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.
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…