July/August 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 8

One Year Ends, Another Begins!

Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

By Lisa Hegdahl

June 30, 2016 was the end of my first full year as President of the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  During that time, I have learned a tremendous amount, worked with amazingly talented and passionate people, and had the opportunity to participate in events that would not have been available to me if I were not president.  While there is still much to do, I feel compelled to express what an honor it is to be part of an association that has accomplished so much in the past 12 months.

2015/16 California Science Teachers Association Highlights and Next Steps for 2016/17

State Board of Education – California State Accountability System


Within 10 days of my presidency, I was before the California State Board of Education (SBE) speaking on behalf of the California Science Teachers Association regarding agenda Item 1: Developing a New Accountability System: Update on the Local Control Funding Formula Evaluation Rubrics. CSTA urged the board to consider how it would incorporate into its policy frame additional outcome measures, to those that were initially provided that give an early indication of a student’s scientific literacy and if they are meeting or exceeding grade-level science standards in the early years of their education, both elementary and middle school. Much discussion and thoughtful consideration followed throughout the year, and while there is still much work to be done, in May 2016, the California State Board of Education voted to include the results for the new Science Assessment as a state indicator in the State’s Accountability System Evaluation Rubrics when the assessment results become available.



Next Steps

  • Staff will provide an update to the SBE in July about how to include data on college and career readiness, school climate, and a composite measure of English learner proficiency in the new accountability system. The SBE will continue its work through this summer and early fall in order to meet the statutory October 1, 2016 deadline for the new accountability system.

California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, October 2015 – Chair of 2015 planning committee, Deb Farkas

  • 1529 attendees
  • Keynote speakers – Anissa Ramirez, Ph.D. and Astronaut, Jose Hernandez provided messages of inspiration for the beginning and closing of the conference.
  • Primary Pathways – the California Science Teachers Association created a conference within the conference. This compact and powerful nine hour professional development course was specially designed for teachers of TK-2 to help them integrate NGSS, CCSS, and ELD standards into their daily curriculum. The course provided thorough grounding in science instruction and fortified teachers with an understanding of the three-dimensional learning associated with NGSS.
  • CSTA took full advantage of the Sacramento location and solicited workshops from the California Department of Education to present at the conference.

Next Steps

  • NEW, Longer, 90-Minute Workshops so participants can delve more deeply into the 3-dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • Primary Pathways and NEW Intermediate Pathways. As California educators strive to provide a twenty-first-century education for all students, there are few missions more urgent to long-term educational goals than equipping primary and upper elementary grade teachers with science content knowledge and pedagogical strategies to kindle the love of science in their students and set a course for lifelong learning.
  • Keynote Speakers – Chip Yates is one of the world’s most recognized green technology innovators and has set 18 World Records in electric vehicles of his own design. Recently nicknamed “The Rockstar of Science” by an inspired audience after witnessing his electrified speech, Yates has an endless supply of up-to-the-minute stories to share from his inspiring ongoing World Record activities.
Dianna Cowern Pic 2
  • Dianna Cowern – Physics Girl – is an award-winning science communicator and educator. She is the primary content creator for her YouTube channel, Physics Girl with PBS Digital Studios. Dianna received her BS in physics from MIT before researching low-metallicity stars at the Harvard CfA and designing an iPad app as a software engineer at GE. She then pursued her career in STEM outreach working as an educator at the Reuben H Fleet Science Center and as a physics outreach coordinator at UCSD. Her work on Physics Girl has been featured on the Huffington Post, Slate Magazine, and Scientific American blogs.
  • The first 60-day public review of the CA Science Curriculum Framework took place November 17, 2015–January 19, 2016. Through work of the NGSS Committee, co-chaired by Past President, Laura Henriques and Region 4 Director, Peter A’Hearn, CSTA supported 30 review Sessions across the state with more than 625 people participating in the sessions. Feedback from each session was sent directly to the state and the top five comments per chapter were shared with CSTA’s NGSS Committee. Committee members selected a chapter to oversee. They were responsible for synthesizing the comments submitted related to their chapter. As CSTA President, I was able to use the raw data and the synthesis for my letter, on behalf of CSTA, to the CDE and for public comment during the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) and Science Subject Matter Committee (Science SMC) meetings.

Next Steps

  • The second 60-day public review of the CA Science Curriculum Framework is tentatively scheduled to begin in late June 2016. CSTA members will receive notification when the chapters are available for review. The State Board of Education is scheduled to approve the final draft of the framework in November 2016.

State Board of Education – California Science Assessment – In March, 2016, the CDE recommended that the State Board of Education approve the grades for which the CA NGSS summative assessments will be administered and recommended that the SBE approve the development of three online CA NGSS summative assessments to meet the requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act and Education Code. The grade five assessment will consist of grade five performance expectations and matrix sampling of performance expectations from kindergarten through grade four; The grade eight assessment will consist of middle school (grades six through eight) performance expectations; The grades ten, eleven, or twelve assessment, will consist of high school performance expectations.

Next Steps

  • June 13, 2016, at 1:00-2:30PM, there will be a joint meeting between the California Department of Education, the California Science Teachers Association, and the California Alliance for Next Generation Science Standards. The meeting will be an opportunity for the CDE and its testing contractor (ETS) to share information on the recommended assessment approach for the CA-NGSS alternate assessment (the replacement for CAPA). There will be opportunities to provide input on the recommended approach as well as administration of the 2017 alternate assessment pilot test
  • Current CA Science Assessment Timeline:
  • CA NGSS Pilot Test, 2016/17
  • CA NGSS Field Test, 2017/18
  • CA NGSS Operational Test, 2018/19 and beyond

CSTA Volunteers – In the spring of 2015, a record number of 50 volunteers signed up to serve on CSTA Committees. In the spring of 2016, the record was broken once again with 115 non-board members volunteering! The all-volunteer CSTA Board of Directors is working to place all these dedicated professionals on committees.

Next Steps
If you volunteered – THANK YOU! You will be notified in July of your committee assignment. These larger committees will enable CSTA to do even more to Promote High-Quality Science Education in California. If you did not volunteer, consider getting involved next year!


After School Special, May 26, 2016 – Yearlong NGSS Planning Using Phenomena

  • After School Specials are designed to connect members locally while gaining current, innovative information – FREE to CSTA Members/ $10 for non-members.
  • Attended by 23 educators at the Sacramento County Office of Education

Next Steps

  • A toolkit is being created to assist members who would like to host their own After School Specials.
  • CSTA’s Membership/Marketing Committee (co-chaired by Mary Whaley, CSTA’s Informal Science Director and Lisa Hegdahl, President) is actively seeking members to host After School Specials around the state.

Social Media Groups continue to grow under the leadership of the CSTA Communications Committee – Chair, Jill Grace:

Next Steps

  • Continue to connect California educators with information that is helpful and inspirational, and be a resource for quality networking. Plans in the works to better support higher education professionals.
  • California Classroom Science (CCS) – online publication of CSTA, Publication Committee co-chairs Minda Berbeco and Val Joyner. With 16,979 subscribers, the focus last year was on monthly themes related to the implementation of NGSS in California. There was also an increase in the number of articles written by the California NGSS Early Implementers as the second year of NGSS implementation continued, and 44 non-Board members submitted articles.

Next Steps

  • In 2016/17, monthly themes will be replaced by a focus on lesson plans and ideas for using NGSS in the classroom.  CSTA Membership appreciation and recognition will make a stronger appearance. CSTA will continue to encourage non-Board members and CA NGSS Early Implementers to contribute articles to California Classroom Science.

Thank you to CSTA’s dedicated members, Board of Directors, volunteers, staff, and partners for all you do to contribute to the mission of Promoting High Quality Science Education.

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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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CTC Seeking Educators for Science Standard Setting Conference

Posted: Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and Evaluation Systems group of Pearson are currently seeking California science educators to participate in a Science Standard Setting Conference for the California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) program. Each standard setting panel is scheduled to meet for one-day, in Sacramento, California. The fields and dates are listed below:

Multiple Subjects Subtest II (Science), Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Physics, Monday, October 2, 2017
Science Subtest II: Chemistry, Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Science Subtest II: Life Sciences, Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Science Subtest II: Earth and Space Sciences, Thursday, October 5, 2017
Science Subtest I: General Science, Friday, October 6, 2017

The purpose of the conference is for panel members to make recommendations that will be used, in part, by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) in setting the passing standard, for each field, in support of the updated California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET).

Click here to nominate educators. If you are interested in participating yourself, complete an application here for consideration.


Public school educators who are:

• Certified in California
• Currently practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above. 

College faculty who are:

• Teacher preparation personnel (including education faculty and arts and sciences faculty)
• Practicing (or have practiced within the last school year) in one or more of the fields listed above, and
• Preparing teacher candidates in an approved California teacher preparation program.

 Benefits of Participation Include:
• Receive substitute reimbursement for their school (public school educators only),
• Have the opportunity to make a difference in California teacher development and performance,
• Have the opportunity for professional growth and collaboration with educators in their field,
• Be reimbursed for their travel and meal expenses, and
• Be provided with hotel accommodations, if necessary.

For more information, visit their website at www.carecruit.nesinc.com/cset/index.asp

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.

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.