May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Preservice Teachers: Opportunities for Professional Learning at the CSTA Conference

Posted: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

If you work with preservice teachers, we have a great opportunity for you to pass along to them. If you are a preservice teacher, we’ve got a great opportunity for you!

Next month CSTA will be hosting the 2015 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento. The conference will have more than 200 workshops, multiple lectures and keynote speakers, an amazing exhibit hall filled with the latest science equipment, instructional materials, and resources from commercial vendors and informal and non-profit partners. The three day event, October 2-4, includes something for everyone.

NASCO

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Here’s the part that will be particularly attractive to our preservice teachers. Volunteer at the conference and you will get free conference registration! What a deal! You volunteer for four hours, join CSTA at the student member rate of $25, and you get access to the entire conference (other than your volunteer shift).

Don’t want to give up four hours? Preservice teachers get a great registration rate for the conference as well. $90 for the entire conference, $45 for the weekend.

Conference Banner

You may be reading this and wondering, why should preservice teachers attend a conference like CSTA? There are many reasons we should encourage preservice participation.

  • Attending the conference will help them recognize that learning doesn’t end when they are finished with a degree or credential. Learning is continuous. Even better, when they see us there, they will see that teachers and university faculty participate in lifelong learning. This is important for everyone, but especially elementary teacher candidates who need to teach multiple subjects. At the conference they will see sessions by and for preK-5th grade which highlight the importance of science, demonstrate ways to integrate science with Common Core, and engage students in meaningful ways.
  • Attending the conference and joining CSTA are ways to help prospective teachers start their professional careers. They will start networking with others who are passionate about teaching science. When preservice teachers apply for teaching jobs, their early and ongoing participation in their own learning, beyond the required courses in a credential program, make them stand out.
  • They will learn new things! 45 hours of a science methods class is not enough hours to address everything. Our students have different needs. As much as we are able to differentiate, we know there are areas which we can’t fully address in a single methods class. The conference, with its wide variety of sessions, can help round out our class. There will be workshops related to Next Generation Science Standards – the policy issues and timelines, informational sessions about what NGSS is and how to make sense of the new standards, and numerous sessions that address the three dimensions of NGSS. There will be sessions for each grade level and disciplinary area – something that is really hard to do in a methods class that prepares K-8 teachers or all areas of high school teachers. There will be sessions to help us learn new science content, teaching methods, and out-of-classroom learning opportunities.

How can we (professors of credential students) encourage our students to attend?

  • We can require students to go (easier to do if you are near Sacramento) and cancel a class meeting in exchange for attending.
  • We can waive an assignment for students attending the conference (or give them a conference related assignment in place of an existing assignment).
  • We can remind students that all conference attendees have the option of earning 1 unit of upper division credit by attending 12 hours of conference sessions and doing written assignments.
  • We can share our own experiences with our students, letting them know how much we get from attending professional meetings and conferences. Sharing our excitement about the conference and learning opportunities goes a long way to encouraging them to attend.
  • We can tell them about the resume building potential of a conference. While that is not the reason I want them to attend, it might get them there. Once there, I know that they will find the experience to be beneficial.

Please pass this information along to preservice teachers you know or with whom you work. Research has shown us that the best teachers are professionally engaged. Let’s start our soon-to-be colleagues on that path. See you in Sacramento!

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.