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.
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.
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!
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…