September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Meet the Candidates for the 2015-2017 CSTA Board of Directors Election

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

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The slate of candidates for the 2015 – 2017  CSTA Board of Directors election was approved by the CSTA Board of Directors at its March board meeting. The elections will open on April 15, 2015. CSTA members who have a membership valid as of April 1, 2015 are eligible to vote in the election. An email will be sent to those members with an email address on file to vote online. For those members who have opt-ed out of email or don’t have an address on file, they will be sent a ballot in the mail.

Please take a moment to learn more about the candidates for the positions of  President Elect, Primary Director, and Region One Director.

Please be sure to participate in the elections, every vote counts! Voting will open on April 15, 2015 and close on May 15, 2015.

Candidates for President-Elect

Jill Grace

Jill has a broad teaching background that provides a common experience between herself and CSTA’s members. She has been a middle school science teacher for ten years and prior to that she was an elementary science specialist. Outside of the classroom, she has spent a significant amount of her time working in teacher professional development. For the past two years, Jill has served as the Middle School/Jr. High School Director on the CSTA Board of Directors.

Science education empowers. It empowers curiosity as it provides ways to know and understand the world, the mind as it develops a strategy for generating knowledge, the individual as part of an informed citizenry who makes important life decisions, and the dreamer as the creator of new solutions in an ever changing world. As science educators, our role isn’t to just teach science content, but to provide opportunities that empower.

CSTA’s support of quality science education is critical in this new era of education reform. For many years, I have supported CSTA with my membership. Then in 2013 I decided to run for the board as I wanted to do more and to help shape conversations for the very things that directly impact our classrooms: standards, instructional strategies, curriculum, and assessment. As your president elect I will work tirelessly for CSTA to continue informing state leaders and legislation, advocate for high quality science education, expand active support for teachers and their professional growth, and for the empowerment of every student.

Heather Wygant

Heather has been teaching high school science for 17 years, primarily geology and environmental sciences. She has received numerous teacher of the year awards, including recently the Northern California Geologic Society and the Pacific Section AAPG teacher of the year awards. She has been active in CSTA since 2007, serving as the High School Director from 2008-2012, and the Treasurer from 2012-2014.

I believe science education to be one of the most important in education, as it teaches critical thinking, analysis and improves the overall literacy of our youth. It also utilizes all of the other skills learned from Mathematics, English and History, incorporating them together to make a well-rounded member of society. Without these skills, we are not well equipped to excel in the 21st century. Science education should be discovery, hands-on, inquiry based, and using technology as often as possible to lead students to discover the world around them.

CSTA as an organization is extremely important to the Science Teachers in California. CSTA follows legislation in California that directly affects our students, the way we teach science, and even how much science is mandated and in what grades. CSTA works to improve Science Education in California by working with legislators and the State School Board to improve Science Education, including the adoption and development of NGSS. I fully support this, and want to continue to be a part of this organization to help improve Science Education in California. I believe as one of the largest states in the United States, California should be at the top of the pack in education once again. We (California) need to be the leaders in Science Education, and CSTA helps Science Teachers to become leaders.

Candidate for Primary Director

Valerie Joyner

Valerie’s entire professional career has been dedicated to educating students from their early years in kindergarten through the graduate level with pre-service teachers. She has taught elementary students for 35 years, including over twenty years with grades K-2 and has always placed a special emphasis on science. Valerie is currently serving as the Primary Director on the CSTA Board of Directors.

My philosophy of science education encourages all students to think, access knowledge, and apply science in their everyday life. Today, science education must be based on the three dimensional learning provided through the Next Generation Science Standards. While science education begins at home and in informal settings like gardens, kitchens, museums, and parks. It is enriched and solidified as children enter school and go through the grades. When students personally experience scientific explorations, whether in kindergarten or AP chemistry, they deeply understand and confidently use science disciplinary core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts. With the increasing demands by our society to increase scientific literacy; all science educators must teach students to think and act scientifically, so they can develop the new technologies we will need and to understand its implications for the future.

My vision for CSTA is to promote science learning into every child’s daily curriculum and life experiences. Primary and elementary students in particular are missing crucial skills for success when we fail to capitalize on their natural curiosity and provide them with daily science instruction and experiences. To understand our ever expanding body of science knowledge, students need specific understanding of scientific disciplinary core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts. This understanding is best nurtured by experiencing science first hand. Only then can students eagerly apply critical thinking and science concepts to participate in the technological revolutions of the future. To assure scientific literacy and see our students successfully develop and evaluate future technologies, daily science experiences are a necessity. CSTA will continue to play an important role in the implementation of NGSS in the coming years. It will need strong primary grade leadership to insure that California’s young children receive the very best foundation in science education. This foundation must include science for every student, every day, every year!

Candidate for Region 1 Director

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian has 22 years as an educator and has experience teaching grades 5-11 in both urban and rural communities. In both instances, she stepped into site and district, then finally county curriculum leadership roles. She currently works in the Educational Services Department of the Siskiyou COE. Marian has served as CSTA Secretary for the past 4 years.

Science education and the need for science literacy – fluency in scientific thought and content – are why I am in my profession. I cannot think of anything I value about education more than providing every student with the ability to assemble evidence and answer a question using the knowledge of those who have gone before and the process of inquiry refined through experience. I see science education as a vital balance when superstition or lack of knowledge might influence personal health or societal well-being. While every teacher has a meaningful role in society and children’s lives, the role of science teacher stands out for its part in sustaining curiosity and providing the voice and logic in a wonderfully complex world. These critical elements of education no longer have to remain in the back seat in California’s schools. With the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) transitioning into place, science needs all the support it can get from educators, policy makers, and organizations like CSTA to move to its proper place in every classroom.

Prior to being on the board, and now after working with the board, I have seen CSTA and the invididuals who comprise it take leadership roles for science education, and live by the mission and goals. I have supported the organization’s efforts to refine itself to be as current and effective as it can be – reducing resource consumption by moving to electronic publications and practices, developing a shared leadership model, and re-envisioning the design of the annual conference for example. I am impressed and encouraged by the difficult but intentional reorganizational decisions CSTA has made to ensure its financial and philosophical survival during a difficult phase in California’s economic history. Each of these reflects the deepest commitment, which I share, to provide and promote science education in California.

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

Cal

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.