September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Engaging in Collaboration & The Two-Year College Option

Posted: Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Marcus Tessier

For many of our students, two-year colleges offer an important option for transitioning from K-12 to four-year colleges. And for other students, two-year colleges provide important coursework for career trajectories. I’ve attended three community colleges throughout my academic tenure and certainly will affirm the value of coursework that led to a teaching career in science.

Nearly all educators will support the value of student access to content rich learning environments. We pursue education because most of us see ourselves making a difference for others and being an active participant in having a positive impact on the lives of others. For those of us who share a love for science, we see possibilities. These possibilities lead to career options, perhaps in STEM, or maybe we simply understand the importance of supporting a world where STEM literacy creates a better world for all of us. Though we all have different perspectives on how to create these outcomes, we might, however, all agree that these outcomes are worth pursuing.

Collaboration between K-12 and post-secondary science educators is one way to better support the outcome of increased STEM literacy. How are we to chart a course without knowing where we are going? This upcoming fall, the California Science Teachers Association will be hosting its annual conference. What better way to reach out and share your ideas, discuss your concerns, and make connections with other science teachers who share a vision for the whole enterprise of science education?

Some might say that extensive efforts for coordination are essential. Perhaps. But what can be done now? Two-year community college professors and K-12 teachers are having a shaping effect now. By engaging in the CSTA network, our work becomes clearer and we are able to appreciate each other’s roles in the whole enterprise of science education. Our goals seem more attainable. Our work to make science learning meaningful for all students becomes more meaningful for ourselves.

Of specific interest is our work towards implementing curriculum that supports congruent learning between K-12 school systems and two-year colleges. How does NGSS effect our two-year
colleges and their ability to support students in learning science? This question is being asked by many community colleges across the state and through our cooperative work within CSTA, we hope to coordinate opportunities designed to better support resources, professional development, and improved coordination.

But, however, none of these outcomes can be made possible without our involved two-year college membership. Their growing support, time, and experience has helped generate momentum. For those not yet involved, your CSTA asks for your consideration to contribute towards shaping science education. Rather predicated by the demands of business or industry, policy or practicality, engaging in the collaborative work with other science educators, will likely benefit us all.

Written by Marcus Tessier

Marcus Tessier

Marcus Tessier is a former science teacher and now serves as an assistant principal in Woodland.

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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.