May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

California State Board of Education Holds Off on Decision on NGSS Adoption

Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Jessica Sawko

On July 10, 2013 the State Board of Education was presented with the proposed Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade 12. A full video archive of the presentation is available online and embedded here below. The online archive allows you to select Item 2 from the menu below the video window. (Please note that the board meeting was being serviced by a new AV provider and there were a few hiccups technologically during the presentation.)

The presentation led by Phil Lafontaine, director of the Professional Learning and Support Division of the California Department of Education (and CSTA member), provided the board with a quick review of how the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed (this topic has been presented to them on several other occasions, so a quick rundown is all that was needed). This review was followed by an explanation of the process used by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) to develop the proposed recommendation. Jannelle Kubinec of WestEd addressed the management of the public input period and the results from those sessions, including educator support for the NGSS, and concerns over implementation and professional development. Phil Lafontaine and Kathy DiRanna (CSTA member) walked the board through the process used by the SEP to arrive at the middle school standards arrangement. Finally, Dr. Helen Quinn was on hand and provided the board information on the science and scientific reasoning behind the middle school arrangement. It was announced by Phil Lafontaine that Achieve had reviewed the proposed California model for middle school and had come to the conclusion to endorse the California model as well as request permission to share that model on their website.

Over 20 individuals addressed the board during the public comment period. Several businesses and business organizations testified in support, including Chevron, Boeing, and the Bay Area Council, recognizing that NGSS will provide a science education needed to fulfill their workforce needs. Other foundations and education organizations speaking in support of the standards included CSTA, the Samueli Foundation,  California Science Project, California STEM Learning Network, Children Now, California Charter School Association, The Education Trust – West, and UC Davis School of Education (among others). The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) stated that their membership was supportive of the Next Generation Science Standards, but wanted more time to evaluate the middle school arrangement as proposed. Classroom teachers Melissa Smith (middle school) and John Galisky (high school, CSTA member) also spoke in support of the proposed standards. By and large, all educators and education organizations making comments to the board emphasized how critical it will be for the implementation of these new standards to follow a carefully laid out plan that includes the proper sequencing of standards, curriculum framework, instructional materials, and assessment, as well as the crucial piece of proper and sufficient professional development and support for inservice teachers, especially for elementary and middle school teachers, and proper education for preservice teachers.

In the end, while board members Holaday and Williams regretted not making the decision to adopt the proposed standards today, the board deferred additional action on the matter until the September 4-5 board meeting. This decision was made to allow for time for information to be shared with teachers and the public about the proposed standards and more time to gather responses from those groups. In the coming weeks, CSTA will be distributing information to members about the standards proposal, including the reasoning behind the arrangement of the middle school standards, and invites members to provide feedback and input to CSTA.

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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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.