September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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 represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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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.

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Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

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