September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA and NSTA Team Up to Provide Professional Development for California Science Educators

Posted: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

by Laura Henriques

The end of the school year is almost upon us! As we finish teaching our last units, pack up our classrooms, and send students out to do exciting science and STEM adventures it is time to think about our own professional learning.

The theme for this month’s California Classroom Science is related to summer opportunities for educators and kids. Summertime brings opportunities for us to be in the role of student, letting us learn new things. We have time to reflect on our practice, work with colleagues, and improve what we do. We can read for our own professional growth (if you have not yet read the K12 Framework for Science Education or the NGSS and related appendices summer could be a perfect time for that). We can attend workshops and institutes. Museums and informal science institutions run a wide range of programs. As you peruse the articles in this issue you’ll find just a few of the options available. Look around your area to see what’s offered. You will be surprised to find so many exciting opportunities. County Offices, California Science Projects and other support providers will be hosting workshops and professional learning opportunities to help us become more familiar with NGSS, linkages between Common Core and science, and the role of engineering in our classrooms. See what you can find to help you begin to transition NGSS into your teaching practice.

CSTA has been actively involved in helping create and provide learning opportunities as well. In May we co-led three NGSS Rollout Workshops with colleagues from California Science Project, K12 Alliance/WestEd, County Offices of Education, and the California Department of Education. More than 700 science teacher leaders and administrators from San Joaquin, LA, Orange, Riverside, and surrounding counties attended these workshops. The workshops will be repeated in the fall in other parts of the state (San Diego, Fresno, Redbluff, and the San Francisco Bay Area). You can find out more about the fall workshops on the NGSS Rollout Website.

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As part of CSTA’s professional development plan leading up to the Long Beach NSTA Area Conference on Science Education – in Collaboration with CSTA, we are offering webinars and a summer professional development program around NGSS and Common Core. Educators will have the opportunity to participate in a webinar on June 17, a day-long workshop in July (July 21st in Foster City/San Mateo and July 25th in Anaheim). There will be additional webinars in the fall and a culminating experience at the joint conference in December. There are multiple ways for you to participate in these learning experiences. It’s our hope that you’ll be able to do the webinars, the summer workshop and the follow-up at the conference but we know that some of you will only be able to do the summer components (workshop and/or webinars) while others will only be able to attend the workshop in Long Beach. The intention of creating the extended learning opportunity is to allow you time to learn new things, practice them in your classroom and then come back together to expand upon what you learned. The workshops and webinars will be led by Kathy DiRanna and Cynthia Passmore. These two women are fantastic presenters and I know you’ll learn lots by attending! Kathy will help you dig into NGSS and Common Core integrations while Cynthia will be help you explore Science & Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts during the face-to-face workshops.

Speaking of the December Conference…. Registration is now open! I know that many of us are able to encumber funds from this year to pay for next year’s conference or we need to know about the costs in order to have it built into the school professional learning plan for next year. You can find information about registration and housing options at the conference website. One thing you will notice is that your conference registration is reduced by $90 if you are a CSTA or NSTA member. If you are not yet a member of CSTA now is the time to join! By joining CSTA for $50 you’ll end up with a net savings of $40 on conference registration. This year only, you can join both NSTA and CSTA for a 20% discount. All the various membership options are available on the CSTA membership website.

Finally, a quick reminder about the Superintendent’s STEM Symposium: The 2nd annual event will take place in San Diego, September 22-23, 2014. This event will also offer a variety of workshops and speakers to help us consider STEM education in California. Another offering of the Statewide NGSS Rollout Workshop will be held in conjunction with this event. Registration for the STEM Symposium is now available. If you have a great workshop to present consider submitting a proposal as they are still seeking a few more sessions (you need to do it quickly though).

Have a great summer. I hope we all have at least one really great science education learning opportunity that impacts what and how we do our jobs each day!

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

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

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.