January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Middle School Matters

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Jill Grace

Welcome back middle school science teachers! I hope you had a nice relaxing summer.  Although, come to think of it, most teachers I know spend their whole summer working, taking classes, revamping content, figuring out how to squeeze in that Common Core thing… the list goes on.  Personally, I find “summer” to be an illusion to get me through the school year, but at least that works well enough to help me muster up the strength to teach all of our excitable, distracted, goofy, and hormonal quasi-teens.  This is an age group that most run away screaming from and, yet, we somehow wouldn’t trade it for anything because we know that deep down inside they are amazing young people with whom we get to share a year with and, hopefully, help start to navigate their path in life.

As it turns out, while we were “on vacation,” a lot was going on in middle school science.  The State released the proposed arrangement for NGSS in middle school.  I have to admit, even I paused in my tracks when I saw them.  The more information I got, however, the more I could see the vision that was being laid out and the opportunity that was there.  Further, I started to ask my own questions and tried to help answer questions from others.  Hopefully you were able to attend one of the three NGSS information meetings across the state in August.   We owe a debt of gratitude to the teachers, school officials, county office leaders, Science Expert Panel members, and CSTA representatives who helped make these happen (all of whom volunteered their time to do so).  In addition, the CSTA website now has an awesome NGSS link with tons of information to help you get informed.  There is no question the proposed alignment between NGSS and the Common Core Standards will require strong innovative curriculum and professional development for teachers.  The CSTA, County Offices of Education, science professional development groups, informal science centers, and industry leaders are already setting their sights on resource development.  Science teachers in California WILL be supported!

I decided to run for the CSTA board this year because I knew NGSS was coming and I wanted to be involved.  I wanted to help the CSTA board understand what middle school science teachers are going through and be a resource to support those teachers.  One thing I quickly realized is that the middle school science teachers I am in contact with represent a very small demographic of California and I want to make sure there is a forum for all of us across the state to be able to communicate with each other.  To this end, I’ve started a Facebook group and I invite all California middle school science teachers to join – just submit your “join group” request and you will be added to the group.  This can be a valuable place where we all can disseminate information and resources as well have a forum for all of us across the State to dialogue.

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Perhaps even more so than with elementary or high school, the NGSS provides us with a very rare opportunity to completely revamp how we teach science in middle school.  Now, mind you, this will take a lot of strength and courage on our parts.  It will mean becoming learners ourselves.  There’s a chance we might find some new passions in our teaching we never knew we had.  BUT the prospects of what this change will mean to those crazy aliens we call middle school students is tremendous.  We have a chance to think about these kids, their learning, and how they will perceive science by the end of middle school.  How novel and wonderful!

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is the President-elect for CSTA.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.