September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Farewell from Galt, CA

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

McCaffreyMiddleSchool-Hegdal

McCaffrey Middle School, Galt, CA

by Lisa Hegdahl

I am typically not a reflective person. Instead, I tend to get swept up in the day to day moments of teaching, meetings, phone calls, and home life. With one exception – the end of the school year.

While my 8th graders are enjoying the many ends of Middle School activities, I spend the last week of the academic year re-filing, re-packing, and re-organizing a classroom I have lost the battle to somewhere back in October. As the last day winds down, my students stack all the lab tables against the far wall and we are finished for the year. Gathering the last items from my refrigerator, I begin to head out the door for summer ‘vacation’. At this moment, every year, something stops me. I turn around and look back at my clean, bare-floored classroom. Without intention, I remember all that took place there in the past 180 days with 150 students who have now gone on to high school. I remember laughter and struggles, and, at times, a little chaos. I hope that somehow during all that time, I provided my students with valuable experiences and that I was patient and kind to them. For most of them, I will never know.

I find myself in a similar situation now. In 2013, I was nominated and elected President of the California Science Teachers Association. I took office on July 1, 2015, and began a 2-year journey that will end on June 30, 2017. As we make the final transition of information and responsibility to CSTA’s President-Elect, Jill Grace, the same kind of end-of-school reflective inklings are creeping into my mind.

Indications of these past 2 years are everywhere. The surfaces of my desks at home and school are marked with Post-It notes beginning with verbs like – “contact …”; “review…”; “answer …”; “edit …”; “attend …”. My Google folders are packed with agenda items, committee notes, and draft articles. In one entitled, “President Correspondences”, letters bear my signature and were sent to members of various state and local organizations. Another folder, “President Messages’”, contains the 21 articles I submitted to California Classroom Science. My email folders have labels such as CA4NGSS, Conference, CTC, Framework, LOC, NGSS Collaborative, Membership/Marketing, Rollout 4, and SBE. My desk at home contains assorted CSTA binders, but mostly my meeting notes are in ‘well organized’ piles – another filing battle I have lost.

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Much has changed in the California Science landscape since I took office, and the hard work of the CSTA staff, Board of Directors, Committee volunteers, CSTA members, and CSTA partners were instrumental in making those changes happen and happen in a way that is positive for California Science teachers and their students. I am regularly amazed at what this group of focused, driven, passionate people can accomplish when they collaborate and innovate together.

I am grateful for the opportunity the CSTA membership provided me when they elected me President. As I said in my first President’s Message, “I am incredibly humbled and proud” to have represented such a dedicated and talented group. A huge thank you to Jessica Sawko, CSTA Executive Director, the CSTA Board of Directors, and our CSTA partners who supported me in the work for which I was tasked. I also need to thank the Science teachers at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, where I teach full-time, as well our amazing school and district administration. They were all incredibly supportive and patient with me as I attempted to carry out the duties of both jobs.

Finally, my very best wishes to our new CSTA President, Jill Grace. As many of you know, she has already shown herself to be a tremendous leader as well as an accomplished, knowledgeable educator and scientist. Under her leadership, CSTA will continue to Promote High Quality Science Education for all.

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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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LATEST POST

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.