September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA’s California Classroom Science Goes Digital: It’s All About Sustainability!

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Tim Williamson, CSTA President

It’s that time of year again; another school year has begun.  Most of California’s school districts are doing all they can to maintain fiscal stability during these troubled economic times.  It’s not an easy task.  Your California Science Teachers Association is facing many of the same economic challenges.  We’ve tightened our financial belts and we are doing a great job in streamlining budgets and implementing cost-saving measures across the board, but more needs to be done.

The CSTA board’s decision to take the giant “green” step of publishing California Classroom Science in digital format offers our readers a more convenient, easily accessible, easy to read, and easy to archive product that so many of you have requested, but it has the added bonus of being a cost-saving measure.

Our decision to go “digital” was not based on ease of use or financial reasons, although these are beneficial offshoots.  It was based on sustainability.  But what does this term mean?  How is it relevant to digital publications?  Let’s start with a definition and a brief discussion about what sustainability means.

  • Sustainability, a United Nations definition:  A sustainable society meets the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

There is a great concern that our present civilization will be unable to perpetuate itself indefinitely into the future.  For life to survive as we know it in California, the physical resources and systems that support all life must be maintained.  Resources cannot be used and depleted so that there is nothing left, and they cannot be made unusable through misuse.  The health of plant and animal populations, whether they are part of the human food chain or part of a more complex physical life-support interaction system, must be insured.  This means an equal distribution of all natural resources, providing all California residents the ability to maintain a high quality of life while leading to a reduced impact on their environment.

California’s citizens need access to good and reliable information to help them understand the impact of their own “carbon footprint.”  This will help lead to our state’s environmental stability.  We need social justice to stop thoughtless social environmental behaviors and public education that gives its citizens the tools to improve their interaction with the environment.  Any social groupings without these attributes are unstable, and it will become difficult to maintain a healthy balance with the natural world.  This is what sustainability is all about.

The California Science Teachers Association board and you, its members, already understand this concept of sustainability and how it is relevant to digital publications.  I know I don’t need to preach to the choir.  But it is my hope that our general education population can learn to live in a way that considers the rights of future generations and of all living things on this earth.  Going green with our first issue of California Classroom Science is a step in the right direction!

I hope to see all of you in Sacramento for the 2010 California Science Education Conference this October 22nd-24th where you can continue this discussion of sustainability and its impact on future generations with your science education colleagues, both novice and seasoned.  This is what your professional development dollars should be used for.  This is how we become better prepared to impart scientific literacy to all of our charges, preparing them for a successful future for themselves, our state, and our nation.

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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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

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

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: 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. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

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

Posted: 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. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: 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. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.