September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Opening Keynote Speaker Spotlight: Dr. Helen Quinn

Posted: Monday, October 1st, 2012

by Bethany Dixon

Google “genius,” and you’ll get pictures of Albert Einstein. However, to bring genius into your classroom, attend the CSTA Opening Session and listen to Dr. Helen Quinn speak at the Marriot San Jose on October 19, at 9:15 a.m. Dr. Quinn is one of the few to have shared Einstein’s job title: as a theoretical physicist she proposed the near-symmetry of the universe and explained quark-hadron duality. You might say she has a proclivity for solving both large and small problems. To our great fortune she has also channeled her energy into improving science education. Dr. Quinn served as the Chairperson of the 18-member super-team (equally split between science and education experts and including two Nobel Prize winners) responsible for developing, “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas.” 

Dr. Quinn’s speech at the 2012 CSTA Conference will focus on the Framework as the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards, and while 26 states including California work to revise and release the second draft of the NGSS, teachers have the opportunity to change science education well before states can determine how to adopt and assess the new standards. “There is nothing in the framework that hasn’t happened in classrooms where people have paid attention to research about learning for the last few years,” says Dr. Quinn. This is good news for the CSTA: members will recognize that the California experimentation and investigation standards (also written by Dr. Quinn) have given teachers experience in implementing core concepts of the Next Generation Science Standards even prior to their official adoption.  Have a burning question you would like Dr. Quinn to address? Let us know, email your question to conference@cascience.org and we will share your questions with Dr. Quinn. Your questions can help to shape her presentation, making this a truly valuable experience for you.

Dr. Quinn is serious about engaging students: science practices are designed to provide students with a direct application of their learning. She explains that experimentation and critical thinking should be taught with content, not only cutting across scientific disciplines, but integrating math and language arts within the Common Core. This vision of education leads to a cohesive, three-dimensional format for science education that can be implemented within a curriculum, a course, or a lesson. Inquiry has been unpacked, with contextual, social, and experimental skills that would previously be taught separately or in different courses instead now aligned so that math and language arts classrooms support and reinforce each other.

Dr. Quinn says that drastically improving the education of all students requires a “connective tissue” between the disciplines, and she is committed to helping science students to develop the skills they need to succeed globally, and the lifeblood of our economy depends on it. Highly skilled professional scientists and technicians are in demand, and if we want to prepare students for a successful future, we need to increase their access to high-quality science education. The Framework provides what will be an internationally benchmarked solution for America’s decline in the STEM fields.

Although Dr. Quinn’s talk will give teachers a head start on what is coming next in science education, this shot in the arm from the National Academies isn’t a panacea. State standards, curriculum, and assessments need to be fully developed in order for the new vision to be fully implemented. The best hope for this includes science teachers, she explains. “If the people who are teaching you are excited about something, you’re more likely to be excited.” For Dr. Quinn, excitement with the building of the Stanford Linear Accelerator during her undergraduate years led to a career in particle physics. For your students it could be tomorrow’s lesson in your classroom. To implement the new science practices immediately, research the Framework at the National Academies website and come hear Dr. Quinn’s speech at the CSTA Conference.

Links:

http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/Standards_Framework_homepage.html

http://www.cascience.org/csta/ngss.asp

Written by Bethany Dixon

Bethany Dixon is a science teacher at Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, is a CSTA Publications Committee Member, and is a member 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

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.