September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Region 3 – Dispelling Myths and Misconceptions Regarding NGSS

Posted: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Dean Gilbert

In order to clarify the ambiguities and misconceptions that may exist regarding the document, Next Generation Science Standards, I have developed this simple chart that lists what the NGSS is and is not.

What We Know NOW NGSS IS …

  • a document that describes the performance expected after instruction is complete.
  • the end summative assessment product for what all students should know and be able to do.
  • a document that lays a foundation for what all students need to know.
  • a state-led effort to develop a new set of science standards, managed by Achieve, Inc. and derived from the National Research Council document, A
  • Framework for K-12 Science Education:  Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas.”
  • a document designed to provide greater emphasis on depth over breadth in studying a subject.
  • a document that presents science as it is–a combination of what we know (disciplinary core ideas and cross cutting concepts) and how we know it (practices).

What We Still Do Not Know NGSS is NOT…

  • a scope and sequence for instruction.
  • a curriculum ready to be taught.
  • a document intended to limit how much science students are to learn.
  • a document that describes how to teach.

The timeline for California is as follows:

  • Public Testimonies:
    • April 30, 2013; 3-5pm- Santa Clara COE (Webinar)
    • April 30, 2013; 3-5pm- Orange County Dept. of Ed (Live onsite webinar)
    • May 2, 2013; 3-5pm- Riverside COE (Live public meeting)
  • State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson- Presentation of new Science Content Standards for California to the State Board of Education (SBE)- July 2013.
  • SBE has until November 2013 to adopt, modify, or reject

If adopted (with or without modification) the next steps:

There is current legislation (SB300- Hancock, for the development of a new Science Framework to begin February 2014 and finalized by December 2015.  If legislation is approved, CDE will solicit writers for a new California Science Curriculum Framework; this is the document that will CLEARLY guide the development of curricula and instructional resources, assessment plans, guidance for professional development programs, in-service, pre-service and teacher licensing standards, and criteria for adoption of instructional materials…our “HOW TO IMPLEMENT” Guide.

As for Instructional Materials, we will not see new instructional materials up for adoption until January 2018 (based on our current timeline.)

There is also pending legislation to suspend API and testing for non-ESEA courses (i.e., Science, History/Social Science) for 2014.  Any ESEA testing (science elementary, middle and high school–or our 5th, 8th and 10th grade science tests) stays until ESEA is re-authorized or goes away.  End of course exams at the high school in science are not part of ESEA, and therefore those go away if the legislation is passed.

So…My advice to you- RELAX, TAKE A BREATH!  The adoption-awareness -transition-implementation-evaluation process will be a long journey.  I truly believe our Science leaders at the state level are firmly grounded and focused on the development of a quality, hands-on K-12 science program for all our children of California.

Some additional web resources:

Superintendent Torlakson’s  Assessment Recommendations regarding science.  AB 484 (Bonilla) which is still in legislation, and has not been signed into law, addresses most of his recommendations from page 48 in the document, Recommendations for Transitioning California to a Future Assessment System.

SB 300 (Chaptered) – New Science Standards

SB 300 Current Session/Proposed legislation

Written by Dean Gilbert

Dean Gilbert

Dean Gilbert is the science coordinator for the Orange County Department of Education, and a member of CSTA.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. 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.