September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Get Started with NGSS and Common Core

Posted: Wednesday, June 4th, 2014


A wave of change is surging through the California K-12 education system. Are you ready to jump on the surf board and ride that wave, or are you running for higher ground?

Join two longtime science education experts—Cynthia Passmore, associate professor at UC Davis and Kathy DiRanna, director of the K-12 Alliance at WestED—for a FREE 90-minute online web seminar on June 17 that will introduce you to the changes coming with Next Generation Science Standards, how NGSS and Common Core will move our students from “knowing about” to “figuring out”, and how “figuring it out” in all science subjects means learning through practices.

A free web seminar is being offered as an introduction to a multi-faceted and rich learning experience around NGSS and CCSS that the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) have developed for teachers this year:

Shifting Instruction Through Practices: NGSS and Common Core in California Schools: Getting Started
Web Seminar Date/Times: June 17, 2014
(register for the free web seminar today)
4:30 pm PT, 7:30 pm ET, 6:30 pm CT,  and 5:30 pm MT

Registration for the entire blended learning opportunity is now available online. Registration for the full blended professional learning opportunity will include:

  • Your choice of one of two day-long face-to-face Summer Institutes: July 21, San Francisco Bay Area or July 25, Anaheim (lunch included);
  • A post-institute web seminar, September 11; where teachers will focus on classroom practices.
  • A special event on the last day of the NSTA Area Conference (in Collaboration with CSTA), December 6

(An optional web seminar will be available for those unable to attend either of the July Summer Institutes.)

Registration is $275, members of CSTA and/or NSTA are entitled to a 20% discounted registration rate of $225.

Who Should Attend?

  • Classroom teachers – all levels
  • School administrators
  • Curriculum developers
  • Professional Development Coordinators
  • STEM facilitators

Keynote Topics and Presenters for the Face-to-Face Institutes

NGSS and Common Core

Kathy DiRanna

Kathy DiRanna

Kathy DiRanna is the Statewide Director of the K-12 Alliance at WestEd. She has over 28 years of experience in science professional development devoted to increasing teacher content knowledge, pedagogical skills and leadership ability. She is a skilled facilitator and has been intimately involved with the California NGSS for the past three years. She has done extensive work with teachers on how to implement and integrate Common Core and NGSS.


Science & Engineering Practices/Crosscutting Concepts

Cynthia Passmore

Cynthia Passmore

Cynthia Passmore is an associate professor in the School of Education at University of California, Davis. Her scholarship investigates issues around engaging students in scientific practice, specifically modeling, as an avenue for developing deep understanding of science ideas and learning about the scientific enterprise. Her recent work explores these issues in the context of the design of teacher professional development.






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.

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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


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.