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.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…