September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

On-line Program Book & Personal Scheduler Available Now!

Posted: Sunday, July 1st, 2012

by Lisa Hegdahl

2012 Conference LogoBack by popular demand are the On-line Program Book and Personal Scheduler for the annual California Science Educators Conference.  Clicking on the conference logo on the lower left on the CSTA website will take you to the 2012 California Science Education Conference and then to the On-line Program Book and Personal Scheduler.  Currently you can see lists and descriptions of Short Courses, Field Courses, General Sessions, Meal Events, and Evening Events that will be part of the 2012 California Science Education Conference October 19-21 in San Jose. The schedule of Workshops will be available in August.  Using the Personal Scheduler, you can plan your time at the Conference as well as see other CSTA members who are attending the events with you.   

When planning your Conference weekend, don’t forget to include the Evening Events.  For instance, on Friday night, October 20th, CSTA will host an Evening Event entitled A Climate Science Media Festival – Film, Social Media, and the Green Ninja.”  This event is included with your registration, but you must request a ticket if you plan to attend. The evening will showcase a selected number of short films and social media tools that focus on the science and solutions to our changing climate. Barnaby Dallas, director of Spartan Film Studios and teacher of advanced screenwriting at SJSU and DreamWorks will lead a panel of film writers, social media designers and science educators who critique each media piece and offer thoughts on how to effectively use film and social media in the classroom.  The evening finishes with the Green Ninja – a climate-action superhero created by faculty and students at San Jose State to engage young people in topics related to our changing climate.  What a great way finish off your first full day of conference activities!

Registration for the 2012 California Science Education Conference in San Jose, October 19-21 is open now! Current CSTA members pay a significantly lower rate than nonmembers.  Not a member of CSTA?  You can join CSTA when you register online for the conference (or download a registration form) and still pay a reduced price.  Not only will you be registered for the Conference, your member benefits will begin immediately.  See the CSTA website for details. With Conference hotel rooms being offered at incredibly low rates, they are likely to sell out soon, so don’t delay.   As usual, registration for the California Science Education Conference also includes access to over 150 workshops, the exhibit hall, and Focus Speaker sessions.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th-grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is Past-President of CSTA.

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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


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.