September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

CSTA Represents CA Science Teachers as IQC Moves to Advance ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework to State Board of Education; Gets Preview of Focus Group Report

Posted: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

by Jessica Sawko

On Friday, March 28, 2014 the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) met to consider the draft of the ELA/ELD curriculum framework and to receive updates on various other matters including progress on the revision of the science curriculum framework. The IQC Science Subject Matter Committee received their update by Bryan Boyd, Education Programs Consultant in the Instructional Resources Unit of the California Department of Education. Boyd is a CSTA member and was a middle school science teacher in the classroom up until 2013. He provided a recap of the progress made to date on the revision of the Science Curriculum Framework, which included a brief report on the early themes that are emerging as the committee works to compile the information gathered during the focus groups that were held around the state in January and February 2014. These early themes include:

  • Explanation of the standards
  • Support for elementary
  • Modeling- what does this mean in the CA NGSS?
  • Middle Grades Progressions
  • High school progressions
  • Resources and support for implementation
  • Education and Environment Initiative (EEI)

The complete report will be submitted to the IQC for approval for submission to the State Board of Education at their May 15-16, 2014 meeting. At that meeting the IQC will also select members of the Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) for approval by the State Board. Applications for the CFCC are due April 18, 2014 (a two day extension was granted due to a technical problem last week).  The CFCC must be made up of a majority of in-classroom science educators. CSTA members are strongly urged to apply. Boyd reported that to date 58 applications had been received. However, a much larger pool of applicants is needed in order to insure a diverse and robust committee.

The bulk of the IQC’s March 28 meeting was spent on the English Language Arts/English Language Development (ELA/ELD) Subject Matter Committee meeting. This committee was charged with reviewing the public comments that had been received during the first public comment period for the draft ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework, and incorporating that feedback into the revision of the draft Framework as appropriate. CSTA organized several group review meetings January 2014 and subsequently submitted comments on behalf of those group reviewers. The feedback provided by CSTA and the public in general was largely well received by the ELA/ELD Subject Matter Committee. CSTA was present to represent the voices of science teachers throughout that day as well as at the previous ELA/ELD Subject Matter Committee meeting on March 7, 2014). With the support of the newest IQC member Robert Foster, (a middle school science teacher), and Lori Freiermuth, (a math teacher and current chair of the IQC science subject matter committee), and other commissioners, CSTA was successful in making improvements in several areas of the draft document. Among these will be the creation of separate chapters for middle grades and high school grades, more inclusion of references to the role of hands-on science in the development of literacy, and improved and enhanced snapshots and vignettes that include references to both Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.

Chapter 1 of the draft ELA/ELD Curriculum Framework does a good job succinctly describing the role this document will play in California public schools:

This framework focuses on the teaching and learning of English literacy and language across the disciplines [emphasis added]. The CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy and the CA ELD Standards define what students are expected to know and be able to do at each grade level or span (and, in the case of the CA ELD Standards, English language proficiency levels). The English Language Arts/English Language Development Framework for California Public Schools: Transitional Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (ELA/ELD Framework) provides direction for the implementation of the standards in the context of the most diverse state in the nation and the demands of the twenty-first century. It includes guidance for the design of instructional materials, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional learning with the purpose of ensuring that the range of California’s learners benefit optimally and achieve their highest potentials.

The framework has two primary audiences: (1) educators, and (2) developers and publishers of curriculum programs and materials. Because proficiency in the language arts (reading, writing, speaking and listening, and language) is crucial for success in every discipline, the ELA/ELD Framework is relevant to all educators of transitional kindergarten through grade twelve and to publishers of programs and materials for every subject matter  [emphasis added]. Educators will use this framework along with the CA CCSS for ELA/Literacy and CA ELD Standards as a road map for curriculum and instruction. (Source: December 2013 Draft ELA/ELD Framework, Retrieved March 31, 2014)

As at previous IQC meetings, CSTA was once again the only organization present to represent science educators. I thank the many volunteers who contributed to the review of the document, as well as the support of the CSTA membership at large. Your voices could not have been represented at these meetings without your continued support.

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.