May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

California Legislature Holds Fast to Its Support for Common Core and Moves Forward Several Bills Relating to Computer Science

Posted: Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Jessica L. Sawko

With several legislative deadlines in May, bills having been and will be moving quickly through their various committees and houses of origin. CSTA has been active this year in working to secure additional funding for NGSS implementation in the form of support for professional development, technology, and instructional materials. The money for the NGSS implementation would once again be included in a proposed one-time funding block grant to support new standards implementation, including Common Core, NGSS, and ELD standards. AB 2319 (Bonilla) proposes $2.2 billion in one-time funding to support the above mentioned standards implementation ($1.5 billion) and broadband internet investment ($700 million) for LEAs in need. AB 2319 is scheduled for hearing in the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. In the meantime, efforts are being made to encourage Governor Brown to include the language of AB 2319 in his May Budget Revision expected out later this month. CSTA has been working with Assemblywoman Bonilla’s office to insure that the language of AB 2319 is explicit in its support for NGSS. The current version of the bill does just that.

You have probably heard in national news and may even be hearing in your own local school or district some dissent against the Common Core. Much as in other states, legislators in California have put forward bills to stall, prevent, and otherwise allow districts to “opt-out” of implementing the Common Core and associated assessments and revert to the prior set of standards and assessments. Much like the majority of other states (so far), the California legislature did not move these bills forward and the bills have failed to make it out of their respective education committees. The bills include AB 2307 (Donnelly) (failed), AB 1016 (Wyland) (held in committee), and AB 2440 (Hagman) (failed).

Several bills associated with computer science have been receiving support and have been largely successful in moving through the legislative process. In total there are six bills relating to computer science at various phases of the legislative process. AB 1539 (Hagman) (Appropriation’s Suspense file) would call upon the IQC to develop and recommend to the State Board of Education content standards for computer science. AB 2110 (Ting) (Appropriation’s Suspense file) calls upon the IQC to consider incorporating, as appropriate, computer science into other subject area curriculum frameworks when they are revised. The other subject areas called out in the bill include math, science, history-social science, and language arts. AB 5130 (Chau) (set for hearing in the Appropriations Committee tomorrow, May 7, 2014) calls upon the Superintendent of Public Instruction to present to the State Board of Education a recommendation for a model computer science curricula for K-6. AB 1540 (Hagman) (set for hearing in the Appropriations Committee tomorrow, May 7, 2014) would give governing boards of school districts to allow students to take computer science courses at a community college for community college credit. SB 1200 (Padilla) (passed its house of origin and is awaiting action in the Assembly) would require the trustees and would request the regents to develop guidelines for high school computer science courses to be approved for purposes of recognition for admission to the California State University and the University of California, respectively, and would encourage the University of California to ensure that computer science courses that satisfy the mathematics subject area requirements for admission build upon fundamental mathematics content provided in courses that align with the academic content standards developed by the commission. Finally, AB 1764 (Olsen and Buchannan) (passed its house of origin and is awaiting action in the Senate) would allow a school district that requires more than two courses of math as a high school graduation requirement to allow a student to earn a math course credit for successfully completing a “category C” approved computer science course.

CSTA will provide another update in June, please stay tuned to California Classroom Science for updates.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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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.