September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

New CSTA 2-year College Director Introduction

Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Marcus Tessier

Marcus Tessier, CSTA’s 2-Year College Director

by Marcus Tessier

I hope all of you had a relaxing winter break. My name is Marcus Tessier and I’ve just been appointed as the new 2-year College Director for the California Science Teachers Association.  As I begin my duties, I want to provide you with my background and goals for my new position. Since 2001, I’ve been teaching science in an affluent and demographically diverse schools in Northern California. I am a graduate of U.C. Davis with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology and earned a M.A. in Education Leadership from CSU Chico. Currently I teach Middle School Science for Benicia Unified School District and serve on the District’s Curriculum Council advising efforts to implement the Next Generation Science Standards. I’ve also served Twin Rivers Unified School District as a Teacher on Special Assignment where I led the curriculum coordination of K-12 Science, Physical Education, and Health content areas. Most recently, I’ve developed and now present the Next Generation Science Standards professional development series for the Solano County Office of Education.

Outside of public education, I developed and implemented curriculum for the Department of Defense (DoD) as the principal academics staff officer for the Marine Corps Mountain Training Center. My major duties were to provide professional guidance for instructional design, establish policy for measuring instructional objectives, develop instructional materials, research and develop instructional programs for specified groups, and implement policy for the quality assurance of instructional programs.

I have a clear vision that creates a coherent learning space that supports student academic achievement for California’s next generation. My vision is motivated by a growing demand for STEM literacy – a growing space that demands new ways to solve problems. My aim is to participate in leadership roles with CSTA and represent teachers by having a wider impact on STEM learning. I understand the demands of A-G alignment and understand the value of CTE pathways as we prepare California’s next generation for a changing 21st century.

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As the 2-Year Director for CSTA, I plan to expand the collaboration between high school and college teachers of science, especially those involved in college introductory level courses (grades 13–14). The practices and policies to which we solve human problems are changing. With an ever increasing globalized population and our expanding human use on natural systems, the wellness of the next generation is dependent on scientific literacy. With increased STEM demands on California’s business and industry, it is my aim to work with science educators and state organizations as your advocate to promote effective science teaching, including new technologies and instructional strategies.

The possibilities for policy innovation exists with the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards and the recent 2015 Every Student Succeeds Act. My intention is to work with our Executive Director and President as part of our Legislative Oversight Committee to communicate your perspective to better support congruent scientific learning. I ask that you share with me your thoughts and opinions at marcustessiercsta@gmail.com so that I may better carry out the intentions of our members.

Written by Marcus Tessier

Marcus Tessier

Marcus Tessier is a former science teacher and now serves as an assistant principal in Woodland.

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.