May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

How You Can Become a Leader in California Science Education

Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

Two years ago you, the CSTA membership, elected me to serve as President-Elect. Time has flown by and I have now taken over as President. As I start my presidency I am anxious to help you grow as a science education leader at your site, district, region or state. I know that people don’t go from being a solitary classroom teacher to Board Member/President in a single step – there are lots of smaller steps along the way. Especially in light of all of the opportunities and changes facing California science educators at this time, I want to encourage you to consider moving one step forward on your leadership journey.

  • Start Locally. Don’t think about jumping into a huge leadership position right away, start small! Maybe you are ready to serve as a mentor teacher for preservice students doing fieldwork, for a student teacher, or for a teacher in the BTSA program. Perhaps you could lead a workshop for your grade-level team. If you’ve been actively involved in reading and reviewing NGSS you could help folks at your site understand how NGSS and Common Core align. Maybe there is a newer teacher at your school with whom you could co-plan or mentor. It doesn’t have to be a formal mentor arrangement, but you can be a supportive colleague, share your expertise and help move them to the next level. Think of something that is small and discrete in scope.  For example, rather than agreeing to take on placing all student teachers at your school, have a student teacher for a semester. Or, instead of signing up to do an entire year’s worth of workshops, help prep and lead a single workshop (or co-lead a workshop).  These approaches allow you to focus your energy and succeed with a doable task at hand.
  • Ready for the next step? Think about getting involved beyond your own classroom or school site. How could you get involved at the district level and beyond? Are there task forces in your district looking at how Common Core overlaps with science? Could you be involved in helping others understand what that looks like (while recognizing that simply reading and writing about science is not synonymous with doing science)? Are there projects or professional development opportunities at the local university or informal science education sites near you? Are you interested in contributing to CSTA? We are always looking for members to serve on committees, write articles for California Classroom Science (CCS), present at the CSTA conference, or volunteer to be nominated for state level committees. In fact, one of the benefits of membership is that CSTA is often asked for names of candidates to serve on state educational committees. We just submitted names to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission and several CSTA members served on the California NGSS Science Expert Panel. As the new standards role out there will be other opportunities for CSTA to nominate members to serve.
  • Why this matters. California science education is in a different place today than we were two years ago. We are on the precipice of adopting new science standards. Once that happens we will begin to see the development of a California Science Framework, new science assessments, development of curriculum materials and lots of opportunities for professional learning. As with any change, there will be some periods of disequilibrium. Together as a science teaching community we can help each other with the transition. We have some time, as the new standards probably won’t be fully implemented in classrooms with high stakes tests until 2016-17 at the earliest. This means we can work together with colleagues on-site, in our district and region, through social media, and at professional development events (like the CSTA conference or other area PD events) to learn from each other, discuss challenges, get new information, share successful strategies, and more.

I am encouraging you to step up and get involved. Grow as a leader, yourself, and help us build leadership capacity in the state. You can also be a talent scout for us – find colleagues who you think are ready to move forward.  Please contact me if you would be willing to serve on a committee, write for CCS, or to find other ways to get involved with CSTA. Becoming a leader happens over time, but it starts with a single step.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.