May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

CA NGSS Implementation in Full Swing

Posted: 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 teachers than ever before are making the changeover to the CA NGSS three dimensions and witnessing the deep student engagement that comes with them. If you have been implementing from the very beginning, keep it up. If you haven’t or are just starting, move forward with the confidence that, as mentioned above, there are many more CA NGSS resources available in 2017 than ever before, with more created everyday.

To Help You Move Forward

  • Of course, become a member of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA). Since NGSS first made an appearance, CSTA has been on the frontlines at the state level – keeping our members updated about the most current CA NGSS information. More than ever, being part of your CA Science professional organization is critical to thoughtfully implementing CA NGSS.
  • Keep reading California Classroom Science (CCS). In CCS, you’ll find articles about what is happening in CA NGSS at the state level and in the classroom, as well as what is happening in your local Region. CSTA members have access to archived issues of CCS which means three years of past articles by CA NGSS Early Implementers.
  • Plan to attend the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, October 13-15, 2017. This annual gathering of CA Science education professionals will inform and energize.
  • Watch for Science Material Adoption Events. The SBE is scheduled to approve Science Instructional Materials in Fall 2018 – and apply to be a part of the process (the application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017)
  • Check out the workshops from the first three CA NGSS Rollouts at MyDigitalChalkboard.
  • Advocate to get NGSS into your district’s LCAP. A Toolkit has been developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science to assist you.
  • Nextgenscience.org has a page specifically for California with links that include Lessons Learned by Early Implementers, NGSS Example Bundles and of course the Standards and Evidence Statements.

Working together, we will successfully implement high quality CA NGSS science instruction for all California students.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.