May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

I Got the Job – What Do I Do? Part 4

Posted: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Rick Pomeroy

You have just accepted your first job and now the real work and worry begins. What will I teach, how will I set the perfect climate on the first day, how will I keep all of those students’ names straight, and stay up to date on all of that grading? These are very common questions for new teachers. Depending on the date when you accept the job, you will have anywhere from three to four months to prepare for the most important day of your new career. You may not know the exact teaching assignment, you might not even know which school, but that is not a reason sit and wait. Your students are going to show up for your classes on the first day and you need to be ready. So, what would I recommend?

First, now that you know the school district where you will be teaching, I recommend that you start by making it a point to learn as much about the community as possible. Learn which industries and businesses are important to the economy; get a feel for the different parts of town and the resources that are available to your students during the summer. THEN, figure out how you can use that information in your teaching. Think about ways for making the S&E Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and the Cross Cutting Concepts relevant for students. By incorporating the things students and their parents do every day, you can personalize many parts of your curriculum. Even if you are working with a departmental curriculum, you can use your knowledge of the community as an example or application of the content that you are teaching.

Second, if you have not already purchased a copy of the NGSS and the Conceptual Framework, get one. These will be the foundational tools for curriculum development for the coming years. It is unlikely that the new California State Framework will be available before the end of the summer so it will be important to have these foundational documents to guide you. Remember, the Conceptual Framework lays out what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school. The NGSS describes how they will demonstrate that understanding. Neither is a curriculum in itself but both should be considered as you begin to plan what you are going to teach. Even if you do not have a specific assignment, become deeply familiar with these documents now so that when the curriculum planning begins, you are ready.

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Third, when you eventually know your teaching assignment, reach out to the other members of the science faculty to get a feel for the resources available to you, the dynamics of the department, and any logistical issues such as bell schedules, school traditions and possible opportunities for cross-curricular instructional opportunities. It is also good to make connections to other new teachers at your school. Even if they are in a different subject area, you will share many of the same experiences, emotions, successes and challenges over your first year. It is always great to have a support system that sees the experience in the same way that you do.

Finally, take some time off to have some fun. You have worked hard from the start of your undergraduate career through what has likely been a stressful and busy year as a pre-service teacher. Over the next three to four months, take some time to enjoy the things that made you want to be a teacher. Enjoy the kinds of things that recharge your mind and your emotions. It is OK to get away or travel a little, but be sure that you don’t do it at the expense of participating in training opportunities or to the extent that you ignore steps 1, 2, and 3. You have worked hard to become a teacher and you want to enter the classroom on the first day charged up and ready to take on the world. Remember to celebrate your first day of teaching. Take pictures of your students in each class on the first day. There will never be another first day of teaching so cherish and enjoy it.

This is the last in a series of articles designed to support this year’s pre-service teachers in their quest for that first job. In Part 1 I discussed researching the district and the schools where you want to teach. Part 2 was designed as a guide to the interview process and Part 3 offered some suggestions on how to deal with the job offer. Part 4 is designed to offer some thoughts and suggestions for preparing for the job that you have accepted.

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis.

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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…

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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…

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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.