by Jessica Sawko
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) could use the help of a few good science teachers that know a thing or two about the California NGSS. There are currently two test development groups that they are specifically seeking science teachers for. If you are interesting in helping to shape how California prepares its future teachers to take on NGSS, this is an excellent opportunity. The CTC is recruiting teachers to pilot and review test items for the CSET and for Content Expert Panel members for the redevelopment of the California Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA). Please consider these opportunities and apply today – the recruitment window closes soon, don’t delay! To apply and for more information visit http://www.carecruit.nesinc.com/.
by Peter A’Hearn
The stages of mitosis are really important.
I’m not being sarcastic. Every cell in your body (save those used to make babies) went through the stages of mitosis. And if the stages of mitosis didn’t work with great precision at coordinating the dance of the chromosomes, you would not be a very well functioning human being. So the stages of mitosis are very important.
As a starting biology teacher, I spent much time and energy making sure my students knew the phases of mitosis. I brought in straw hats and flannel shirts and had my students do a “Mitosis Square Dance.” We tried to identify the phases in onion cells under the microscope. I came up with mnemonics so stupid I can’t remember them. Learn More…
by Rob Sherriff
Many of you have jumped into turning at least some of your lessons into NGSS three-dimensional (3D) lessons, or you may be using an NGSS lesson/unit from a training or workshop. The Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) are similar to our old content standards, so for most, implementing the DCIs are the easiest to do. Similarly, for the SEPs, or science and engineering practices, many of you say, “That’s just good teaching!” Practices are the way students learn the science and NGSS incorporates a practice for each standard, but you will find that “practices build on practices.” If you used scientific inquiry for students to discover scientific principals as integral of your science program, you are probably viewing the SEPs as a way to refine what you were doing. That leaves Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), the part of 3D learning that has taken me the longest to wrap my head around on how to implement. So, here is my CCC journey. Implementing CCC’s in my learning sequences has increased my appreciation of the power of the CCC’s in causing my students to make connections to and between content DCI’s. Learn More…
by Nancy Taylor, David Polcyn, and Terrie Perez
Most teachers would agree that field experiences are invaluable teaching tools. Given that, at the 2015 CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative south summer institute held in Vista, CA, just north of San Diego and a couple of miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, we took advantage of nearby Batiquitos Lagoon, one of the few remaining tidal wetlands in southern California. Besides being a beautiful site and an exceptional educational destination, the lagoon is undergoing a restoration project to maintain the integrity of the coastal wetlands and to mitigate human impact on this precious ecosystem. Instead of engaging the help of one of the local experts, the “students” (southern California 7th grade teachers, in this case) became the experts and led the field trip themselves. At this point, you might be asking “how do students become the experts?” The answer is through three-dimensional learning supported by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) using a method that could easily be duplicated by a classroom teacher. Learn More…
by Christie Pearce and Marian Murphy-Shaw
The California Science Teacher’s Association is made up of a wide range of individuals and institutions passionate about promoting and supporting science teachers and high quality resources for science education at all levels. It is well known that TK-12 teachers are CSTA members, you may also know that local science centers are members, along with private and Community College, CSU and UC faculty, but did you know that many of your local County Offices of Education have staff who are members?
In this collaboratively composed article, two county office of education colleagues, from opposite ends of the state have combined forces to connect California science teachers with one more resource; your local county office, or county department, of education. While CSTA has 4 identified regions in CA, the 58 counties are part of an 11-region public education system. At these offices your county STEM or Science Coordinators, Educational Services Directors, Curriculum Specialists, Grant Directors and more often serve in multiple roles, many working directly with teachers, TOSA’s, coaches, principals and science education partnerships. Across the 11 regions these “county folks” collaborate, share resources and work directly on projects such as the CA NGSS Rollouts with statewide entities such as the California Department of Education, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee (CISC), CA Science Project, and West Ed’s K-12 Alliance. (A listing of key science contacts at each of these entities has been compiled by Anthony Quan at the Los Angeles County Office of Education and is available here.)
Questions about what high schools can and should be doing with NGSS seem to be ever increasing- both in number and complexity. CSTA asked if we could compile what the counties are hearing, both the questions and the answers. We started by connecting with our colleagues across the state and asking what questions and concerns they hear most often. If it makes our high school teachers feel any better, you are certainly not alone in wondering about NGSS. Below we have compiled questions and responses. We have tried to replicate the best information we have on hand as of this writing, but also acknowledge that the most important thing to remember is that all of this is still a work in progress. The UC has not finished updating “a-g,” CA science credentialing is being revised, NGSS “content” in 9-12 will look different over time, but that is not going happen in all CA high schools for several years at least. Learn More…
by Marcus Tessier
For many of our students, two-year colleges offer an important option for transitioning from K-12 to four-year colleges. And for other students, two-year colleges provide important coursework for career trajectories. I’ve attended three community colleges throughout my academic tenure and certainly will affirm the value of coursework that led to a teaching career in science.
Nearly all educators will support the value of student access to content rich learning environments. We pursue education because most of us see ourselves making a difference for others and being an active participant in having a positive impact on the lives of others. For those of us who share a love for science, we see possibilities. These possibilities lead to career options, perhaps in STEM, or maybe we simply understand the importance of supporting a world where STEM literacy creates a better world for all of us. Though we all have different perspectives on how to create these outcomes, we might, however, all agree that these outcomes are worth pursuing. Learn More…
by Sue Campbell
Every night before I go to bed I plug in my cell phone so it can recharge overnight. I want to start the day with a full charge so I am ready to handle anything without worrying about running out of power before the day is over. Our summer break is now upon us and it is time for us to recharge. Unlike our cell phones and other electronic devices we often recharge best when we unplug for a time.
Teaching is a rewarding and demanding profession. We plan, create, teach, assess, nurture, and learn. There is little down time during the academic year. For many of us, some of our summer time is committed to summer school and professional development. If that is true for you, be sure to carve out some time for recharging. Get your calendar out and look at your summer schedule. When you have put your commitments in the calendar, look at the remaining time. How much time do you have left? Hopefully you will have at least two to four weeks. It often takes a week or more to start to unwind. Block it out for recharge time and guard it. Unplug from work related contact during that time. Learn More…
by Lisa Hegdahl
Palm Springs will be home to the 2016 California Science Education Conference, October 21-23. Attendees will enjoy access to over 150 workshops, keynote and focus speakers, field courses, and evening events designed to help attendees decompress after a long day of learning.
As if that were not enough to make the 2016 California Science Education Conference the place to be for all teachers of science, this year there are 15 Short Courses to choose from! There are short courses designed to help you dig deeper into NGSS, engineering design, and more. Short courses range from three to six hours giving you the chance to deeply interact and make sense of the material.
With such a large selection, there is something for every grade level and science content area.
Just a few of the 15 Short Course available: Learn More…
by Rich Hedman and Lisa Hegdahl
After nearly 15 years teaching the 1998 CA Science Standards, many science educators have file cabinets and hard drives full of activities. The activities themselves are valuable in that they clearly illustrate scientific concepts and phenomena. However, in the past, they were often used only to verify information already presented in class. One of the many challenges of implementing the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) is to move towards three dimensional learning and still utilize activities from the past. How can teachers modify labs that used to be just recipes for verification and turn them into experiences that engage students in the process of scientific discovery?
Electrolysis of water is a classic chemistry lab used as a way to confirm that water is made of 2-parts hydrogen to 1-part oxygen— in other words, that the chemical formula, H2O, is actually based on the proportion of atoms in a water molecule. Teachers tell students that the chemical formula of water is H2O, and that during the experiment, they will be breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Ion-rich water is electrified with direct current (DC), and gas bubbles form at the positive and negative terminals in the solution. The gases are collected in tubes, and the volume of gas present in each tube is compared. It turns out that twice as much of one gas is collected compared to the other gas. Teachers frequently use a splint and flame test (very carefully; following all safety protocols) to identify which gas is which (oxygen relights a splint, hydrogen pops loudly) and to verify that the elements that make up water have different properties than the water itself. Students see that there is twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, which verifies the chemical formula of water, and the lesson is completed in one class period. Learn More…
by Minda Berbeco
A few years ago, I was at a teacher conference in Atlanta representing my organization, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). I was chatting with a teacher and mentioned how I was going to be giving a talk shortly on climate change education, and the teacher to my surprise said to me, “well I teach chemistry, so that’s not related to me.”
That was a bit of a head-scratcher for me, and I’m sure that notion would be a surprise to every atmospheric chemist who works directly on climate change, or even the many oceanographers, terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemists and even soil scientists who work with climate change every day.
On retrospect though, I think I understand what he was getting at. Climate change isn’t in the chemistry science standards for any state. They aren’t in the life sciences standards for most states either. In fact, until recently if it was anywhere at all, it’d be in earth science or environmental science – which is often an elective at many schools. And yet, from a study that NCSE completed this past year in collaboration with researchers at Penn State, we know that over 50% of chemistry teachers are teaching climate change nationally and over 85% of biology teachers are doing it too! Learn More…
by Joseph Calmer
Whenever I think about leadership I mentally cut away to various scenes in Office Space. I think too often ‘leadership’ and ‘boss’ are mistakenly used interchangeably. It is probably too common in schools to simply tell teachers what to do (i.e. the old standards) rather than build support of a vision that teachers will (collectively) work towards (i.e. the NGSS standards). For too long science teachers were simply told what to teach.
The problem is, that is not leadership (at least not in my mind). For me, I can differentiate titles from leadership. Yes, there is a chain of command that gives guidance and structure to an organization. But I think that a person who simply has more power than me is not necessarily my leader. The difference between authority and leadership isn’t often thought about or discussed; maybe they are too often even mistaken for the same thing. Learn More…
by Cheryl L. Meehan, Kelley M. Brian, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, Emily Schoenfelder, Steven M. Worker, and Andrea Ambrose
The 4-H Youth Development Program is a national nonformal education organization for youth ages 5-19. Through its national Science Mission Mandate, the 4-H program has the potential to help advance youth scientific literacy through programming in a wide variety of subject areas, including: plants and animals; environmental and earth sciences; biological sciences; physical sciences; and science and technology (4-H National Headquarters, 2007). 4-H also offers the opportunity for youth to explore topics outside of those covered by school-based science education. For example, each year approximately 30,000 youth enrolled in California 4-H participate in Animal Science projects that involve agricultural, service, and companion animals (California Enrolment Data, 2015). These projects engage youth in the rearing, caring, showing, and in some cases, breeding or marketing of these project animals. Animal Welfare is a topic that is relevant to all Animal Science projects; however, Animal Welfare has not yet been systematically addressed by 4-H in California through educational programming. Learn More…
by Lawrence Flammer
Have you been wondering just how you can adapt your favorite lessons to comply with the 3 dimensions of the CA NGSS? And how to shift effectively from your “traditional” teaching style to an “authentic” scientific problem-solving approach? Well, did you read the draft version of the proposed CA Science Framework when it went out for public review last December? And did you get to chapter 10? If you did, you found answers to those first questions. If you didn’t, then DO take a look at Chapter 10.
When the draft was made public, you were strongly encouraged to read Chapters 1 and 2 first. Did you do that? I suspect that many teachers, busy with pre-vacation shut down may have put off their critique of the draft until vacation time. Then vacation time became more impacted than expected, so that critique probably became a minimal review of a specific grade level, and/or a specific subject area of particular experience and expertise. Many may have even skipped the reading of chapters 1 and 2 altogether. Well, if that describes your actions, then you may have just missed much of the material that provides excellent support for making the transition from your former teaching methods to the new expectations of the CA NGSS. Learn More…
ACT NOW! Offer expires June 26, 2016. Flinn has partnered with the National Science Education Leadership Association (NSELA) to promote a limited-time offer for those interested in attending the Summer Leadership Institute this month.
Call for Free NSELA Membership and Save $225 on Your Registration! The National Science Education Leadership Association is offering this exclusive opportunity to attend its annual Summer Leadership Institute, June 28 – July 1, at the Marriott Mission Valley Hotel in San Diego, California. Learn More…
As California embraces new ways of teaching and learning, teachers want more opportunities to connect with and learn from their peers. Teachers are the experts when it comes to the California Standards – no one knows more about what’s working in the classroom and where more support is needed. Yet, too often, teachers are told what they need to learn, rather than asked what would benefit them the most.
On July 29, all California teachers are invited to attend the second annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit, a unique day of learning led by teachers, for teachers. The summit will bring together teachers at nearly 40 locations across the state to share ideas, join a teacher network, and learn effective strategies for implementing the new California Standards in their classrooms. The program will feature keynote addresses by education leaders, TED-style EdTalks presented by local teachers, and Edcamp discussions on timely topics such as the California Standards in English/Language Arts and Math and the Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers will walk away with access to new resources and concrete tools that are already working in classrooms across the state. The Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU), the California State University (CSU), and New Teacher Center (NTC) are partnering to organize this gathering. Learn More…
by Lisa Hegdahl
June 30, 2016 will see the end of my first full year as President of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA). During that time, I have learned a tremendous amount, worked with amazingly talented and passionate people, and had the opportunity to participate in events that would not have been available to me if I were not president. While there is still much to do, I feel compelled to express what an honor it is to be part of an association that has accomplished so much in the past 12 months.
2015/16 California Science Teachers Association Highlights and Next Steps for 2016/17
State Board of Education
California State Accountability System Within 10 days of my presidency, I was before the California State Board of Education (SBE) speaking on behalf of the California Science Teachers Association regarding agenda Item 1: Developing a New Accountability System: Update on the Local Control Funding Formula Evaluation Rubrics. CSTA urged the board to consider how it would incorporate into its policy frame additional outcome measures, to those that were initially provided that give an early indication of a student’s scientific literacy and if they are meeting or exceeding grade-level science standards in the early years of their education, both elementary and middle school. Much discussion and thoughtful consideration followed throughout the year, and while there is still much work to be done, in May 2016, the California State Board of Education voted to include the results for the new Science Assessment as a state indicator in the State’s Accountability System Evaluation Rubrics when the assessment results become available. Learn More…
by Bret States, CSTA Region 1 Guest Contributor
The Secondary Integration of Modeling in Mathematics and Science (SIMMS) Project began in June of 2014 as part of cohort 10 of the California Math and Science Partnership Grant. We currently have 54 high school math and science teachers participating in 60 hours of intensive training and 24 hours of follow up classroom support. The intensive training includes a week-long summer institute, four ½ day Saturdays, plus 9 hours of online/independent training. The follow-up classroom support comes in the form of two rounds of lesson studies.
When the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were officially adopted by the California State Board of Education in 2013, it became clear that teachers wanted specialized professional development. Modeling is one of the science and engineering practices and is a key component of NGSS. Models and/or modeling is mentioned 181 times in the 9-12 NGSS! According to Appendix F – Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS, Learn More…
by John Spiegel
Change is difficult. It requires significant shifts in thinking as we seek to understand what is changing and how we are supposed to implement those changes. Change can also be deeply emotional. It asks us to rethink the fundamental purposes and rationale for what we do, how we do it, and also why we do it. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) introduce a vision for science education that shifts the way students experience and learn science and engineering. It also places significant demands on teachers to rethink how they plan, teach, and assess in the classroom. Educators respond to these changes with a variety of emotions, which must be considered as part of the NGSS implementation process.
Over the past several years, I have introduced NGSS to thousands of teachers and hundreds of administrators. During that time I have attempted to help them understand what NGSS is and how to implement the Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas into planning, instruction, and assessment. This work has sought to answer the questions of what and how described below. Learn More…
Thank you and welcome to the following new and renewing CSTA members who joined or renewed in May or June 2016:
Mary Jane Ashley
Registration for the NGSS Rollout #3 events scheduled for this fall is now available online! Register early for what is sure to be sell-out events this fall.
Alameda County Symposium: September 7-8, 2016
Location: California State University, East Bay (New University Union)
25800 Carlos Bee Blvd.
Hayward, CA 94542
Fresno County Symposium: October 13-14, 2016
Location: Raddison Hotel
1055 Van Ness Avenue
Fresno, CA 93721
Santa Clara County Symposium: November 7-8, 2016
Location: Santa Clara County Office of Education
1290 Ridder Park Drive
San Jose, CA 95131
San Diego County Symposium: November 15-16, 2016
Location: Marina Village Conference Center
1936 Quivira Way
San Diego, CA 92109
Far North Symposium: November 29-30, 2016
Location: Tehama Department of Education
1135 Lincoln Street
Red Bluff, CA 96080
Ventura County Symposium: December 12-13, 2016
Location: Ventura County Office of Education and Educational Services Center
5100 Adolfo Road
Camarillo, CA 93012
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