September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Do You Have a Growth Mindset?

Posted: Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Lisa Hegdahl

As our administration shared with us the traits of people who don’t give up in the face of challenges, my mind could not help but think of the parallels to teachers implementing NGSS. Coincidentally, I had spent the day at a Technical Assistance meeting for the Core Leadership team for our district’s CA NGSS Early Implementation group. As Early Implementers, we have had struggles, successes, and more struggles, all the while learning and growing as educators. Giving ourselves permission to fail and not be perfect, all Growth Mindset qualities, are critical to the process of learning how to provide NGSS 3-dimensional learning experiences for our students.

What Kind of Mind Do You Have?

Cool graphic, isn’t it? It appeared at the top of the agenda provided at my school’s September Leadership Committee meeting. Our district enjoys being on the cutting edge of California education, so this image was a reminder to us to persevere as we struggle productively. Created and used with permission by Reid Wilson @wayfaringpath icon from

Growth Mindset – Trying NGSS in Your Classroom

You don’t have to be a teacher in a CA NGSS Early Implementation district to be, as Kathy DiRanna, statewide director for the K-12 Alliance, said in a September 2, 2015 EdSource article, “…bleeding on the cutting edge..” of NGSS. Many teachers have already begun to try components of NGSS in their classrooms with varying success.  These teachers want to challenge themselves and know that as they struggle, they learn. As they learn, they come to believe even more strongly that they can do anything. Mastering the teaching of NGSS is just a matter of time.

Growth Mindset – Attending NGSS Professional Development

If you attended the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento during the first weekend of October, it is a good bet that you have the Growth Mindset. You attended workshops, field courses and listened to focus speakers because you believe that you can accomplish anything, including NGSS Implementation, if you persevere.

This year’s annual California Science Education Conference may be over, but CSTA continues to provide California educators with opportunities to grow in their understanding of NGSS. In addition, each month CSTA publishes professional development opportunities across the state in California Classroom Science.

Upcoming Opportunities to Increase Your Understanding of NGSS

  1. Dates & Locations for the remaining NGSS Transition Phase, Rollout II
  • Fresno Workshop: October 15-16, 2015
  • San Marcos Workshop: October 22-23, 2015
  • Red Bluff Workshop: November 2-3, 2015
  • San Jose Workshop: November 9-10, 2015
  • Camarillo Workshop, December 8-9, 2015
  1. Look for the CA NGSS Rollout #3 Workshops coming in 2016!
  1. California Science Education Conference, Palm Springs, October 21-23, 2016

Growth Mindset by Reviewing the California Science Framework

The Science Framework Public Review sessions are coming! The Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (Science Framework) will go into its first public review period November 17 – January 19. I encourage you to attend one of the CSTA hosted Science Framework review sessions being offered throughout the state or consider hosting your own CA Science Framework Review Session in your area. For details, keep an eye on the CSTA website, California Classroom Science and the Science page of the California Department of Education website. The Framework provides in depth information about NGSS and its practical application in the classroom.

No matter your role in science education, having the Growth Mindset will prepare you for the many challenges that lie ahead as California Implements NGSS.  Embracing the traits such as perseverance, learning from failure, and challenging oneself can make the difference in succeeding with moving implementation forward or making little progress. Regular collaboration with colleagues through professional development and CSTA membership will help to make the task less challenging.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.