September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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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.