June/July 2016 – Vol. 28 No. 10/11

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

Friday, June 24th, 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/.

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…)

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

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…)

NGSS – Putting the STEM in STEM

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

“Our proposed design uses waves with a frequency of 5,000 Hz to detect the tumor. We are getting our best resolution of the tumor when we are 7 cm away, which is one wavelength of the sound waves that we are using. Our proposed App would include a set of wheels for smooth tracking and image the body as a grid to help determine location.”

Is this an episode of Shark Tank? No this was a group of teachers at the Project Prototype* 2015 Summer Institute. Project Prototype is a California Math Science Partnership Grant in the Coachella Valley focused on the integration of science and engineering through the NGSS. Secondary science teachers were focusing on the middle and high school standards on Waves and their Applications in Information Technology. The week began with a visit to the Desert Regional Medical Center where teachers got to learn about and experience the different uses of waves in medical imaging technology from the ultrasound used to view soft tissue, to X-rays, CAT scans, MRI, and PET. A highlight was the Stereotaxis Machine used to visualize and guide a catheter to a stroke in a patient’s brain. (more…)

Your Chance to Review the California Science Curriculum Framework Is Here

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

Updated with additional review events January 11, 2016.

The California Science Curriculum Framework & Evaluation Criteria document is now ready for its first 60 Day Public Feedback period.! This is a critical process for the review and vetting of the document. Anyone from around the state is invited to read the document and provide feedback. CSTA encourages its members to participate in this process.

Just to be clear, the California Curriculum Framework is different from the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education. The NRC Framework is the document which guided the development of Next Generation Science Standards. The California Curriculum Framework is the document which will help us make sense of those standards in our classrooms. (more…)

Is the NGSS Going to Ruin High School Chemistry?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Pete A’Hearn and Wanda Battaglia

Pete: Most science teachers I work with are excited about the shift to NGSS and exploring new possibilities for student learning. But, I have heard some grumbling from high school chemistry teachers that NGSS is gutting chemistry. “Why there are no standards for subjects like the Gas Laws, acids and bases, naming of compounds, and solutions that are an important part of chemistry?”

I know that you are a high school chemistry teacher who is working hard on NGSS. How would you respond to these teachers? (more…)

Achieving Success with Common Core Through Community

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Angelica E. Gunderson

As we take on the new school year and think about the shifts we are committing to make towards the Next Generation Science Standards, I have found it beneficial to read about the work that various teachers, schools, and districts are engaging in. I would like to toss my own stone in this ocean of knowledge and hopefully create my own ripples of change by sharing some of the strategies and successes happening at the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District.

In the last two years, one of our main common goals has been to effectively and efficiently to integrate the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in all of our classrooms. NGSS and CCSS are the responsibility of language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, technology and English Language Development teachers alike. Our district has also taken the approach that the best way to achieve success is through forming and effectively participating in professional learning communities. (more…)

Using the NGSS to Teach the Nature of Science

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Lawrence Flammer, ENSI Webmaster

Do you know what misconceptions about science your students have? Surveys have revealed a low level of science literacy in our nation for many decades. A recent National Science Foundation survey (NSF 2014) shows us that only a high of 26% of Americans (in 2001) understood what studying something scientifically means, and that low number has even declined since then. Wide support and belief in “alternative medicine,” (unscientific medicine) and many other pseudosciences, are still very much alive. (more…)

New NGSS Resources Available

Monday, October 19th, 2015

Achieve and the Teaching Channel Release New Classroom Videos Demonstrating Transitions to NGSS

We’re excited to announce that four new videos highlighting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are now available online. Achieve and the Teaching Channel collaborated with an elementary school teacher and high school teacher from Boone County, KY to capture snapshots of what NGSS early implementation looks like in classrooms. (more…)

What Is the Role of Lecture in NGSS?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Is there a role for lecture in NGSS classrooms? Anyone who has spent much time working on the NGSS knows that NGSS is learner centered, more about helping students to develop the tools to investigate the world than about teachers supplying knowledge. The traditional teaching style of the teacher talking and students taking notes seems to be opposite of this vision.

This vision is supported by research indicating that traditional lecture is not an effective way to teach science. Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Carl Wieman makes a strong case against lecture as a way to teach science.  Click here to read a summary of his findings. (more…)

Middle School Integrated Science – Getting Over It!

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

Last spring I wrote an article/blog post that addressed the growing discussion about the decision to teach middle school integrated or discipline specific science. The article gives the rationale for the change and also some different models that were considered for how to transition.

There was a lot of feedback to that post: strongly supportive, deeply skeptical, and many follow up questions. Now that Palm Springs USD has finished the first year of the transition, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how it went.

The middle school teacher leaders who helped to make the decision chose the “fast” transition plan below. Year 2 was what we just finished. 6th grade teachers (and kids) were introduced to structure and function in living things. 7th graders tried chemistry for the first time, and 8th graders played with waves. Everyone tried a little (or a lot) of engineering. (more…)

Primary Science Comes Alive with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), California Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and English Language Development (ELD)

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Join your primary colleagues for the wonderful opportunity to learn about Next Generation Science Standards. You’ll learn how NGSS aligns with 21st Century Skills, links to CCCSS and supports ELD. Teams of 3-5 teachers/administrators from your school/district are encouraged to apply for this amazing workshop. Space is limited so apply now!

As California educators strive to provide a twenty-first century education for all students, there is nothing more important than a strong foundation in science education. The time to nurture and develop this foundation is at the beginning, as students enter primary grades. It is essential for the youngest of our students to develop scientific literacy and interest from the start. As we focus priority on our youngest students, there are few missions more urgent to long-term educational goals than equipping primary grade teachers with science content knowledge and pedagogical strategies to kindle the love of science in their students and set a course for lifelong learning. (more…)

Cup of Tea

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Leah Wheeler

Have you ever felt like your time is split between too many subject areas in your classroom and you’re torn on how to teach all of the content? As a 5th grade teacher in a self contained classroom, I have always struggled with integrating curriculum in my classroom instruction. Through my participation with the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) Early Implementation team in Galt, I have learned how to take the science and engineering practices (SEP) and incorporate them into the other curricular areas using simple modifications to my instruction.

Instead of looking at science and engineering practices as only part of the three-dimensional learning of NGSS, I try to think of ways to incorporate them into other content areas, so I can create bridges for learning.  For instance, inspired by the Boston Tea Party after my students studied the American Revolution, students engineered crates to hold tea. (more…)

Engaging Your Students with the NGSS This Summer

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by David Sloan

Many of us will use this summer to engage with the NGSS so we can bring new experiences and examples into our classrooms in the fall.  We are always looking for those examples, but the opportunity to travel to different places and experience new ecosystems is especially great during the summer.  We come back to the new school year invigorated with new ideas to bring into our science instruction, only to find that our students have lost some ground during that same break.  (more…)

Update on the New Science Curriculum Framework – Opportunity for Public Review Coming Soon

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Dear Fellow Science Teachers:

I want to bring you an update on the 2016 Revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. As you know, the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS) as our new science standards in September of 2013. Since that time, many educators in various capacities have been busy adapting and interpreting the CA NGSS to form a draft curriculum framework. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) is the appointed state body tasked with overseeing this process. This started with the development of the guidelines that came out of the Science Focus Group meetings and has most recently been the work of two groups. The first is the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CCFC), a group made up of twenty educators from all areas of education and from across the state. A majority of the Science CFCC are K-12 teachers. The other group working steadily on this process is the writers from the California Science Project. The Science CCFC has read and reviewed multiple versions of the draft framework and given in-depth meaningful feedback to the writers. The CCFC’s task was formally finished on May 21, 2015. (more…)

Draft Primary Evaluation of Essential Criteria for Alignment (PEEC-Alignment) – Ready for Public Review

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

NGSSLogoThe first draft of the NGSS Primary Evaluation of Essential Criteria for Alignment (PEEC-Alignment) is ready for public review. This document is meant to help developers and reviewers of instructional materials answer the question: “do the materials contain or exhibit the essential features of a program aligned to the NGSS innovations?” Educators, Administrators, Publishers, and Curriculum Materials Developers are all encouraged to review and provide feedback on this draft of the NGSS PEEC-Alignment by visiting this page by July 1, 2015. The PEEC-Alignment document focuses on the innovations set forth in NGSS and their implications for instructional materials. If the program under review seems to be adequately aligned to the NGSS innovations, it could then be reviewed for the presence of other key components of instructional materials – some of which are also described in the PEEC-Alignment document – as well as for any other criteria that are relevant in a local context. (more…)

A Teacher’s Journey: NGSS Is NOT an Add On

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Students looking at a beaker containing 55.85g of iron-

AHearn_Photo_1

“That is one atom of iron.”

Huh… Umm…Sinking feeling… I hope nobody who knows anything about science walks into my room right now.

My students were looking at a mole of iron (602,200,000,000,000,000,000,000 atoms more or less) and concluding that they were probably looking at one atom of iron. And this was after two weeks of learning about the periodic table and structure of the atom. My formal observation lesson that year had been about how to figure out the number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in an atom based on the periodic table. My principal gave me all “3s” and told me it was one of the best lessons he had observed that year. (more…)

NGSS – Next Generation Science Students

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Leah Wheeler

For the past 10 years, students have entered my 5th and 6th grade classrooms with little science experience.  Because science has not been taught and takes the backseat to all other subject areas, students had no idea how fascinating science could really be for them.  However, this past year, I had the pleasure to be a part of Galt Elementary School District’s NGSS Early Implementation team and it has truly transformed how I teach science in my classroom.

In years past, students would moan, “Oh no, science!” and, “This is so boring just reading out of a book,” but not this year.  This year students are enthused about learning science and thrilled for the opportunity to explore something new.

We started out our school year exploring Earth’s systems and the human impact on those systems.   (more…)

State Superintendent Torlakson Visits CSTA President Elect Lisa Hegdahl’s Classroom to Shine a Spotlight on NGSS

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On April 21, 2015 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA. Galt is in Sacramento County about 30 minutes to the southeast of the city of Sacramento. Why the visit to McCaffrey? To shine the spotlight on the school, district, teachers, and students – all participants in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. Superintendent Torlakson didn’t come alone, he attracted two local newspaper reporters, two video camera crews, and yours truly.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

The day began with a meeting in the school library during which Superintendent Torlakson heard from elementary and middle school teachers in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District actively participating in this first phase of the Initiative: Christa Dunkel, Jenne McGranahan, Christine Neal, Neika Estey, Leah Wheeler, and Lisa Hegdahl (CSTA President-Elect). Also participating in the presentation were Karen Schauer, the district superintendent, Ron Rammer, middle school principal, Barbara Woods, district science coach (CSTA Member), and two 8th grade students, Ariana Pamplona and Nicholas Picazo. Following the meeting, Superintendent Torlakson, the media, and others, in total about 20 people walked to Lisa Hegdahl’s 8th grade science classroom to observe the lesson for the day. (more…)

Explore the Next Generation Science Standards This Summer

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

CSTA and NSTA invite California science educators–including elementary teachers–to the NSTA Summer Institute in Anaheim, CA, on July 9. The first ever NSTA Summer Institute, being held in collaboration with CSTA, focuses on implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and will provide participants the opportunity to study the shifts of NGSS, explore the three-dimensional learning approach, integrate science with ELA and math, adapt current instructional materials to the NGSS, and much more.

The program begins with a keynote address from former NASA astronaut and educator Barbara Morgan, and continues with noted science educators including Maria C. Simani, Executive Director of the California Science Project and Joe Krajcik with CREATE for STEM Institute, who will lead a targeted series of sessions focused specifically for elementary and secondary educators.

Paid registrants also have an opportunity to sign up for a free special Disneyland Park STEM program the morning of  July 10–and receive 1 complementary 1-Day Park Hopper ticket to remain in  the Park after the STEM program. 

Seating for the summer institute is limited. Discounted prices are available for CSTA and NSTA members, so register today.

Conference_Side_Column_Register-Early