September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Where California K-12 Science Teachers Go for NGSS

Friday, August 14th, 2015

RegisterNowMedNow is the time to register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference presented by the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  Attending the CSTA 2015 conference is a great way to gain professional development, and network with other science teachers from across the state, and obtain new classroom ideas, in one place over three days!

The California Science Education Conference is your best source of information on implementing NGSS in your classroom.

The California Science Teachers Association hosts this conference to focus on what California science educators need to know to hone their craft, stay updated on standards, and apply best practices gleaned from experts throughout the state. (more…)

What Is the Role of Lecture in NGSS?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Is there a role for lecture in NGSS classrooms? Anyone who has spent much time working on the NGSS knows that NGSS is learner centered, more about helping students to develop the tools to investigate the world than about teachers supplying knowledge. The traditional teaching style of the teacher talking and students taking notes seems to be opposite of this vision.

This vision is supported by research indicating that traditional lecture is not an effective way to teach science. Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Carl Wieman makes a strong case against lecture as a way to teach science.  Click here to read a summary of his findings. (more…)

Middle School Integrated Science – Getting Over It!

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

Last spring I wrote an article/blog post that addressed the growing discussion about the decision to teach middle school integrated or discipline specific science. The article gives the rationale for the change and also some different models that were considered for how to transition.

There was a lot of feedback to that post: strongly supportive, deeply skeptical, and many follow up questions. Now that Palm Springs USD has finished the first year of the transition, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how it went.

The middle school teacher leaders who helped to make the decision chose the “fast” transition plan below. Year 2 was what we just finished. 6th grade teachers (and kids) were introduced to structure and function in living things. 7th graders tried chemistry for the first time, and 8th graders played with waves. Everyone tried a little (or a lot) of engineering. (more…)

Staying Connected by Volunteering

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. (more…)

Where to Go in Sacramento: Field Courses for the CSTA Conference

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

When it comes to conferences I’m pretty much a workshop guy. You get lots of great ideas in a short time, lots of choices, and you are hearing it straight from teachers. But looking at the field studies being offered at the 2015 California Education Conference in Sacramento this October, I’m thinking I might just spend the whole conference learning science on the amazing field courses being offered.

Here are your choices:

AHearn_Field_Course_Photo_1The Science in Your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Sudwerk Brewery – Visit with the scientists at the UC Davis Brewing Program, the yeast geeks at White Labs, and the brewers of Sudwerk Brewery to learn about the biochemistry and microbiology that goes into the beer you love to drink. We will share NGSS aligned activities (classroom appropriate) on reaction rate and population biology. You will also explore the chemistry of beer flavor and learn how to make taste testing scientifically rigorous! (more…)

Stages of NGSS Grief

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Jill Grace

So here we are in August. You are likely a responsible science educator and have spent some time digging into NGSS and considering how you will be making some changes this school year. Observing so many teachers across California these past two years of NGSS awareness, I get the sense we could all use a good laugh at this point! (I would like to express that in no way is this intended to trivialize those suffering from grief.)

As we settle in, we realize that we have a lot of work to do get ready for the NGSS. I am experiencing a lot of emotions with respect to this change and I’ve been witnessing similar emotions in other teachers during the course of this journey we’ve been on together. (more…)

Starting the School Year Right

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Joanne Michael

In my position, I teach hands-on science for an entire elementary school (Kindergarten-5th grade). I begin my school year about a week after the first day of school, after the classroom teachers have begun establishing their room protocols. Even though I see the students year after year as they come into my classroom, because they change over the course of a year, and especially over the summer, we often need to start as if I have never seen the students before.

My sample to show younger students

My sample to show younger students

One thing that I started doing this past school year was to initiate the mindset that everyone is interconnected to each other as students in the same school, that every person is unique, but is an integral part of the school. I found some interlocking puzzle piece figures online, and bought a class set for each of my 18 classes (they were on clearance!). On the first day of class for each of my classes, after going over the expectations, I handed out colored pencils and the people. I gave very few directions, other than they should look like them (whatever that meant). For the younger classes, I created one for myself, made a “shirt”, and drew the NASA symbol, as space exploration is something I am very interested in. The students were only given the rest of their time with me (about 20 minutes) to complete their puzzle piece, put their name and room number on the back, and handed it in. (more…)

CSTA Prepares to Provide Feedback to CDE on New Science Curriculum Framework

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Twenty five CSTA members are volunteering their time to review approximately 1,000 pages of the early draft of the new Science Curriculum Framework to support NGSS instruction in the classroom and provide guidance to publishers of instructional materials. They are reviewing the document and submitting their feedback to CSTA who will represent science educators from across the state at the end of this month, on August 27-28, when the Science Subject Matter Committee will meet. The Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) is a committee of the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) (formerly known as the Curriculum Commission) and is responsible for reviewing drafts of the framework and considering public feedback and incorporating that as appropriate as well as providing input based on their expertise. They then forward the draft to the full IQC for approval to be released for a 60-day public comment period. (more…)

NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: Take NGSS Implementation to the Next Level

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

A CASCD and CSTA Workshop led by Michelle French and Jared Marr; hosted by Walnut Valley Unified School District.

This full-day workshop will demonstrate how to advance students’ abilities to make sense of the natural and designed world by thinking and acting as scientists and engineers. This includes rich use of language and math. Participants will also be provided with a review of resources that will support them as they implement NGSS.

The hands-on day will begin with an exploration of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices and overview of resources. Participants will be provided with a foundation of how the Evidence Statements from Achieve will help them support their students’ capacity to demonstrate their knowledge and abilities. During the afternoon session, participants will be invited to experience either a K-5 or 6-12 lesson. Each of these lessons will emphasize how the Science and Engineering Practices help us bring Common Core State Standards and 21st Century Skills (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity) to life. (more…)

Greetings from Your New Director in Region 1

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

I wanted to begin my new term as CSTA Region 1 Director with a brief introduction and then some highlights from our region. I am Marian Murphy-Shaw, I currently live about as far north in California as you can get, in Mount Shasta City. I am entering my 15th year with Siskiyou County Office of Education as an Educational Services Director. Prior to that I taught for 10 years in grades 5 through 12 both in Siskiyou and Alameda counties, I worked as an intern on a controlled life support system at NASA Ames and proudly attended Mills College, then CSU Eastbay (Hayward State back then). I have to take a minute here and thank my Hayward faculty advisor Dr. Stronck for introducing me to CSTA! (more…)

Celestial Highlights, August Through October 2015

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Robert C. Victor and Robert D. Miller

Venus and Jupiter, about to depart in the west, are slowly separating after their spectacular pairing on June 30, while Saturn passes its high point in the south at dusk in July. Telescopic views of a thin crescent Venus, Jupiter and its four bright Galilean moons, and the rings of Saturn can make an exciting evening for students, so we hope you’ll arrange it

This summer, there are many strikingly beautiful events involving the Moon, planets, and stars, some at dusk and some at dawn, plenty to keep students well engaged during vacation. Publicize these events to encourage your current students and their families to continue watching the sky.

We include information on the spectacular events of September and October, to encourage you to plan sky watching early in the new school year. (more…)

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