April 2014 – Vol. 26 No. 8

Congratulations Award Winners

Posted: Monday, November 4th, 2013

CSTA and the California Department of Education honored three amazing science educators at the annual Awards Breakfast at the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs. During the event, the following educators were honored:

Tania Hughes, 2013 Future Science Teacher Award Winner

Tania Hughes

Tania Hughes

Tania is currently serving as a teacher in the Peace Corps in Mozambique. Tania was a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential candidate at CSU Long Beach. During her time at Cal State Long Beach she spearheaded and designed two science units which she taught during her student teaching:  Fourth Grade Electricity and Magnetism and Second Grade Geology; volunteered as a docent for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles; and was instrumental in organizing a Family Science Night in 2013 (now an annual event organized by the faculty at that school). During her time as a student teacher, she drew upon her background in architecture and art to teach a STEM course. Upon returning from her Peace Corps service Tania plans to add science and math authorizations to her credential so that she can teach middle school science and math. Tania exemplifies the kind of science and STEM teachers California’s students deserve. The award carries with it a cash prize supported by Sea World San Diego. Our thanks to Sea World San Diego for their continued support of this award. More information about the Future Science Teacher Award, including a list of past recipients is available online.

Amanda Alonzo and Scott Holloway, California State Finalists for the 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST):

Award winner Scott and Amanda (middle) with Phil Lafontaine of CDE and Laura Henriques, CSTA president.

Award winners Scott and Amanda (middle) with Phil Lafontaine of CDE and Laura Henriques, CSTA president.

The Presidential Awards represent the highest national recognition that a kindergarten through twelfth grade science teacher may receive. Each state only gets one teacher in science and one in mathematics.  PAEMST was enacted by Congress in 1983 and authorizes the President each year to bestow up to 108 awards. PAEMST awards primary and secondary teachers in alternate years. The National Science Foundation administers the program on behalf of The White House Office.

The PAEMST process is very rigorous. Candidates are reviewed by a panel of their peers for content knowledge, pedagogical effectiveness, achievement results, and professional involvement. In addition, candidates submitted a 45-minute lesson video in support of their application and wrote a 20-page narrative.
About Amanda Alonzo

Amanda Alonzo is a biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in the Fremont Union High School District in San Jose, where she has taught since 2002. In addition to teaching biology and human physiology courses, Alonzo also coaches students who compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair—20 of whom have been named “outstanding finalist.” Recently, Alonzo began an integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research course that is open to any student in grades nine through twelve. Students design an original STEM research project and then work with Alonzo to carry it out. Alonzo has a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology from Pitzer College and a Master of Arts in Science Education from Stanford University. Her video focused on a ninth-grade biology course, and her lesson topic was “Evidence to Support the Theory of Evolution and Alternative Argumentative Essays.”

About Scott Holloway

Scott Holloway is a physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, where he has taught for five years. Prior to coming to Westlake High, Holloway taught chemistry in the Los Angeles Unified School District for nine years. When he arrived at Westlake High, only 13 students enrolled for AP Physics, and the district discussed eliminating the course. In 2012-13, 150 students registered for the AP Physics course, and his students had a pass rate on the rigorous AP exam of 98 percent. Holloway’s students also are active in the American Association of Physics Teachers Physics Olympiad and the regional Physics Bowl. Holloway advises the campus Robotics Club, which has been successful in regional competitions. Holloway holds a Master of Arts in Science Education from California State University, Northridge; a Single Subject Credential in Physics from the same institution, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His video lesson focused on “angular accelerations due to torques acting on the object and dependent upon the moment of inertia.”

More information about the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, including a list of past recipients is available online. Nominations for the 2014 award which will recognize teachers in grades K-6 are now being accepted. The nomination deadline is April 1, 2014.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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EQuIP Rubric for Science Released

Posted: Monday, April 14th, 2014

The Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science was released April 11, 2014. The Rubric provides criteria by which to measure the alignment and overall quality of lessons and units with respect to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The purpose of the Rubric is to (1) provide constructive criterion-based feedback to developers; (2) review existing instructional materials to determine what revisions are needed; and (3) identify exemplars/models for teachers’ use within and across states.

This document was developed in response to the recognition among educators that while curriculum and instruction will need to shift with the adoption of the NGSS, there is currently a lack of high-quality, NGSS-aligned materials. The power of the rubric is in the feedback it provides curriculum developers and in the productive conversations educators can have while evaluating materials.  Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA Member Phil Lafontaine Retires from State Service

Posted: Monday, April 14th, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

On Thursday, April 10, 2014 CDE Staff, friends, and colleagues of CSTA member Phil Lafontaine gathered to celebrate his incredible career as a science educator and state employee of the California Department of Education, and to wish him an enjoyable retirement. There were many CSTA members in attendance to celebrate Phil and his contributions to education, and science education in particular. Phil was presented with several retirement gifts, including a customized San Francisco Giants jersey, and a Senate Resolution honoring his career and service. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium Dates and Locations Announced

Posted: Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Updated April 8, 2014

K-12 Alliance/WestEd, California Science Project, California Science Teachers Association, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and the California Department of Education Presents: Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1.

Join science leaders at the first of a series of statewide professional learning symposia exploring the philosophy, design, and initial implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate: Evaluating Negotiation in an Elementary Science Classroom

Posted: Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

by Mason Kuhn

Engaging students in negotiation with their peers is considered a central motivation for recent national policy recommendations (National Research Council, 2011) and has been a focus of much scholarship in science education (e.g. Bergland and Reiser, 2009 & Hand, 2008). In the Next Generation Science Standards under the heading “Science and Engineering Practices,” the term “Engaging in Argument From Evidence” appears in almost every standard. However, most literature on negotiation focuses on theory, where little focuses on the topic of negotiation as related to science teaching and learning. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

NGSS Implementation Rollout – Seeking Teams of Teacher Leaders and Administrators

Posted: Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

by Laura Henriques
Updated April 8, 2014

This month’s issue of CCS focuses on biology and chemistry. Articles in this issue highlight some of the challenges around teaching these topics as we move towards Common Core and NGSS implementation. Jeanine Wulfenstein points out that the ideas are often abstract and difficult for students to grasp. These topics include a large number of vocabulary words that can get in the way of understanding, especially for English learners and students with special needs. Barbara Woods points out how discrepant events can be used to motivate and engage students by including the wow factor.  Both articles provide us with teaching strategies that engage and support students while incorporating aspects of NGSS and Common Core.

I do not think any of us could teach chemistry (or other abstract topics) without using models (one of the NGSS science and engineering practices). A discrepant event or surprising moment causes us to ask questions (another of the science and engineering practices). These questions are followed by investigations, tentative explanations and more investigations as students and teachers try to make sense of natural phenomena (even more science and engineering practices!). This approach puts the student-developed models to the test. Adjustments need to be made and the model gets refined. As they explain relationships, cause and effect, and try to make sense of the science they are seeing, they are meeting Common Core standards and science standards. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president of CSTA.