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: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…