September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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 Past-President of CSTA.

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.