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.
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.
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.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…