May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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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:

Please contact Rosanne Luu at 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.