January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Move Fast or Move Slow?

Posted: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

by Peter A’Hearn

The CST tests are now well on their way out. There are science tests at grades 5, 8, and 10 set to take place at the end of the 2014 school year, but they will not affect a school’s AYP (they never have) and most likely will not affect a school’s API, which will likely be frozen for two years. Even when testing was still an issue, there was plenty that teachers eager to shift toward NGSS could do and now that the testing pressure is off, more teachers are looking at making the real changes that NGSS will require.

How fast should you go? It depends on your situation and how much you like to be at the pointy end. With NGSS assessment unlikely to begin until 2016-17, you can choose to jump right in or to sit back and let others lead the way (and make the mistakes). In talking to other teachers I have found that people have been moving in a variety of directions and are already experiencing a range of challenges.

Elementary-

Challenges: Some content is brand new, some content is changing grade levels, and the science and engineering practices, cross cutting concepts, and some of the content (like engineering) are unfamiliar to many elementary teachers.

What people are doing: This is early in the process so there is no need to make huge shifts. Some schools are getting their teachers who are most passionate about science to take the lead and start to design units for next year and some schools have the goal of trying to implement one NGSS unit next year. Many of these schools and teachers will be sharing what they do and lessons learned online

Some sites are starting to better align their curriculum to the NGSS. This should be done with caution as we don’t have a California State Framework yet, but there are engineering kits like “Engineering is Elementary” that can provide a very easy and fun introduction to engineering.

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Secondary-

Challenges: Middle school teachers are unsure whether they will be implementing the NGSS science using an integrated model or a discipline-specific model. Uncertainty also remains about the high school sequence. California lets districts decide, but a district’s decision will depend on a variety of factors such as how NGSS will be tested and the University of California’s A-G requirements.

Some content is new to middle and high school teachers. Some of the science and engineering practices are new, and integrating the cross cutting concepts is unfamiliar. Equipment is less of a concern for secondary, but some new acquisitions may be needed.

What people are doing: Most are taking a “wait and see” approach to reorganizing the grade levels, so they are focusing on the NGSS that align with their existing standards and trying to add the practices and cross cutting concepts.

Some schools are taking their existing units and adding NGSS performance tasks to them. Corona Norco schools have already begun to field test NGSS aligned performance tasks at the end of every science unit. Many districts are talking about reorganizing their units for next year once they know what options the State is giving us. People will be trying to develop their own units as well as seeing what others are developing.

This will be an exciting time for those who want to get creative and explore. Teachers, schools, and districts will be developing new lessons, units, and performance assessments. Sharing our ideas will help everyone to make the shift. CSTA is a great statewide resource that provides many opportunities to share and learn during this process.

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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.

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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.