June 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 10

California STEM Learning Network Launches Policy Brief “Science Education and Local Control” and LCAP Toolkit for STEM Advocates

by Chris Roe

The California STEM Learning Network and the Lawrence Hall of Science have partnered to create a new toolkit to help educators, parents, students, community partners, and business leaders participate in the development of their school district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). Learn More…

2015-17 CSTA Board of Directors Election Results

CSTA is pleased to announce the results of the 2015-2017 Board of Director elections. The winners of the election are below. CSTA thanks all candidates and members for their participation in the elections. These directors terms will begin on July 1, 2015 and conclude on June 30, 2017.

President-Elect

Jill Grace

Jill has a broad teaching background that provides a common experience between herself and CSTA’s members. She has been a middle school science teacher for ten years and prior to that she was an elementary science specialist. Outside of the classroom, she has spent a significant amount of her time working in teacher professional development. For the past two years, Jill has served as the Middle School/Jr. High School Director on the CSTA Board of Directors. Learn More…

Register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference!

by Casey Passmore

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With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (including Literacy in Science!) and the Next Generation Science Standards, science education is finally becoming more of a priority for many school districts. Now is a great time to start planning to attend the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, Friday, October 2 – Sunday, October 4. Registration is open and hotel reservations can be made now. Learn More…

Update on the New Science Curriculum Framework – Opportunity for Public Review Coming Soon

Dear Fellow Science Teachers:

I want to bring you an update on the 2016 Revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. As you know, the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS) as our new science standards in September of 2013. Since that time, many educators in various capacities have been busy adapting and interpreting the CA NGSS to form a draft curriculum framework. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) is the appointed state body tasked with overseeing this process. This started with the development of the guidelines that came out of the Science Focus Group meetings and has most recently been the work of two groups. The first is the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CCFC), a group made up of twenty educators from all areas of education and from across the state. A majority of the Science CFCC are K-12 teachers. The other group working steadily on this process is the writers from the California Science Project. The Science CCFC has read and reviewed multiple versions of the draft framework and given in-depth meaningful feedback to the writers. The CCFC’s task was formally finished on May 21, 2015. Learn More…

Draft Primary Evaluation of Essential Criteria for Alignment (PEEC-Alignment) – Ready for Public Review

NGSSLogoThe first draft of the NGSS Primary Evaluation of Essential Criteria for Alignment (PEEC-Alignment) is ready for public review. This document is meant to help developers and reviewers of instructional materials answer the question: “do the materials contain or exhibit the essential features of a program aligned to the NGSS innovations?” Educators, Administrators, Publishers, and Curriculum Materials Developers are all encouraged to review and provide feedback on this draft of the NGSS PEEC-Alignment by visiting this page by July 1, 2015. The PEEC-Alignment document focuses on the innovations set forth in NGSS and their implications for instructional materials. If the program under review seems to be adequately aligned to the NGSS innovations, it could then be reviewed for the presence of other key components of instructional materials – some of which are also described in the PEEC-Alignment document – as well as for any other criteria that are relevant in a local context. Learn More…

Legislative and Budget Deadlines Spur Action in Sacramento

by Jessica Sawko

State_CapitolLast month, Governor Brown made headlines with his proposed 2015-16 budget revision (a full copy is available here) which calls for an additional $6.1 billion in Proposition 98 funding for K-12 and community college education, bringing the total investment for 2015-16 to $83 billion. The proposed budget holds potential to support the implementation of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), but as currently proposed, a great deal of work will need to be done on the local level to insure adequate investments are made in implementation of new state-adopted standards. This is because the $3.5 billion in funding included in Governor Brown’s budget proposal for new standards implementation is “discretionary.” This means that while the Governor and Legislature are encouraging districts to use the proposed $3.5 billion in funds for professional development, teacher induction to beginning teachers, and the purchase instructional materials and technology to advance the implementation of NGSS, Common Core, and ELD standards, districts will not be required to do so.  Learn More…

Primary Science Comes Alive with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), California Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and English Language Development (ELD)

by Valerie Joyner

Join your primary colleagues for the wonderful opportunity to learn about Next Generation Science Standards. You’ll learn how NGSS aligns with 21st Century Skills, links to CCCSS and supports ELD. Teams of 3-5 teachers/administrators from your school/district are encouraged to apply for this amazing workshop. Space is limited so apply now!

As California educators strive to provide a twenty-first century education for all students, there is nothing more important than a strong foundation in science education. The time to nurture and develop this foundation is at the beginning, as students enter primary grades. It is essential for the youngest of our students to develop scientific literacy and interest from the start. As we focus priority on our youngest students, there are few missions more urgent to long-term educational goals than equipping primary grade teachers with science content knowledge and pedagogical strategies to kindle the love of science in their students and set a course for lifelong learning. Learn More…

Cup of Tea

by Leah Wheeler

Have you ever felt like your time is split between too many subject areas in your classroom and you’re torn on how to teach all of the content? As a 5th grade teacher in a self contained classroom, I have always struggled with integrating curriculum in my classroom instruction. Through my participation with the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) Early Implementation team in Galt, I have learned how to take the science and engineering practices (SEP) and incorporate them into the other curricular areas using simple modifications to my instruction.

Instead of looking at science and engineering practices as only part of the three-dimensional learning of NGSS, I try to think of ways to incorporate them into other content areas, so I can create bridges for learning.  For instance, inspired by the Boston Tea Party after my students studied the American Revolution, students engineered crates to hold tea. Learn More…

Maintaining Summer Engagement

by Joanne Cozens Michael 

Sunblock and beach towels, car trips that stretch out too long, and visits with friends. While summer can be a relaxing, wonderful time to unwind and rejuvenate, too often our students go far in the opposite direction, causing August/September to be a month of solid review of concepts from previous years before diving into new information. Although we cannot escape that entirely, keeping students engaged in learning new things via fun experiments throughout the summer can be a great way to keep their young brains going! 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…

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…

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…

The Practice of Teaching Science

by Lisa Hegdahl

About 10 years ago, at an after school meeting, our presenter posed the question, “Why did you become a science teacher?” Each of my colleagues gave answers such as, “I wanted to affect the future”, “I loved working with children”, and “I wanted to stay young”. As it came closer for my turn to share, I was in a panic. The truth was, I became a science teacher as a way to get out of a dead end job that had long hours and paid next to nothing.

I have often thought about that day and about the noble motives for entering our profession expressed by my colleagues. Perhaps only those of us who truly have some kind of selfless calling should endeavor to be science teachers.   My reflections led me, however, to the conclusion that it is not important how people answer the question, “Why did you become a science teacher?” but how they answer the question, “Why do you continue teaching science?” I continue teaching science because I love it.

I love teaching science for all the usual reasons – I love that I get to teach a subject of which there is always more to learn; I love that I get to observe my students discovering and making sense of the world around them; and I love that I get to delight in the moments when my students teach me something from a perspective I had not previously considered. And yet, I also love teaching science because it is about more than just what happens in my classroom. People say lawyers practice law and doctors practice medicine, suggesting that these professionals continually work to improve their skills and stay current on the latest methods. Similarly, good science teachers practice teaching science, always improving their skills and staying current on the latest methods.

After years as a Science Olympiad Coach, BTSA Support Provider, and Science Department Chairperson at my school site, the pursuit of improving my science teaching skills led me to join, and ultimately volunteer for, the California Science Teachers Association. I began by presenting workshops at the annual, CSTA hosted, California Science Education Conferences. Then, in 2009, Rick Pomeroy, my former UC Davis student teaching supervisor and CSTA President 2011-2013, asked me to join the planning committee for the 2010 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento.  He followed the conference committee request with invitations to chair the 2012 California Science Education Conference in San Jose, run for the 2011-2013 CSTA Jr. High/Middle School Director position, and finally, to submit my name for the 2015-2017 CSTA Presidency. Each of these experiences allowed me to network with and learn from other science educators and helped me gain new insights into science teaching.   In addition, they opened doors that led to other opportunities to become involved and influence science education at the state level – the CA NGSS State Rollouts, the California Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee, and the California NGSS Early Implementation Initiative.

Throughout my involvement in these activities, one thing is repeatedly confirmed for me – there are thousands of talented science educators across California.  Most of them are not on the CSTA Board of Directors, its committees, or work with its partners.  They are science teachers who go into their classrooms every day and do amazing things.  They practice teaching science with a passion for the subject and their students.  They are not recognized for their achievements or compensated for their hours of extra work, and yet they will be back tomorrow to do it all again – many spending their own time and money to improve themselves as educators.  As I take on the role of President of the California Science Teachers Association, I am incredibly humbled and proud to represent these teachers and I will strive to help them acquire and maintain the support, resources, and policies they need to continue to excel at the job they love.

I want to end with a huge Thank You to 2013-2015 CSTA President, Laura Henriques who is an incredible role model for leadership. Her grace, patience, and expertise were invaluable in preparing me for the next two years.

 

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Register Today!

Register by June 30 and save $.


 Implementing Next Generation Science Standards

In Anaheim on July 9 – click for details.

S.F. Bay Area Science Events for July 2015

by Minda Berbeco

Free Entry Days at:

Bay Area Discovery Museum, First Wednesday of the month
UC Botanical Gardens, First Wednesday and Thursday of the month
Oakland Museum of California, First Sunday of the month
CuriOdyssey, July 8th

Super-cool Science Parties and Lectures:

Nerd Nite East Bay, Last Monday of the month
Nerd Nite San Francisco, Third Wednesday of the month
Night Life, Thursdays, 6-10 pm, at the California Academy of Sciences
After Dark, First Thursday of the month, 6-10 pm, at the Exploratorium
Café Inquiry, Firth Thursday of the month, 6pm, at Café Borrone, Menlo Park

Learn More…

Better Together – California Teachers to Convene Across the State on July 31st

by Mei Louie

Across the state, California teachers are driving innovation in the classroom and shaping our students’ futures. To support their critical work, a coalition of California colleges and universities is inviting teachers to unite on Friday, July 31, 2015 to build powerful networks, share successful classroom practices and access effective resources to implement state standards.

Thirty-three California campuses are opening their spaces and inviting an estimate of 20,000 teachers to participate in a one-day event. Teachers will have a unique opportunity to hear about proven best practices from nationally renowned speakers, fellow teachers, and leaders in education. The free convening will be led by teachers, for teachers, and will help towards building a powerful lasting network of peers. This is a chance for teachers to come together to collaborate in hope of creating a better future for California students. Teachers will walk away with concrete tools to immediately use in their classrooms to implement the California Standards including the Common Core. Learn More…

What Will You Be Doing on July 9th?

by Laura Henriques

Lots of us will be at the NSTA Summer Institute in Anaheim. This year’s Institute will focus on NGSS. CSTA is collaborating in sponsoring the event being held in California.

Image_1_HenriquesThe full-day institute starts with a general session presentation by NASA astronaut Barbara Morgan. Participants will then break into elementary and secondary level groups. The day includes hands-on experiences designed to help you conceptualize and experience the shifts associated with NGSS instruction. Formative assessment issues will also be addressed during the institute. NSTA carefully selected the presenters and you are in for a really good day.

The elementary sessions were designed with these framing questions in mind.

  • What does the shift toward NGSS look like for teaching?
  • How can instruction in science support learning in mathematics and English language arts?
  • How can I manage the shift toward three-dimensional learning?
  • How can I change my teaching so that students are engaging in collaborative sense-making about phenomena?
  • How can I assess my students while teaching science to inform my next teaching steps?

The secondary sessions were designed with similar, but slightly different framing questions.

  • What does the shift toward NGSS look like for teaching?
  • How can I adapt my instructional materials for NGSS-aligned instruction?
  • How can I support the productive discourse needed to engage students in the practices of the NGSS?
  • How can I create and use formative assessment tasks that integrate practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts?

Register now! CSTA members receive a discount on the registration cost.

The event is being held in Anaheim at the Sheraton Hotel (if you are going to spend the night(s) be sure to mention that you are part of the NSTA Housing Block).

Do you know what else is near the Sheraton Hotel? Disneyland! Remember that your CSTA membership gives you discount on Disneyland tickets. So go ahead, bring the family – spend time doing NGSS and then spend some time at Disneyland and California Adventure. Summertime in SoCal doing science and having fun .… what could be better?

See you there. Remember to stop by the CSTA table to get your CSTA member ribbon!

 

 

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California is on the cusp of major change in science education and with change comes hundreds of opportunities to attend conferences that promise to ease your pain and feelings of drowning in new information. With so many opportunities and so little time, it is important for teachers to choose conferences that will get them the most benefit for their time. Teachers need real resources and strategies they can use immediately without having to turn their current classroom structure upside down. This summer (June 22nd-26th) University Charter Schools and California State University Channel Islands will be hosting the Ventura County STEMposium where teachers can not only experience lessons as students, but will then immediately implement that learning by planning a STEM event for K-8 students. This was the brainchild of the UCS’ Science Lab Coach, Ann Ransom, whose vision is to make STEM activities less intimidating to teachers who may have limited experience or knowledge in implementing them. Many multiple subject teachers are uncomfortable with teaching in the STEM areas because they lack the resources or believe science is a subject they can’t successfully access. With the help of Ransom’s Director, Charmon Evans, the pair were able to secure a generous grant from CSU to make the 5-day Institute a FREE opportunity to educators. Learn More…

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