September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.”

CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award

The CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award honors an organization, institution or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. This year’s awardees are the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd and the California Science Project.

K-12 Alliance @ WestEd

The K-12 Alliance has been a leader in science professional development in California for the past 23 years. Over the years their funding sources have shifted and the grade bands to which they provided the bulk of their PD changed accordingly. Through California Science Implementation Network (CSIN), Science Partnerships for Articulation and Networking (SPAN), and Scope. Sequence, & Coordination (SS&C) program, the K-12 Alliance has impacted more than 6,000 schools, 175,000 teachers. Their current efforts focus on a dozen K-8 early NGSS implementing districts.

Throughout their two dozen years of work, several things have remained consistent. They provide high-quality professional learning opportunities for educators. Their staff is well prepared, knowing content, pedagogy, and facilitation. Teachers leave having learned and with increased confidence in their abilities to teach science.

The K-12 Alliance and its staff, including statewide director Kathy DiRanna, have played a critical part in all aspects of the California Next Generation Science Standards. From review and adoption to curriculum framework development and NGSS Statewide Symposium Rollout writing and presenting, the K-12 Alliance has been there every step of the way.

California Science Project

The California Science Project (CSP) has been a major provider of science professional development and leadership in California for many years. Many of California’s leaders in science education have connections to CSP having risen through the ranks from teacher to teacher-leader to CSP Site Director or Science Curriculum Leader at a County Office. Many other science education leaders and advocates are products of CSP PD.

In addition to the countless hours of professional learning opportunities provided by CSP, the organization has been involved in all things NGSS in California. Most notably, under the leadership of Dr. Maria Simani, CSP took on the huge task of writing, re-writing and re-writing the California Curriculum Framework document. In addition, CSP has played a major role in the review of NGSS (serving on the Science Expert Panel), the development of the State’s Implementation Timeline, writing and leading sessions for the NGSS Statewide Rollouts, and more.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST)

CSTA annually partners with the California Department of Education to honor the California science teacher state finalists and recipients of the PAEMST. The PAEMST are the nation’s highest honors for teachers of mathematics and science (including computer science). Awardees serve as models for their colleagues, inspiration to their communities, and leaders in the improvement of mathematics and science education.

Upon announcing the 2014 and 2015 recipients of the PAEMST, President Obama said: “The recipients of this award are integral to ensuring our students are equipped with critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are vital to our Nation’s success. As the United States continues to lead the way in the innovation that is shaping our future, these excellent teachers are preparing students from all corners of the country with the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills that help keep us on the cutting-edge.”

This year, CSTA joins the California Department of Education in recognizing the following individuals:

2014 PAEMST Recipient: Erica Rood, CHIME Charter School (Grade K-6 Cohort)

2015 PAEMST Recipient: Michael Towne, Citrus Hill High School (Grades 7-12 Cohort)

2016 California State Finalists:

  • Dr. Susan Barkdoll, North Verdemont Elementary School, San Bernardino City Unified School District
  • Saroda Chattopadhyay, Grimmer Elementary School, Fremont Unified School District
  • Julie McGough, Valley Oaks Elementary School, Clovis Unified School District
  • Nancy Wright, Lorin Eden Elementary School, Hayward Unified School District

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

Cal

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.