September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

187 Stakeholders Dive Deep into NGSS

Posted: Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

The first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia to explore the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) took place at the San Joaquin County Office of Education on April 28th and 29th.  The Symposium was a collaborative effort of the San Joaquin County Office of Education, Stanislaus County Office of Education, Sacramento County Office of Education, K-12 Alliance/West Ed, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education.  

Timothy Slattery and Charalee Cunningham display their ‘bundles’ of the 7th Grade Performance Expectations at the NGSS Rollout Symposium on April 29th  – photos by Lisa Hegdahl

Timothy Slattery and Charalee Cunningham display their ‘bundles’ of the 7th Grade Performance Expectations at the NGSS Rollout Symposium on April 29th – photos by Lisa Hegdahl

Awareness was the goal of the first Rollout Symposium. Whether new to the Next Generation of Science Standards or familiar with them since the first draft, the Rollout Symposium had something to offer all NGSS stakeholders. Workshops were offered suited for those with NGSS experience, NGSS novices, middle school teachers, district and school administrators, to name a few.

Newcomers to the Next Generation of Science Standards attended NGSS 101, which was designed to explain the National Research Councils A Framework for Science Education and the development, intent, and design of the NGSS. NGSS 102 was tailored towards attendees who were already knowledgeable about the new science standards. Participants delved deeper into the NGSS appendices and instructional shifts, and reflected on how to move forward with planning for instructional changes. The Middle School Progressions session explained the history behind the development of the California Preferred Integrated Model for Middle Schools and provided participants time to ‘bundle’ the Performance Expectations for 7th grade into possible courses of study.   Supporting the implementation of the NGSS at school sites and in the districts was the purpose of an Administrator workshop. Additional sessions provided plans for how to develop an NGSS unit of instruction with a conceptual flow, how to use the Science Literacy Professional Learning Module as a resource to help K-12 teachers better understand how literacy deepens student understanding of science, and a sample lesson that demonstrated the NGSS shift with examples at primary, upper elementary, and secondary grades.

In addition to the workshops, participants in the NGSS Rollout Symposium had the opportunity to network with other teachers, administrators, county personal, and science education leaders from the around the area and across the state.

What participants had to say:

“A far better understanding of what NGSS is.”

“Great Performance Expectation session.  Learned how to read the standards and how they cross-cut!”

“Loved the Lesson Implications session.  Was a very helpful PD that I can take back to my colleagues and classroom.”

“I realized this whole shift is going to take some time and patience.  We, as teachers, are going to need more opportunities like this to collaborate and get used to the new standards.  Listening to others who are also struggling and working through ideas together was very helpful.”

Six additional Rollout Symposia are scheduled throughout California between now and the end of October. The dates and locations are:

Long Beach Hilton/Long Beach May 22 & 23 (Sold Out)

Crafton Hills College/Yucaipa May 27 & 28 (registration available online)

Fresno, CA Oct 13–14, 2014

San Diego, CA – September – Date TBA

Oakland, CA – Date TBA

Red Bluff, CA October 23–24, 2014

For more information about the Symposium being offered in your area, go to:

Don’t miss these opportunities to learn more about the Next Generation of Science Standards and their implementation.


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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th-grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is Past-President of CSTA.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.