September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching Winners Announced

Posted: Monday, June 25th, 2012

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today congratulated two California teachers who have been named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the prestigious 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) award. The two teachers were among 97 educators named nationwide.

The California science winner is Dean Baird, a physics teacher at Sacramento’s Rio Americano High School in the San Juan Unified School District.

The California mathematics winner is Kentaro Iwasaki , a math teacher and chair of the Mathematics Department at San Francisco’s Mission High School in the San Francisco Unified School District.

“I’m proud and delighted to see two of California’s own honored by the President for dedication, talent, and hard work,” said Torlakson. “They deserve our admiration and appreciation for their professional and personal efforts to encourage their students to pursue subjects that are so critical to the future of our state and our nation.”

Baird has taught physics, computer science and electronics, and physical science since 1986 at Rio Americano High School. He is the recipient of numerous local, state, and national recognition awards. Baird also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physics from the University of Michigan and a Master of Science degree in instructional leadership in curriculum and instruction from National University. As part of the PAEMST application, Baird presented his “Why the Sky is Blue” video that actively explores a variety of alternative explanations through experimentation, demonstration, and discussion.

Iwasaki teaches math and serves as the Chair of the Mathematics Department at Mission High School, a high poverty school where 38 percent of its students are learning English. He not only teaches struggling students, but also teaches honors and Advanced Placement math courses, working to explain the most complex math topics in such a way that students can then become teachers of math themselves.

Recognition ceremonies for the 2011 Presidential Awardees will be held Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

PAEMST  is the highest recognition that a kindergarten through twelfth grade math or science teacher may receive for outstanding teaching in the United States. PAEMST was enacted by Congress in 1983 and authorizes the President each year to bestow up to 108 awards to math and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions including Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Schools; and the U.S. territories. PAEMST awards alternate yearly between honoring primary and secondary teachers.

Since the program’s inception, 84 California teachers have been named PAEMST recipients.

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.

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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

Cal

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.