May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

A Look Back with an Eye on Tomorrow

Posted: Friday, June 22nd, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

As the school year rapidly draws to a close, I hope you are making plans to use the coming summer months to renew your zest for science teaching, exploring new and exciting manifestations of the content you teach, and thinking about all of the great lessons, activities, and “Ah-Ha” moments that you experienced this year. We all know that the financial situation in the state and our schools will continue to be challenging for the coming year but this is not a reason to deprive ourselves of the pleasure that those great classroom experiences can bring.

At this time, I like to look back and think about the things we have accomplished over the past year and the things we can still look forward to. The year started with the flurry of activity around the adoption of the Common Core Standards (CCS). Though only written for Math and English/Language Arts, there has been a huge new level of attention to science particularly in the technical reading and writing sections of the ELA-CCS. While our fellow teachers were scrambling around developing implementation plans, comparing old and new standards, and discussing how these new practices might be assessed, science educators were getting their first peek at the future of science education standards. Over the course of the ensuing eight months, those Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have taken real form finally being released for public review on May 11th.  When the review period ends on June 1st, your comments and suggestions will be incorporated in the next draft to be released sometime in the fall of 2012.

In October, almost 1,500 science educators attended the California Science Education Conference in Pasadena. For three days, attendees enjoyed a wide variety of workshops, short courses, focus speakers and field courses designed to energize and inspire their teaching. We watched corny “B” Science Fiction movies, enjoyed inspiring comments from Wyland and Ed Begley Jr., used the time to renew friendships and shop the exhibit hall for the latest and greatest innovations for science teaching.

Finally, as the year draws to a close, your Legislative Oversight Committee is watching the comings and goings of bills and proposals in Sacramento. As of this writing, the most significant of these legislative actions include the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the mandate requiring a second year of science for high school graduation, and bills designed to restart the framework writing process and calling for the redesign of the state-wide assessment systems. As you close the doors of your classroom for the summer, I encourage you to stay connected with the Association and these legislative actions through the CSTA website and this newsletter to insure that the decisions made in Sacramento do not weaken our already embattled area of expertise.

Finally, as you wind down from this year, it is the perfect time to begin planning your science related activities for next year. In the fall, you will have yet another chance to review the NGSS. During that time, you will also have multiple opportunities to begin to engage in professional development on the NGSS and the Common Core Standards. I would encourage you to take advantage of as many of these experiences as possible. If timing is an issue, make plans now to attend the California Science Education Conference in San Jose on October 19-21.  One thread of that conference will be dealing with the NGSS, what it means to your teaching and your students’ learning. The current assessment system will expire by July 2014 and we want to demonstrate that we are ready for an authentic assessment that resonates with the expectations of the NGSS, with a goal of preparing students who are ready for college or careers.

Above all else, keep a positive mental attitude towards the progress you are making. Look for new ideas to breathe excitement in well-heeled activities and lessons.  By this time next year, the NGSS will be published in their final form; the State Superintendent of Public Instruction will have presented a proposal for new science standards for California; and we will be anxiously awaiting the final decision of the State Board of Education. Enjoy your summer and I look forward to meeting each of you at the conference in October.

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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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