January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson Proposes New Statewide Testing System

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Common Core Assessments to Focus on Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today recommended shifting the focus of standardized testing in California to require students to think critically, solve problems, and show a greater depth of knowledge—key tenants of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

In a report to the Governor and Legislature, Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System, Torlakson made a dozen recommendations that would fundamentally change the state’s student assessment system, replacing the paper-and-pencil based Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program assessments with computerized assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) starting in the 2014‒15 school year. (more…)

Conference Deadline Proposal Approaches! Short Courses due January 31, Workshops March 4

Friday, January 4th, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

Have you ever wondered how many workshops are really offered at a California Science Education Conference, or what the grade or subject distribution is? I do. Over the years, I have come to realize that there are a lot of workshops at each conference that I never get to see. In fact, there are things at every conference for people with vastly different teaching assignments than I have that I have never realized even existed. For example, this year at the 2012 conference in San Jose, there was a dedicated short course specifically for primary teachers. Since the majority of my work is with secondary science teachers, I would never have even thought about attending any of those sessions. I also missed most of the biology workshops, not because I have anything against biology but simply because there was something else at those times that I was more interested in.

After ruminating about my lack of knowledge about the overall picture of workshops at this year’s conference, I decided to do a bit of an analysis of what was proposed and what was offered.  Besides my curiosity, I did this as a way of encouraging you to submit workshop proposals for the 2013 conference in Palm Springs. I am hoping that by seeing what was proposed and what was accepted this year, that more members will be interested in submitting their own workshop proposal. (more…)

NGSS Scheduled for Release January 8

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

CSTA has confirmed that Achieve plans to release the second public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) on Tuesday, January 8 at 12:00 pm (Pacific time). The review period will be open until January 28. CSTA strongly encourages all science teachers to participate in the review process, ensuring that the teacher’s voice is represented in the standards development process. (more…)

Your Association Fellow Teachers Need You

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

Over the past year and a half, I have tried to make the point that CSTA is your association. It is as good and as valuable as you make it and NOW is the time to make a resolution to become more involved.  January is the time to nominate members for positions on the CSTA Board of Directors and nominations are currently open for President-Elect, Secretary, Primary Director, Middle/Junior High Director, 2-Year College Director, Informal Science Education Director, plus Directors for Region 1 and Region 3. If you are interested in running for one of these positions, or you would like to nominate a colleague, please go to the CSTA website. There, you can also find information about the terms, position descriptions, and instructions on how to submit a name for nomination.  The nomination period ends on January 31, 2013.  Please don’t let this opportunity pass you by. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards Update

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

by Pete A’Hearn

The second public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards will be released on January 8, 2013.  I urge all who are interested in a better science education for our kids to attend a public review session or review on your own.  Click here for information on how to submit a review.

In speaking with science teachers, most have high enthusiasm and hope for the new standards. Enthusiasm and hope are good things, but what is really needed is for classroom practitioners to apply their vision and creativity to these standards. For example, as you review, consider the following: Is that the best practice to connect to that standard, or have you used one that is more effective? Will this standard be more appropriate for younger or older students?  Does the chosen cross-cutting concept really connect strongly to this concept? (more…)

What is it December Explanation

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Photo credit:  Gary McDonald

Image Source:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcduck/3593833994/

It is a close-up of the rhinophores of this Flabellina iodinea which was found at Sand Dollar Beach, Monterey Co., CA; 27 May 2009; 48mm total length.

Responses from readers:

Peter A’Hearn:  Moth Antennae

Brenda DeLuna:  It’s the gills of a nudibranch. I think the spanish shawl

Dick Filson:  My thinking is that this is a pair of antennae belonging to a moth

Christopher Cimino:  Nudibranch rhinophores

Laura Holland:  I also think it is moth antennae

Stephen Lentz:  probably gills of a Nudibranch

Esther Nah:  the rhinophores of a spanish shawl nudibranch

Mandy:  Is it a nudibranch?

Alice Poulson:  Hypselodoris apolegma – or at least a close cousin….

Regional Update: Region 4 – Welcome, 2013!

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

With the start of the New Year, Region 4 is bustling with preparations in anticipation of the next draft release of the NGSS and the impending implementation of Common Core Standards and Smarter Balanced Assessments.  This shift in pedagogy and emphasis will mean changes in the way we do business in the classroom.  (more…)

Region Updates: Region 2

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Eric Lewis

After a long wait,  the Next Generation Science Standards will be released on January 8, 2013!  It will be important for as many of us as possible to review them and provide feedback.

In general, I’m excited about the new standards though I’ve grown quite fond of our old standards.  Well, perhaps “fond” isn’t the right word… it’s more like I have grown comfortable with them.  I’ve been teaching with our current standards for my whole career.  I’ve never had to teach anything else and I’m excited and nervous about the changes that are coming to our science standards. (more…)

What is it?

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Photo Credit: Berenice Abbott, Courtesy of the MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA (more…)

Region 1 – News and Events

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Valerie Joyner

I am very excited about upcoming January 8th release of the Next Generation Science Standards!  Since the initial review period last fall your ideas and input have been used to revise this next draft of the standards.  This month we will have the opportunity to review the revisions that have been made and offer our additional expertise, ideas, and comments.  CSTA will keep you up to date about the release and review period.  I hope that you and your colleagues, at all grade levels, will review and provide comment for this important new document. (more…)

Interview with Tokiwa Smith of SEM Link

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Eric Lewis

The Next Generation Science Standards are coming soon.  They emphasize engineering solutions and communicating ideas, and this makes Science Fairs and scientific investigations all the more important to the education of our students.  So, I recently caught up with Tokiwa Smith, Founder and Executive Director of SEM Link – a non-profit organization that connects K-12 students with the STEM community to engage them in hands-on STEM activities and expose them to STEM careers.  (more…)

Bridging the Communication Gap Between Teacher and Parent

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Amanda L. Smith

When I think back to being a brand new teacher, one of my biggest regrets was not communicating with parents more.  To be honest, learning how to bridge the communication gap between teacher and parent is still one of my biggest challenges each new school year.  Here are some tips on how to develop a good relationship with your classroom parents, and whether you have 25 students or closer to 200, you can always find creative ways to do this. (more…)

CSTA Board of Directors Call for Nominations

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Tim Williamson

For Election to Board of Directors of CSTA, 2013-2015 Term.

Nominations for the following positions on the CSTA Board of Directors are now being accepted:

• President-Elect • Secretary • Primary Director • Middle School/Jr. High Director • 2-Year College Director • Informal Science Education Director • Region 1 Director* • Region 3 Director*

Directors will serve a two-year term beginning July 1, 2013, and ending June 30, 2015. All current members of CSTA are encouraged to participate in the nomination process.

Step 1: Complete the Nomination Form on the CSTA website.

Step 2: Submit the Nomination Form along with your resume by January 31, 2013. (more…)

Citizen Science Resolved: 2013 from the Birds to the Bees

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Bethany Dixon

“They’re eating the berries!  The robins are eating the berries off the trees!”  My normally sleepy first-hour biology class was outside. “There are the cedar waxwings!” “ Shhh! You’re too loud –  you’re gonna scare them away! There they go!” Half a dozen waxwings flit across the parking lot from one clump of trees to another, attempting to avoid the 32 “researchers” during their ten-minute bird count.  Our students use Cornell University’s Celebrate Urban Birds Checklist to count how many of their 16 focal species are in and around our school parking lot. It’s this class’ first foray into citizen science, but those familiar with the Audubon Society’s 113-year-old Christmas Bird Count know that using laypeople to collect large amounts of data is not a new idea. What is exciting is that now anyone with internet access and fifteen minutes can tap into a huge network of citizen science projects; and it isn’t just birds. (more…)

Digestion, Osmosis and Calories

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Jeff Orlinsky

In September’s e-CCS, I introduced a lab about salinization and seed germination and one of the concepts illustrated was osmosis.  This month’s lab focuses on osmosis and soft drinks. (more…)

Clear Straws as Mini-Density Columns

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

by Lisa Hegdahl

Even though I received this lab from my Master Teacher 22 years ago, I’ve never seen it presented at any conference or seminar I’ve attended.  The lab itself is a little long for a full write up here, but with the basics, you can develop an activity to suit your needs. This lab uses the skill that we all learned as kids: picking up liquids with a straw.  However, in this activity students pick up two different liquids to check relative density.  In a nutshell:

  • Prepare four solutions of different densities with varying amounts of saturated saltwater and tap water.  One container has only saturated saltwater, one container has only water, one container has half of each, and the last container has ¼ saltwater and ¾ tap water.
  • Color the liquids so they can be identified easily.  (TIP: If you use yellow and blue as two of your colors, don’t use green.  I use red, blue, yellow, and I leave one clear.)


Contest Announcement! – National Kids to Parks Day School Contest

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Are you interested in bringing a school group to your park, recreation area, or site for FREE? National Park Trust is hosting the second annual Kids to Parks Day School Contest. Each class can receive funding to visit your facilities. Funds can be used for bus transportation, healthy snacks, park related fees or supplies. If your interest has peaked, please forward this contest information to schools in your community and encourage them to apply.  (more…)

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