November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

California Environmental Education Foundation Presents the 2016-2017 Excellence in Environmental Education Awards

Posted: Monday, November 13th, 2017

Will Parish (Ten Strands President) and Anne Stephens (CEEF Board member) presented the CEEF Excellence in EE Award to Rob Wade at the State Science Communities of Practice meeting in Rancho Cordova.

Will Parish (Ten Strands President) and Anne Stephens (CEEF Board member) presented the CEEF Excellence in EE Award to Rob Wade at the State Science Communities of Practice meeting in Rancho Cordova.

by Anne Stephens

The California Environmental Education Foundation presented this past year’s Excellence in Environmental Education Award to Rob Wade, Science and Outdoor Education Coordinator for the Plumas County Office of Education, and to the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science’s Better Environmental Education, Teaching, Learning and Expertise Sharing (BEETLES) Team.

Wade was honored on June 22 during the State Science Communities of Practice meeting in Rancho Cordova. He was recognized for his leadership of three EE programs for the Plumas USD and his work with the many community partners to support these programs. These entities include the Feather River Land Trust, the Plumas Corporation, and the US Forest Service. Each year, Rob coordinates professional learning for all of the teachers in Plumas County and provides school and field site support for teachers as they take their students outdoors. He has developed a unique approach to EE that he calls “Outdoor Core”, using the local environment as a context for implementing the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Rob has also developed the 6th Grade Watershed “Plumas to the Pacific” Program, where every 6th grader in the district takes a 5-day field trip from the headwaters to the Feather River, tracing their watershed through the Delta and out through the Golden Gate.

Creating bridges between EE and the K-12 classrooms on a daily basis can be a challenge. Rob is a master at using EE pedagogy strategies to make learning engaging and relevant. He has the full support of administrators and community members and has helped an entire generation of students develop their “mountain kid” identity as stewards of the headwaters of the Feather River.

Rob says, “I am in fact proud of what two decades of constant effort and a held vision have led to. Proud of every student loving where they live and caring for their Feather River homeland. Proud of all of the teachers who slowly but surely have come to use our outdoor locale to teach. Proud of the private and public community partners who have chosen to support this place- based ambition. This is the long journey and we are all on it. I am proud that what we have created can last like the land itself, in perpetuity.”

The BEETLES Team was recognized for their dedication to the professional development of outdoor educators during a presentation at this year’s Association for Outdoor and Environmental Education Conference in La Honda. “We are delighted and honored to be recognized for this award,” says Craig Strang, Associate Director of the Hall and principal investigator for BEETLES. “The CEEF board members include pillars of environmental education in California, so this award is very meaningful for us.”

BEETLES was developed by a team of outdoor educators at the Lawrence Hall of Science, UC Berkeley’s public science center. The program provides resources and learning materials, as well as professional learning opportunities, for leaders of outdoor science programs across the nation. To date, BEETLES has worked with leaders from 75 outdoor science programs across the country. BEETLES was recently awarded a grant that will allow it to reach even further. “BEETLES has a new National Science Foundation grant to support the nationwide broad dissemination of the resources we have developed. This award will help launch this major new effort,” says Strang.

Since October 2015, CEEF has annually awarded the Excellence in Environmental Education Awards to nonformal educators who have demonstrated excellence in the integration of environmental education with the Next Generation Science Standards and K-12 science education.

Anne Stephens is an assistant professor in the Department of Science Education at CSU Chico; Director of the Inland Northern California Science Project; Co-Director for the Center for Mathematics and Science Education; and a member of CSTA.

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.

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Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. Learn More…

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California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

State Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. 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.

NGSS – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

Posted: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
  • What “baby step” should I take first? 
  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” 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.

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.

Expanding Your Definition of Informal Science Education

Posted: Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

by Lori Walsh

When deciding on a field trip, zoos, aquariums and science centers typically come to mind. These facilities offer students hands-on opportunities to make science observations using inquiry. Teachers can schedule standards aligned workshops or self-guided visits. If your students have already visited these facilities, you can broaden your options by exploring the larger world of Informal Science Education. Nature centers, non-profits, and environmental groups often also offer NGSS aligned programs in the natural setting. Your students can discover the local environment while making memorable experiences. Learn More…

Written by Lori Walsh

Lori Walsh

Lori Walsh is the Education/Operations Supervisor at SEA LIFE Aquarium at LEGOLAND California Resort and Informal Science Director for CSTA.