September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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.

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While a national event, the NSTA conference always makes the most of the opportunities to partner with organizations and individuals in the hosting state. This year is no exception. In addition to offering member registration rates to all current CSTA members, NSTA has selected three well-regarded California science educators for leadership positions in the planning committee. CSTA members Tim Williamson (conference chair), Therese Shanahan (program coordinator), and Susan Gomez-Zwiep (local arrangements coordinator) have teamed up along with many other volunteers to bring to Los Angeles a high-quality, active, engaging, and dynamic conference that is sure to offer something for every science educator in California.

Amazing Keynote Presentations – by Two Californians

Andy Weir, author of The Martian and resident of Mountain Valley, CA will deliver this year’s keynote address: The Martian: The Story Behind the Story on Thursday, March 30, 9:15 – 10:30 am.

Pasadena resident Bill Nye will present a special Planetary Society pre-conference Lecture on Wednesday, March 29, 6:00 – 8:00 pm.

Featured Presentations by California Science Educators:

  • Kathy DiRanna, Statewide Director, K-12 Alliance @ WestEd and CSTA member will present on Thursday, March 30, 8:00 – 9:00 am
  • Laura Henriques, CSU Long Beach Professor of Science Education and CSTA Past President will present on Friday, March 31, 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • Jacqueline Barber of the Lawrence Hall of Science will present on Friday, March 31, 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
  • Jose Rivas, Physics and Engineering Teacher in Inglewood will present as part of a panel on Friday, March 31, 2:00 – 3:00 pm
  • Lucy Jones of the USGS in Pasadena will present Friday, March 31, 2:00 – 3:00 pm

Professional Learning Institutes (Wednesday, March 29 – Ticketed Events) Presented by California Science Educators:

  • PLI-2: Helping Students Make Sense of the World Using Next Generation Science and Engineering Practices, Presenter(s): Christina Schwarz (Michigan State University: East Lansing, MI), Cynthia Passmore (University of California, Davis: Davis, CA – CSTA member), Brian Reiser (Northwestern University: Evanston, IL)
  • PLI-7: Equity in Science Education, Presenter(s): Jerry Valadez (California State University, Fresno: Sanger, CA – CSTA member), Gary Nakagiri (Alameda County Office of Education: Hayward, CA – CSTA member)

Plus more than 100 hands-on workshops and short courses presented by California science educators as well as educators from across the country.

CSTA will be at the conference, so please be sure to visit us in the exhibit hall, network with fellow members, and pick-up the latest information about NGSS in California. Don’t forget to register by February 3!

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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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.