January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Breaking News: CSTA Science Education Conference a Towering Success!

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015

By Deb Farkas

Teachers engineering a tower in a workshop at the 2015 CSTA Conference.

Teachers engineering a tower in a workshop at the 2015 CSTA Conference.

We “hit one out of the park!” exclaimed one of the one thousand six hundred fifty-one conference attendees who I happened to ask as she was leaving on Sunday! Thank you CSTA members and staff, friends, presenters, speakers, field course leaders, vendors and our Saturday night comedian, Brian Malow, for making our 2015 Science Education Conference a memorable and fabulous conference! (more…)

Do You Have a Growth Mindset?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Lisa Hegdahl

As our administration shared with us the traits of people who don’t give up in the face of challenges, my mind could not help but think of the parallels to teachers implementing NGSS. Coincidentally, I had spent the day at a Technical Assistance meeting for the Core Leadership team for our district’s CA NGSS Early Implementation group. As Early Implementers, we have had struggles, successes, and more struggles, all the while learning and growing as educators. Giving ourselves permission to fail and not be perfect, all Growth Mindset qualities, are critical to the process of learning how to provide NGSS 3-dimensional learning experiences for our students. (more…)

Is the NGSS Going to Ruin High School Chemistry?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Pete A’Hearn and Wanda Battaglia

Pete: Most science teachers I work with are excited about the shift to NGSS and exploring new possibilities for student learning. But, I have heard some grumbling from high school chemistry teachers that NGSS is gutting chemistry. “Why there are no standards for subjects like the Gas Laws, acids and bases, naming of compounds, and solutions that are an important part of chemistry?”

I know that you are a high school chemistry teacher who is working hard on NGSS. How would you respond to these teachers? (more…)

Getting Ready for Student Teaching

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Susan Gomez Zwiep

Your credential classes have prepared you for this! You are ready to begin your apprenticeship into one of the most important professions out there, teaching. During student teaching you have the support of expert teachers to guide you into your first full teaching experiences. Your time as a student teacher is an opportunity to find your own style as you develop your science teaching expertise. Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of this time. (more…)

Achieving Success with Common Core Through Community

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Angelica E. Gunderson

As we take on the new school year and think about the shifts we are committing to make towards the Next Generation Science Standards, I have found it beneficial to read about the work that various teachers, schools, and districts are engaging in. I would like to toss my own stone in this ocean of knowledge and hopefully create my own ripples of change by sharing some of the strategies and successes happening at the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District.

In the last two years, one of our main common goals has been to effectively and efficiently to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in all of our classrooms. NGSS and CCSS are the responsibility of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, technology and English Language Development teachers alike. Our district has also taken the approach that the best way to achieve success is through forming and effectively participating in professional learning communities. (more…)

Amazon Rain Forest – An Amazing Summer Opportunity for Teachers!

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Jennifer Weibert and Kirsten Franklin

Are you looking for an exciting and amazing professional development opportunity for next summer? One, which includes boat trips on the Amazon, night walks, birding and…NGSS?!? Yes, it exists and it is available to all California teachers!

It’s the Educator Academy in the Amazon. This academy will provide you with an unprecedented opportunity to engage in hands-on, NGSS-based investigations, citizen science research projects, and inquiry-based learning activities designed to deepen understanding of the rain forest ecosystems and its global significance. (more…)

Eric Lewis EdTalk, Better Together CA Teacher Summit, SFSU, July 31, 2015

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Submitted by Eric Lewis National Board Certified Teacher in the San Francisco Unified School District and CSTA Member

Celestial Highlights for October and Early November 2015

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Robert C. Victor
Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller

During October and early November, there are exceptionally beautiful gatherings of planets in the morning sky. A waning crescent Moon graces the lineup of planets on Nov. 6-7. Except as noted, these spectacular sights covering Oct. 8-Nov. 10 will be well seen about an hour before sunrise.

We hope you will be inspired to organize morning sky watching sessions for your students! With daylight saving time still in effect through October, a 45-minute skywatch from 1-1/2 hours to 45 minutes before sunrise would provide a wonderful, rewarding display of planets at a time not unreasonably early by the clock. Even if you can’t meet together as a class, urge your students and their families to get up early on their own to view the planetary gatherings. The displays on Oct. 22-29 will be especially striking. (more…)

Supporting Argumentation Through Student Talk

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Judi Kusnick, Angie Ruiz, and Susheela Nath

A central element of all of the new standards – the Next Generation Science Standards, the Common Core Math standards and the Common Core English Language Arts standards – is that students are making sense of the world through argumentation. Let’s explore how student talk can support development of students’ argumentation skills in a classroom setting.

Mrs. Ramierez’s fifth grade class has been working on understanding the particle model of matter for two weeks. First they explored sugar – sugar cubes, granulated sugar, powdered sugar – and concluded that bigger things can be made of much smaller things. They investigated the conservation of matter by mixing baking soda and vinegar in a bottle on a digital scale. When the bottle was open to the air, the mixture lost mass. When the bottle was closed, the mass stayed the same. From this result the class deduced that there must have been some invisible mass that went into the air when the bottle was open, but was captured in the system when the bottle was closed. They agreed to call the very tiny invisible bits of matter particles. (more…)

Primary Science – Integrating NGSS and the Common Core

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Valerie Joyner

It’s hard to believe that it is already October and that you have been working with your primary (TK-2) students for several weeks now. As your new class settles into the routines and is now ready to begin to take on new challenges, it’s time to look at how you will integrate NGSS science and CaCCSS (California Common Core State Standards). To some this may seem a daunting task, but in reality there are many integration connections that already exist in both NGSS science instruction and CaCCSS. (more…)

Reading and Engineering: The Perfect Pair

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Cynthia Berger

Reading is a clear priority in elementary classrooms across the nation. According to the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education, the average K-3 elementary student gets nearly an hour and a half of instruction in reading and language arts each day. Meanwhile, that same student averages less than 20 minutes of science instruction per day. And until recently, engineering instruction was not even a part of the curriculum in most elementary classrooms.

But engineering IS becoming a routine part of elementary instruction, especially in states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards or updated their own science standards based on NGSS. It’s easy to see how hands-on engineering activities can support science and math learning: for example, kids who are engineering a bridge must call on what they’ve learned in science lessons about forces, and about the properties of materials; they also need to apply their math skills, measuring as they build or calculating as they conduct tests and analyze data. But engineering can also support reading instruction, in significant ways.

Two curricula serve as good examples. Both Engineering is Elementary (EiE), developed by the Museum of Science, Boston and Novel Engineering, developed at Tufts University, use storytelling through works of fiction to set a real-world context for learning. This approach is especially effective for young students. (more…)

Friendly Word from Region 2

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Minda Berbeco

Hi Region 2! We at CSTA are revving up for the CSTA conference this fall, and I can’t wait to see you all there! I’ll be holding “office hours” at the booth – times to be determined – so definitely come meet me there. I’ll also be holding a workshop on Saturday 8-11 am on Climate Change and Energy, so come and check it out! I’d love to hear all of the great things that you are working on this fall. There is so much happening this fall to keep track of, but I want to keep you in the loop of some really neat programs you should definitely check out!

One program you might be interested in is the YESS project:

The YESS Project team (Marin County Community Development Agency, Coravai, Shore Up Marin, and USC Sea Grant) is developing a new NGSS-aligned, project-based sea level rise curriculum for high school students. We’re looking for a few Bay Area teachers to partner with us and pilot the project in their classrooms during the 2015 – 2016 school year. This is a great opportunity for you to educate, engage, and empower your students to be part of climate change solutions in their own communities! (more…)

Using the NGSS to Teach the Nature of Science

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Lawrence Flammer, ENSI Webmaster

Do you know what misconceptions about science your students have? Surveys have revealed a low level of science literacy in our nation for many decades. A recent National Science Foundation survey (NSF 2014) shows us that only a high of 26% of Americans (in 2001) understood what studying something scientifically means, and that low number has even declined since then. Wide support and belief in “alternative medicine,” (unscientific medicine) and many other pseudosciences, are still very much alive. (more…)

New NGSS Resources Available

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Achieve and the Teaching Channel Release New Classroom Videos Demonstrating Transitions to NGSS

We’re excited to announce that four new videos highlighting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are now available online. Achieve and the Teaching Channel collaborated with an elementary school teacher and high school teacher from Boone County, KY to capture snapshots of what NGSS early implementation looks like in classrooms. (more…)

What Is Happening in Region 1?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Marian Murphy-Shaw

As we move into the autumn months I am pleased to share with all of you in CSTA Region 1 that the NGSS Roll Out Phase 2 is coming to your area! On September 1, Santa Clara County Office of Education in partnership with all the Roll Out providers hosted a Training of Trainers day to get all our Northern California presenter teams ready to go.

Many thanks go out to the teachers, county office personnel and MSP and Science Project colleagues who are taking on this local work on behalf of science teachers in Region 1!

  • Red Bluff (November 2-3)
  • San Jose (November 9-10)


Celebrating 10 Years of PhUn! Physiology Understanding (PhUn Week)

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Kristine Vowels

PhUn Week is the leading American Physiology Society’s outreach program to school classrooms, reaching more than 14,000 K-12 students and teachers each year. This year PhUn Week is scheduled for November 2-6, but events can happen throughout November 2015 or the school year. This exciting outreach program exposes students to the wonders of science and can inspire the next generation of physiologists. Contact us at kvowels@the-aps.org to partner you with your local APS Member to plan a PhUn Week event. (more…)

Announcing: Major (G5-16) STEM Opportunity for School Districts Starting February 2016 – Student Spaceflight Experiments Program – Mission 10 to the International Space Station

Monday, October 19th, 2015

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education announce Mission 10 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5-16 students across a community in an authentic, high visibility research experience, where student teams design and propose real microgravity experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station. The program nurtures ownership in learning, critical thinking, problem solving, navigation of an interdisciplinary landscape, and communication skills – all reflective of the Next Generation Science Standards, the skills needed by professional scientists and engineers, and the skills desired by 21st century employers. (more…)

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