July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

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. (more…)

Demystifying the NGSS

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Clea Matson

As with any transition in education, supporting teachers in their own learning about the what, how, and why of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is incredibly important. Since it was announced in 2013 that California would be adopting the NGSS, the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) Teacher Professional Development team has been designing and implementing a series of workshops meant to educate and reassure teachers as they make their way through the implementation timeline. Materials and strategies from the first workshop in this series, Introduction to the NGSS, is available as the free online resource NGSS Demystified: A Free Toolkit for Training Teachers. (more…)

What Do Teachers Do?

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

There is a quote from the newly published version of the California Framework:

“Teachers and administrators will not only have to consider a new context and programs, but they will need to think differently about their roles and their day-to-day work. The entire educational system will need to consider how to support these shifts throughout teacher and administrator careers (from pre-service to in-service) and how to implement policies and programs to support the transition from the awareness phase of the CA NGSS through and beyond the full implementation phase of the CA NGSS.” (Education, 2016) (more…)

Being an NGSS Teacher: Living with Uncertainty

Friday, May 5th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

“Teaching with NGSS;” this phrase is becoming colloquial in our profession. The actual meaning of it is probably more amorphous than anyone would care to admit. I am going to explain how I “teach with NGSS” in this article. This diatribe is not meant to be the pathway to follow, just a simple path and an elucidation of how one teacher in California does it.

First off, there is a big philosophical assumption about the NGSS that one ought to have before trying to figure them out or attempt to practice NGSS’s tenets. The philosophical stance is built from the three tenets of How People Learn. This book says that learning occurs metacognitively, through conceptual frameworks, and is based on prior knowledge (Bransford, Brown et al. 1999). Most of us have heard these things a lot during our teaching lives, but one needs to truly embrace them. The other thing about the NGSS, which stands for “Next Generation Science Standards” (which truly are standards for the next generation), is that the clause: “All Standards, All Students” is not just a platitude but the actual, true intention. The standards are designed for all students to take them in school, not just the ones who sign up for specific courses (like the previous standards).  (more…)

Let’s Get Them Outside!

Friday, May 5th, 2017

by Jacquelyn Johansen

As a science teacher, I am lucky enough to be able to take my students to several outdoor venues where students have the opportunity to learn in a natural environment. This has been an invaluable part of their education experience: students can multiply their knowledge of field methods, make strides in their environmental stewardship, and learn to use NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). Based on my observations of student learning in outdoor environments, I set out to find answers about how inquiry and participatory education opportunities affect the attitudes of students towards nature.

I surveyed students on two field trips to a local zoo and found they showed statistically significant increases in their connectedness to nature using the Nisbet Nature Relatedness Survey (Nisbet, et al, 2009). This survey included nature “experience” questions such as, “I take notice of wildlife wherever I am,” and “perspectives” questions such as, “I think a lot about the suffering of animals” (Nisbet, et al, 2009). Students also showed increases in the category of “self,” which included statements related to the entitlement of humans to resources such as, “humans have the right to use natural resources any way we want” (Nisbet, et al, 2009). This category seeks to distinguish individuals who feel a strong sense of environmental stewardship from those who are willing to take what they want without considering the cost to the world around them. Based on the results of these surveys, it has become clear to me that outdoor learning can be an integral part of a student’s educational experience.  (more…)

Learning to Teach in 3D

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”

I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. (more…)

The How (and Why) of Science Notebooking in the Classroom

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Clea Matson

“The science notebooks get all the students involved and interested in science. Whether they like to write, or like to draw, or like asking questions, there is an entry point for all of them.” – Erica, 5th Grade teacher, San Francisco

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) ask teachers and students to spend more time thinking and working like scientists. As Karen Cerwin mentioned in her article posted in August, 2016, notebooks are a tool that scientists use to record, reason, and share ideas. From her perspective as Regional Director for K-12 Alliance, Cerwin identifies ways in which science notebooks can be powerful tools for sense-making in the elementary classroom. The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) has created an online library of resources called Science Notebook Corner in order to provide support to teachers state and nationwide in making use of these powerful thinking tools. (more…)

Defining Scientific Literacy for Informal Science Education

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Martin Smith, Steven Worker, Andrea Ambrose, Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty, Kelley Brian, Emily Schoenfelder

Introduction

Scientific literacy is an important educational and societal goal (e.g., AAAS, 1990). Scientific literacy targets socially responsible and competent citizenry in that individuals should be able to participate in and contribute to a society (Hurd, 1998). While there is agreement that advancing scientific literacy among K-12 youth is important, measuring the construct has been problematic since there is no consensus about the meaning or the component parts of what it means to be scientifically literate (DeBoer, 2000). Although “a veritable deluge of definitions” (Roberts, 2007, p. 729) have been developed, historically, most definitions of scientific literacy have focused on generalized knowledge related to major science disciplines, principally content and processes germane to scientists (Roberts, 2007). These “within science” definitions represent a Vision I perspective of scientific literacy (Roberts, 2007). In contrast, a Vision II perspective focuses on situations positioned from the viewpoint of the citizen and concentrates on science-related issues or circumstances individuals may encounter in their lives. (more…)

Getting Started with Engineering

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

by Meredith Casalino

Having been in the classroom for nine years, I have seen all sorts of crazy things. One of those things is that kids will rise to virtually any challenge you give them, and if you let them build something you will have them completely hooked!  For the last three years I have had the incredible privilege to work on a strong 9th grade team at Da Vinci Communications, dedicated to interdisciplinary project based learning. Through this experience I was given the freedom, guidance, and support to integrate engineering into my physics classroom and have seen the power of this practice first hand.

Teaching kids processes to use in order to think and create like an engineer is a great way to get started. In my classroom I used the Project Lead the Way engineering design process, but there are lots of different takes on the engineering design process out there. I do recommend teaching your kids an engineering design process and sticking to it in order for them to have a richer, more meaningful engineering experience. Many schools or districts have one that they prefer so you many not even have to find one on your own. An engineering design process should include lots of flexibility, as well as ways to generate, evaluate, test, and revise multiple solutions to a single problem. (more…)

The Actual Need for a Philosophy of Education

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

by Joseph Calmer, Ed.D

As the year begins, it is time for science teachers to think about their approach to this coming year. This year is an important one too, because of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS is in various stages of implementation across the state and among districts. The idea of NGSS is easy, but the actual practice of NGSS is difficult. Hopefully you’ve read the original framework ((NGSS Lead States, 2013). Maybe you’ve been able to read the California Draft Framework. When reading these tomes, you’ll probably find yourself agreeing with the authors. The teaching philosophy and pedagogy that frames the new standards are sound and are commensurate with current thoughts about teaching and learning (Bransford, Brown, Cocking, & ebrary, 1999; Hattie & Yates, 2013). The next step required for teachers is to turn theory into practice. (more…)

Why Students with Special Needs Need Science in Your Classroom

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Scott Campbell

I am a resource-level special education teacher. Like you, I teach students. As in most classrooms, my students’ skill levels run the gamut from very low to approaching grade level. Unlike you, I do not specifically teach science. Students in my resource program do not qualify for services in science. They qualify for services in the specific areas of reading, writing, math, listening, and speaking. They are pulled out of the regular education classroom for those services. I do my best to schedule these services so there is minimal disruption to you, but the number of students to be seen and the number of minutes available to me limits me. I want us to be partners in the education of our students and I need you to know that my students need to have science in your classroom. (more…)

Preparing for New School Year: Supporting High School Students’ Science Motivation

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Sandra Simpkins and Yangyang Liu

When science teachers prepare for a new school year, they often think about how they can teach their students science concepts and principles in an interesting way. Not only is it important to spark students’ initial interest in science, but is also key to help maintain students’ interest in science. Without that continued support, students who were once interested in science run the risk of losing that interest (Renninger & Hidi, 2016). In fact, 45% of 10th grade students interested in pursuing a STEM career (that is, a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career) lost that interest by the end of high school (Aschbacher, Li, & Roth, 2010) – making high school a critical time for science. High school is often the first time when students can opt out of science coursework as most states require less than four years of science coursework to graduate. When students lose interest in science, they are less likely to take elective science courses – which hinders their college science prospects. (more…)

Finding New Resources in a Changing Science Education Landscape

Friday, August 19th, 2016

by Amity Sandage

Field studies at Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School

Field studies at Santa Cruz County Outdoor Science School

After two decades in education, I still love the natural rhythm of the school year. It is the teacher’s turn in the learning cycle. Reflections at the end of each school year spark new ideas that then flow and percolate throughout the summer. And I know come August I always find myself excited and apprehensive in equal measure. Excited to improve and try new approaches, and apprehensive because I need some concrete resources to accomplish the goals that began as visions floating around in my head and morphed and settled over summer into real plans. But where and how to find these resources when fall is fast approaching and NGSS is changing the landscape? (more…)

Next Generation Science Standards, STEAM, and the Use of Virtual Reality (VR)

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

by Anne Mangahas. Ed.D.

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) with its interdisciplinary approach, is much like the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in building a cohesive understanding of the process of science. Studies show that the Arts use right brain thinking to foster creativity, a quality essential to innovation and problem solving. This new paradigm within STEAM offers students the best opportunities in developing the skills necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Virtual Reality Technology has been shown to enhance student comprehension of complex topics and is beneficial for children with variances in cognitive ability. The interaction involved in virtual reality engages learners by creating a holistic medium that incorporates kinesthetic, cognitive, and affective domains. This experience-heavy quality of VR environments is crucial to the learning process as it provides vibrant contexts. (more…)

Everybody In! Using Cultural Awareness to Support Diverse Classrooms

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

by Emily Schoerning

California science teachers work with some of the most diverse student populations in the country. Finding ways to help students from all sorts of backgrounds achieve in the science classroom can be a real challenge. Learning science often means learning a lot of vocabulary, but it also means learning how to present scientific arguments and utilize the scientific method. By recognizing the intense language and cultural demands of classroom science, we can help to build inclusive environments where diverse students can succeed. (more…)

Three Examples of Science Education Leaders (at least by my definition of leadership)

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Joseph Calmer

Whenever I think about leadership I mentally cut away to various scenes in Office Space. I think too often ‘leadership’ and ‘boss’ are mistakenly used interchangeably. It is probably too common in schools to simply tell teachers what to do (i.e. the old standards) rather than build support of a vision that teachers will (collectively) work towards (i.e. the NGSS standards). For too long science teachers were simply told what to teach.

The problem is, that is not leadership (at least not in my mind). For me, I can differentiate titles from leadership. Yes, there is a chain of command that gives guidance and structure to an organization. But I think that a person who simply has more power than me is not necessarily my leader. The difference between authority and leadership isn’t often thought about or discussed; maybe they are too often even mistaken for the same thing. (more…)

How to Shift to the 3-Dimensional Teaching of NOS for the CA NGSS: Chapter 10

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Lawrence Flammer

Have you been wondering just how you can adapt your favorite lessons to comply with the 3 dimensions of the CA NGSS? And how to shift effectively from your “traditional” teaching style to an “authentic” scientific problem-solving approach? Well, did you read the draft version of the proposed CA Science Framework when it went out for public review last December? And did you get to chapter 10? If you did, you found answers to those first questions. If you didn’t, then DO take a look at Chapter 10.

When the draft was made public, you were strongly encouraged to read Chapters 1 and 2 first. Did you do that? I suspect that many teachers, busy with pre-vacation shut down may have put off their critique of the draft until vacation time. Then vacation time became more impacted than expected, so that critique probably became a minimal review of a specific grade level, and/or a specific subject area of particular experience and expertise. Many may have even skipped the reading of chapters 1 and 2 altogether. Well, if that describes your actions, then you may have just missed much of the material that provides excellent support for making the transition from your former teaching methods to the new expectations of the CA NGSS. (more…)

Navigating the NGSS Change Process: Understanding the How, What, and Why

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by John Spiegel

Change is difficult. It requires significant shifts in thinking as we seek to understand what is changing and how we are supposed to implement those changes. Change can also be deeply emotional. It asks us to rethink the fundamental purposes and rationale for what we do, how we do it, and also why we do it. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) introduce a vision for science education that shifts the way students experience and learn science and engineering. It also places significant demands on teachers to rethink how they plan, teach, and assess in the classroom. Educators respond to these changes with a variety of emotions, which must be considered as part of the NGSS implementation process.

Over the past several years, I have introduced NGSS to thousands of teachers and hundreds of administrators. During that time I have attempted to help them understand what NGSS is and how to implement the Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas into planning, instruction, and assessment. This work has sought to answer the questions of what and how described below. (more…)

Moving into Summer: Maintaining Student Engagement

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Bret States, CSTA Region 1 Guest Contributor

The Secondary Integration of Modeling in Mathematics and Science (SIMMS) Project began in June of 2014 as part of cohort 10 of the California Math and Science Partnership Grant. We currently have 54 high school math and science teachers participating in 60 hours of intensive training and 24 hours of follow up classroom support. The intensive training includes a week-long summer institute, four ½ day Saturdays, plus 9 hours of online/independent training. The follow-up classroom support comes in the form of two rounds of lesson studies.

When the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were officially adopted by the California State Board of Education in 2013, it became clear that teachers wanted specialized professional development. Modeling is one of the science and engineering practices and is a key component of NGSS. Models and/or modeling is mentioned 181 times in the 9-12 NGSS! According to Appendix F – Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS, (more…)

Hands-On Performance Assessment – An Effective Formative Assessment Strategy

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Deborah Tucker and Grant Gardner

Are you looking for ways to assess 3D learning? Tools that assess the NGSS practices? Have you considered hands-on performance assessment? Do you know that California once implemented hands-on tasks in statewide testing?

We Were Ahead of Our Time
You may remember the year (and some of you may have been in elementary school at the time) when California administered hands-on performance tasks during the mid-1990’s as part of the state-wide spring testing program called CLAS. Every 5th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade student in California conducted hands-on investigations along with selected-response and constructed-response items.

Students’ conceptual knowledge and mastery of science practices were assessed. Then, we used the term “science process skills” from the 1990 California Framework. We also used the term “theme” (also from the 1990 CA Framework) to indicate crosscutting concepts. (more…)

Book Review: The Not-So-Intelligent Designer, by Abby Hafer

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Glenn Branch

As the title of The Not-So-Intelligent Designer suggests, Abby Hafer is ready to take intelligent design seriously. A zoologist who teaches human anatomy and physiology at Curry College, she invokes her specialty to argue that intelligent design is refuted by the quirks and kinks, the makeshift solutions and haywire failures, of human biology. Along the way, she offers a spirited assault on the promoters of intelligent design, accusing them of purveying uncertainty and doubt about evolution, peddling religion disguised as science, and engaging in propaganda reminiscent of the tobacco industry. (more…)

Patterns of Survival

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Joey Noelle Lehnhard

To develop a scientific understanding of the natural world, students need lots of time to observe that world and notice patterns. In fact, the Next Generation Science Standards tell us, “noticing patterns is often a first step to organizing phenomena and asking scientific questions about why and how the patterns occur.” This may be different from the way we’ve guided student observations in the past. Before, we might ask for detailed sentences about color, size, and shape. We might have encouraged students to add an illustration and stopped there. However, focusing students on pattern identification can foster authentic engagement with a phenomenon and can lead to opportunities for deeper meaning making. (more…)

New “EiE Video Snippets” Let You Peek Inside the Engineering Classroom

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

posted by Cynthia Berger

Reprinted with permission from http://blog.eie.org/peek-inside-the-engineering-classroom-with-new-eie-video-snippets.

Engineering is Elementary is pleased to announce a new set of online resources for K–12 engineering educators: EiE Video Snippets. This collection of short videos can be used in three ways:

(more…)

Systems Thinking Skills in the Engineering Classroom

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

by Cynthia Berger

Reprinted with permission from http://blog.eie.org/systems-thinking-skills-in-the-engineering-classroom.

The students in Jean Facchiano’s fourth-grade class have spent the morning engineering their own models of permeable membranes, using ordinary kitchen supplies like sponges, coffee filters, and perforated aluminum foil. The goal is to design a system that lets water drip into a frog habitat, keeping the container slightly damp, not dry or flooded.

Berger1.1Each group of students has come up with their own unique system for controlling water flow into the habitat. Now, in the video at right, the students present their results. It’s not just a show-and-tell; it’s a concise demonstration of elementary students starting to apply their systems-thinking skills. (more…)

Experience the Wonders of California Marine Life

Friday, April 8th, 2016

by Laura O’Dell

Now at CSTA discounted rates!

Monterey_Bay_Logo

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” –Loren Eiseley

There is no other place full of wonder and possibilities than our oceans. What better place to explore the wonder of marine life than California’s own Monterey Bay Aquarium? If your summer travel plans include a trip to the Central Coast of California, a stop at the Aquarium is a must. Located in Monterey’s historic Cannery Row waterfront, the Aquarium is the gold-standard for marine life exhibits. Not only will a visit remind you of the sense of wonder that led you to become a science teacher, the Aquarium can provide you with resources that enhance your knowledge and skills as you navigate the NGSS. (more…)

Conservation and Primary Students

Friday, April 8th, 2016

by Joey Noelle Lehnhard

As an educator at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, I think about conservation a lot. The mission of the Aquarium is “to inspire conservation of the ocean,” and that straight-forward principle is at the center of everything we do. For teacher professional development, we host workshops that focus on current marine issues, such as ocean acidification, biodiversity, overfishing, oil spills, and ocean plastic pollution. However, my focus is on elementary education, and inspiring conservation in 2nd graders requires something very different.

Sometimes, as educators who care deeply about the environment, we think that our elementary students can handle these dense topics. We want our curriculum to be rigorous and so we boil down complex concepts into something that they can relate to and understand. Sometimes that works out, but, in the case of conservation education, it can backfire. (more…)

Putting the Science CST into Perspective

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Caleb Cheung and Jill Grace

The implementation of new policies always requires time to understand how the changes link to the previous expectations, as well as time to deeply understand the new demands. In the case of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), one such challenge is how much emphasis should be placed on the science California Standards Test (CST), a test that was implemented in 2004 (grade 5) and 2006 (grades 8 and 10) and is aligned to the state’s previous California state science standards, adopted in 1998.   (more…)

The “All-American” Eclipse of the Sun in 2017: Free Booklet

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Andrew Fraknoi

On August 21, 2017, there will be a total eclipse of the Sun visible from the U.S. (and only the US!) The path of what is being called the “All American” total eclipse is only about 60 miles wide and goes from a beach in Oregon to a beach in South Carolina, crossing the country diagonally. The partial eclipse will be visible to 500 million people in the other parts of the US and North America. (more…)

Engineering Made Easy: Understanding the Role of Engineering in NGSS

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Cynthia Berger

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) put unprecedented emphasis on engineering as part of K-12 STEM instruction. In fact, the standards recommend that engineering be raised “to the same level as scientific inquiry when teaching science disciplines.”

But your school days are already crowded. Adding engineering to the mix can sound daunting—especially if you don’t have much experience with science or engineering. (more…)

Climate Change and the Classroom (with a focus on High School)

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Pamela J. Gordon

More than any other class I took at Lynbrook High School (1973-77, in San Jose), the class on environmental conservation most informed my career as an environmental consultant and Climate Reality Leader.

So strong was our teacher Hal Skillman’s commitment to his students’ efficacy in protecting the environment, that half-way into his semester-long class, he suddenly announced to his idealistic students, “Tomorrow we’ll start a unit on economics.” “Economics?” my classmates and I wondered. “What does economics have to do with protecting the planet?” Without squelching my passion for protecting and improving the natural environment, Mr. Skillman demonstrated that making substantive and lasting environmental improvements necessitated the bridging of science and Capitalism. (more…)

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