September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Don’t Wait to Communicate About NGSS: Tools Available NOW!

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Lisa Hegdahl

With the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by the California State Board of Education in Fall 2013, teachers in districts across California have been gradually introducing the Standards to their classrooms. Starting with just a few pioneers, now increasing to an ever larger population of science educators ready to implement phenomenon-based, 3-dimensional science. For many, the success of implementation will depend on communicating the value and intention of NGSS effectively and strategically to a variety of audiences.

Early on, leaders in California science education realized the need for quality, field tested, ready-to-use messages to help education stakeholders reach out to their audiences.  In 2016, the CDE Foundation, Children Now, and the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) with support of partner organizations, prepared a communications toolkit. The messages within the toolkit are grouped by target audiences and stakeholders are encouraged to modify the messages as needed for their unique circumstances. Each audience has a Core Message, Talking Points, and Fact Sheet as well as additional, targeted resources. Messages themselves are tagged as Top-Tier and Mid-Tier indicating how they resonated with audiences during field tests.

Don’t wait to use these messages to communicate about NGSS to your stakeholders. Communicate often and repeatedly. With statewide pilot testing this spring, and the operational test just two years away, the time to strategically connect with stakeholders is now.

CA4NGSS Communications Toolkit:

 

ca4ngss-toolkit-website

You will also find the CA4NGSS Communications Toolkit linked on the CSTA homepage along with other useful NGSS resources:cangss-website-resources

Join the California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards (CA4NGSS) on Wednesday, March 22nd at 4:00pm PT as we introduce our open-source suite of Communications Toolkits to build support for the CA NGSS. Webinar attendees will learn how the tools were developed, the types of resources available, and their intended use for various audiences. A virtual panel will share examples of how they have adapted them for use in their regions, districts, and school sites, including time for Q&A. During the webinar, a new suite of communications tools designed to aid educators when communicating with parents about NGSS will be released. These tools will be available in both English and Spanish.

In addition to general audience content, materials are meant for use by school site leaders, classroom educators, parents, and district leaders. Toolkit components range from research-vetted core messages and sample PowerPoint slides to talking points, fact sheets, and associated LCAP planning tools. All are designed as easy-to-use ways to customize and communicate support for NGSS implementation among various stakeholder groups.

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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 Past-President of CSTA.

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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.