September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

NSTA Is Coming to Los Angeles!

Posted: Monday, November 14th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

With the 2016 California Science Education Conference now in our rear view, CSTA has begun to look towards the next major science education event scheduled to take place in our fine state – the National Science Teachers Association’s National Conference on Science Education! This incredible event is expected to draw more than 10,000 science educators from all over the country to the Los Angeles Convention Center March 30-April 2, 2017. Luckily for us here in California, this incredible event right here in our great state, and CSTA members are eligible to register for the conference at member rates! For more information and to register today, visit http://www.nsta.org/conferences/national.aspx.

To help you make the most of the professional learning opportunities available at the Los Angeles conference, the Conference Committee has planned the conference around four strands that explore topics of current significance, enabling you to focus on a specific area of interest or need.

NGSS: The Next Generation of Science Teaching

Celebrate the vision of three-dimensional teaching and learning in the NRC Framework and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This strand provides engaging and collaborative examination of the NGSSarchitecture to allow teachers to implement the changes necessary to construct a coherent program, including classroom practice and instructional sequence, as well as to build student skills. Bundling performance expectations connects the three key dimensions within a progression. This strand will focus on providing opportunities for students to collaborate as they develop and use science and engineering practices, communicate evidence of core scientific understanding, and apply real-world contexts. Alignment of assessments connecting core concepts, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts is essential.

2017: A STEM Odyssey

Students’ science learning has changed dramatically from learning in the past. In a STEM environment, students’ understanding of the world around them is facilitated through the intentional connections between the four disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM curriculum provides research-based instructional strategies that engage diverse learners and highlights career pathways in STEM-related fields. More importantly, STEM provides opportunities for all students to place themselves in a 21st-century world. In this strand, participants will connect and collaborate to increase their understanding and ability to teach STEM-based lessons and instructional sequences.

Science & Literacy Reloaded

With the continued emphasis on mathematics and language arts, elementary teachers have not been encouraged or given opportunities to teach science. This strand will support these teachers in seeing the connections between science and literacy. Elementary science will be re-envisioned as an opportunity for authentic language learning and not just one more thing to squeeze into the curriculum. As students investigate natural phenomena, they collect data to then make claims from their evidence and explain their reasoning, arguing from their evidence. Teachers can then support their students’ language and literacy through science notebooks, technical writing, interactive journals, and e-portfolios. This strand will allow teachers to become advocates of literacy in science, blending oral and written communication skills within the science curriculum.

Mission Possible: Equity for Universal Access

Access to science education is not a privilege; it is a right for students of all abilities, genders, languages, socioeconomic status, and geographic locations. A quality science education is essential in closing the skills gap in our current workforce. Science learning must start in early childhood and be sustained through postsecondary education to keep our nation as a leader in innovation. Current challenges provide opportunities for equitable access to science education. Some issues include maximizing student achievement for exceptional students while respecting cultural and linguistic diversity in order to celebrate those differences. The sessions in this strand will focus on pedagogical best practices to enhance learning for ALL.

Make your plans to join CSTA in Los Angeles this March 30-April 2, 2017. Register today!

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.

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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.