A Look Back with an Eye on Tomorrow
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.
by Michelle French
Since the public reviews of the Next Generation Science Standards have come to a close, like many primary teachers, I’ve been wondering what science will look like in kindergarten, first, and second grade classrooms. Learn More…
“SOL Grotto, 2012. 1368 glass tubes, paint. Fabrication: Matarozzi Pelsinger, Rael San Fratello Architects. SOL Grotto is a contemporary take on a grotto or Throeau’s cabin – a spartan retreat that is a space of solitude and close to nature – where one is presented with a mediated experience of water, coolness and light. The SOL Grotto also explores Solyndra’s role as a company S#@t Out of Luck. 1,368 of the 24 million high tech glass tubes destined to be destroyed as a casualty of their bankruptcy, are used in the installation. The tube’s original role as a light concentrating element is extended to transmit cool air into the space via the Venturi effect, to amplify sounds from the adjacent waterfall via the vibrations of the tubes cantilevering over the creek, and to create distorted views of the garden. The form of the electric blue array evokes Plato’s Allegory of the Cave where shadows, light and sounds can call reality into question.”
Responses from Readers:
Peter A’Hearn: Rush hour in little blue circle land.
by Valerie Joyner
Congratulations to CSTA member and STEM Educator, Katherine Schenkelberg, of West High School, in Torrance, CA! Katherine was recently awarded one of the 2013 Vernier/NSTA Technology Awards. An appointed panel of experts selected her for her innovative use of data-collection technology. “The use of data-collection technology in the classroom helps foster students’ interest in STEM education and provides them with engaging, hands-on opportunities for scientific investigation,” said David Vernier, co-founder of Vernier and a former physics teacher. “For ten years Vernier and NSTA have recognized innovative STEM educators through this award and this year’s winners are no exception – their projects and programs truly utilize the power of data-collection technology as part of the teaching and learning process.” Learn More…
by Tim Williamson
Members of the California Science Teachers Association are now in the process of voting for qualified CSTA members to fill the seven openings on the CSTA Board of Directors for the 2013-2015 term.
The election is being conducted electronically and opened for voting on April 16, 2013. Voting will close on May 16, 2013. All CSTA members were sent links to the online ballot. Members for whom we do not have current email addresses or who request a paper ballot have been mailed a ballot and candidate statements. Learn More…