January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

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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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.