January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

San Diego Early Implementers Take the Lead in Strengthening Support for Science in Their District LCAP

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Jill Grace

For the past couple weeks, the *Core Leadership Team and Teacher Leaders of the CA NGSS (K-8) Early Implementation Initiative in San Diego have rallied together to positively impact San Diego Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to increase support for science in their district. With State Board of Education President, Mike Kirst and Member, Trish Williams call to start implementing NGSS in this recent Ed Source article, I thought it prudent to share with you the grassroots work this team is doing to support those of you who are also raising up your voices as a stakeholder group in your district plan. (more…)

Advocating for Access to Financial Support of Science in Your School and District

Friday, January 15th, 2016

revised 9/1/2016

by Jill Grace

Teachers, the moment is NOW for you to take action to influence how your district supports science education.

I often get inquiries by teachers as to how they can gain access to financial support as they transition to instruction in the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). This includes funding to attend professional learning opportunities (like the state-wide CA NGSS Roll Outs or CSTA’s California Science Education Conference which has a heavy CA NGSS emphasis) or sub-release time for teacher collaborative planning. The lack support in some districts and schools for these activities appears to be a “lost in translation” issue; many principals and district leaders are financially supporting these activities as they relate to English language arts and math, but not science. One of the reasons why we have a lengthy period of time leading to full implementation of the CA NGSS is to give teachers time to prepare: time to refresh on science concepts that are new at your grade-level and time to wrap your head around the shifts in instruction that the CA NGSS call for. The need for this time to prepare for the implementation of the CA NGSS is recognized at the state-level.

Dr. Michael Kirst, President, California State Board of Education

Dr. Michael Kirst, President, California State Board of Education

“We encourage local districts to begin implementation of the science standards now. The recently released draft of the new California NGSS curriculum framework can serve as an invaluable resource at all grade levels. We recognize the time required to build capacity among teachers and students for these new science standards,” said Mike Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education.

Trish Williams, member and NGSS Liaison on the California State Board of Education (SBE) added: “the State Board of Education knows that the NGSS represent a very different way of teaching from the 1998 California science standards, and knows that change takes time; teachers of science will need professional learning support from their district to explore and become comfortable teaching science with an NGSS three-dimensional approach.” (more…)

Phenomena Are Jawsome!

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

by Jill Grace

This past August, I worked as part of the Content Cadre for the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd’s California K-8 Next Generation Science Standards Early Implementation Initiative. My partners on the Cadre were Lisa Martin-Hansen (Science Education, California State University, Long Beach) and Ed Price (Physics, California State University, San Marcos) and it was our job to provide adult-level education to our 8th grade Teacher Leaders from five southern districts/charters (High Tech High, Lakeside, Palm Springs, San Diego, and Vista) at the VIDA School in Vista. In the process, we modeled what instruction using the NGSS could look like in their classrooms. (more…)

Stages of NGSS Grief

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Jill Grace

So here we are in August. You are likely a responsible science educator and have spent some time digging into NGSS and considering how you will be making some changes this school year. Observing so many teachers across California these past two years of NGSS awareness, I get the sense we could all use a good laugh at this point! (I would like to express that in no way is this intended to trivialize those suffering from grief.)

As we settle in, we realize that we have a lot of work to do get ready for the NGSS. I am experiencing a lot of emotions with respect to this change and I’ve been witnessing similar emotions in other teachers during the course of this journey we’ve been on together. (more…)

Fostering Metacognition Through Assessment

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Jill Grace

Assessment…

When I ponder that word, I am flooded with various – shall I say – feelings. And these feelings are deep-rooted feelings. On one hand, as a teacher, assessment is simply the cornerstone of understanding how my students are doing from beginning to end of instruction. Building a classroom culture where students are expected to have conversations about content provides me with a special window to listen in – are they getting it? I don’t need to give a quiz or a test, I just need to listen. I often look over their shoulders, peering into their personal thinking as they describe what they understood in their science notebook. I assess constantly, daily, by the minute just by being present walking around the classroom. (more…)

It’s Short Course Line Up Time!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

california_science_teachers_association_large_cropped

by Jill Grace

Want to dig deeper?  Excited to learn from seasoned experts in the field?  Wish you could have a guaranteed seat in the room?  Do you enjoy a smaller session with more presenter interaction?

Then conference short courses are calling your name!

CSTA is proud to present an amazing line up of eighteen short courses for the 2015 California Science Education Conference scheduled for this October 2-4 in Sacramento.

There short course are designed to help you dig deeper into Common Core and many of the key dimensions of NGSS.  There are also short courses designed to help support your quest for quality STEM instruction and some innovative programs that will transform your classroom instruction.  Each short course’s duration is three to six hours, giving you the chance to really interact and make sense of the material.  (more…)

Meaningful Thinking in 140 Characters or Fewer

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace

I’ve learned the hard way that I will get “huffs”, eye-rolls, grunts, and the occasional nuclear meltdown from students if I ask them to summarize their learning in, dare I say it, a paragraph. It’s as though paragraph is a bad word and how shocking that I would ask for one in science class! I even get slammed with questions: “How many sentences to I have to write?” (why are we still asking that question in middle school?), “Do I have to use complete sentences?”, and “Do I really have to write a whole paragraph?” *teacher sigh*

First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of having students produce writing in a science class. I will also admit that this can be a challenge, and so the year that I decided to make the shift to an interactive science notebook it was glaring at me. I would be asking students for writing as a vehicle to share their thinking (in what we refer to as “outputs” in the notebook) all the time. Although we wouldn’t be able to avoid the writing, sometimes I may want to ask my students to share their thinking in a way that will avoid the drama that asking for a paragraph can sometimes generate. (Incidentally, this was all prior to implementation of the Common Core Standards – where anecdotally, in just one year, I’ve seen a big shift in student acceptance of writing outside of language arts.) (more…)

Video(s!) of the Month

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

curated by Jill Grace

I’d like to introduce you all to my current favorite messenger of science, Chicago’s The Field Museum of Natural History’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent, Emily Grasile. Emily is the host of the very popular science YouTube channel, The Brain Scoop, which recently celebrated its two year anniversary. An art major who started volunteering at the University of Montana’s Philip L. Wright Zoological Museum and fell in love with science, Emily brings her own curiosity of science and passion to this fun series which give us an inside view of scientific collections and their application to scientific understanding. (more…)

Support for District Science Coaches

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace

favicon_final_1-11a

One of our goals here at CSTA is to be a supportive resource to science educators statewide. In this new environment of NGSS, many teachers now find themselves shifting job positions and are working as science coaches. This job shift is a new frontier for many and we felt there was a need to have a forum where conversations can happen and best practices can be shared. With that in mind, we decided to add to our list of Facebook groups and created California Science District Coaches.

If you are a district science support provider, teacher leader, teacher coach, TOSA, or TSA – we invite you to request to join the group. Once you do we will follow up by sending you a Facebook message (an effort to avoid spammers and individuals that might commercialize the page). Be sure to check “other” in your Facebook messages and reply to get permission to join the group.

Our page moderators will regularly post information that is relevant to you and members of the group can also share resources, ask questions, and find a supportive network. Join us!

CSTA’s other Facebook groups:

The E Word

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Jill Grace

There’s so much excitement lately in the world of NGSS. There is an energy I haven’t felt since I was a new teacher. It’s palpable. Teachers are once again the learners, outside our comfort zones trekking along a new path, making new discoveries, trying new things. Some of these new experiences are fantastic and fill us with a new sense of purpose and inspiration. Some end up being things we profusely apologize to our students for, “Sorry guys, that pretty much didn’t work out at all, let’s try this instead”. No doubt this is an exhaustive process, mentally and even sometimes physically, and on some days we might wish we could crawl up on our couches under that super fluffy blanket (insert comforting beverage of your choice) and forget that change is upon us. But it’s also exhilarating. It makes you feel alive again.

Given all of the changes, I have been feeling pretty comfortable. I thrive in “big idea land” and love weaving multiple layers into my instruction, so the whole 3D aspect to NGSS is gratifying to me (3D = the blending of Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross Cutting Concepts). I love the challenge of getting my students to the point where they have their “ah ha!” moment and see it all come together. With my background in marine biology, a very “integrated” field, I’ve had an easier time wrapping my head around the middle school progressions and seeing the connections in a way that I can tell is harder for many of my colleagues. I’ve been feeling pretty great about it all. Except for one tiny little thing.

Engineering. (more…)

ELA in My Science Class? Wait..What?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Jill Grace

For many science teachers, the thought of having responsibility for the language development of students is a sobering prospect. Burned into my memory are the comments of many of my single subject peers in my credential program that could be summed up with the phrase, “I’m teaching science, not reading, that’s the job of the language arts teacher,” clearly unhappy over the prospect of having to take a course on reading and writing in the subject area. Over the years, these words still echo in staff meetings, on discussion boards, and even over meals between colleagues.

From day one, I was shocked by this mentality. (more…)

Taking the Interactive Science Notebook Plunge

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jill Grace

I kept hearing about it for years. THE NOTEBOOK. It sounded interesting, it had good research street cred, everyone seemed to rave about it, BUT…I was intimidated. What is up with the input-output stuff? Besides, I was already doing a good job teaching, right?

It wasn’t until one particular bunch of kids in one particular school year that I realized I NEEDED to take the plunge. It was no longer an option. It was a tough group that year. I found I was hitting my head against the wall trying to help some underachieving students be successful. I figured that if the “Interactive Notebook” (which I will refer to as IN) was good for improving the literacy of students learning English then it had to be beneficial for all students. (more…)

Call for Volunteers: Introducing the CSTA Outreach/E-Communications Committee

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Jill Grace

Times have changed, and therefore, so does CSTA! We are excited to announce the formation of the Outreach/E-Communications Committee. The purpose of this committee is to expand CSTA’s outreach and communication efforts with on-line audiences. (more…)

Ocean’s Music: Climate’s Dance

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

By Jill Grace

As a teacher beginning to explore how to move ahead with the Next Generation Science Standards, I’ve been challenging myself to see how I can transform some of my current content. For example, I’ve recently been teaching my 7th graders about how geology and climate drive biology (to support the 1998 California standard, 7.4.d). Previously as 6th graders, they explored concepts related to heat distribution in the oceans and atmosphere (6.4.d and 6.4.e). When I tease out just the climate piece of my instruction, and consider the relationship between ocean and climate, it’s easy to see how rich the topic is, that it easily supports many of the shifts called for in NGSS, and that the topic works well with either middle school progression of NGSS. (more…)

Journalists of the Sea King News Bring You Technology, Engineering, and Science!

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

7th graders Siena O’Regan and Mehak Dedmari interview 8th grade STEM student Ryan Bloodgood.

7th graders Siena O’Regan and Mehak Dedmari interview 8th grade STEM student Ryan Bloodgood.

Journalists from the Sea King News at Palos Verdes Intermediate School (PVPUSD, Los Angeles County) have been hard at work.  They have stepped up to do a special report for CSTA!  Check out their video broadcast, highlighting how their school uses technology and engineering to help students understand math and science.  Under the spotlight in this episode is the school’s STEM program, a series of very popular elective classes.  See why students love this program so much, how it helps them bridge understanding in their other classes, and how students recognize the impact it will have on their future. (more…)

Highlights from NGSS Science Curriculum Framework Focus Group #3

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

by Jill Grace

I had the pleasure of attending the Science Curriculum Framework Focus group in Orange County on January 31, 2014.  The focus group was hosted by the Orange County Department of Education with 3 other counties, Ventura, Los Angeles, and Riverside, participating via teleconference.  A huge shout out to the 80 dedicated individuals who attended and had to brave rush-hour traffic on a Friday evening!  It was also nice to see several dedicated members of the Instructional Quality Commission present among the four counties listening in on the conversation.   (more…)

Making the Case for Change

Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Jill Grace

Earlier this month I came across an article by the editorial board of the New York Times.  It summarized some recent findings from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Survey of Adult Skills (OECD).  The study measured adult proficiency in literacy, numeracy, and problem solving in information-rich environments. Arguably, these skills are at the heart of a world becoming more and more technologically advanced. This study, as you may have guessed, is yet another one showing we (Americans) are missing the mark.  What is especially poignant about this particular study, however, is that it provides data showing it is not just school-aged children falling behind their international counterparts, but working-aged adults as well.  Now, we can spend hours debating the quality of the study and its methods but at the end of the day it’s yet another study suggesting Americans currently have poor skills and, worse yet, that we aren’t improving.  (more…)

Middle School Matters

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Jill Grace

Welcome back middle school science teachers! I hope you had a nice relaxing summer.  Although, come to think of it, most teachers I know spend their whole summer working, taking classes, revamping content, figuring out how to squeeze in that Common Core thing… the list goes on.  Personally, I find “summer” to be an illusion to get me through the school year, but at least that works well enough to help me muster up the strength to teach all of our excitable, distracted, goofy, and hormonal quasi-teens.  (more…)

la2017_logo_235x235Early-Bird Deadline: Feb. 3, 2017

CSTA members save up to $90 on registration!

Not a member of CSTA? Join/Renew today:

CSTA One Year Membership ($50)

Joint NSTA/CSTA Membership ($114 – a $129 value)