September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

2017 Award Winners Announced!

Saturday, August 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

Each year, the California Science Teacher Association’s Awards Committee has the honor of selecting the year’s Award winners from a slate of talented candidates. CSTA’s awards program solicits award nominations from the CSTA membership and the Board of Directors. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. (more…)

Farewell from Galt, CA

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

McCaffreyMiddleSchool-Hegdal

McCaffrey Middle School, Galt, CA

by Lisa Hegdahl

I am typically not a reflective person. Instead, I tend to get swept up in the day to day moments of teaching, meetings, phone calls, and home life. With one exception – the end of the school year.

While my 8th graders are enjoying the many ends of Middle School activities, I spend the last week of the academic year re-filing, re-packing, and re-organizing a classroom I have lost the battle to somewhere back in October. As the last day winds down, my students stack all the lab tables against the far wall and we are finished for the year. Gathering the last items from my refrigerator, I begin to head out the door for summer ‘vacation’. At this moment, every year, something stops me. I turn around and look back at my clean, bare-floored classroom. Without intention, I remember all that took place there in the past 180 days with 150 students who have now gone on to high school. I remember laughter and struggles, and, at times, a little chaos. I hope that somehow during all that time, I provided my students with valuable experiences and that I was patient and kind to them. For most of them, I will never know. (more…)

Who Do You Know that Represents the Best in All of US?

Friday, May 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

We all know that person. The person that epitomizes professionalism, innovation, excellence, and perseverance. There is just something about them that drives them to go the extra mile and inspire those around them to give their best. Consider exercising your CSTA Membership benefit by nominating someone for one of several awards offered by CSTA – the Future Science Teacher Award, the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, or the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award).

May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. (more…)

Thoughtful Use of Computer Simulations

Friday, May 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

More teachers than ever before are making the transition to the CA NGSS and there are many resources available now to make that transition a smooth one. While we should embrace new ways of teaching our students, we should also be thoughtful consumers of the new information and technologies that come our way.

Computer simulations are a wonderful tool for facilitating CA NGSS instruction. Not only do they allow students to use 21st Century technology, but they also often allow students to explore scenarios that would not be possible in the traditional classroom. And, since the California Science Test (CAST) will be computer based, it makes sense that our students become comfortable with manipulating data with computerized platforms.

With that said, teachers should use computer based science simulations with prudence. In the early years of the CA NGSS adoption, I had the opportunity and honor to have an informal conversation with Helen Quinn. The conversation eventually turned to this very topic of utilizing computer simulations in the science classroom. While all for their practical uses, Dr. Quinn did express concerns that simulations are often too neat. Among others issues, the data that is produced often comes out too perfect (real world data is often messy) and there are limitations as to the variables that can be manipulated which can mislead students. (more…)

CA NGSS Implementation in Full Swing

Friday, May 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl core_ideas

If you have been teaching since Fall 2013 when the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the new science standards for California, you have heard lots of words of encouragement – “Take your time implementing the standards,” “Full implementation is years away,” and “No one knows what NGSS looks like in the classroom.”
However, the transitional years of NGSS implementation have slipped away and much has changed in the CA science education landscape since 2013:

  • In 2013, there was no CA Science Curriculum Framework – in 2017, we have the Pre-Publication Version of new CA Science Curriculum Framework.
  • In 2013, there was no CA standardized science assessment aligned to the new standards – In 2017, we have a Pilot Test being administered in grades 5, 8, and high school.
  • In 2013, there were no districts in California implementing NGSS – In 2017, eight public school districts and two Charter management organizations are in their 3rd year of implementing CA NGSS via the California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, and hundreds more are leveraging their LCAPs and LCFF funding to support implementation work.
  • In 2013, there were no vetted communication tools to inform about NGSS – In 2017, CA4NGSS has several toolkits to support communication with teachers and principals, parents, and district leaders. (Introductory webinar on the tools)
  • In 2013, there were no statewide professional development events centered around CA NGSS – In 2017, the CA NGSS Rollouts begin #4 of the series.

The Time to Implement CA NGSS Is Now 

While, as California educators, we are a long way from the “let’s wait and see” of 2013, we should be encouraged that much work has been done at the state, county, district, and classroom levels to produce a clearer idea of what NGSS implementation looks like for our students. (more…)

Don’t Wait to Communicate About NGSS: Tools Available NOW!

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by the California State Board of Education in Fall 2013, teachers in districts across California have been gradually introducing the Standards to their classrooms. Starting with just a few pioneers, now increasing to an ever larger population of science educators ready to implement phenomenon-based, 3-dimensional science. For many, the success of implementation will depend on communicating the value and intention of NGSS effectively and strategically to a variety of audiences.

Early on, leaders in California science education realized the need for quality, field tested, ready-to-use messages to help education stakeholders reach out to their audiences.  In 2016, the CDE Foundation, Children Now, and the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) with support of partner organizations, prepared a communications toolkit. The messages within the toolkit are grouped by target audiences and stakeholders are encouraged to modify the messages as needed for their unique circumstances. Each audience has a Core Message, Talking Points, and Fact Sheet as well as additional, targeted resources. Messages themselves are tagged as Top-Tier and Mid-Tier indicating how they resonated with audiences during field tests. (more…)

New CA Science Test: What You Should Know

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

updated May 8, 2017

Since the California State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, CSTA and its partners across the state have tried vigilantly to get the message out that the NGSS are like nothing any of us have ever seen before in Science education. The focus thus far has been on the structure of NGSS and the conceptual shifts in the classroom instruction. However, these shifts also apply to how we assess NGSS. This assessment conversation will become even more critical as the new California Science Test (CAST) makes its debut.

Facts about the CAST Pilot Test:

  • Pilot test will take place in Spring 2017
  • All LEAs will administer the pilot versions of the CAST and California Alternate Assessment for Science (CAA) as part of the 2016–17 CAASPP administration.
  • Will be taken by all California fifth graders, 8th graders, and all students in a selected grade levels at each High School (The high school grade assignments are now available on the CAASPP Portal High School Grade Assignments for 2016–17 Science Pilot Testing Web page.)
  • Each grade level pilot will have 10-15 discrete items and a performance task.
  • The pilot will take approximately one-hour to complete including a brief student survey at the end of the test.
  • Online training tests are now available. These allow teachers, parents and students to go online and try out a small number of sample tasks and questions in preparation for the statewide pilot test in the spring.
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide: CDE has released the scoring guide for the CAST training items released in early February. The Scoring Guide offers details about the items, student response types, correct responses, and related scoring considerations for the included sample of training items.
  • The CAA for Science pilot test will be administered to any student in grade five, eight, or the assigned high school grade with an individualized education program that identifies them for alternate assessment and should be assigned to the CAA for Science pilot test. Instructions for assigning tests can be found in the TOMS Pre-Administration Guide for CAASPP Testing linked on the CAASPP Portal Manuals and Instructions Web page.
  • Accessibility Supports for students with IEPs or 504 plans will be limited for the Pilot but will be in place for the Operational Test in Spring 2019.
  • List of CAST Resources available from CDE

(more…)

A Look Back at a Few Highlights of 2016

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

The California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs is now a memory. A huge thanks to Jill Grace, 2016 Conference Chair, her planning committee, CSTA staff, volunteers, presenters, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and CSTA members who made this year’s conference a huge success. Heather Wygant, 2017 Conference Chair is working to set up our first planning meeting for next year’s conference in Sacramento, CA. (more…)

California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On November 3, 2016, the California State Board of Education (SBE) accepted the recommendation of the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to adopt the draft Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (CA Science Framework) with the IQC recommended edits from the second 60-day public review period (a pre-publication version of the Framework with the edits incorporated is expected to be released in the early part of 2017). California science educators have waited for this document since 2013 when the SBE adopted the California Next Generation Science Standards. However, now that the Framework is here, many are not sure how to use it effectively.

While members of the IQC, Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (Science CFCC), and many members of the CDE and SBE have read the entire CA Science Framework, few others will read it cover to cover. Understanding the structure of the Framework and its intent will help readers get the most out of the document. (more…)

What Might Surprise You About CSTA?

Monday, November 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

While attending a recent CA-NGSS Rollout Symposium, I had the opportunity to talk to many science educator colleagues from the Northern California area.  During one such conversation, a participant mentioned that the information I was sharing about CSTA was ‘news’ to him.  It got me wondering what people don’t know about the California Science Teachers Association.

What does CSTA do besides host the annual California Science Education Conference? (more…)

One Year Ends, Another Begins!

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

By Lisa Hegdahl

June 30, 2016 was the end of my first full year as President of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  During that time, I have learned a tremendous amount, worked with amazingly talented and passionate people, and had the opportunity to participate in events that would not have been available to me if I were not president.  While there is still much to do, I feel compelled to express what an honor it is to be part of an association that has accomplished so much in the past 12 months. (more…)

Celebrating CSTA Members in the New School Year

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

April through July, 2016, the California Science Teachers Association welcomed the following New and Renewing Members
(CSTA/NSTA Joint Memberships may not be reflected in this list): (more…)

Celebrating CSTA Members in the New School Year

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

By Lisa Hegdahl

April through July, 2016, the California Science Teachers Association welcomed the following New and Renewing Members (CSTA/NSTA Joint Memberships may not be reflected in this list):

Dive Deeper with Short Courses!

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

Conference_Side_Column_Register-EarlyPalm Springs will be home to the 2016 California Science Education Conference, October 21-23. Attendees will enjoy access to over 150 workshops, keynote and focus speakers, field courses, and evening events designed to help attendees decompress after a long day of learning.

As if that were not enough to make the 2016 California Science Education Conference the place to be for all teachers of science, this year there are 15 Short Courses to choose from!  There are short courses designed to help you dig deeper into NGSS, engineering design, and more. Short courses range from three to six hours giving you the chance to deeply interact and make sense of the material.

With such a large selection, there is something for every grade level and science content area.

Just a few of the 15 Short Course available: (more…)

Destroying Water: A Classic Lab Rejuvenated for NGSS

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Rich Hedman and Lisa Hegdahl

After nearly 15 years teaching the 1998 CA Science Standards, many science educators have file cabinets and hard drives full of activities. The activities themselves are valuable in that they clearly illustrate scientific concepts and phenomena. However, in the past, they were often used only to verify information already presented in class. One of the many challenges of implementing the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) is to move towards three dimensional learning and still utilize activities from the past. How can teachers modify labs that used to be just recipes for verification and turn them into experiences that engage students in the process of scientific discovery?

Electrolysis of water is a classic chemistry lab used as a way to confirm that water is made of 2-parts hydrogen to 1-part oxygen— in other words, that the chemical formula, H2O, is actually based on the proportion of atoms in a water molecule.  Teachers tell students that the chemical formula of water is H2O, and that during the experiment, they will be breaking water into hydrogen and oxygen gases.  Ion-rich water is electrified with direct current (DC), and gas bubbles form at the positive and negative terminals in the solution.  The gases are collected in tubes, and the volume of gas present in each tube is compared.  It turns out that twice as much of one gas is collected compared to the other gas. Teachers frequently use a splint and flame test (very carefully; following all safety protocols) to identify which gas is which (oxygen relights a splint, hydrogen pops loudly) and to verify that the elements that make up water have different properties than the water itself. Students see that there is twice as much hydrogen as oxygen, which verifies the chemical formula of water, and the lesson is completed in one class period. (more…)

Raising the Prestige of Teaching STEM

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

What makes a career prestigious?  Is it the power it wields? The number of people it impacts? The required number years of training? The amount of the monthly paycheck? According to dictionary.com, prestige is defined as:

“…reputation or influence arising from success, achievement, rank, or other favorable attributes.”

Space Shuttle Independence Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

Space Shuttle Independence
Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

At the Houston Space Center, control site for 17 Apollo missions, 275 representatives gathered for the 5th Annual 100Kin10 Partner Summit to explore the question of how to continue to go above and beyond in taking on the grand challenges of training and retaining great STEM teachers.   One of those challenges is identified as –  “teaching lacks prestige and is not widely perceived as a top career choice for STEM graduates”.  Small group sessions allowed partners to examine the issue from a variety of perspectives and experiences.

What is 100Kin10?

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama “announced a national goal to prepare 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next decade.” (more…)

Do I hear 51?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

Who is the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA)?

If you ask someone, they may answer this question by saying, “They are the people who organize the California Science Education Conference” or “They are advocates for state policies and legislation that support me in inspiring my students” or “As a statewide organization, they provide me with leadership opportunities.” While all of these are correct answers to the question, perhaps a more complete answer would be: 

You are the California Science Teachers Association.

CSTA is a statewide organization that is made up of over 3,000 members, and aside from a small (albeit amazing) office staff, CSTA is run entirely by member volunteers. While sixteen of these volunteers make up the CSTA Board of Directors, the remainder are members at large who give of their valuable time and expertise to make CSTA the leading science educator membership organization in the state of California. It is therefore fitting that the programs and services offered by CSTA exist in large part due to the support of its member volunteers.  (more…)

Science Subject Matter Committee Considers Your Comments

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On Friday, February 19th, the Instructional Quality Commission’s (IQC) Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) met to discuss the field results from the first public review session of the draft California Science Framework.  The committee considered all of the over 2,000 suggested edits and revisions. As mentioned in February’s California Classroom Science, the California Science Teachers Association’s NGSS Committee sent in comments from 625 people who attended 30 Framework review sessions across California. Other organizations that submitted recommendations included Achieve, California Department of Education, Children Now, Code.org, and Lawrence Hall of Science. The meeting, held at the California Department of Education in Sacramento, was attended by, among others: (more…)

The Beauty and Wonder of Science

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

“The overarching goal of our framework for K-12 science education is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science …”

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas*

In 1985, I graduated from the University of California at Davis, with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. In 1991, I began teaching 8th grade science in Galt, where our school’s science department determined the topics I taught which, for 7 years, were genetics, sound, astronomy, and body systems. In 1998, the CA Science Content Standards arrived and the 8th grade science curriculum became exclusively physical science – physics, astronomy, and chemistry – a far cry from my Zoological roots. As are many of you, I am now in the process of transitioning to the CA Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) 6-8 Integrated Model which means, once again, changing the core ideas I teach my 8th graders. Instead of strictly physical science, I will now teach Integrated Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science (along with the Science and Engineering Practices, SEPs, and the Crosscutting Concepts, CCCs). (more…)

New California Framework Provides NGSS Inspiration

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

After over a year in development, the California Curriculum Science Framework and Evaluation Criteria document is ‘LIVE’ for a 60-day public review period, November 17, 2015 through January 19, 2016.  During that time, all of us can read the current draft of the CA Science Framework and provide feedback to the California Department of Education (CDE).

I had the honor of sitting on the Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) that worked on the development of the CA Science Framework. From September 2014 – May 2015, the 20 members of the committee read, and re-read, the draft chapters of the CA Science Framework, providing comments and suggestions to the team of writers and the CDE.  Now that my responsibilities with the CFCC are complete, I look at the Framework, not as a Committee member, but as a teacher who will use it as a tool to help me make the necessary conceptual shifts in my teaching so that my students can make sense of the world around them. (more…)

Multimedia for Science Education

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

In the October 22nd issue of the School Improvement Network’s e-Newsletter, the Educational Strategy of the Week was The Increasing Importance of Technology in the Classroom. The article stated, “Today, with smartphones in every pocket and instant access to knowledge of virtually every kind, information technology is woven into every aspect of our children’s lives. The objective is no longer to teach children how to use the technology, but how to use the technology to best teach children.” (more…)

Do You Have a Growth Mindset?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Lisa Hegdahl

As our administration shared with us the traits of people who don’t give up in the face of challenges, my mind could not help but think of the parallels to teachers implementing NGSS. Coincidentally, I had spent the day at a Technical Assistance meeting for the Core Leadership team for our district’s CA NGSS Early Implementation group. As Early Implementers, we have had struggles, successes, and more struggles, all the while learning and growing as educators. Giving ourselves permission to fail and not be perfect, all Growth Mindset qualities, are critical to the process of learning how to provide NGSS 3-dimensional learning experiences for our students. (more…)

What Am I Going to Teach?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

As I write this article, it is the day before I return to my classroom to begin a new school year. Across California, thousands of science teachers are doing the same. Sometime before that first bell rings, we all have to face the question, “What am I going to teach and how am I going to teach it?” As a CA NGSS Early Implementer, I know I will teach the California Next Generation of Science Standards, blending its three dimensions of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas into a learning experience that will help my students construct meaning…at least I will make every attempt to do so. But as I sit down to plan out the details of the first lesson sequence, all that I have learned about NGSS over the past few years stares me right in the face and challenges me to determine how the entirety of all the professional development, research, and collaboration translates into an actual classroom. (more…)

Staying Connected by Volunteering

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. (more…)

The Practice of Teaching Science

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

About 10 years ago, at an after school meeting, our presenter posed the question, “Why did you become a science teacher?” Each of my colleagues gave answers such as, “I wanted to affect the future”, “I loved working with children”, and “I wanted to stay young”. As it came closer for my turn to share, I was in a panic. The truth was, I became a science teacher as a way to get out of a dead end job that had long hours and paid next to nothing.

I have often thought about that day and about the noble motives for entering our profession expressed by my colleagues. Perhaps only those of us who truly have some kind of selfless calling should endeavor to be science teachers.   My reflections led me, however, to the conclusion that it is not important how people answer the question, “Why did you become a science teacher?” but how they answer the question, “Why do you continue teaching science?” I continue teaching science because I love it. (more…)

Enjoy CSTA Membership Benefits with Your Family!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

There has never been a better time to be a member of the California Science Teachers Association.  CSTA members:

  • Keep updated on NGSS implementation
  • Gather at the Annual Conference
  • Enhance their Knowledge & Skills
  • Share Teaching Tools & Resources
  • Influence State Education Policy

As the advocate for high quality science education in California for more than 50 years, the California Science Teachers Association offers networking, professional development, and advocacy to ensure state policies and legislation support you in inspiring your students. Members form a community of more than 2,500 K-6, middle school, and high school science teachers, college faculty, and educators.

There’s More! (more…)

California’s NGSS Early Implementers Meet for Mid-Year Training

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Corrected March 9, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

The last time we were all together was August of 2014. Since then, we have ‘experimented’ with implementing the Next Generation of Science Standards with varying degrees of success. We have come to Claremont, California to continue our NGSS education and to gain leadership skills we will pass on to our colleagues when they join us in this process next summer. We are the eight school districts and two CMOs (Charter Management Organizations) chosen for the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative* – Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Kings Canyon Unified School District, Lakeside Union School District, Oakland Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Tracy Unified School District, and Vista Unified School District, Aspire, and High Tech High – and we are excited to begin. (more…)

Bold: adj. Showing the Ability to Take Risks

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

I just finished my first attempt at planning and implementing a Next Generation of Science Standards Lesson Series.   While I never intended it to be printed in a statewide publication, I am reminded of the words of Stephen Pruitt, Achieve Senior Vice President, Content, Research & Development, in an address to California Science Educators in September 2014 when he said,

Be bold

Since hearing those words, I have tried to apply them to everything I do regarding NGSS – including sharing a lesson series that is far from exemplar. While the lesson series does not always provide learning at the nexus of all 3 dimensions of NGSS – Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), and Crosscutting Concepts – it does provide students opportunities to take control of their own learning and reflect on their learning progress. (more…)

Inspire One of Your Colleagues in the New Year!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

Is it really 2015 already? Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday I was planning my trip to the Long Beach NSTA Conference, in collaboration with CSTA, and just like that, it is over. But not so fast – when one conference ends, the planning for another begins. Arrangements for the 2015 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento are well underway. If you came away from the Long Beach conference with something incredible, consider how you can pay that forward by being an inspiration to someone else next year. (more…)

Who Else Wants to Share Their Great Idea?

Friday, December 12th, 2014

by Lisa Hegdahl

Colleagues Helping Colleagues

I have been to so many California Science Education Conferences over the years that I cannot be certain which ideas I obtained in which year, but I do know that most of what my lesson plans contain came from ideas I acquired at those conferences.  Destroying Water, Domino Derby, Student Periodic Squares, Buggy Car Physics, Valence Shell Ping Pong Balls, Vinegar/Baking Soda Conservation of Matter, Stellar Distances, just to name a few, were all given to me by colleagues that were willing to take the time to share a piece of their classrooms.

Your Great Idea

You know you have it.  That lesson that never fails to engage students at a high level of learning; that teaching strategy that works every time; or that technology application that brought your classroom into the 21st century.  Why keep it to yourself?  Share it with your colleagues at the California Science Education Conference, October 2-4, 2015 in Sacramento.  CSTA is now accepting workshop and short course proposals from classroom teachers, informal educators, university professors, education professionals, and other members of the education community.  Sharing our best practices with each other helps to make high quality Science education a reality for all students in California. (more…)

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