Advancing Student Engagement: One School’s Journey in Transforming Their School’s Culture for Sustainable Academic Achievement and College and Career Readiness Through Increased Student Engagement
Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
by Judi Hayes
As educators we know at the heart of creating sustainable academic achievement and ensuring the college and career readiness of our students, is the provision of a school culture where engagement is valued and maximized. Lake Canyon Elementary School’s administration, staff, and parents have joined together to make increased student engagement a reality. We are providing varied opportunities for students to discover and explore their areas of interest and talent.
There are a wide variety of innovative after-school clubs on our campus, each with a college readiness or career focus. In addition, we have service learning across every grade level, outdoor learning experiences, field trips, exciting all-school assemblies with expert guest speakers, academic competition opportunities, and the implementation of technology use through blended learning. We want to provide a world-class educational experience where students are engaged and informed, their interests, talents and strengths are valued, and knowledge of careers and professions are emphasized.
For example, Lake Canyon recently partnered with many local businesses and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Schoolyard Habitat Program to create four amazing pollinator gardens at the center of our campus. This project enabled students to learn about the plight of pollinators, which are rapidly disappearing, and the impact on the local agricultural community. Students
worked with local landscaping companies, master gardeners, and a beekeeping expert from the UC Davis Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on the creation of this outdoor learning space. This will now be a permanent outdoor classroom on Lake Canyon’s campus. Also, a popular after-school beekeeping club will expand the project, enabling our students to collaborate on continued community awareness initiatives regarding the plight of honey bees, including designing and building bee boxes, and visiting a local beekeeping facility.
Another exciting example of how Lake Canyon is creating opportunities for our students to broaden their learning experience and heightening their engagement took place recently as the school partnered with the Community Engagement Department of the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD). Their utility company experts will guide and support the creation of student-designed solar powered water fountains. Through this strategic partnership, Lake Canyon students will gain first hand awareness of a wide variety of science applications as applied in a real world setting, and exposure to many connected professions in the local community.
The development of strategic community partnerships has played a vital role in Lake Canyon’s implementation of many opportunities to expand the overall engagement of students. Whether it is with local chefs sharing their culinary expertise in an after-school culinary arts club through the national Chefs Move to Schools program, or in the Computer Programming Club, creating their own video game avatars using Scratch programming, the students of Lake Canyon Elementary School are engaged, and participating in a multitude of experiences. This allows them to apply their strengths, interests, and talents in purposeful ways, which will surely lead to increased engagement, academic achievement and college and career readiness.
Lake Canyon’s efforts demonstrate that an elementary school can incorporate innovative experiences for their students leading to increased engagement and an awareness of professions, especially in science fields, with a little imagination and hard work.
Judith Hayes is the Principal at Lake Canyon Elementary in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District
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…