September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA Is Pleased to Announce the Election Results for the 2014-2016 Board of Directors

Posted: Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Congratulations goes to Jeanine Wulfenstein, Joanne Michael, Susan Gomez-Zweip, Minda Berbeco, and Peter A’Hearn! There terms will begin July 1, 2014 and conclude on June 30, 2016. Information about the 2015-2017 elections will be available in the fall.

Treasurer: Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine has been teaching science for 14 years and currently teaches science at Gardner Middle School in the Temecula Valley USD. This past year she was recognized as the TVUSD middle school teacher of the year. Prior to teaching, Jeanine was an accountant for a major cosmetics manufacturing company. She has presented at several CSTA conferences, served on the 2013 CSTA conference committee, the CSTA publications committee, the legislative oversight committee and is the current CSTA Region 4 Director.

Quality science education is vital to our state’s success. In today’s world, students must be problem solvers in the workplace, champions for their own health, and advocates for the integrity of our planet. In the science classroom, an educator’s charge is to inspire students to wonder, question, research, and push the boundary to learn more about themselves and the world around them. As a community of science educators, our responsibility is to ensure quality instructional practices to support inquiry, problem solving, and communication skills vital to student success.

As a CSTA member, I am committed to scientific literacy for all students. Despite funding and political obstacles, CSTA must continue to be a collective voice for California science educators. In these tumultuous times, it is imperative that we creatively continue to empower, inspire, and advocate for science education as a collective community. CSTA must continue to be a catalyst for educational innovation, sharing of best practices, problem solving, decision-making, and lobbying for legislation to support our shared vision.

Intermediate (Grades 3-5) Director: Joanne Michael

Joanne has been working as a science specialist at Meadows Elementary School (Manhattan Beach USD) since 2008. She initiated and continues to chair a school-wide Science Night every spring. Joanne also is the science chair of the elementary school science specialists and leads monthly collaboration meetings within her district. She is a member of CSTA and NSTA and has presented workshops at conferences for both organizations.

Science education is an incredible medium—a student truly discovers how and why the world behaves the way it does by interacting within it. It is my goal as a science teacher to light that fire of curiosity within each student, for them to discover more about the world, as well as about themselves. By using hands-on lessons, interactive technologies, and exciting discoveries happening every day around them, students are exploring science like never before. Installing a love and knowledge of science within them will help us send a generation into society, armed to make this world the best that it can be.

I focus my teaching on many of CSTA’s goals. I feel that students, no matter their age or ability, can find wonder and succeed in science. By “encouraging the natural curiosity of learners”, as stated in the vision statement, we can guide our students into this incredible world, and make it an even better place. With work, adaptability, and collaboration, I can see CSTA leading the way in science achievement.

4-Year College Director:  Susan Gomez-Zwiep

In 2005 Susan took the position of an Associate Professor at CSULB in the Science Education Department In addition, she has served as a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance since 2007 and has overseen several large grants providing professional development for teachers at the elementary, middle, high school, and university level. Susan is a lifetime member of CSTA and has presented numerous workshops and short courses as well as being a featured focus speaker at the annual California Science Education Conference.

Science teaching involves developing students’ understanding about scientific concepts as well as their ability to “do” science. Both types of knowledge are necessary to make informed decisions about personal and political issues. Students need to engage in discourse and argumentation about what data reveals about the natural world and how it fits with our current scientific explanations. Understanding how science knowledge is generated is essential to understanding science, including how debate and modification are inherent to the scientific process.

I grew-up in CSTA, at least professionally, and owe the organization a debt of gratitude for helping me become the science educator I am today. CSTA was my first professional organization. I made my first presentation at a CSTA conference. CSTA is still my primary information source for what is happening in science education. CSTA supports all levels of science teachers. The recent NGSS adoption creates an exciting opportunity for science teachers and CSTA will provide the leadership and resources necessary to support science teachers as we all move into the next generation.

Region 2 Director: Minda Berbeco

Minda is the Programs and Policy Director at the National Center for Science Education and a Visiting Scholar at the UC Museum of Paleontology. She has a PhD in Biology from Tufts University and is a member of CSTA, the National Association of Biology Teachers, and the American Geophysical Union. Minda has contributed several articles to the monthly California Classroom Science newsletter, and presented a workshop at the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs.

Science isn’t just a subject in school; it is a way of seeing the world. Through science, students have the opportunity to answer questions about human origins and explanations for the Earth’s processes. Science tells us why we breathe and how our hearts beat; science can even tell us why it is we feel love, sadness or joy. Science education though is not just about providing answers. It is about exploring our environment, being creative about ideas and generating hypotheses to help explain what we observe. Science and science education are opportunities to explore and understand the world, with important implications for students and society as a whole.

Through their determination and hard work, CSTA has provided educators around the state with the vision and inspiration necessary to engage students from many different backgrounds and interest levels. It would be a delight and honor to be able to further CSTA’s mission of engaging and supporting educators, disseminating science to all students in the state and encouraging a future where all citizens of California understand and support science.

Region 4 Director: Peter A’Hearn

For the past 8 years, Peter has been the K-12 Science Curriculum Specialist at Palm Springs Unified School District and previously taught science at Desert Hot Springs High School for five years. He has served as Region 4 Director on the CSTA board, presented at fiveCalifornia Science Education Conferences, was co-chair of the 2013 conference, and is a regular contributor of articles for the California Classroom Science newsletter including a monthly NGSS Blog.

Science teachers know that science is a subject that can excite and inspire and blow kids minds. By engaging students in hands-on science, projects, and real world problem solving we can inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, and scientifically literate citizens. Too often the demands of testing have turned science in a dull march through the standards. With the shift in standards, there is a brief window of opportunity to get it right and make science as exciting as it should be. CSTA is the voice of California teachers who want to make sure that the policies in Sacramento support the best kind of science education that our children deserve.

CSTA’s most important role is in providing a community for California science teachers to share ideas and energy. With the coming transition to the NGSS this role will be more important than ever. California science teachers are an amazingly creative group and CSTA through its conferences and newsletter is the place for them to share. CSTA also plays an important role as the voice of California science teachers in Sacramento. With NGSS being implemented this role will be more important than ever. Science teachers need to make sure that the coming changes represent the best for California students.

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.