July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

A Year in the Life of Two First Year Teachers: Part Four

Posted: Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

by Rick Pomeroy, with Sara and Ellen

Sara and Ellen: California Science Education Conference Reflections

Now that the 2010 California Science Education Conference has been put to bed, I thought it would be informative to ask Sara and Ellen about their experiences in Sacramento.  Both attended the conference in Sacramento, and both have some important things to say about their experiences.

Rick: What was the most beneficial thing you gained by attending?

Ellen: The most beneficial part of the CSTA conference was the resource room.  The workshops are also amazing, but to have hundreds of resource tables in rows ready, willing, and able to help all science teaching disciplines was wonderful.  I was able to get many free gifts such as: class sets of periodic tables, maps and posters, lesson plans, and lab equipment.  I also came in contact with many vendors who could help suggest different laboratories for classrooms and email lists to join.

Sara: I really enjoyed walking through the exhibit hall and getting a bunch of free and informative resources.  I walked away with class sets of periodic tables, posters, and lesson plans.  It’s so nice to be able to get these types of things without paying for them.  I feel like I am always spending money for my classroom, and it’s a relief to get a bit of it for free.  I also like looking at the commercial vendors because, though I am not really in a position to buy anything, I could still adapt their ideas to my own classroom.

Rick: Was there one workshop that you found most helpful for your first year of teaching?

Ellen: Although many were helpful, the most helpful workshop was the keynote speaker on evolution.  Evolution is the part of the biology curriculum that is difficult to teach for many reasons.  Students still do not grasp the conceptual knowledge needed to fully understand evolution and the science behind the evidence of evolution.  Also, many students have so many misconceptions before the unit, it can be a hard instructional unit to plan.  The speaker gave great tips on how to teach evolution and showed teachers how to focus on the macroevolution versus the microevolution that is most common in public schools today.  Overall, he was a great speaker, gave great resources, and had incredible ideas.

Sara: The workshop that I found most helpful was “Bell to Bell Engagement” by Maryanne Tornquist.  She gave us a lot of short and simple strategies for reviewing material and increasing participation.  I really needed that because I needed some fresh ideas that I could turn to for my natural science classes.  It was also beneficial because the attendees had a group discussion to get even more ideas.

Rick: As the conference committee for 2011 begins planning sessions, what suggestions can you make for the kinds of workshops or presentations that would be most helpful to new teachers?

Ellen: There were already so many helpful workshops offered this year! However, if I could add more workshops or presentations, I would like to have more laboratory or demonstrations for the classroom.  I feel I have seen so many repetitive ones over the years, and it would be great to have new, fresh ideas.  Also, more presentations and workshops that are designed to aid ELL students would be great.  There are probably many great techniques that I have not encountered yet, and I would love the help!

Sara: Personally, I would have liked to have seen some more demonstrations and laboratory activities in the workshops.  Ideally, I would like to see  someone show me one good (and fairly unique) demonstration for each major topic in chemistry.  New teachers don’t need to go to a workshop on how to teach English Language Learners; they just learned that in their credential program.  New teachers need good ideas for lesson plans on specific topics.

Rick: How can we reach out to new teachers to encourage them to attend the conference and participate in CSTA?

Ellen: I think the best way to communicate with new teachers is by email or flyers for the schools.  Being a new teacher is so difficult and busy, you feel like there is no way you can sacrifice your limited time.  I think new teachers need to be reminded that it is good to work on their practice by interacting with other teachers and developing their teaching techniques.  Finally, I think a friendly reminder of the resources (equipment, lesson plans, etc) available is a great way to target new teachers

Sara: Many of the teachers in my department did not even seem to know what CSTA was.  I think sending out flyers to schools would be the best method of reaching out.  E-mails can be easily deleted or redirected to spam, but a flyer is always looked at.  Because I am in southern California, I am definitely planning on attending next year’s conference in Pasadena, and I think I may be able to get some of my department to attend as well.  I think CSTA would be wise to focus on the geographical region that the conference will be held in because, obviously, it will be easier for those teachers to attend.

Rick: As new teachers, it is easy to think that conferences are places to get new ideas, but as the 2010 conference chair, I would encourage new teachers to get involved from the very start of their careers by submitting proposals for workshops of their own.  It might be a new strategy that they are using or something that would support other new teachers.  The most important thing is that it is teachers offering professional development opportunities for other teachers.  If you are considering submitting a proposal for the Pasadena conference, now is the time.  Short course proposals are in January, with workshop proposals due in mid-March.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis, and is CSTA’s president-elect.

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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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CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.


Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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.

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.