January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Update from the California Department of Education: California Alternative Discipline Specific Model for Grades 6-8

Monday, February 10th, 2014

In September 2013, the California State Board of Education (SBE) unanimously approved the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as California’s new K-12 science standards. In November 2013, the SBE approved an integrated model of these standards, developed by the California Science Expert Panel (SEP), as the preferred model for California middle grades six through eight.

At the same November SBE meeting, the SBE approved a recommendation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to reconvene the SEP in order “to develop … as an alternative model … a discipline specific model” for the grade span of 6-8. The model was to be based upon the guidance for developing a domain specific model as outlined by Achieve in the NGSS Appendix K.

The Board’s clear intent in their November action was for there to be one Integrated NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8 that was preferred by the SPI and the Board, and one Discipline Specific NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8, as an alternate.  (more…)

Discipline Focused Learning Progressions for Middle Grades Survey

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Update as of 3:30 pm, February 7, 2014: The discipline focused middle grades learning progressions are now available. Please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssintrod.asp to view the proposed progressions before completing the survey.

At its November 6, 2013 meeting, the State Board of Education tasked the Science Expert Panel (SEP) to create a discipline focused learning progression for the middle grades science standards. This discipline focused learning progression would be made available as an alternative to the preferred integrated learning progressions adopted by the State Board at that same meeting.


Thrill-Seeking Scientists Wanted for New Reality TV Show

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

My name is Russell Berman, I am a television casting producer and I have an AMAZING OPPORTUNITY for CSTA members.  A MAJOR CABLE NETWORK is looking for a fun, hip thrill-seeking scientist for a new TV show.  This show will have the hosts pushing themselves to the limit in the name of science while performing wild and crazy experiments. We are looking for PhD’s or those working towards a PhD in any scientific field.


Could You Actually Like the NGSS Assessments?

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

When teachers are asked about their concerns with the Next Generation Science Standards, questions about assessments top the list. This is not surprising. State assessments have been a stick to beat teachers with for a long time now and, like a dog that has been hit with a stick, teachers have learned to cower. Our thoughts about assessments often assume that the new assessment system will be like our current uninformative and punitive assessment system. An assessment system like that would: (more…)

Help CSTA Honor Excellence – Submit a Nomination for a CSTA Award

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

Every so often we come across a person in our life or career that really inspires us, moves us, or makes us want to be better a better person or do a better job. When we meet these people and interact with them, we learn, grow, and thank them for who they are and what they do. If you know someone who fits this bill and who has made a significant impact on science education and science teaching in California, please consider taking your appreciation for them one step further and nominate them to be honored by CSTA for the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service AwardThis award has been bestowed on some amazing science educators, some who have passed, and many who continue to strive for excellence in science education in California. (more…)

CSTA Named as Partner in 100Kin10, National Network to Grow STEM Teaching Force

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

New York, New York, January 31, 2014 

100kin10_Partner_BadgeCSTA commits to advancing goal of recruiting, preparing, and retaining 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers in 10 years.

100Kin10, a multi-sector network addressing the national imperative to train 100,000 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers by 2021, today announced that CSTA has been accepted as a partner.

“CSTA is thrilled to have been selected as a partner in this worthwhile and vital network. I am honored to be serving as president of CSTA during our entry into this network and look forward to partnering with other network partners to achieve CSTA’s bold goals for science and STEM teachers in California.” – Laura Henriques, CSTA President

As part of 100Kin10, CSTA will

  • provide outreach, professional development, and teaching tools to 175 science methods instructors at California colleges/universities that prepare future science and STEM teachers by 2017.
  • place 20 new student CSTA chapters on college campuses throughout the state, half of which will be placed on the campuses of 100Kin10 partners, by 2017.
  • provide support and professional development to 10,000 K-12 science teachers in California by 2018 to realize the full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.


State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Congratulates Two California Science and Math Teachers Receiving Presidential Honors

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

SACRAMENTO—On January 14, 2014, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson congratulated two outstanding California educators recently named by President Barack Obama as recipients of the 2012 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) award. They are among 102 teachers to receive this recognition.

The California science winner is Alma Suney Park, a sixth grade teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School, a private school in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County. The California mathematics winner is Jamie Garner, a sixth grade mathematics teacher at the Walnut Elementary Education Center in the Turlock Unified School District, Stanislaus County. (more…)

Region 4: Highlights and Happenings – February 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Across the region, the month of February is full of science professional development opportunities in anticipation of NGSS implementation, shifts in assessment, STEM education initiatives, and the migration to the Common Core Standards. I encourage all educators in region 4 to take advantage of these opportunities for professional growth and learning.

For Riverside County science leaders interested in learning more about science assessment, data, grants, instructional materials, research-based strategies, and California Department of Education updates, The Riverside County Office of Education is hosting a District Science Leadership Network Meeting on February 18, 2014 from 9:00 am – 2:00 pm at the Riverside County Office of Education Conference Center. (more…)

CSTA Membership Opportunities: There Is One to Suit You!

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

Thousands of teachers know that their membership in CSTA is important and valuable. Belonging to CSTA gives them the representation at the state level to influence California policies that enhance their profession. CSTA members also get up-to-date information on issues such as NGSS through e-mail blasts, town hall meetings, and the CSTA website. By joining CSTA, teachers ensure that they have access to members-only discounts to the California Science Education Conference. And, new for 2014, CSTA offers its members discounts on registration for the 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference – in Collaboration with CSTA, at Disneyland, Office Max, and AVIS/Budget. (more…)

Region 3 Events for February 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Frederick Nelson

For Environmental Education Professional Development Providers:

If you are interested in information on how the new standards might impact your current environmental education programs, a workshop will be held on Tuesday February 25, 2014, at the Scout Island Outdoor Education Center. The Provider only Workshop is called Linking NGSS and Common Core State Standards to Your EE Program. Providers have been particularly concerned with aligning to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Lunch will be included. (more…)

Region 1 Events for February 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by David Pummill

Science in the River City (SIRC)

February 25, 2014: Science Workshops for Teachers
California State University, Sacramento
4:00-8:00 PM

Special Guest Speaker:
Understanding the Common Core State Standards
Judi Kusnick (Sacramento State Geology)

3rd/4th/5th Grade Science Series
Using Common Core to Explore Electricity
Judi Kusnick, (Sacramento State)
Nancy Ludu, (Butler Elementary)
Standard 4.1 (more…)

NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #1

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Heather Wygant

I had the privilege of being chosen to serve on the first NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group in San Francisco on January 25, 2014. Four more focus groups will be held over the next several weeks throughout California. These focus groups are charged with creating the guidelines for the upcoming Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) as they develop the next Science Framework for California. The San Francisco focus group had almost 300 applicants and only 10 were chosen, including San Francisco Bay Area classroom teachers, science curriculum coordinators, and science coaches. (more…)

Celestial Highlights for February 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Robert Victor and Robert D. Miller

February Skies: Jupiter and the Dog Star dominate the dusk. Brightening Mars gleams from late evening until dawn, when Venus takes the reigns.

February 2014 at dusk:

The two brightest “stars” at dusk in February are steady yellowish Jupiter, high in east, and blue-white vigorously twinkling Sirius, the Dog Star, in the southeast. The only other evening planet is Mercury, very low south of west, but it fades to first magnitude by Feb. 7 and very sharply thereafter, on its way to conjunction with the Sun at mid-month. The waxing gibbous Moon, four days before Full, appears near Jupiter on the evening of Feb. 10.

Surrounding Jupiter is the huge Winter Hexagon of Sirius-Procyon-Pollux-Capella-Aldebaran-Rigel. The noticeably red star Betelgeuse is also within the Hexagon. Find the 3-star belt of Orion, the Hunter, midway between his shoulder, Betelgeuse, and his foot, bluish Rigel. The belt extended southeastward locates Sirius. Extend the belt in the opposite direction, bending north a bit, and you’ll find Aldebaran, eye of Taurus, the Bull. Go farther to find the Pleiades, or Seven Sisters, a wonderful sight for binoculars! Rising in the eastern sky, Regulus, heart of Leo, is at opposition to the Sun on Feb. 18, and chases the Winter Hexagon across the sky. (more…)

Region 2 News and Events for February 2014

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Eric Lewis

One year ago we were just getting a feel for what it was like to have a balanced budget at the state level and there was some optimism around what the future was going to bring for both science specifically (NGSS) and for classrooms in general. Now we are in the Awareness Phase of the NGSS adoption – planning implementation and collaboration around the new standards. And, in many districts, there is talk of actual raises for teachers. What a difference a year makes! (more…)

SIOP in the Science Classroom

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Stephanie Fisher

What is SIOP?

SIOP stands for Sheltered Instruction Observational Protocol. This practice is designed to make lessons as inclusive as possible for diverse populations in classrooms, allowing them to gain topic understanding and practice English language skills at the same time. This is done by building background information and the use realia so students find the content approachable. The correct use of SIOP strategies engages the students and prepares them for independent work. When all parts of SIOP are in place, the hope is that using strategies to increase reading, writing, speaking, and listening will lead to creating a more interactive environment. (more…)

Reflecting on Your Own Practice

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Frederick Nelson

Very often teachers are encouraged to reflect on their professional practice, typically with prompts such as “How did that go?” or “What went well, what didn’t go well, and what would I do differently next time?” These self-inquiries, while relevant to a teaching episode, may result in a consideration of only the surface features of a teacher’s practice. Other questions might dig deeper.

“What was the most enjoyable part of the class for me? The least enjoyable? Why?”

This question may get at my own confidence and competence with respect to the lesson content or delivery. Perhaps I enjoyed the Engagement section of a 5E lesson on buoyancy where I described my personal experience going snorkeling. This reflection helps me understand that my role as a teacher includes some sharing on my life outside the classroom and attempting to make connections to content. Or, if I found myself wanting to get through the Explanation stage of that lesson, that feeling could point to a lack of preparation. (more…)

Kudos and Thank You! CSTA Members Serve in a Variety of Ways

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Laura Henriques

Applause_Pres_ArticleFor the last couple of months, CSTA has challenged members to become active participants in California’s science education landscape, and you are stepping up to do that. In the past couple of months CSTA members have volunteered their time and expertise in a variety of ways. I want to take this space in this month’s column to highlight some of those efforts and to provide my heartfelt thanks. Your contributions of time and service will have positive impacts throughout the state. (more…)

Highlights from NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #3

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Jill Grace

I had the pleasure of attending the Science Curriculum Framework Focus group in Orange County on January 31, 2014.  The focus group was hosted by the Orange County Department of Education with 3 other counties, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Riverside, participating via teleconference.  A huge shout out to the 80 dedicated individuals who attended and had to brave rush-hour traffic on a Friday evening!  It was also nice to see several dedicated members of the Instructional Quality Commission present among the four counties listening in on the conversation.   (more…)

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