September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Applications Invited for Appointment to the California Practitioners Advisory Group

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

The State Board of Education (SBE) is currently seeking applications to fill up to 15 positions on a newly constituted advisory committee, which will be called the California Practitioners Advisory Group (CPAG), to provide input to the SBE on ongoing efforts to establish a single coherent local, state, and federal accountability system. The advisory committee will also serve as the state’s committee of practitioners under federal Title I requirements.

All applicants must currently meet one or more of the practitioner categories listed below:

  • Superintendents or other Administrators
  • Teachers from traditional public schools and charter schools and career and technical educators
  • Principals and other school leaders
  • Parents of student(s) currently enrolled in the K-12 public education system
  • Members of local school boards
  • Representatives of private school children
  • Specialized instructional support personnel and paraprofessionals
  • Representatives of authorized public chartering agencies
  • Charter school leaders
  • Education researchers

(more…)

Review the High School Draft of the K-12 Computer Science Framework

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

The first review period for the K-12 Computer Science (CS) framework – developed by Code.org, the Computer Science Teachers Association, and the Association for Computing Machinery, along with more than 100 advisors within the computing community – begins February 3 with the release of the high school (grades 9-12) layer of concepts and descriptions of K-12 practices. We invite you to review the framework and participate in the opportunity to shape a vision for K-12 CS education. (more…)

2016 – Already a Busy Year in California Science Education

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. (more…)

The NGSS Crosscutting Concepts ARE Science Content!

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Pete A’Hearn

“How come if people evolved from monkeys, monkeys aren’t turning into people now?”

Evolution-Ahearn-1

I’m going to bet that any science teacher who has taught evolution has run into this question at some point. There are a bunch of incorrect assumptions behind the question, including the idea that evolution is a process that we could observe occurring during our lifetimes. This idea is directly addressed as part of the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity with the idea that:

  • Phenomena that can be observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale.

and

  • Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

(Note that this is not the crosscutting concept called out in the middle school evolution topic. Teachers will need to used multiple crosscutting concepts as well as multiple practices in building coherent units – not just the ones highlighted in the standards). (more…)

The Big Idea Page: A Creative Way to Emphasize the Crosscutting Concepts for Three Dimensional Learning

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Jennifer Weibert

Making three-dimensional learning a reality in the classroom of teachers starting to implement the NGSS can be a struggle. In many cases, the Crosscutting Concepts are often an afterthought. According to A Framework for K-12 Science Education, “…the purpose of the Crosscutting Concepts is to help students deepen their understanding of the disciplinary core ideas, and develop a coherent and scientifically based view of the world” (NRC, 2012). This is achieved via the Crosscutting Concepts, “because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world” (Achieve, 2016). The NGSS were designed for all three dimensions (Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts) to work together allowing the teacher to create an environment where students make sense of real world phenomena. To measure the success of this in an NGSS aligned classroom, teachers need access to evidence of student understanding and thinking. The Big Idea Page was my solution for that. (more…)

Climate Change and the Classroom (with a focus on High School)

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Pamela J. Gordon

More than any other class I took at Lynbrook High School (1973-77, in San Jose), the class on environmental conservation most informed my career as an environmental consultant and Climate Reality Leader.

So strong was our teacher Hal Skillman’s commitment to his students’ efficacy in protecting the environment, that half-way into his semester-long class, he suddenly announced to his idealistic students, “Tomorrow we’ll start a unit on economics.” “Economics?” my classmates and I wondered. “What does economics have to do with protecting the planet?” Without squelching my passion for protecting and improving the natural environment, Mr. Skillman demonstrated that making substantive and lasting environmental improvements necessitated the bridging of science and Capitalism. (more…)

Do We Really Need a Third Dimension?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Peter A’Hearn

The NGSS has defined science learning as three-dimensional. There are Core Ideas and Science and Engineering Practices, which seem similar to content from the old standards. Then there’s this new thing- the Crosscutting Concepts.

So… do we really need the crosscutting concepts? How important are they to science? Consider a few examples from the history of science:

Galileo used a new tool, the telescope, which let him observe the universe at a different SCALE. He observed PATTERNS which he tried to establish CAUSE AND EFFECT relationships to explain. He ended up supporting a new SYSTEMS MODEL of the solar system. (more…)

Crosscutting Concepts – Making Connections and Creating Tools for Student Thinking

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Sue Campbell

Have you ever wondered how they make 3D movies and why some provide a thrilling experience for the viewers and others leave the audience disappointed and even a little sick? My curiosity led to me to do a little reading and research and I discovered that the difference comes in the planning and shooting of the film. 3D movies require different lighting, shooting angles, and more. So if the intent is to have a 3D movie, then the filming must be planned accordingly. Retrofitting a movie to be three dimensional is problematic and the results are usually disappointing. (more…)

CSTA Region 1 – February 2016 Update

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Here we are a month into the new year – how are your resolutions holding up? I recently had a wonderful conversation on this topic with a very thoughtful science education colleague. She shared a science education idea for a resolution. I decided to give it a try as well as share the idea here.

In the past, she recounted, she would take teachings from a book like “Good to Great” or “The Speed of Trust”, etc. and focus her efforts for a year on one of the themes for self improvement. This year she decided to focus on NGSS! Her resolution is to look for and make use of Crosscutting Concepts. (more…)

Considerations for Equitable NGSS High School Curriculum Implementation

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Jenna Porter & Rich Hedman

Over the next few years, school districts throughout California will need to decide which curriculum course model to adopt for high school science.  Unlike middle school, for which there are two relatively straightforward course models (preferred integrated and alternative discipline specific), high schools will have more than 4 distinct course model options (see Table 1).  Which model would be best for high schools in your district?  To assist you in answering that question, we offer some resources and points to consider, and make a recommendation for providing equitable opportunities for all students to access the new science curriculum. (more…)

Teaching Physics Through the Crosscutting Concepts

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Joseph Calmer

I have been teaching science for 10 years. During that time I have taught biology, anatomy/physiology, chemistry, and physics. When the NGSS began to trickle down to us teachers, I began to see the light at the end of the science education tunnel. The authors of the NGSS seemed to grasp the interrelatedness of the different disciplines of science and were trying to explicitly demonstrate that interconnectedness through the new standards. As a science teacher and a person who has studied science for a long time, the connections between science fields are painfully obvious, but to a new learner, the obvious may not be so obvious. (more…)

Helen Quinn Discusses Crosscutting Concepts for NGSS

Monday, February 8th, 2016

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A Free Online Resources for Teaching About Organ, Eye & Tissue Donation

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Patty Ladegaard, Donate Life California

A rite of passage for many high school students is applying for their first driver license or identification (ID) card from the California DMV. When doing so, students will be asked if they would like to join the state organ, eye and tissue donor registry. If they check “yes” a pink “DONOR” dot will be printed on their driver license to indicate their wishes. But how do teens get the information they need to make an informed decision about organ donation? When students study organ, eye and tissue donation and transplantation in school, they are able to make a decision about organ donation based on scientific information and fact, rather than myth and folklore. It also allows them an opportunity to discuss the topic with family prior to visiting the DMV. (more…)

CSTA Thanks NGSS Curriculum Framework Review Session Hosts and NGSS Committee

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

by Laura Henriques

Dawn O'Connor of the Alameda County Office of Education kicks of a Draft Science Framework Group Review Event.

Dawn O’Connor of the Alameda County Office of Education kicks of a Draft Science Framework Group Review Event.

As Lisa Hegdahl wrote about in her President’s column, there were 30 California Science Framework First Public Review Sessions hosted across the state. More than 625 people participated in them and they provided feedback directly to the California Department of Education and to CSTA. We’d like to give a shout out and thanks to all the review session hosts and committee members who participated in this process.

Hosts had to secure a venue, advertise, coordinate RSVPs, get snacks and then coordinate all the feedback (both to CDE and to CSTA). As many of these review sessions happened towards the end of the 60 day public comment period, they had to do this quickly. (more…)

New Brochures Help Explain California Common Core State Standards

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

What kinds of things will my child learn in mathematics and English language arts in first grade? In high school? New brochures focused on the California Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA) are now available to help teachers and other educators answer such questions from parents, guardians, and other community members. (more…)

Celestial Highlights, February Through Early March 2016

Sunday, February 7th, 2016

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

For much of February, early risers can enjoy all five bright planets before dawn. The waning Moon sweeps past all five bright planets Jan. 27-Feb. 6, and in its next time around, past four planets Feb. 24-Mar. 7. Jupiter begins rising in evening twilight. 

On our evening and morning mid-twilight charts, showing the five naked-eye planets and the 16 stars of first magnitude or brighter visible from southern California, stars always shift from east to west (left to right) in the course of the month, as a consequence of the Earth’s revolution around the Sun. (more…)

CSTA Past President Sue Pritchard Reports in on Student Achievement

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

Sue Pritchard, CSTA Past President and middle school teacher at Washington Middle School in La Habra wrote into CSTA last month to share the wonderful news that her students were the winners of the first round of the Lexus Eco Challenge and a $10,000 prize! The all female student team, dubbed the “Water Guardians” were recognized for their achievement in the Orange County Register in December. Click here to view the article. They’re working on replacing sod on campus with drought-resistant plants, they encouraged the school district’s plumber to reduce the water flow from the building’s hand-push faucets by one-third, and they are waiting on developments regarding their push for low-flush toilets, water-efficient faucets, and more (more…)

Population Education to Host Facilitator-Training Institute

Saturday, February 6th, 2016

The facilitator training is open to educators who are interested in leading Population Education workshops for their colleagues at schools, universities, and conferences around the region.  Participants will include K-12 teachers, university education faculty and nonformal educators who work with teachers.

Thanks to foundation support, we are able to cover most of your expenses for the weekend event (two nights lodging, meals during the weekend and up to $500 travel stipend).  Participants will also receive an extensive handbook of training materials and a variety of curriculum resources, including the latest edition of Population Education’s award-winning “dot” video, World Population. (more…)

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