September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Pick Your Science Champions; Nominate a CSTA Prizewinner Today

Posted: Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Among the many rights and benefits bestowed by CSTA membership, it’s easy to overlook our opportunities to nominate science heroes in our lives for awards. We all know science educators (like all teachers) are among the often unsung heroes enriching and improving lives with every day they dedicate to their calling.

Given this truth, it makes sense to seize these chance to reward profound lifelong contributions, to encourage promising science educators starting out in their careers, and to laud the allies we’ve found among organizations and companies supporting science education reform throughout our state. Any current member who has been a member for at least the previous four years may submit nominees who meet the requirements for CSTA’s Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service AwardFuture Science Teacher Award, and more recently the Distinguished Contributions Award. The award details and a list of past winners can be found online.

Once in a while a person in our life or career inspires us, moves us, or makes us want to be a better person. We learn from them, grow, and thank them for who they are and what they do – but sometimes thanks just isn’t quite enough. If they’ve had a positive impact on science education and teaching in California, please consider taking your appreciation one step further by nominating them for the Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award. Both the nominator and the nominee must have been CSTA members for at least the last four consecutive years, and one or more letters of support must be submitted describing specific examples of the nominee’s service, leadership, and commitment in/to science education and teaching in California.

Sometimes we’re inspired by someone who is up and coming in their career. If this is the case in your situation, then perhaps the CSTA Future Science Teacher Award is an award you should consider. This award recognizes college students who demonstrate an interest in and commitment to science education through volunteer, teaching, and professional organization activities and who show promise to become outstanding science educators. Up to two awards may be presented in a single year, and each carries a $1,000 cash prize. The future teacher must be enrolled in a teacher education program at the time of nomination, but need not be a member of CSTA.

In recent years, corporations, foundations, and other organizations have made very significant contributions to science education in California with major investments of time and resources. Thus, in 2014, CSTA established an award to honor those entities, the Distinguished Contributions Awards, given to no more than two recipients each year. This award honors an organization, institution, or foundation that has made a sustained, significant impact to science education in the state and which, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching and learning. If you know of an organization that fits the bill, please consider submitting a nomination today.

Excellence deserves to be recognized and honored. Let’s flex our “muscles” as CSTA members to get the people we appreciate the recognition they deserve. Please help CSTA by submitting a nomination for one of the above awards by May 8, 2015.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator 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.