May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Buzzwords for 2012-2013

Posted: Monday, July 30th, 2012

by Rick Pomeroy

NGSS, STEM, Standards, CCSS, Race to the Top, waivers, Common Core, Standards, Assessments, and SmarterBalance are all terms and phrases being batted around amongst education policy makers, teachers, administrators and the public over the past several months. As we prepare for the upcoming, 2012-13 school year, each of these terms will gain more significance in the lives and minds of teachers. As I have described in past columns, CSTA has been invited to the table for discussions involving all of these initiatives and your leadership team and staff has represented you at public comment meetings, work group meetings, task force gatherings, and legislative hearings. Fortunately (or Unfortunately), the frequency of these meetings and the importance of the terms and their associated impacts on science teaching are only going to increase this year. With that said, this will be the year for you to be involved in many of these initiatives.

The first opportunity that teachers have for providing input on these initiatives is in the area of assessment. At the present time, the California Department of Education’s (CDE) working group on the reauthorization of the Statewide Assessment System is meeting to develop recommendations on the future of assessment in California. Although the work group meetings where the public can voice opinions will be nearly completed by the time of this publication, there is still one powerful opportunity for science teachers to provide input. The CDE has opened an assessment survey at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/ab250.asp. This survey is open to the general public and the results will provide data for the working group and the CDE when making recommendations on future assessment systems. As of July 20th, over 1100 people had already responded to the survey. If you’ve not already done so, please take a few minutes to provide their thoughts on assessment in California within in the next month.

Then, in late summer the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s STEM Task Force will meet to finalize a definition of STEM education. This definition will be utilized as the State moves forward in adopting standards, writing frameworks, and developing curriculum. Once the Task Force has finished its work and a definition has been approved, teachers will have guidelines for what STEM is and how it might be incorporated in their daily teaching.

In November, the next public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) will be released. The public will have a short window of opportunity at that time to review the draft and provide a second round of feedback to the authors as they prepare the final version to be released in late 2012 or early 2013. The CDE will then hold at least two public hearings before the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) makes his recommendation to the State Board of Education about the standards for California public schools. In accordance with the enabling legislation, these recommended standards must be based on the NGSS. The State Board then has until July 31, 2013 to adopt, reject, or adopt with modifications the new science standards. Achieve, Inc will release a survey with the next NGSS draft and as teachers, it is vitally important that we take advantage of the opportunity to review the draft and provide feedback through the survey. The more input California science teachers give on the next draft, the more closely those final standards will reflect California teachers’ desires. To facilitate a better understanding of the NGSS, the program planning committee for the California Science Education Conference (October 19-21, 2012) has included NGSS information sessions throughout the conference program.

Throughout the remainder of 2012 and the spring of 2013, your schools will be taking steps to implement the California Common Core State Standards (CCCSS). Though nominally focused on Math and English Language Arts/ English Language Development, these CCCSS can and will have a huge impact on science instruction. The math practices identified in the CCCSS call for the use of mathematical models for developing solutions to real world problems and predicting outcomes. Under the Math CCCSS, students will be exposed to the content of algebra in middle school and expected to be able to use these tools for solving problems. Though still embroiled in some controversy, the inclusion of algebra in the middle schools will impact the kinds of mathematical reasoning that can be valuable for science teaching. The ELA CCCSS include specific language for technical reading and writing in science and history/social science. Many teachers have commented that at last we have common core standards for science because it is included in this section of the ELA CCCSS. Knowing how to read science and technical materials is important not only in our science classes, but also as a fundamental skill to be adequately prepared for college and careers. However, reading about science does not replace doing science. As science teachers, we need to be careful to continue to argue for science as an activity-based curriculum. This is one place where the STEM definitions that are to be developed in fall 2012 can be applied to teaching in spring 2013.

Finally, there will be several opportunities in the coming year to participate in leadership positions or legislative campaigns that will further the cause for science education. At the present time, the CDE is seeking people to serve on the framework development team for the English Language Arts curriculum frameworks. With the inclusion of science in the technical reading and writing portions of the CCCSS, it would be valuable to have at least one science-oriented teacher on that committee. If you are interested in serving in that capacity, please go directly to the CDE website and put forward your name as a candidate to be considered. When you do this, please contact CSTA or me through the comment section below so that we can assist you in this endeavor. The link to the CDE site is http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/rl/cf/. In 2013-14, CDE will also begin soliciting participation for the development of the math frameworks aligned with the CCCSS. Again, when that process begins, please consider volunteering as a voice for science to insure that expectations for math are aligned with the needs and desires of science teachers. Finally, there is a rumbling in Sacramento that we should not wait until 2015 to begin the process for writing the new Science Framework. If successful, this process could result in a restart to writing the Science Framework before 2015. If that happens, CSTA staff and your leadership team will need your assistance in making the case to legislators that this is an important endeavor.

It has been an active close to the 2011-12 school year. We have successfully retained the two years of science graduation requirement and we have legislation that calls for new science standards by July 2013. We still have lots to do and we need all of you to help make the next advances happen.

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

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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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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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

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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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.