May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Getting Ready for Student Teaching

Posted: Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Susan Gomez Zwiep

Your credential classes have prepared you for this! You are ready to begin your apprenticeship into one of the most important professions out there, teaching. During student teaching you have the support of expert teachers to guide you into your first full teaching experiences. Your time as a student teacher is an opportunity to find your own style as you develop your science teaching expertise. Here are some suggestions for how to make the most of this time.

Keep a journal or notebook. There is a great deal to capture during your student teaching – lesson ideas, methods of facilitating discussions about natural phenomena, classroom environment or management that support science exploration, how to manage materials for scientific investigations- all are just a few possible areas to keep track. You need a place to capture your ideas before they are lost in the chaos of day-to-day teaching. Use your journal to jot down ideas quickly during the day and then set aside time each week to go through your notes and reflect on things more carefully. At the end of student teaching, this notebook will be full of valuable insights and ideas for your own science classroom.

Look for opportunities to engage with students. Even before you begin teaching lessons on your own, start listening to your students. What types of things are they saying to their teacher? What are they saying to each other? This will give you some insight into the age group you are working with and how they see the natural world. If the lesson involves working in small groups, try asking groups a few questions to find out how they are interpreting science concepts and their ideas about what is happening in the investigations, what science ideas, concepts or practices they seem to grasp easily and what ideas are still developing. Expert teachers have great questioning skills. This is your opportunity to develop your ability to motivate and push student thinking about the natural world through the questions you ask. Keep track of what types of questions seem to work to reveal student thinking.

Expert teachers can make it all look effortless, but quality teaching is always grounded in preparation and planning. Talk to your Master Teacher about the way they planned a lesson, the materials they used during science investigations, their moves during the lessons like the questions they asked, materials they passed out, or even the time of day they chose to place the lesson. Once you start to teach your own lessons, ask for specific feedback. There is a wide range of skills to science teaching. Rather than trying to be great at everything from the beginning, focus on one area at a time. Then, ask your Master Teacher to provide feedback on that set of skills.

Gather some good science teaching resources such as the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These documents provide a roadmap for what science students should know and be able to do. They can be downloaded free as a PDF or purchased in paper version. The first draft California Science Framework is about to be released for public review this October. Be ready to provide input during the public review time. Even though you have not been teaching long, you still can provide valuable input into the new science framework. You can also check out the CSTA and NSTA websites for new webinars, publications and conference opportunities.

Written by Susan Gomez-Zwiep

Susan Gomez-Zwiep serves an an Associate Professor of Science Education at California State University, Long Beach. She is also a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance in the Southern California area, and is CSTA’s 4-Year College Director.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.