September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Greening by Example 2013 Green Schools Summit & Expo

Posted: Monday, November 4th, 2013

The seventh annual Green California Schools Summit and Exposition will take place at the Pasadena Convention Center on November 6-7. Developed under the leadership of an Advisory Board chaired by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and State Architect Chet Widom, the Summit is the state’s largest annual event focused on green programs in California Schools.

The keynote speaker for the Summit will be Tom Steyer. In 2012, Steyer served as chairman for Yes on Proposition 39, setting the stage for an unprecedented influx of funds for energy efficiency projects at public schools in California.

Through an Expo with over 100 companies offering green products and services, an educational program of workshops and concurrent sessions, and special events including a Leadership Awards reception, the Summit offers a unique annual opportunity for public and private sector stakeholders to get updated on developments in policy, practice technology.

Educational Opportunities
In schools across California, energy programs, as well as green building and retrofits are putting significant savings back into school districts’ general funds and providing healthy environments for students. Curriculum and student engagement programs are fostering a culture of sustainability among students, faculty and communities.

Concurrent education sessions at the Summit offer school officials, teachers, administrators an opportunity to be exposed to best practices in these areas, and to hear from regional and national leaders in school sustainability. The education program will also feature sessions on California’s landmark Education and the Environment Initiative (EEI) curriculum. Information regarding guidelines and best practices for Prop 39 funding for energy efficiency projects will be included in several sessions.

In addition to the Summit’s Advisory board, partners at the U.S. Green Building Council, CalRecycle, Keep California Beautiful, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, the Green Schools Initiative, Grades of Green, the Alliance for Climate Education and others are helping to organize sessions.

On November 5, the day before the Summit begins, a daylong seminar, “Prop 39: Preparing for Success,” will provide information and resources to help districts capture the opportunities that Prop 39 will provide. Topics covered will include the proposal process, a review of the “best practices” that will be expected to be reflected in project proposals, sources of technical support for planning your projects, incentive programs and other financial resources to help districts leverage Prop 39 funds and expand their efficiency efforts.

Two Summits at Once
The Summit is being held concurrently with the Green California Community Colleges Summit, with a single Expo serving both events. “This [is a] unique chance for green leaders from community colleges and K-12 schools to talk to each other and share best practices,” said Carl Smith, editor-in-chief of Green Technology, the organization that produces the summits.

Leadership Awards
At a reception on November 6, the Summit’s Leadership Awards will recognize achievements in categories ranging from green building and energy efficiency to curriculum. The awards were established by the Summit’s Advisory Board to honor individuals and school districts on the leading edge of school sustainability.

Keynotes and exhibit hall are free. For information and to register, go to or call Cindy Dangberg at 626-577-5700.

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.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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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.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw


This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.