September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA Honors Rising Stars, Advocates, and Distinguished Contributors to Science Education in 2015

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Legislator of the Year, Future Science Teacher, Honorary Memberships, and the new Bertrand Advocacy Award. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2015 California Science Education Conference on October 2 – 4 in Sacramento. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

sd_bechtel_foundationThe CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award honors an organization, institution or foundation which has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. This year’s awardee, The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, has most certainly made such a difference. Bechtel has been a long-time contributor to science education efforts in California, but over the past half dozen years they have been a significant contributor and partner to STEM education efforts in California. Their educational goals include “supporting teachers to align their practices with the new, more rigorous and engaging academic standards in California.” They have done this by providing support for studies about science education in California such as High Hopes, Few Opportunities – the Status of Elementary Science Education in California (2011) and Untapped Potential: The Status of Middle School Science Education in California (2012), funding STEM education webinars, conference and symposia, California’s NGSS Early Implementers project and more. Their staff do more than just provide money, they are involved in shaping the project so that findings are generated and shared and California’s students benefit. This award will be given during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 3.

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Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, 2015 CSTA Legislator of the Year

Each year the CSTA Board of Directors has the option of honoring a legislator. We do not give the Legislator of the Year Award often and it is a pleasure to be awarding it this year it to California State Assemblymember Susan Bonilla. Bonilla, representing the 14th district (Contra Costa and Solano Counties), has been a champion of STEM education and science education for several years. She has authored bills which are supportive of teachers and science education. Recent examples include AB 2350 – Keeping Women in STEM, AB 706 which established the California STEM AmeriCorps (CalSTEM) program, and AB 141 Teacher credentialing: beginning teacher induction programs. Bonilla has been a regular attendee at the Superintendent’s STEM Symposium and for the past three years fought hard to have support for professional learning on the Next Generation Science Standards included in the state budget. Bonilla sponsored bills in 2013, 2014, and 2015 to seek dedicated funding for NGSS implementation, including professional learning for teachers. Each of these years the language from her bills has been incorporated all or in part into the budget bill – resulting in billions in dedicated and discretionary funding to support new standards implementation. This award will be given during the CSTA Conference General Session on Friday, October 2.

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Justin Fournier, 2015 Future Science Teacher Award Recipient

Justin Fournier, 2015 Future Science Teacher Award Recipient

CSTA gives a Future Science Teacher Award annually. A maximum of two students per year are selected for this award which recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching, and professional organization activities and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. This year’s recipient is Justin Fournier, a recent physics teacher credential candidate from California State University, Long Beach. Justin started his academic and professional life as a theater major. After a few years in the field he decided to return to CSULB for a bachelors in physics and a secondary science teaching credential. It is notable that he opted to complete a physics major as opposed to simply taking the CSET. (Did you know that less than a 1/3 of physics teachers have even a minor in physics?) Not only did he complete the physics degree, he received the department’s highest award at graduation. Justin served as a Supplemental Instructor for physics courses, participated in a wide range of physics professional development opportunities, and has already attended CSTA conferences – even presenting at one with classmates. His theater background enables him to bring an energy to teaching which many beginning teachers do not have. He is teaching physics, chemistry and theater at Oxford Academy in Anaheim Union School District. This award is sponsored by SeaWorld. Justin will receive a check for $1,000 and a plaque. This award will be given during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 3.

In an effort to honor individuals who have gone out of their way to support science education in California, the Board of Directors can bestow Honorary Memberships. This year two outstanding individuals, who have played a significant role in overseeing the review, adoption and ultimate implementation of NGSS in California, are receiving this honor, Dr. Ilene Strauss and Ms. Trish Boyd Williams. Both Strauss and Williams serve as science liaisons on the California State Board of Education. SBE Member Strauss, the Vice President of the State Board of Education, had a distinguished career as a teacher, principal and Assistant Superintendent in southern California before retiring in 2011. SBE Member Williams worked for the US Department of Health and Human Services, was a policy consultant for the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, and most recently was Executive Director of EdSource for 19 years. Together Strauss and Williams have attended every Science Expert Panel meeting, each Science Curriculum Framework Criteria & Guidelines meeting, worked with the science education community to hear and respond to concerns, and have represented the field in all issues science education for the State Board of Education. It is CSTA’s honor to bestow on each of them the status of Honorary Member. They will receive Lifetime Memberships in CSTA and are our guests at this year’s conference. When you see them at the conference please thank them for their advocacy and support of science education at the state level. This award will be given during the CSTA Conference General Session on Friday, October 2.

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Trish Williams, Bertrand Advocacy Award Recipient

Finally, we have a new award this year! The Bertrand Advocacy Award is named for former CSTA Executive Director, Christine Bertrand. During her tenure as CSTA Executive Director, Bertrand was responsible for CSTA becoming more involved and vocal at the legislative and policy level. The new award recognizes her efforts by honoring an individual who participates in advocacy for science education at levels beyond what is required for their job. It is CSTA’s privilege to give the inaugural Bertrand Advocacy Award to Trish Williams. As a State Board of Education member Trish has been notable in her work supporting and promoting high quality science education for California. She has provided guidance and leadership beyond her work as well, working with science education stakeholder groups, becoming involved with NGSS at the national level and more. It is our honor to recognize her passion and commitment to science education with this award. This award will be given during the Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 3rd.

Congratulations once again to the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Susan Bonilla, Justin Fournier, Ilene Strauss, and Trish Williams. Please congratulate them when you see them in Sacramento in October.

Nominations for awards are due in May. Consider nominating colleagues or organizations for one of these awards to be given at the 2016 conference! Click here for information about awards and nomination process.

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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.