September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

May 2014: Upcoming Events in the South

Posted: Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

The southern part of the state is full of professional development opportunities for educators to learn more about Earth and Ocean Sciences, physics, as well as the Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core Standards. Field tests of the new Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessments are well underway in the region. The Smarter Balanced practice tests are an opportunity for schools and districts to become familiar with the format and testing procedures inherent with the shifts in the Smarter Balanced Assessments. With this in mind, there is much anticipation for what the future of assessment will look like for the sciences. It is already clear that teachers, schools, and students will need to be proficient in several technology components. Fortunately, both the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards embrace technological literacy for all students. As we delve deeper into both sets of standards, teachers will need training and support in the latest content discoveries, as well as advances in technology to best support student learning.

With that said, there are many technology, CCSS, NGSS, and curricular content-based workshops that teachers in the region may attend to hone their skills. The following is a list of upcoming professional development opportunities for Earth and ocean sciences, physics, NGSS, CCSS and STEM topics broken down by county:



Riverside/San Bernardino:

  • RCOE STEM Leadership Network Meeting: This meeting is a venue for district and school STEM leaders to come together to discuss best practices, and issues related to forming, sustaining, and elevating STEM education across Riverside County. This meeting will be held on Wednesday May 7th from 8:30 – 12:00pm at Citrus Hill High School in Perris, CA. Click for more information.
  • NGSS State Rollout Symposium #1: Statewide science leaders will converge for a professional learning symposium to discuss implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. The Rollout Symposium will be held May 27th and May 28th at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa. Click for more information and to register.

San Diego:

  • For teachers interest in Space, The San Diego Air & Space Museum will host its 11th Annual Space Day celebration This day will be packed full of access to local and national experts in the field providing demonstrations, giveaways, and hands-on activities. This event will be held May 3rd from 10:00 – 2:00pm. Click for more information.
  • The Ruben H. Fleet science center is sponsoring a Suds & Science bimonthly event on May 12, 2014 from 06:30 to 08:00pm at Callahan’s Pub in Mira Mesa. Click for more information.
  • Teachers interested in content on water quality and generating clean green power will want to attend the Perspectives on science lecture: Waste not: Recovering Clean Water and power from wastewater using microbial fuel cells. This event is scheduled to be held on May 13, 2014
    from 04:30 to 07:30pm at Point Loma Nazarene University. For more additional information about this event, click here.
  • Teachers interested in ocean exploration and the reasons we explore, will want to attend a two part professional development series sponsored by the Birch Aquarium entitled, “Why Do We Explore?” This event will be held on May 17th from 8:00 to 4:00pm at the Birch Aquarium. Click for more information about this event.

Orange County:

  • NGSS State Rollout Symposium #1: Statewide science leaders will converge for a professional learning symposium to discuss implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. The Rollout Symposium will be held Thursday, May 22nd and Friday May 23rd from 8:30 until 4:30 pm at the Hilton Long Beach. Click for more information on that event and to register.

It is my hope that all educators embrace the new standards as a way to grow personally and professionally in instructional practice. Enjoy the events our region has to offer!

Written by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein taught science at Gardner Middle School and is now assistant principal at Bella Vista Middle School in Temecula. She is a member of CSTA. You can reach her by emailing

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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.