May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Great CSTA Conference! What’s Next?

Posted: Monday, November 4th, 2013

by Laura Henriques

What a wonderful CSTA conference in Palm Springs at the end of October! Conference Chairs Peter A’Hearn and Jim Jones and their conference committee did a fantastic job putting together an educational, engaging, and enjoyable event. The conference included 175 workshops, five field trips, six focus speakers, and a dozen short courses. We kicked off the entire conference with Dr. Stephen Pruitt of Achieve talking about NGSS. We had a Flinn Scientific Dynamic Demonstrations event on Friday evening.

Boat Race Team Photo

Team of teachers showing their team spirit during the construction phase of the Cardboard Boat Challenge.

This was followed by a STEM Pool Party, complete with cardboard boat competitions, stomp rockets, music and mingling. It was fun to see colleagues building boats, launching rockets, and enjoying each other.  For early birds and night owls we had both morning and evening star gazing events on Saturday. Our Awards Breakfast speaker, Dr. Stuart Sumida, gave a great STEM/STEAM talk as he shared his experiences as a biologist teaching animators about anatomy and physiology as he works alongside them when they create films. Closing session speaker, Dr. Laurence Smith from UCLA, gave an interesting integrated talk about global climate of the northern hemisphere in 2050.

Among the most popular sessions over the weekend were the many about NGSS. In his keynote Dr. Pruitt’s shared how NGSS and its three strands allow us to reconceptualize how we put instruction together. For example, we can bundle our curriculum around disciplinary core ideas or we could think about organizing curriculum around cross-cutting concepts or science and engineering practices. Dr. Pruitt shared updates on projects he and his colleagues are working on that will help California science teachers as we begin planning what NGSS instructional tasks might look like.

In addition to Dr. Pruitt, staff from the California Department of Education (CDE), K12 Alliance, California Science Projects and County Offices of Education hosted several NGSS workshops. CDE staff provided basic background information for those of us new to NGSS as well as information about implementation, timelines, and the Instructional Quality Commission and CA Framework process. (Please see last month’s CCS and e-blasts from CSTA. Applications to serve on the CA Framework Focus Groups are currently being accepted, as are applications to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission. Deadlines are fast approaching.) The K12 Alliance, CSP and COEs provided us with connections between NGSS and Common Core, discussions about NGSS in the elementary, middle and high school settings, and more. The message we heard over and over was that implementation is a process. Even though California adopted NGSS in September 2013, we will not be fully implemented for a while. Start taking baby steps towards implementation but don’t think that you need to dump everything you are doing right now. This should be a familiar message for loyal CCS readers.

It was exciting to see so many science teachers gathered together. The energy and commitment you all brought to the conference was palpable. As I overheard snippets of conversations I could tell that you were learning new things, getting ideas to bring back to your classrooms, beginning to get more comfortable with NGSS, and finding new technology ideas to use with kids. By the end of the weekend folks were tired but you were also still excited. There were still hundreds of you in Palm Springs at the last session on Sunday. Thank you for taking the time to be there!

By now you are back at school. I hope by the time you read this you have had the chance to get caught up on what you missed and that the enthusiasm you had in Palm Springs is still with you. So what’s next?

There are a few next steps for all of us to consider:

1)     I challenge you to take one thing you learned at the conference and act upon it. Whether it’s incorporating a new lab, activity or teaching strategy or talking with teachers and administrators about NGSS, take what you learned and do something. While it is a wonderful treat for us to be students and learn again, it’s incredibly powerful to be able to do something with our new knowledge.

2)     Think about what you do really well and consider sharing it with colleagues at next year’s conference. As you heard at the conference and have read in our CCS, in 2014 CSTA will be joining forces with NSTA to bring you a collaboratively sponsored conference. The 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference in Collaboration with CSTA will bring together thousands of science educators and we are in need of good workshops. Please consider taking the next step in your professional journey by submitting a workshop proposal for the conference. Proposals are due January 15, 2014.  (Note that this is earlier than the usual deadline for the California Science Education Conference.)

3)     Don’t wait until next year to continue learning and exploring. There is the CDE’s STEM conference later this month (see related article). Additionally, there will be workshops and professional development opportunities from a variety of sources. Check out the CSTA Calendar, get onto your County Office of Education’s science listserv, check out CSTA Chapters and Affiliates for their events.

If you were one of the 1,800 people who joined us in Palm Springs, thank you again for being there!  Please take a moment to fill out the conference evaluation form. As a reminder, if a session you attended did not have enough handouts, check out the CSTA website. Jessica Sawko is posting workshop handouts online as they are submitted.

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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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.