November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

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. (more…)

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

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. (more…)

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

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. (more…)

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

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. (more…)

CA Science Framework to Implement NGSS Statewide Rollout#4

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Register today for one of several NGSS Rollout #4: Using California Science Curriculum Framework to Implement NGSS scheduled for this fall across the state – registration is now open for all locations.

Upcoming Dates in 2017:

San Bernardino County/Riverside County: August 22-23, 2017
Registration Deadline: August 8, 2017
Location: Bourns College of Engineering, UC Riverside
446 Winston Chung Hall
Riverside, CA 92507 (more…)

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application – Deadline Is July 21!

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). (more…)

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

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. (more…)

Chapter 1 Will Be Re-Written

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Pete A’Hearn

“With NGSS, every science textbook will have to re-write chapter 1” – Helen Quinn, Professor emeritus Stanford University and Lead scientist on the development of NGSS

(Seriously has anyone EVER used the Deka prefix?)

(Seriously has anyone EVER used the Deka prefix?)

Like most science teachers, I used to start my year with a unit on measurement and a unit on the scientific method. When my students tried to measure things they weren’t very precise and also didn’t really know how the metric system worked. Starting with the scientific method seemed like a good foundation for the rest of the year. Year after year we worked on measurement. We used this fun little metric staircase. I would arrange different sized chairs and step stools so I could walk up and down the ladder! (more…)

Science Assessment Update – Alternate Pilot Item Available

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

California Alternate Assessment for Science Training Sample Is Here!

The training test for the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science is now available on the CAASPP Portal CAAs Web page! This training test is the same type of embedded performance task (PT) that will be administered during this year’s pilot CAA for Science. Designed to be administered one on one, the training test PT is nonsecure and for use in preparing for the pilot CAA for Science.

The training test is aligned with the grade five California Next Generation Science Standards but can be used by students in any of the tested grades to familiarize both educators, students, parents, and stakeholders with the testing format of the pilot. The CDE is preparing a letter for LEAs to use to inform parents about this innovative test and the availability of the training test. (more…)

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. (more…)

New CA Science Test: What You Should Know

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

updated May 8, 2017

Since the California State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, CSTA and its partners across the state have tried vigilantly to get the message out that the NGSS are like nothing any of us have ever seen before in Science education. The focus thus far has been on the structure of NGSS and the conceptual shifts in the classroom instruction. However, these shifts also apply to how we assess NGSS. This assessment conversation will become even more critical as the new California Science Test (CAST) makes its debut.

Facts about the CAST Pilot Test:

  • Pilot test will take place in Spring 2017
  • All LEAs will administer the pilot versions of the CAST and California Alternate Assessment for Science (CAA) as part of the 2016–17 CAASPP administration.
  • Will be taken by all California fifth graders, 8th graders, and all students in a selected grade levels at each High School (The high school grade assignments are now available on the CAASPP Portal High School Grade Assignments for 2016–17 Science Pilot Testing Web page.)
  • Each grade level pilot will have 10-15 discrete items and a performance task.
  • The pilot will take approximately one-hour to complete including a brief student survey at the end of the test.
  • Online training tests are now available. These allow teachers, parents and students to go online and try out a small number of sample tasks and questions in preparation for the statewide pilot test in the spring.
  • CAST Training Items Scoring Guide: CDE has released the scoring guide for the CAST training items released in early February. The Scoring Guide offers details about the items, student response types, correct responses, and related scoring considerations for the included sample of training items.
  • The CAA for Science pilot test will be administered to any student in grade five, eight, or the assigned high school grade with an individualized education program that identifies them for alternate assessment and should be assigned to the CAA for Science pilot test. Instructions for assigning tests can be found in the TOMS Pre-Administration Guide for CAASPP Testing linked on the CAASPP Portal Manuals and Instructions Web page.
  • Accessibility Supports for students with IEPs or 504 plans will be limited for the Pilot but will be in place for the Operational Test in Spring 2019.
  • List of CAST Resources available from CDE

(more…)

California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …?

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On November 3, 2016, the California State Board of Education (SBE) accepted the recommendation of the California Department of Education (CDE) and the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) to adopt the draft Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (CA Science Framework) with the IQC recommended edits from the second 60-day public review period (a pre-publication version of the Framework with the edits incorporated is expected to be released in the early part of 2017). California science educators have waited for this document since 2013 when the SBE adopted the California Next Generation Science Standards. However, now that the Framework is here, many are not sure how to use it effectively.

While members of the IQC, Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (Science CFCC), and many members of the CDE and SBE have read the entire CA Science Framework, few others will read it cover to cover. Understanding the structure of the Framework and its intent will help readers get the most out of the document. (more…)

Science Pilot Tests: High School Grade Assignments Posted

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

From the December 2, 2016 CAASPP Update from the California Department of Education:

All LEAs will administer the pilot versions of the California Science Test (CAST) and California Alternate Assessment (CAA) for Science as part of the 2016–17 CAASPP administration. The pilots will include an assigned high school grade as well as grades five and eight. The high school grade assignments are now available on the CAASPP Portal High School Grade Assignments for 2016–17 Science Pilot Testing Web page.

Soon, the Test Operations Management System will include science test assignments for all students in grades five and eight and the assigned high school grade. The CAST is the default test assignment for students in grades five and eight and for high school students who are in the assigned grade at their school. The CAA for Science pilot test should be administered to any student in grade five, eight, or the assigned high school grade with an individualized education program that identifies them for alternate assessment and should be assigned to the CAA for Science pilot test. Instructions for assigning tests can be found in the TOMS Pre-Administration Guide for CAASPP Testing linked on the CAASPP Portal Manuals and Instructions Web page.

Questions about high school grade assignments for the science pilots and all other topics regarding the 2016–17 CAASPP administration should be directed to the California Technical Assistance Center by phone at 800-955-2954 or by e-mail at caltac@ets.org.

Modeling Is Awesome

Monday, November 14th, 2016

by Peter A’Hearn

A few years ago a team of us was teaching an astronomy lesson: “What causes night and day?” Kids watched a  time-lapse of the sky over the course of several days. Then we asked the question. We gave the kids a few moments to discuss with a partner and it was obvious that they all had the same answer, “The Earth turns!”

Seems like they already understand, time to move on to the next lesson, right?

To make sure, we gave a group of students a choice of balls and lights and asked them to come up with a way to explain night and day more fully. As groups began to demonstrate their understanding, the confusion quickly became very clear. (more…)

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. (more…)

Achieve Announces Launch of EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science – Apply Today!

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Achieve is excited to announce the creation of the EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science.

The goal of the EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science will be to identify high-quality lessons and units that are designed for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Building on the work of the EQuIP peer review panels for mathematics and English Language Arts, the science peer reviewers will evaluate lessons and units in their area of expertise and, collectively, will cover grades K-12. Any lessons and units that are determined to be of high quality will be publicly shared via www.nextgenscience.org so that educators and curriculum developers across all states and districts can benefit from these materials.  (more…)

New Resource: Second Release of NGSS Example Bundles

Friday, August 19th, 2016

The Example Bundles (formerly known as the Model Content Frameworks for Science) will show samples of ways to bundle the NGSS within a school year. “Bundling” is an important strategy for implementing standards, as it brings coherence to instruction and greatly reduces the amount of instructional time necessary.

In June, Achieve released the first set of Example Bundles which featured the following resources:

  • Kindergarten Bundles (Thematic Model and Topics Model)
  • Middle School Course I Models (Phenomenon and Topics Model)
  • High School Course I Models (Conceptual Progressions Model and Domains Model – Chemistry)
  • NGSS Example Bundles Guide

(more…)

What About the Stages of Mitosis?

Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Peter A’Hearn

The stages of mitosis are really important.

A-Hearn-Mitosis-Vocabulary

I’m not being sarcastic. Every cell in your body (save those used to make babies) went through the stages of mitosis. And if the stages of mitosis didn’t work with great precision at coordinating the dance of the chromosomes, you would not be a very well functioning human being.  So the stages of mitosis are very important.

As a starting biology teacher, I spent much time and energy making sure my students knew the phases of mitosis. I brought in straw hats and flannel shirts and had my students do a “Mitosis Square Dance.” We tried to identify the phases in onion cells under the microscope. I came up with mnemonics so stupid I can’t remember them. (more…)

Opportunities for Teachers to Play a Part in CA-NGSS Implementation

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) could use the help of a few good science teachers that know a thing or two about the California NGSS. There are currently two test development groups that they are specifically seeking science teachers for. If you are interesting in helping to shape how California prepares its future teachers to take on NGSS, this is an excellent opportunity. The CTC is recruiting teachers to pilot and review test items for the CSET and for Content Expert Panel members for the redevelopment of the California Teaching Performance Assessment (CalTPA). Please consider these opportunities and apply today – the recruitment window closes soon, don’t delay! To apply and for more information visit http://www.carecruit.nesinc.com/.

San Diego Early Implementers Take the Lead in Strengthening Support for Science in Their District LCAP

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Jill Grace

For the past couple weeks, the *Core Leadership Team and Teacher Leaders of the CA NGSS (K-8) Early Implementation Initiative in San Diego have rallied together to positively impact San Diego Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to increase support for science in their district. With State Board of Education President, Mike Kirst and Member, Trish Williams call to start implementing NGSS in this recent Ed Source article, I thought it prudent to share with you the grassroots work this team is doing to support those of you who are also raising up your voices as a stakeholder group in your district plan. (more…)

Hands-On Performance Assessment – An Effective Formative Assessment Strategy

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Deborah Tucker and Grant Gardner

Are you looking for ways to assess 3D learning? Tools that assess the NGSS practices? Have you considered hands-on performance assessment? Do you know that California once implemented hands-on tasks in statewide testing?

We Were Ahead of Our Time
You may remember the year (and some of you may have been in elementary school at the time) when California administered hands-on performance tasks during the mid-1990’s as part of the state-wide spring testing program called CLAS. Every 5th grade, 8th grade, and 10th grade student in California conducted hands-on investigations along with selected-response and constructed-response items.

Students’ conceptual knowledge and mastery of science practices were assessed. Then, we used the term “science process skills” from the 1990 California Framework. We also used the term “theme” (also from the 1990 CA Framework) to indicate crosscutting concepts. (more…)

Apply Today to Assist in New Science Assessment Item Writing

Monday, April 11th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

One of the number one questions that has been posed by teachers since the adoption of the California Next Generation Science Standards in 2013 is: “What about the assessments?” (or some version of that question). Last month, we reported the most recent information available on that topic and since then work has launched to being writing and reviewing assessment items for the new science summative assessment.

Many of you may have already put your names “into the hat” to participate in this process. For those of you who have not and would like to be considered for such an opportunity, I urge you to submit your application today: http://caaspp.org/reviewers.html. CDE’s testing contractor Educational Testing Services (ETS) is soliciting applications for content reviewers for the new CA NGSS assessment and alternate assessment.

This is your opportunity to participate in the implementation of the California NGSS and the new science summative assessment. Seize the moment and apply today!

Hitting the Wall: When Your District Isn’t Behind NGSS

Friday, April 8th, 2016

by Joanne Michael

It’s coming…NGSS implementation. You’ve been going to the CSTA conferences to learn more, reading articles, following the “Early Implementers” twitter handle (@earlyimplement), and are excited to start trying out all of the new standards and lessons. One hiccup… your district isn’t ready to begin implementing-in fact, is telling you directly to NOT begin transitioning your lessons for at least another year. What’s a motivated, focused science teacher to do?

This exact situation is what I am in right now. To be fair, my district is beginning to implement in the middle school level and preparing for implementation at the high school level, but we were given direct instructions to not begin implementing any lessons at the elementary level for a bit longer (to give the classroom teachers a chance to adapt to the new Common Core math and ELA curriculum and standards). While frustrating, there are some things that can be done in the interim before getting the go-ahead to begin implementation. (more…)

Is NGSS the End of Science Fair?

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

by Peter A’Hearn

It’s science fair season again and time for my annual love/hate relationship with the science fair.

I love science fair because it gets some kids really excited about doing science and going deep into a topic which is where the real learning occurs. I love that families get excited and do science together—how powerful for kids and parents to work together to learn something new! I love talking to kids who are excited about their projects and what they did. My own daughters’ science fair projects have been among the most powerful learning they have done in their school years. Not just in science, but in reading, writing, learning how to do research, applying math, and being able to present themselves. (more…)

Putting the Science CST into Perspective

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Caleb Cheung and Jill Grace

The implementation of new policies always requires time to understand how the changes link to the previous expectations, as well as time to deeply understand the new demands. In the case of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), one such challenge is how much emphasis should be placed on the science California Standards Test (CST), a test that was implemented in 2004 (grade 5) and 2006 (grades 8 and 10) and is aligned to the state’s previous California state science standards, adopted in 1998.   (more…)

Designing the NGSS-Aligned Physical Science Assessment for Middle School

Monday, March 14th, 2016

California and its partner, Achieve, Inc., a collaborator in developing the NGSS, are part of the Next Generation Science Assessment (NGSA) Collaborative—a project to develop, test, and analyze sets of technology-supported diagnostic classroom assessments for middle school physical science.

The NGSA Collaborative project addresses core ideas in physical science by integrating middle school chemistry content of structure and properties of matter, chemical reactions, and energy with two science practices—constructing explanations and developing and using models. More information about the project, sample tasks, and classroom resources can be found on the NGSA Web site.

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The NGSS Crosscutting Concepts ARE Science Content!

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Pete A’Hearn

“How come if people evolved from monkeys, monkeys aren’t turning into people now?”

Evolution-Ahearn-1

I’m going to bet that any science teacher who has taught evolution has run into this question at some point. There are a bunch of incorrect assumptions behind the question, including the idea that evolution is a process that we could observe occurring during our lifetimes. This idea is directly addressed as part of the NGSS Crosscutting Concept of Scale, Proportion, and Quantity with the idea that:

  • Phenomena that can be observed at one scale may not be observable at another scale.

and

  • Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

(Note that this is not the crosscutting concept called out in the middle school evolution topic. Teachers will need to used multiple crosscutting concepts as well as multiple practices in building coherent units – not just the ones highlighted in the standards). (more…)

Do We Really Need a Third Dimension?

Monday, February 8th, 2016

by Peter A’Hearn

The NGSS has defined science learning as three-dimensional. There are Core Ideas and Science and Engineering Practices, which seem similar to content from the old standards. Then there’s this new thing- the Crosscutting Concepts.

So… do we really need the crosscutting concepts? How important are they to science? Consider a few examples from the history of science:

Galileo used a new tool, the telescope, which let him observe the universe at a different SCALE. He observed PATTERNS which he tried to establish CAUSE AND EFFECT relationships to explain. He ended up supporting a new SYSTEMS MODEL of the solar system. (more…)

Advocating for Access to Financial Support of Science in Your School and District

Friday, January 15th, 2016

revised 9/1/2016

by Jill Grace

Teachers, the moment is NOW for you to take action to influence how your district supports science education.

I often get inquiries by teachers as to how they can gain access to financial support as they transition to instruction in the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). This includes funding to attend professional learning opportunities (like the state-wide CA NGSS Roll Outs or CSTA’s California Science Education Conference which has a heavy CA NGSS emphasis) or sub-release time for teacher collaborative planning. The lack support in some districts and schools for these activities appears to be a “lost in translation” issue; many principals and district leaders are financially supporting these activities as they relate to English language arts and math, but not science. One of the reasons why we have a lengthy period of time leading to full implementation of the CA NGSS is to give teachers time to prepare: time to refresh on science concepts that are new at your grade-level and time to wrap your head around the shifts in instruction that the CA NGSS call for. The need for this time to prepare for the implementation of the CA NGSS is recognized at the state-level.

Dr. Michael Kirst, President, California State Board of Education

Dr. Michael Kirst, President, California State Board of Education

“We encourage local districts to begin implementation of the science standards now. The recently released draft of the new California NGSS curriculum framework can serve as an invaluable resource at all grade levels. We recognize the time required to build capacity among teachers and students for these new science standards,” said Mike Kirst, president of the California State Board of Education.

Trish Williams, member and NGSS Liaison on the California State Board of Education (SBE) added: “the State Board of Education knows that the NGSS represent a very different way of teaching from the 1998 California science standards, and knows that change takes time; teachers of science will need professional learning support from their district to explore and become comfortable teaching science with an NGSS three-dimensional approach.” (more…)

NGSS Rollout #3 – Registration Opens 2/19/16

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

RegisterNowMedUpdated February 22, 2016, 11:33 AM

Registration will open for the next round of professional learning events designed to help teachers and administrators implement the California Next Generation Science Standards on February 19. Session offerings for Rollout #3 are available below. Registration is now available online at Registration is now online at https://www.regonline.com/NGSS2016Training.

April 13-14: San Joaquin County

April 26-27: Riverside and San Bernardino Counties

May 17-18: Orange and Los Angeles Counties (more…)

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