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: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…