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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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