September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

2012 California Science Education Conference: A Big Hit!

Posted: Thursday, November 1st, 2012

by Laura Henriques

More than 1,300 educators from across California came together in San Jose for three days of outstanding professional development. The general consensus is in – the 2012 California Science Education Conference was a big success!

The conference included more than 200 workshops of all science topics for grades preK-12! The ten focus speakers were invited to address issues of interest to the membership, and talked about the latest scientific research and science pedagogy in life, earth, and physical sciences. Short courses and field trips were also available to attendees. The short courses were 3- or 6-hour workshops on specific topics, including a new short course on primary science offered for the first time this year. It was particularly well received and is likely something that will continue in the future! There were three field trips this year: one to J. Lohr Winery for tasting and networking, one to the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Reserve, and one to iFLY. Attendees came back from the iFly field trip ready to try skydiving for real! They learned about flight and terminal velocity along with two “flights” in the wind tunnel.

The keynote general session by Dr. Helen Quinn (author of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education) provided a clear, well-organized overview of the Framework and emerging Next Generation of Science Standards. The Framework serves as the guiding document for the standards. Dr. Quinn’s keynote, Ken Wesson’s and Jonathan Osborne’s focus speaker presentations, and various NGSS sessions presented by CSTA members and board members were all mentioned as conference highlights. The conference committee made a conscious effort to include multiple opportunities for the CSTA membership to come up to speed on the new standards, because they will be implemented soon and we need to be in a position to help others understand them and incorporate them into our schools. As a reminder, the next draft of the standards will be available for public review in mid-November. Please participate in this process. You can sign up to get updates about NGSS from the California Department of Education, or you can join CSTA today – members will receive an early and member-only notice when the draft standards are available for review. You can locate regional workshops and reviewing opportunities on the CSTA Calendar once the next draft of standards are released.

Closing session speaker Josh Tickell was inspiring and relevant. He provided us with a message of hope about the future for our students and for our planet. His session was preceded by a continental breakfast sponsored by Chevron, which was a nice way for members to come together and talk about the conference before going into the last day of workshops. After Josh Tickell, State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson addressed the attendees. He applauded CSTA members for helping keep the requirement for high school science at two years instead of the proposed one year requirement. Torlakson mentioned how CSTA and the Department of Education are working together on the Next Generation Science Standards, a STEM task force, and other issues of concern to California science educators.

This year CSTA invited members to share conference highlights at the CSTA table in the exhibit hall. It was great to talk with so many of you and to hear about the inspiring workshops you attended. There were many sessions related to 21st century teaching in learning which got shout outs. Among those were Stacey Cool’s Teaching with Technology, the iPhones in the Classroom workshop, Social Media in the Classroom by Katy Scott, and Meredith Ashbran’s Flipping for Physics and Teaching Physics with Technology. Kellie Marcarelli inspired several teachers to begin using science notebooks or to revamp the way they use science notebooks with her Teaching Science with Interactive Notebook workshop. Beth McGrath and Robin Paul did a workshop called Projects with Pizzazz, which got high marks. Pete A’Hearn’s A Problem of Scale workshop received the most comments and a plea to repeat the workshop again next year! Sarah Caves did a session called Heat Transfer for Earth Scientists, which was rich and entertaining.  Thanks to all of them, and all the other presenters for sharing their expertise, experience and time with us. I think all of us in attendance have at least one or two new things to incorporate into our bag of tricks.

A big thank you to Lisa Hegdahl and the 2012 conference committee. They did a wonderful job creating a conference that had a nice selection of options for teachers of any grade or topic. We are grateful to all the presenters, without whom we couldn’t do the meeting. Last but not least, a huge thanks to all the science educators who came to San Jose! We look forward to seeing you in Palm Springs October 25-27, 2013!

Please consider sharing your expertise with us at the next conference. You know you have some really great lessons or strategies. Please step up and share those with your colleagues! CSTA is now accepting workshop proposals (60 minute sessions) and short courses (3- or 6-hour sessions). Click here for more information.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a 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

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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.