to the full IQC for approval to be released for a 60-day public comment period. Learn More…


NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Take NGSS Implementation to the Next Level

A CASCD and CSTA Workshop led by Michelle French and Jared Marr; hosted by Walnut Valley Unified School District.

This full-day workshop will demonstrate how to advance students’ abilities to make sense of the natural and designed world by thinking and acting as scientists and engineers. This includes rich use of language and math. Participants will also be provided with a review of resources that will support them as they implement NGSS.

The hands-on day will begin with an exploration of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices and overview of resources. Participants will be provided with a foundation of how the Evidence Statements from Achieve will help them support their students’ capacity to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. During the afternoon session, participants will be invited to experience either a K-5 or 6-12 lesson. Each of these lessons will emphasize how the Science and Engineering Practices help us bring Common Core State Standards and 21st Century Skills (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity) to life. Learn More…

CSTA Releases 2013-14 Annual Report to Members

CSTA is pleased to release its 2013-14 Annual Report to Members. This Annual Report is prepared for the benefit of members to report on the programs, activities and financial condition of the organization.  While the detail about programs, activities and financial condition represent a look back at the past fiscal year, the other components of the Annual Report provide a look to the future.  As a result, the Board of Directors and Strategic Initiatives represent that look to the future by providing members with the most up-to-date information about the organization and its goals for the future. Access the Annual Report online.

2015 CSTA Conference Registration Brochure

2015 CSTA Confernece Registration Brochure

The complete Registration Brochure for the 2015 CSTA Conference is now available for download.

Upcoming Events

8:30 am NGSS 101 Workshop K-12 @ San Joaquin County Office of Education Wentworth Education Center Harmony Grove Lab
NGSS 101 Workshop K-12 @ San Joaquin County Office of Education Wentworth Education Center Harmony Grove Lab
Sep 2 @ 8:30 am – 3:30 pm
Explore how to navigate the Next Generation Science Standards! Introductory activities will be used to explore the shifts and deepen your understanding from the 1998 standards to the NGSS performance expectations.  The three dimensions of NGSS[...]
7:00 pm The East Bay Science Cafe @ Cafe Valparaiso
The East Bay Science Cafe @ Cafe Valparaiso
Sep 2 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Held the first Wednesday of every month in the Cafe Valparaiso on Solano Avenue in Albany from 7 to 9pm. 1403 Solano Ave., Albany, California 94706. The East Bay Science Cafe is an informal forum[...]
all-day Free Entry Day at the UC Botanic... @ UC Berkely Botanical Garden
Free Entry Day at the UC Botanic... @ UC Berkely Botanical Garden
Sep 3 – Sep 4 all-day
Enjoy free admission to the UC Botanical Garden on the first Thursday of the month. Parking is limited. Docent-led tours for groups are not available on Free Thursdays. In order to minimize the impact on[...]
1:00 am Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Cafe Inquiry @ Cafe Borrone
Sep 3 @ 1:00 am – 3:00 am
Meet up with rationalists, skeptics, and freethinkers south of San Francisco.  Cafe Inquiry is a social event hosted by the Center for Inquiry. We’ll meet at Café Borrone between Kepler’s Books and the British Banker’s[...]
6:00 pm After Dark: First Thursdays @ Exploratorium
After Dark: First Thursdays @ Exploratorium
Sep 3 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
After Dark: First Thursdays @ Exploratorium | San Francisco | California | United States
A ticket to Thursday evening adult-only hours does not guarantee admission to special programs with limited seating. Tickets for limited-capacity programs will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis. Please Note: Adults Only (18+)[...]
6:00 pm NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
Sep 3 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Every Thursday night a new adventure unfolds.  Set out with friends on a journey to the stars and to the depths of the sea with a cocktail in your hand and wonder in your eyes—[...]
4:30 pm FREE Science and Engineering Fai... @ San Joaquin County Office of Education Wentworth Education Center
FREE Science and Engineering Fai... @ San Joaquin County Office of Education Wentworth Education Center
Sep 8 @ 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Join us for a FREE Science and Engineering Fair Orientation!  This is for new and veteran science fair teachers to get an understanding of what is expected from each student and sponsoring teacher. Safety guidelines/processes[...]
9:00 am A Workshop for K-5 Educators – R...
A Workshop for K-5 Educators – R...
Sep 10 @ 9:00 am – 3:00 pm
TEHAMA COUNTY EDUCATORS! The Tehama County Department of Education and Water Education Foundation invite you to join us for this FREE water education workshop, which will include hands-on experience with the activities of Project WET[...]
6:00 pm NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
NightLife at the Academy @ California Academy of Sciences
Sep 10 @ 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Every Thursday night a new adventure unfolds.  Set out with friends on a journey to the stars and to the depths of the sea with a cocktail in your hand and wonder in your eyes—[...]
8:30 am Science ELD Standards Augmentati... @ Los Angeles County Office of Education
Science ELD Standards Augmentati... @ Los Angeles County Office of Education
Sep 11 @ 8:30 am – 11:30 am
AB 899 (October 2013) requires the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI) to convene a group of experts to review the science academic content standards and ensure that the language demands inherent in these content[...]

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