September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Thriving in a Time of Change

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. (more…)

Farewell from Galt, CA

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

McCaffreyMiddleSchool-Hegdal

McCaffrey Middle School, Galt, CA

by Lisa Hegdahl

I am typically not a reflective person. Instead, I tend to get swept up in the day to day moments of teaching, meetings, phone calls, and home life. With one exception – the end of the school year.

While my 8th graders are enjoying the many ends of Middle School activities, I spend the last week of the academic year re-filing, re-packing, and re-organizing a classroom I have lost the battle to somewhere back in October. As the last day winds down, my students stack all the lab tables against the far wall and we are finished for the year. Gathering the last items from my refrigerator, I begin to head out the door for summer ‘vacation’. At this moment, every year, something stops me. I turn around and look back at my clean, bare-floored classroom. Without intention, I remember all that took place there in the past 180 days with 150 students who have now gone on to high school. I remember laughter and struggles, and, at times, a little chaos. I hope that somehow during all that time, I provided my students with valuable experiences and that I was patient and kind to them. For most of them, I will never know. (more…)

CA NGSS Implementation in Full Swing

Friday, May 5th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl core_ideas

If you have been teaching since Fall 2013 when the State Board of Education (SBE) adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the new science standards for California, you have heard lots of words of encouragement – “Take your time implementing the standards,” “Full implementation is years away,” and “No one knows what NGSS looks like in the classroom.”
However, the transitional years of NGSS implementation have slipped away and much has changed in the CA science education landscape since 2013:

  • In 2013, there was no CA Science Curriculum Framework – in 2017, we have the Pre-Publication Version of new CA Science Curriculum Framework.
  • In 2013, there was no CA standardized science assessment aligned to the new standards – In 2017, we have a Pilot Test being administered in grades 5, 8, and high school.
  • In 2013, there were no districts in California implementing NGSS – In 2017, eight public school districts and two Charter management organizations are in their 3rd year of implementing CA NGSS via the California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, and hundreds more are leveraging their LCAPs and LCFF funding to support implementation work.
  • In 2013, there were no vetted communication tools to inform about NGSS – In 2017, CA4NGSS has several toolkits to support communication with teachers and principals, parents, and district leaders. (Introductory webinar on the tools)
  • In 2013, there were no statewide professional development events centered around CA NGSS – In 2017, the CA NGSS Rollouts begin #4 of the series.

The Time to Implement CA NGSS Is Now 

While, as California educators, we are a long way from the “let’s wait and see” of 2013, we should be encouraged that much work has been done at the state, county, district, and classroom levels to produce a clearer idea of what NGSS implementation looks like for our students. (more…)

Don’t Wait to Communicate About NGSS: Tools Available NOW!

Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by the California State Board of Education in Fall 2013, teachers in districts across California have been gradually introducing the Standards to their classrooms. Starting with just a few pioneers, now increasing to an ever larger population of science educators ready to implement phenomenon-based, 3-dimensional science. For many, the success of implementation will depend on communicating the value and intention of NGSS effectively and strategically to a variety of audiences.

Early on, leaders in California science education realized the need for quality, field tested, ready-to-use messages to help education stakeholders reach out to their audiences.  In 2016, the CDE Foundation, Children Now, and the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) with support of partner organizations, prepared a communications toolkit. The messages within the toolkit are grouped by target audiences and stakeholders are encouraged to modify the messages as needed for their unique circumstances. Each audience has a Core Message, Talking Points, and Fact Sheet as well as additional, targeted resources. Messages themselves are tagged as Top-Tier and Mid-Tier indicating how they resonated with audiences during field tests. (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…)

A Look Back at a Few Highlights of 2016

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

The California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs is now a memory. A huge thanks to Jill Grace, 2016 Conference Chair, her planning committee, CSTA staff, volunteers, presenters, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and CSTA members who made this year’s conference a huge success. Heather Wygant, 2017 Conference Chair is working to set up our first planning meeting for next year’s conference in Sacramento, CA. (more…)

What Might Surprise You About CSTA?

Monday, November 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

While attending a recent CA-NGSS Rollout Symposium, I had the opportunity to talk to many science educator colleagues from the Northern California area.  During one such conversation, a participant mentioned that the information I was sharing about CSTA was ‘news’ to him.  It got me wondering what people don’t know about the California Science Teachers Association.

What does CSTA do besides host the annual California Science Education Conference? (more…)

One Year Ends, Another Begins!

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

By Lisa Hegdahl

June 30, 2016 was the end of my first full year as President of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  During that time, I have learned a tremendous amount, worked with amazingly talented and passionate people, and had the opportunity to participate in events that would not have been available to me if I were not president.  While there is still much to do, I feel compelled to express what an honor it is to be part of an association that has accomplished so much in the past 12 months. (more…)

Are You Prepared to Participate in the Discussions?

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

I recently found myself a participant in two separate conversations regarding topics of which all California teachers of Science should be knowledgeable.  One was in regards to the current status of the California Standards Tests (CSTs) and the other was in regards to High School course structures in light of the new California assessment for Science.  As many of us will attend district, school, and department meetings in preparation for the new school year, updating our knowledge about the most recent decisions that will affect California Science education will be time well spent. (more…)

Goodbye, and Thank You – Hello, and Welcome

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On June 30th, the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) said, “Goodbye, and Thank You” to five of its dedicated Board members.  On July 1st, we said, “Hello, and Welcome” to the five newly elected.  It is my pleasure to tell you about these outstanding professionals.

Outgoing Board Members

Minda Berbeco, outgoing Region 2 Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

Minda Berbeco, outgoing Region 2 Director is recognized for her service by CSTA President Lisa Hegdahl.

In her role as Region 2 Director, Minda Berbeco raised the bar in terms of outreach. Minda also co-chaired, and will continue to co-chair, the Publications Committee. As president, I have some leeway in my due dates for my monthly President’s Message for the CSTA on-line Journal, California Classroom Science. Minda is very patient with me when my messages do not come in right on time. Recently, Minda, and her employer the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), graciously opened their office on a Saturday to host the CSTA Board of Directors meeting.   

Minda was CSTA Region 2 Director and served faithfully on the:

  • Publications Committee (Co-Chair – a job she will continue)  
  • Membership/Marketing/Preservice Committee

(more…)

Raising the Prestige of Teaching STEM

Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

What makes a career prestigious?  Is it the power it wields? The number of people it impacts? The required number years of training? The amount of the monthly paycheck? According to dictionary.com, prestige is defined as:

“…reputation or influence arising from success, achievement, rank, or other favorable attributes.”

Space Shuttle Independence Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

Space Shuttle Independence
Houston Space Center Photo by Lisa Hegdahl

At the Houston Space Center, control site for 17 Apollo missions, 275 representatives gathered for the 5th Annual 100Kin10 Partner Summit to explore the question of how to continue to go above and beyond in taking on the grand challenges of training and retaining great STEM teachers.   One of those challenges is identified as –  “teaching lacks prestige and is not widely perceived as a top career choice for STEM graduates”.  Small group sessions allowed partners to examine the issue from a variety of perspectives and experiences.

What is 100Kin10?

In his 2011 State of the Union Address, President Obama “announced a national goal to prepare 100,000 new teachers in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next decade.” (more…)

Do I hear 51?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

Who is the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA)?

If you ask someone, they may answer this question by saying, “They are the people who organize the California Science Education Conference” or “They are advocates for state policies and legislation that support me in inspiring my students” or “As a statewide organization, they provide me with leadership opportunities.” While all of these are correct answers to the question, perhaps a more complete answer would be: 

You are the California Science Teachers Association.

CSTA is a statewide organization that is made up of over 3,000 members, and aside from a small (albeit amazing) office staff, CSTA is run entirely by member volunteers. While sixteen of these volunteers make up the CSTA Board of Directors, the remainder are members at large who give of their valuable time and expertise to make CSTA the leading science educator membership organization in the state of California. It is therefore fitting that the programs and services offered by CSTA exist in large part due to the support of its member volunteers.  (more…)

Science Subject Matter Committee Considers Your Comments

Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On Friday, February 19th, the Instructional Quality Commission’s (IQC) Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) met to discuss the field results from the first public review session of the draft California Science Framework.  The committee considered all of the over 2,000 suggested edits and revisions. As mentioned in February’s California Classroom Science, the California Science Teachers Association’s NGSS Committee sent in comments from 625 people who attended 30 Framework review sessions across California. Other organizations that submitted recommendations included Achieve, California Department of Education, Children Now, Code.org, and Lawrence Hall of Science. The meeting, held at the California Department of Education in Sacramento, was attended by, among others: (more…)

2016 – Already a Busy Year in California Science Education

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

As I write this message, it is the waning days of January. Only the first month of 2016 and yet a great deal is happening in Science education within the California Science Teachers Association and the state of California as a whole. Indeed, this an exciting time to be a science educator. Let’s take a look back at all that has taken place these past few weeks.

California Science Framework Public Review Sessions

Science educators gathered in San Diego on December 2, 2015 to review and provide feedback on the first public draft of the California Science Curriculum Framework.

Science educators gathered in San Diego on December 2, 2015 to review and provide feedback on the first public draft of the California Science Curriculum Framework.

The beginning of January 2016 found California at the end of the first public review of the draft California Science Framework.  A dedicated, 25 member, CSTA NGSS Committee under the leadership of co-chairs Laura Henriques, Past President of CSTA, and Peter A’Hearn, CSTA Region 4 Director, coordinated 30 Framework review sessions in 22 California counties in which 625 educators participated. In addition, many people sent their feedback directly to the California Department of Education. The members of the NGSS committee, those that read the Framework, and those who attended and hosted review sessions, volunteered in order to make the Framework useful for all of us. This represents countless hours of personal time. You can be confident that CSTA will keep you informed about the dates for the 2nd public review of the draft CA Science Framework currently scheduled for June-July 2016. A copy of CSTA’s response to the first draft is available here (1MB). I will be attending the two meetings where public comments are considered (February 19 and March 18) by the Science Subject Matter Committee of the Instructional Quality Commission to advocate on behalf of CSTA membership. (more…)

The Beauty and Wonder of Science

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

“The overarching goal of our framework for K-12 science education is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science …”

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas*

In 1985, I graduated from the University of California at Davis, with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. In 1991, I began teaching 8th grade science in Galt, where our school’s science department determined the topics I taught which, for 7 years, were genetics, sound, astronomy, and body systems. In 1998, the CA Science Content Standards arrived and the 8th grade science curriculum became exclusively physical science – physics, astronomy, and chemistry – a far cry from my Zoological roots. As are many of you, I am now in the process of transitioning to the CA Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) 6-8 Integrated Model which means, once again, changing the core ideas I teach my 8th graders. Instead of strictly physical science, I will now teach Integrated Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Physical Science (along with the Science and Engineering Practices, SEPs, and the Crosscutting Concepts, CCCs). (more…)

New California Framework Provides NGSS Inspiration

Friday, December 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

After over a year in development, the California Curriculum Science Framework and Evaluation Criteria document is ‘LIVE’ for a 60-day public review period, November 17, 2015 through January 19, 2016.  During that time, all of us can read the current draft of the CA Science Framework and provide feedback to the California Department of Education (CDE).

I had the honor of sitting on the Science Curriculum Frameworks and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) that worked on the development of the CA Science Framework. From September 2014 – May 2015, the 20 members of the committee read, and re-read, the draft chapters of the CA Science Framework, providing comments and suggestions to the team of writers and the CDE.  Now that my responsibilities with the CFCC are complete, I look at the Framework, not as a Committee member, but as a teacher who will use it as a tool to help me make the necessary conceptual shifts in my teaching so that my students can make sense of the world around them. (more…)

Multimedia for Science Education

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

In the October 22nd issue of the School Improvement Network’s e-Newsletter, the Educational Strategy of the Week was The Increasing Importance of Technology in the Classroom. The article stated, “Today, with smartphones in every pocket and instant access to knowledge of virtually every kind, information technology is woven into every aspect of our children’s lives. The objective is no longer to teach children how to use the technology, but how to use the technology to best teach children.” (more…)

Do You Have a Growth Mindset?

Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Lisa Hegdahl

As our administration shared with us the traits of people who don’t give up in the face of challenges, my mind could not help but think of the parallels to teachers implementing NGSS. Coincidentally, I had spent the day at a Technical Assistance meeting for the Core Leadership team for our district’s CA NGSS Early Implementation group. As Early Implementers, we have had struggles, successes, and more struggles, all the while learning and growing as educators. Giving ourselves permission to fail and not be perfect, all Growth Mindset qualities, are critical to the process of learning how to provide NGSS 3-dimensional learning experiences for our students. (more…)

What Am I Going to Teach?

Monday, September 14th, 2015

As I write this article, it is the day before I return to my classroom to begin a new school year. Across California, thousands of science teachers are doing the same. Sometime before that first bell rings, we all have to face the question, “What am I going to teach and how am I going to teach it?” As a CA NGSS Early Implementer, I know I will teach the California Next Generation of Science Standards, blending its three dimensions of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas into a learning experience that will help my students construct meaning…at least I will make every attempt to do so. But as I sit down to plan out the details of the first lesson sequence, all that I have learned about NGSS over the past few years stares me right in the face and challenges me to determine how the entirety of all the professional development, research, and collaboration translates into an actual classroom. (more…)

Staying Connected by Volunteering

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. (more…)

The Practice of Teaching Science

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

About 10 years ago, at an after school meeting, our presenter posed the question, “Why did you become a science teacher?” Each of my colleagues gave answers such as, “I wanted to affect the future”, “I loved working with children”, and “I wanted to stay young”. As it came closer for my turn to share, I was in a panic. The truth was, I became a science teacher as a way to get out of a dead end job that had long hours and paid next to nothing.

I have often thought about that day and about the noble motives for entering our profession expressed by my colleagues. Perhaps only those of us who truly have some kind of selfless calling should endeavor to be science teachers.   My reflections led me, however, to the conclusion that it is not important how people answer the question, “Why did you become a science teacher?” but how they answer the question, “Why do you continue teaching science?” I continue teaching science because I love it. (more…)

My Last Words . . . Thank You!

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

This is my last column as your CSTA President. I thank you for the trust you placed in me to serve as President. It has been my privilege to serve the organization. I am most appreciative of the members who have taken steps to get more involved in promoting high quality science education in California.

Just two years ago, when I was taking over as President I challenged you to become more engaged and involved. This has been a rallying call of mine since I joined the Board of Directors. There are big changes happening to science education in California and we need lots of people involved if we hope to realize the promise of those changes. The CSTA Board of Directors does a great deal but they cannot do everything. As an organization, however, we can make a huge difference! In August 2013, in one of my first columns as President, I urged you to consider baby steps towards leadership. I revisited that theme again by encouraging you to see what you could do for CSTA and how to “lean in” and lead by example. Many of you accepted the challenge – thanks! Those of you who know me (or who have read my columns) know this is an important theme for me. A full twenty percent of my CCS columns were devoted to the topic, I talk about it in leadership forums, and I have been known to twist a few arms to get colleagues engaged. (more…)

Science Is in the Air – So Much Going On!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

It’s May and with that comes AP exams, science fair, science Olympiad, NGSS Rollout Symposium, plans for summer professional development opportunities for us and our students. There are so many things happening in our regions and around the state. It’s hard to keep up on everything, but try we must!

Springtime is when our students show us what they’ve got!

Springtime is the culmination for a wide range of year-long or semester-long science activities. Congratulations and thank you to all of our members and science friends who helped with Science Olympiad, Science Fairs, academic decathlon, AP exams, robotics competitions, science or STEM fairs and more. We all recognize that it takes a lot of time, work, energy and passion from teachers and kids to get to the point where kids are able to share what they know, apply their knowledge and skills, be competitive, and shine. Those long after-school sessions, Saturday work sessions, the time away from family, the extra hours… they are worth it. You do make a difference and the opportunities that you are providing to your students will be remembered long after the event(s) are over.  (more…)

Where Are the Women in STEM? What Can We Do to Support and Retain Them?

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Laura Henriques

Women are far less likely than men to earn pSTEM (physical Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) degrees or work in the field. This isn’t a new phenomenon, but it has gotten a bit of press lately. US News and World Reports had an article highlighting a Clinton Foundation Report showing women in developing countries have less access to cell phones (and therefore the internet) than men. This results in decreased access to health care, fewer job options, a lack of flexibility with work and childcare related issues, and a lowered sense of empowerment. That article linked to several other articles about the lack of diversity in STEM fields in the US, the leaky pipeline and more. (more…)

Exploring the Ecosystem That Is Your Classroom

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Laura Henriques

As you read through this month’s CCS you’ll find articles about biology, professional learning, NGSS implementation tales, and finding a job. I find the juxtaposition of the articles works. When we look for a job we need to have a good fit – we need to fill a niche in the school’s ecosystem and our needs must be met. When we look at our professional learning needs we are doing a self-assessment, finding out our own needs and meeting them

Earlier this year John Speigel, Anthony Quan and Yami Shimojyo wrote an article for CCS which discussed a pathway from NGSS awareness to implementation. If we use their awareness-transition-implementation matrix to mark our efforts we can start making changes to our instruction and have a mechanism to note progress. So let’s think of our classroom as its own teaching/learning ecosystem and start modifying the system to see what positive changes we can make to student engagement and student learning. (more…)

President’s Message

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

by Laura Henriques

2015 is off to a busy start. As you will read in executive director, Jessica Sawko’s legislative update, there have been numerous meetings at which CSTA has represented your interests in just the first month of the year. There are lots of state entities and organizations working on different elements in order for the implementation of NGSS to become a reality. We recognize that all the different elements must fit together so that we have robust professional learning opportunities, quality instructional materials, well aligned assessments, state accountability plans that count science and local district plans which include science education in their locally controlled accountability plans (this includes teacher professional learning time and support, classroom resources, and dedicated time to teach science). As we see shifts in what will be happening in K-12 classrooms we need to see parallel shifts in higher education, in particular teacher preparation programs. So while the CDE is overseeing the development of the California Science Framework, assessments and accountability plans, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing needs to look at changes to how we credential teachers. Lots of moving parts and CSTA is paying attention to all of them. (more…)

What’s Your 2015 Resolution?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

I heard a story on the radio about New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that about 44% of people make resolutions each year with 42% of them self-reporting that they’ve kept the resolution all year. That means about 18% of us make and keep a resolution each year. While the success rate isn’t all that high, the researcher being interviewed seemed to think that action of making a resolution is still a good thing. It helps us be intentional about our goals and actions, or at least our intended goals and actions! She seemed to think that simply stating your resolution and trying to keep it helped us move in our desired direction.

With that in mind, what is your professional resolution for 2015? Will you read an article related to teaching science each month? Support a colleague? Be a Master Teacher for a student teacher? Serve on a committee at school or the district? Share your expertise with others by presenting a workshop at the CSTA conference in Sacramento or writing an article for California Classroom Science (CCS)? Get better connected to other science education professionals? Try something new to help you transition to NGSS? Apply to serve on the CSTA Board of Directors?

Whatever your science education resolution is for 2015, CSTA can help.  (more…)

Season’s Greetings

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

Happy December! I am exhausted but really happy after the Long Beach Conference. It was great to see so many CSTA members! With more than 5,200 people in attendance (most from California), this was one of the biggest NSTA regional conferences ever. Sessions were packed, some to the point of overflowing. I applaud NSTA’s efforts to extend the conference into Saturday afternoon and I thank the conference presenters who were willing to repeat their workshop on Saturday. (To get handouts from the sessions please visit the NSTA Conference site, browse sessions and select the session(s) of interest. If the presenter has uploaded handouts you will find them posted with the session information.) (more…)

Focus on Physical Science

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

As a former physics/physical science teacher, the California Classroom Science (CCS) issue focusing on physical science is always one of my favorites. I enjoy reading about lessons, labs and teaching ideas that my colleagues share in each month’s CCS, but I really enjoy reading physics and physical science lesson ideas as those apply most directly to what I teach. As with past issues of CCS, we have some great articles written by a wide variety of members on a range of topics. Sadly (for me), only a couple of them focus on physical science.

One of the physical science highlights is Padma Haldar’s article that has students doing ‘mythbuster’ activities to help them better understand the Nature of Science. This project requires students to engage in many of the science and engineering practices (they ask questions, plan and carry out investigations, analyze and interpret data, and evaluate and communicate information) and Ms. Haldar seems to be explicit in helping students understand the nature of science throughout the process. Another article in this month’s issue is Valerie Joyner’s where she shares a primary activity which focuses on the crosscutting concept of patterns. Her lesson links patterns with properties of plastic lids. As is the case with crosscutting concepts, she shares how this activity about patterns could be linked to other patterns in nature and science. (more…)

State Science Education Updates

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

The start of a school year is always a busy time. This year has a great deal more energy around science education than we’ve seen in a long time. The adoption of new science standards has taken place, the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee has begun their work, a few thousand STEM education enthusiasts descended on San Diego for the STEM Symposium, NGSS State Rollout Symposiums are being conducted around the state, LCFF/LCAP legislation allows districts to support science professional development and science standards implementation, and the NSTA Regional Conference in Long Beach is just around the corner.  These are good times for science education in California! Read on to learn how CSTA is involved in these activities and how you too can be involved. (more…)

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