January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

President’s Message

Posted: Thursday, September 1st, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

It is the beginning of September and classroom teachers around the state are preparing for the start of a new school year. As you begin this annual rite of passage, I encourage you to think about ways that you can incorporate critical thinking and problem solving into your classes. If you are teaching in an elementary school where classroom science minutes have been reduced or eliminated, I encourage you to think about how you could incorporate your students’ curiosity of the natural world into your otherwise scripted curriculum, if you are in a middle school with pacing guides and school wide assessments, think about how you can tap the energy and curiosity of your young adolescents. Finally, if you teach high school and beyond, consider how you can focus on the processes of science, scientific thinking, and applying knowledge of science to novel situations. In short, it is time to commit to a year of “Thinking Science.”

For many teachers, this time of year begins with reports of past test scores, renewed dialog on how to raise those elusive API or AYP scores, and new strategies for organizing the school day to enhance learning in the classroom. If this sounds like a replay of past opening day speeches, it probably is. Granted, some schools have seen appreciable increases in their test scores, some which can even be attributed to one of the above strategies, but many are faced with another year, another mandate, and another strategy. Unfortunately, the thing that is often left out of many of these approaches is the sheer joy and curiosity that is the science that we love. It is time to look for ways to engage our students, whether they be kindergartners looking at insects with hand lenses or physics students investigating ways to use lasers to detect changes in the density of liquids and gases.

As you plan your year, look for those places where a real, hands-on, interaction with the natural world will give a better experience than reading about it. Focus on asking students to ponder what they see, to categorize and organize their observations, to draw conclusions from real data and to propose ways to investigate what they are seeing further. Don’t be afraid to ask questions before telling answers.

Many of us, who have been teaching for a number of years, remember the “Wait Time” admonitions of Mary Budd Rowe. Unfortunately, we have lost the courage to endure those endless seconds of silence that are so valuable in helping students to generate thoughtful responses. We are tempted to move the discussions along by responding too quickly when a student takes a breath in the middle of their answer. In short, we have been driven by the artificial pace of an all too packed curriculum at the expense of the luxury of thinking deeply about a question or a problem.

As you begin (or finish) planning for the coming year, please think about how you can reintroduce your students to thinking about the natural world. Yes, we will continue to be measured by the results of the STAR Tests but we don’t have to let those tests rob us of the joy in a student’s eyes when they have solved a difficult problem for themselves, when they have drawn a conclusion that is based on evidence or proposed an experiment to test an hypothesis. The ability to do these higher-order thinking tasks is not automatic. Just like the star volleyball player or the lead clarinet in the band, this is a learned skill. To do it well, we have to practice. We have to devote as much time and effort as we can to helping our students develop the ability to think for themselves. For the children’s sake, find that little sliver of time when you can set aside the script and delve into their curiosity.

I am looking forward to the coming year. As I have said in previous columns, these can be exciting times for science education in California. If and when the opportunity to move forward with systemic change comes, we want to be ready to embrace it. We don’t want to have to start thinking about thinking at the same time we are developing new curriculum. We want thinking and curiosity to be the tools that propel us into a new and more vibrant tomorrow.

I welcome comments about this or any articles that I have written or, if the mood strikes you, comments about how CSTA can support your efforts to provide the highest quality science education for all children in California. I can be reached at president@cascience.org.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.

 

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

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Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. 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.