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.
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.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…