January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Spring Is in the Air!

Monday, March 30th, 2015


April 2015 Photo of the Month


California State Board of Education Approves Suspension of State’s Accountability Measurement System

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

SACRAMENTO— State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today announced that the State Board of Education voted unanimously to suspend the Academic Performance Index (API) for the 2014-15 school year (more…)

Engineering Brings It All Together

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn


I am really enjoying the creativity that NGSS is awakening in teachers. Those who want to create are taking the standards (and the freedom that comes from the lack of a test) and really exploring what engages their students. I found though, that even when trying our best to match up to the expectations of NGSS, there is a feeling that we missed something. Did we remember the crosscutting concepts? Did the students engage in the practices at the level that NGSS expects? Did we get to the engineering? How about the Nature of Science? Was the content deep enough to really teach the DCI to the point where it could be applied to a new situation? Was it engaging? About a real world phenomenon or problem? (more…)

Meaningful Thinking in 140 Characters or Fewer

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace

I’ve learned the hard way that I will get “huffs”, eye-rolls, grunts, and the occasional nuclear meltdown from students if I ask them to summarize their learning in, dare I say it, a paragraph. It’s as though paragraph is a bad word and how shocking that I would ask for one in science class! I even get slammed with questions: “How many sentences to I have to write?” (why are we still asking that question in middle school?), “Do I have to use complete sentences?”, and “Do I really have to write a whole paragraph?” *teacher sigh*

First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of having students produce writing in a science class. I will also admit that this can be a challenge, and so the year that I decided to make the shift to an interactive science notebook it was glaring at me. I would be asking students for writing as a vehicle to share their thinking (in what we refer to as “outputs” in the notebook) all the time. Although we wouldn’t be able to avoid the writing, sometimes I may want to ask my students to share their thinking in a way that will avoid the drama that asking for a paragraph can sometimes generate. (Incidentally, this was all prior to implementation of the Common Core Standards – where anecdotally, in just one year, I’ve seen a big shift in student acceptance of writing outside of language arts.) (more…)

State Board to Vote on Suspension of API for 2014-2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The California State Board of Education will vote on the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) Committee’s recommendation to suspend the calculation of the Academic Performance Index (API) for a second year (more…)

Exploring the Ecosystem That Is Your Classroom

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Laura Henriques

As you read through this month’s CCS you’ll find articles about biology, professional learning, NGSS implementation tales, and finding a job. I find the juxtaposition of the articles works. When we look for a job we need to have a good fit – we need to fill a niche in the school’s ecosystem and our needs must be met. When we look at our professional learning needs we are doing a self-assessment, finding out our own needs and meeting them

Earlier this year John Speigel, Anthony Quan and Yami Shimojyo wrote an article for CCS which discussed a pathway from NGSS awareness to implementation. If we use their awareness-transition-implementation matrix to mark our efforts we can start making changes to our instruction and have a mechanism to note progress. So let’s think of our classroom as its own teaching/learning ecosystem and start modifying the system to see what positive changes we can make to student engagement and student learning. (more…)

CSTA Legislative Update – March 2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Friday, February 27, 2015 was the last day for legislators to introduce bills. As with many things with a deadline, the last days leading up to the deadline saw a flurry of activity and many bills were introduced. CSTA will be monitoring many pieces of legislation this year and will seek to have funding for NGSS implementation included in next year’s budget. Bills of note include:

AB 631 (Bonilla)Titled the “Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Fund Act(more…)

California’s NGSS Early Implementers Meet for Mid-Year Training

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Corrected March 9, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

The last time we were all together was August of 2014. Since then, we have ‘experimented’ with implementing the Next Generation of Science Standards with varying degrees of success. We have come to Claremont, California to continue our NGSS education and to gain leadership skills we will pass on to our colleagues when they join us in this process next summer. We are the eight school districts and two CMOs (Charter Management Organizations) chosen for the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative* – Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Kings Canyon Unified School District, Lakeside Union School District, Oakland Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Tracy Unified School District, and Vista Unified School District, Aspire, and High Tech High – and we are excited to begin. (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards Statewide Rollout Phase 2

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015


updated March 27, 2015

The NGSS Statewide Rollout Phase 2 has begun! This 2-Day Symposia is being offered at the San Joaquin County Office of Education April 27th and 28th, 2015. Come to the first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia exploring the next steps in the journey toward NGSS Implementation.

This is a collaborative effort that includes the California Department of Education, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the K-12 Alliance/WestEd. Click here for the event flyer. Click here to register online. (more…)

Evolution Everywhere

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Josh Rosenau

“We’re leveraging evolution,” Solazyme CEO Jonathan Wolfson told reporter Mike Grunwald, author of The New New Deal (2012). “We take what the planet is good at making, plant sugars, and turn it into what the planet needs, oils.” The San Francisco-based company’s $200 million market capitalization, its fuel contracts with the US Navy and major airlines, and its growing business producing oils for use in foods and cosmetics all testify to the economic value of leveraging evolution.

Further down the Bay, at NASA Ames, the Advanced Control and Evolvable Systems are using evolution to make better spacecraft. In a NASA webpage about the project, researcher Jason Lohn explains, “We’re taking our cue and inspiration from nature,” allowing antennas and computer chips to evolve in software, creating remarkable new designs. “No human would build an antenna as crazy as this,” he explains. But then again, no human could build an antenna that worked as efficiently. (more…)

Crosscutting Concepts Part 2: Structure and Function

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Cross Cut Symbol for Structure and Function. Used with permission from CrossCutSymbols.  http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/

Cross Cut Symbol for Structure and Function. Used with permission from CrossCutSymbols. http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/

In January we explored, the NGSS crosscutting concept of patterns in the primary grades through the lens of earth, space, and ocean sciences. This month we will take a look at the crosscutting concept of structure and function as it relates to the life sciences.

While structure and function are not taught in kindergarten, they are covered in 1st and 2nd grades. The early study of structure and function is necessary for laying the groundwork for all students’ science education throughout the grades. The importance of early childhood science in grades K-2 cannot be emphasized enough. (more…)

Spring Forward…Teachers Leading the Future of Professional Development

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Toby Spencer

Do you think in calendar years or school years? If you’re like me, years are hyphenated and stress levels oscillate inversely to the days remaining until progress reports are due. But at this time of year, I finally raise the periscope and begin pedagogical planning for the future.

Ah, the Future, an exciting blank slate! An opportunity to develop a new student model, revamp the genetics unit, research field trips or even plan our own summer professional development. Visions of delighted students dance in our heads, but where is the vision for NGSS implementation? Who will revolutionize and excite California’s current and future science teachers?  Turns out the answer is – Us. You, me, all the teachers. Every experienced science educator is called to connect and share with other educators, particularly with new teachers and those reluctant to change. (more…)

Decisions, Decisions, Part 3 – The Offer

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

You have done your research, you had a great interview, and now it is time to wait. Hopefully, the wait is not too long but any time at all will seem like an eternity. During this time, it is important for you to consider your options and be prepared with your answer.

Going into the job search, you must understand that there are two players in the job search-job offer game. You are looking for a place to launch your career. It is critical that it be a position where you will have an opportunity to grow as a teacher. You will need to feel like you are a part of the faculty and wanted as part of the staff. On the other hand, the principal is working hard to fill a position(s) with the most highly qualified teacher. It is critical to them that the person they select has the credentials to teach the classes they need, the skills to do the job effectively, and a person who will become part of their school team.  In most cases, they are looking for a new teacher to fill a particular need, whether it is replacing the beloved retiring teacher or a teacher that was ineffective in the classroom. Either way, they are investing time and energy in selecting the best candidate before that person is snapped up by another district.

When an offer is made, the principal or administrator wants a response right away. They want to believe that you are as excited about joining their team as they are about making you the offer. When they call, some want an answer during that phone call. Others recognize the significance of this decision and may offer you a day or two to consider their offer. Either way, you should be ready with your decision when the offer is made. If they give you some time to respond, you need to do them the courtesy of meeting their time frame. If you know that this is the job you want, don’t put them off waiting to see what others will say. On the other hand, if you know it is not the job for you, be ready to decline and move forward. (more…)

Staying Local – Investigating the Schoolyard

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Joey Noelle Lehnhard

Exploring a local schoolyard ecosystem is an accessible, engaging, and relevant way for students to investigate life science topics. Contextualizing ecology by investigating the life in your own schoolyard can be deeply enriching for students. It also allows students to later apply their learning to a variety of ecosystems including rainforests or the deep sea, which otherwise may be too abstract for elementary students. Spending time outside exploring and investigating their environment also contributes to conservation behavior later in life (Wells & Lekies, 2006). Informal science centers can help with resources such as locally relevant place-based curriculum, professional development, as well as by providing additional outdoor spaces for students to explore. (more…)

What is it?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Photo_of_the_Month_March_15          It’s back!!!


New Video Introductions to Frameworks

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

If you are not sure how the new frameworks for the California Common Core State Standards (CA CCSS) support teachers, administrators, and other educators with implementing the CA CCSS, watch the new videos on the new frameworks on the CDE Common Core Channel Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/commoncorechannel.asp. (more…)

Video(s!) of the Month

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

curated by Jill Grace

I’d like to introduce you all to my current favorite messenger of science, Chicago’s The Field Museum of Natural History’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent, Emily Grasile. Emily is the host of the very popular science YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop, which recently celebrated its two year anniversary. An art major who started volunteering at the University of Montana’s Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum and fell in love with science, Emily brings her own curiosity of science and passion to this fun series which give us an inside view of scientific collections and their application to scientific understanding. (more…)

Teachers Needed for Science Assessment Field Tests

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

AAAS Project 2061 is developing assessment items to measure late elementary, middle, and high school students’ understanding of ideas about energy. We are recruiting elementary, middle, and high school science teachers willing to field test our multiple-choice test items with their students in March, April, or May of 2015 school year. (more…)

A Research Study of Doing-Based Learning: Students Learning by Doing in U.S. Public Schools

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The Foundation for Technology and Engineering Education (FTEE) – Dugger/Gerrish Endowment, in partnership with the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) has commissioned a study to determine to what extent students in United States public schools use a tactile hands-on process of problem solving involving “doing” in their elementary, middle, and high school courses. (more…)

Celestial Highlights for March 2015

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Robert Victor with twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller

Links to evening and morning twilight sky maps for use in southern California in March 2015 appear below. Links to related activities on the changing visibility of stars and planets, a selection of sky maps for northern California (exact for lat. 40° N), and a preview of Comet Halley’s next appearance in 2061, are now available at www.abramsplanetarium.org/msta/

March 2015 at dusk. At dusk in early March 2015, the four brightest “stars”, in order of brilliance, are: Venus in west; Jupiter, in eastern sky; Sirius, the “Dog Star”, 40 degrees up in south as seen from the Coachella Valley, and Canopus, less than 4 degrees up when it passes due south about 21 minutes before Sirius does. Sounds of nature enrich the stargazing experience. In Palm Springs, we’ve been hearing frogs in nearby Tahquitz Creek on warmer nights since December. (more…)

Support for District Science Coaches

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace


One of our goals here at CSTA is to be a supportive resource to science educators statewide. In this new environment of NGSS, many teachers now find themselves shifting job positions and are working as science coaches. This job shift is a new frontier for many and we felt there was a need to have a forum where conversations can happen and best practices can be shared. With that in mind, we decided to add to our list of Facebook groups and created California Science District Coaches.

If you are a district science support provider, teacher leader, teacher coach, TOSA, or TSA – we invite you to request to join the group. Once you do we will follow up by sending you a Facebook message (an effort to avoid spammers and individuals that might commercialize the page). Be sure to check “other” in your Facebook messages and reply to get permission to join the group.

Our page moderators will regularly post information that is relevant to you and members of the group can also share resources, ask questions, and find a supportive network. Join us!

CSTA’s other Facebook groups:

Summer CSI Institute in Arkansas Invites Applicants

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Karen Yanowitz, Ann Ross, Tanja McKay, and Renee Carroll

Guess who’s back again?  After last year’s successful summer institute was made possible by a four-year, 1.04 million dollar grant funded by the National Science Foundation (courtesy of the Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers  – ITEST – program), we are thrilled to announce that the CSI : Classroom Student Investigations program once again hosted its third institute at Arkansas State University.  The CSI Grant focuses on rural high-needs school districts, and its goal is to provide teachers with valuable skills and resources they can use to implement inquiry-based forensic science instruction in their classrooms. (more…)

3D Giant Screen Film Molecules to the MAX! Now Available on DVD

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Film educates and excites kids about the world of atoms and molecules!

You can now catch a ride to NanoSpace in Molecules to the MAX!, the 42-minute, animated 3D Giant Screen film, developed by world-renowned professors and scientists from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). The film is being offered on DVD to school librarians first before being made available to the public. Science teachers are encouraged to talk with their school librarians about ordering the DVD through AV Café or another preferred distributor. Additionally, Public Performance Rights (Screening license) can be purchased at edu.passionriver.com/molecules-to-the-max. (more…)

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