September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

2016 – Already a Busy Year in California Science Education

Posted: Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

As I write this message, it is the waning days of January. Only the first month of 2016 and yet a great deal is happening in Science education within the California Science Teachers Association and the state of California as a whole. Indeed, this an exciting time to be a science educator. Let’s take a look back at all that has taken place these past few weeks.

California Science Framework Public Review Sessions

Science educators gathered in San Diego on December 2, 2015 to review and provide feedback on the first public draft of the California Science Curriculum Framework.

Science educators gathered in San Diego on December 2, 2015 to review and provide feedback on the first public draft of the California Science Curriculum Framework.

The beginning of January 2016 found California at the end of the first public review of the draft California Science Framework.  A dedicated, 25 member, CSTA NGSS Committee under the leadership of co-chairs Laura Henriques, Past President of CSTA, and Peter A’Hearn, CSTA Region 4 Director, coordinated 30 Framework review sessions in 22 California counties in which 625 educators participated. In addition, many people sent their feedback directly to the California Department of Education. The members of the NGSS committee, those that read the Framework, and those who attended and hosted review sessions, volunteered in order to make the Framework useful for all of us. This represents countless hours of personal time. You can be confident that CSTA will keep you informed about the dates for the 2nd public review of the draft CA Science Framework currently scheduled for June-July 2016. A copy of CSTA’s response to the first draft is available here (1MB). I will be attending the two meetings where public comments are considered (February 19 and March 18) by the Science Subject Matter Committee of the Instructional Quality Commission to advocate on behalf of CSTA membership.


California Science Education Conference – Palm Springs, October 21-23, 2016 (#cascience16)
Planning for the 2016 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs is well underway with 3 planning meetings having already occurred, the most recent taking place on January 19th.  The committee, under the leadership of the 2016 Chair, CSTA President Elect, Jill Grace, is busy soliciting Workshop Proposals due March 4th, securing speakers, and organizing Field Courses. Workshops for the 2016 Conference have been extended from 60 minutes to 90 minutes in order for participants to dive more deeply into the shifts required by the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). I encourage all of you to consider submitting a workshop proposal and share with others how you are beginning to implement NGSS. Remember that lead presenters receive 50% off on conference registration and CSTA members receive a significant discount.



CA NGSS Rollout #3

NGSS Rollout #3 writers and presenters "flash" the Mobius strip sign after a long day of writing and planning for the next series of NGSS Rollouts.

NGSS Rollout #3 writers and presenters “flash” the Mobius strip sign after a long day of writing and planning for the next series of NGSS Rollouts.

The Doubletree in Claremont, California, January 24-25, was the home of the CA NGSS Rollout #3 Training of Trainers. Since October 2015, volunteers representing the California Science Teachers Association, K-12 Alliance, California Department of Education, California Science Project, and California County Superintendents Educational Services Association have worked tirelessly to create 2-3 hour long Workshops for the 3rd California Next Generation Science Standards Rollout. At the January meeting, educators who, beginning in April, will present the workshops across the state, were introduced to the new sessions and learned the finer points of presenting them. The CA NGSS Rollout Symposia are the outcome of Strategy 1 of the California Department of Education Implementation Plan for the CA NGSS which states:

“CDE participates with other professional learning stakeholder organizations to convene CA NGSS transition roll-out workshops and webinars for local teams of teacher leaders and administrators focused on the differentiated needs and standards for each grade span.”

Keep checking the CSTA website and reading California Classroom Science for CA NGSS Rollout #3 registration links. The first of these events will take place at the San Joaquin County Office of Education April 13 2016 8:00AM – April 14 2016 4:00PM. (#cangssrollout

California Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative (@earlyimplement)

On January 21-23, over 100 science educators belonging to 8 California public school districts and 2 California Charter Organizations, took part in an intensive Mid-Year Leadership Training.  The event was guided by Kathy DiRanna, Statewide Director, K-12 Alliance/WestEd, K-12 Alliance Regional Directors, and District Project Directors.  Participants explored how to further advance NGSS education in their districts and better implement lesson sequences in their own classrooms.  To learn more about the experiences of the CA NGSS Early Implementers, continue to read California Classroom Science and check out these past articles:

In the coming months, keep your eyes open for these events and opportunities:

CSTA Committee Appointments

The 2015/2016 year saw a record number of volunteers staying connected to California science education by getting involved. The call for 2016/2017 committee members will be coming soon.  If you are currently volunteering on a committee, thank you for your time and service – I hope you consider submitting your name once again. If you are not currently on a committee, I encourage you to consider volunteering. Serving on a CSTA committee is an excellent way to hone your leadership skills, meet incredible California science educators, and stay up-to-date on what is happening in California science education.

CSTA Committees include:

  • 2017 Conference Committee
  • Outreach/Electronic Communications Committee
  • Legislative Oversight Committee
  • Marketing/Communications/Membership/Preservice Committee
  • NGSS Committee
  • Publications and Materials Review Committee

2016 California Science Education Conference (#cascience16)Registration Opens May 2016.

Palm Spring, October 21-23, 2016

2016 will be an exciting year for science education in California. Implementation of the California NGSS will be in year three, the California Science Curriculum Framework will be released for a second public review and may even be adopted before the end of the year, components of the state’s new accountability system will be on-line, and we will have a better idea of what to expect for science from our statewide assessment system.  The only place in California that will have information about all of these components as well as offer high quality educational workshops and opportunities for networking with fellow educators to talk about how this translates into your local context is at the 2016 California Science Education Conference.  No other event will bring together this many California science educators in one location that is large enough to offer the diversity of programming educators need, but also small enough to create an environment that

A Special Note of Thanks

Before I wrap up this month’s message I feel compelled to say something off topic.  One of the perks of being President of the California Science Teachers Association is that the un-edited version of the California Classroom Science arrives in my email inbox about a week earlier than the final draft goes out to our subscribers. It arrives with the intent of me providing edits (along with the edits made by our dedicated CSTA Publications Committee), but I often get so involved in the articles that I lose sight of my purpose. I just finished reading the February issue and was blown away by the articles. I continue to be impressed by the authors who give their personal time to share their insights with all of us. Thank you to all the authors of this issue, and those of past issues, for volunteering your time to contribute your expertise. Thank you also to the talented CSTA Publications Committee members who work long hours behind the scenes to put out California Classroom Science each month – Valerie Joyner, Minda Berbeco, Mary Elizabeth, Joanne Michael, and Jessica Sawko.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.