Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010
by Donna Ross
For many of you reading this column, this begins the school year when you make the shift from studying science to teaching science. Welcome to an exciting new career! Teaching is one of the most rewarding and exhausting jobs imaginable. Most teacher education programs include useful readings, video examples and assignments, but there is never enough time to prepare people for the complexities of teaching. Many additional resources are available to dedicated beginning teachers. Some are even free, including math and science education books published by The National Academies Press. The National Academies Press publishes reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council. To access these books, go to http://www.nap.edu/topicpage.php?topic=350 and select a book, then scroll down to free resources to view an electronic copy of the book. Which book to choose?
Secondary science teachers might choose to read America’s Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11311. This book reviews the history of lab experiences in high school classes and describes effective labs. In addition, it includes results from studies that suggest most modern science classes conduct one lab experience per week, but those labs frequently are not well embedded into the curriculum or are rote exercises that students do not connect to the deeper content. In addition, lower-income areas tend to have schools with fewer effective lab experiences. For the labs to be meaningful, the content and processes should be well integrated and sequenced with clear objectives, and the students should have structured opportunities to reflect and discuss their learning. This book also provides guidance on laboratory safety, design, and equipment.
Elementary and middle school science teachers might choose to read Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11882. This book examines the need for strong science instruction in our elementary and middle schools. Using vignettes and research summaries, curriculum and pedagogical recommendations are provided. For example, the use of “science talk” or “academically productive talk” in K-8 classrooms is outlined and the benefits, including deeper engagement, scientific reasoning, and critical thinking, are explained. Science instruction is divided into four primary strands: understanding scientific explanations, generating scientific evidence, reflecting on scientific knowledge, and participating productively in science. Those of you with a strong science background will probably recognize this as similar to the threads in the nature of science. This is because science education should help students understand the nature of the discipline itself.
Biology teachers, wondering how to respond the first time a parent questions the teaching of natural selection, might choose to read Science, Evolution, and Creationism, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11876. This book reviews the scientific research but also examines the common arguments the public puts forth against the teaching of evolution. The differences in the fields of science and religion are discussed with an explanation of how each field addresses different types of questions. In addition, the book provides language to discuss the reality that many scientists are also religious individuals.
We should all be interested in connecting what we know about how students learn with their teaching of science. To that end, any science teacher might choose to read How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11102. This book explores the research on the importance of activating prior knowledge, providing experiences to directly face evidence of misconceptions, understanding the cultural context of science, and increasing discussion and community participation in science classes.
As we strive to increase the use of inquiry in science classrooms and to meet standards, we should read Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9596. This book provides vignettes and practical examples of how to incorporate inquiry into science teaching while meeting the national standards. In addition, it provides continua and explanations to demonstrate the different levels of inquiry to make informed decisions about the best level of inquiry for particular units of study.
These are a sampling of the books, podcasts, and videos available from the National Academies Press. Other sources, including websites, university faculty members, school colleagues, and the California Science Teachers Association, all offer additional resources. One of the greatest opportunities and responsibilities for teachers is to continue their own learning.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…