September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Western Regional Noyce Conference Bring Together Future Math & Science Teachers

Posted: Monday, December 3rd, 2012

by Laura Henriques

The National Science Foundation provides Robert Noyce Scholarship Grants to numerous universities and colleges to support STEM majors who commit to teach in high need schools. The Noyce Scholarship program is highly competitive. Applicants must have a degree in a STEM field, a high GPA, and demonstrated desire to work with at risk/high need students. Prospective teachers who are selected to be Noyce Scholars get financial and programmatic support as they complete their bachelor’s degree and credential. In return for the financial support they must teach one year for each semester of funding. California has had 62 Noyce programs at 35 different campuses, each of which supports 20-40 students over the life of the grant. Preliminary data suggests that the Noyce Scholars remain as teachers in high need schools long after they have worked off their commitment. What a wonderful investment this is for our state! 

For the past several years, the campuses in the western US have come together for a Western Regional Noyce Conference. In 2008 and 2009 the conference was led by Noyce Leaders at Cal Poly Pomona and CSU San Bernardino. The 2010 conference was hosted by CSU Fresno, and the 2011 conference was hosted by CSU Long Beach. This year Nyoce Scholars went to Tucson, AZ, where the University of Arizona put together another great event. More than 220 participants spent a weekend attending keynote sessions, workshops and networking opportunities. The planning team of Ingrid Novodvorsky, Debra Tomanek and Becky Perez pulled together sessions that addressed topics pertinent to prospect and novice teachers. There were workshops associated with using inquiry in the classroom (for both math and science teachers), lessons about integrating STEM topics, mentoring of new teachers, advice on how to use technology in the classroom, grant writing for the classroom, and ideas about connecting with your students to make learning meaningful and relevant. Most sessions have presentations and handouts posted online. Keynote sessions were similar to Focus Speaker sessions at our CSTA conference and they motivated the teachers in the audience and addressed current issues in the field.

As someone who prepares future teachers, it was exciting to see so many passionate educators starting out on their career path. It bodes well for our profession to see some of our brightest college students deciding to teach and to teach in the schools that need them the most. The meeting space was buzzing with teaching ideas, suggestions on ways to collaborate and thoughts about how to incorporate newly learned information. We look forward to having the California Noyce Scholars become active members of CSTA, and teacher leaders in our state.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

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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.