September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

High Hopes—Emerging Opportunities

Posted: Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

by Grahme Smith

We’re entering an exciting and transitional time in science education. The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd’s (The Center) recent publication High Hopes- Few Opportunities outlined the bleak status of California’s elementary science education yet provided several recommendations that are well within reach. As the Next Generation Science Standards emerge, so does an opportunity to develop new and empowering teacher professional development programs. The Center’s report indicated that schools and districts that receive science support through partnerships with informal science institutions praised the impact they had on their teaching practice and their confidence with science. Therefore, The Center recommends the “explicit and strategic use of existing and potential capacity and infrastructure of science-rich institutions (such as institutions of higher education, science centers, museums, zoos, aquaria, and national laboratories).”

Informal science institutions (ISI) are growing in capacity and are willing and eager to partner with districts and schools to cooperatively envision and deliver lasting, immersive, and transformational science teacher professional development. Now is the perfect time for districts to intentionally partner with science-rich organizations. The Next Generation Science Standards will change the way we teach science and the way we prepare teachers. We need to reform how we approach teacher professional development and embrace true collaborations between district and community partners. Districts and schools should consider these institutions—not as simply service providers—but as peers who will work with them to create robust and impactful experiences for teachers and students. No quick fix exists for science teacher education reform, but by more effectively capitalizing on California’s wealth of ISIs—we can begin to improve the state of science education.

Grahme Smith is manager at the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences and CSTA’s informal science director.

 

Written by Grahme Smith

Grahme Smith is manager at the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences and CSTA’s informal science director (2011-2013.

One Response

  1. Castle Science and Tech Center/Challenger Learning Center is in the third of five years in a very successful partnership with 42 fifth and eighth grade classrooms in Merced Co.with generous assistance from Merced County Office of Education, NASA, Lawrence Hall of Science, Carolina Biol. Supply, Walmart, and United Way. We provide enhanced Space Sciences education to students and ongoing, sustained PD for teachers.

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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

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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

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Written by Elizabeth Cooke

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

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

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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

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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.