September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Exciting Times for Science Education

Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

These are exciting times for science education in California! On September 4, 2013 the California State Board of Education approved the adoption of Next Generation Science Standards for our K-12 classrooms. In a couple of weeks science educators from around the state will be gathering together in Palm Springs for CSTA’s 2013 California Science Education Conference. CSTA is actively involved in helping articulate how NGSS will come to fruition in our schools and classrooms and throughout the process we will do our best to keep you informed, gather input from our members, and share that information with the appropriate parties. We want to help ensure that you have the information and professional development you need to make a smooth transition from our current standards to Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, we will continue to share opportunities for you to be more personally involved (e.g. providing feedback to the State Board of Education, applying for positions on committees and commissions, joining NGSS listserv, etc.).

One of the best things you can do to support your own transition to NGSS is to attend the conference at the end of the month! The Conference Committee has diligently worked to create a program that will meet your needs in both your current classroom and your NGSS classroom to come. Among the NGSS-related sessions planned is our opening Keynote General Session speaker, Dr. Stephen Pruitt. Dr. Pruitt is the Vice President for Content, Research, and Development for Achieve and led the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. His talk will follow the CSTA General Meeting on Friday morning. There will also be multiple sessions provided by the California Department of Education. These will span a variety of topics from a general overview of NGSS (on Friday and Saturday), to implementation issues and timelines, and an informational workshop related to the soon-to-be developed California Science Curriculum Framework (pending confirmation). There will also be several sessions that showcase activities and strategies featuring critical aspects of NGSS that you can use in your classroom. A quick search will show you that there are lots of NGSS-related workshops scheduled.

Beyond NGSS-themed sessions, you will also be able to learn new science content – take a look at some of the articles in this issue of CCS to find out about some of the speakers who will share cutting edge scientific research. There will be new ideas for your classroom teaching including sessions which provide explicit linkages between science and Common Core (both math and ELA), pedagogy-focused sessions which will provide you with new ways to think about how you work with students, and sessions about how non-verbal communication influences classroom management. You can also discover new labs, demos and activities which make content come alive for your students. There will even be a chance for you to try out some fun STEM activities at the Friday evening pool party. Of course, there is also the exhibit hall to provide you with the chance to meet with vendors and check out the latest science teaching equipment and supplies. I always leave the exhibit hall with something new to use in my classes.

Finally, we will close the conference with Dr. Laurence Smith, a climate scientist who will share his research about how the world is changing and what it will look like in the future. As educators we are trying to envision our educational world with Next Generation Science Standards, his work will help us understand the next generation of our planet.

I hope to see you in Palm Springs! It promises to be a great conference.

Advance registration ends on October 7th. On-site registration is available at the Palm Springs Convention Center starting Thursday, October 24, 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a 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.