September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

President’s Message

Posted: Monday, August 1st, 2011

by Rick Pomeroy

It is the beginning of August and time to start transitioning from summer vacation to the start of the school year. It is time to put away the shorts and flip flops, tool belts and paint brushes, beach novels and travel maps, and begin to think about lesson plans and activities, objectives and standards, students and exciting ways to engage them in our passions for science. Like the changing seasons, August always awakens a bit of wonder about what is to come.  Will it be a good year, will my students really get it this year, will they be excited to learn new things, will I be able to provide the right environment for them so that we are all engaged in challenging and worth while learning experiences?

As we begin the 2011 school year, there are several exciting opportunities on the horizon that could change the landscape in science education in California for years to come. On June 9, California announced that it would join the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium in a leadership role for the development of a new assessment system aligned with the Common Core Standards for Math and English Language Arts. Though science is not yet included, the fact that the State has joined in this role is an indication of a willingness to revamp our current assessment systems by the 2014-15 school year and to align them with nationally adopted curricula. This opens the door to a revamped science assessment system if and when the science framework and science standards are updated. On July 19, the National Research Council released A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Though I have not managed to read the entire Framework, the executive summary advocates for more depth and less breadth in the content to be covered (See the article in this issue of eCCS).

As stated in last month’s eCCS, Senate Bill 300 continues to move forward.  This bill, sponsored by CSTA, calls for the restarting of the standards review process with a report to the State Board of Education presented in January 2013.  (See report in July eCCS).  This does not mean that only the existing standards will be reviewed. What we are hoping for is that this will trigger a rethinking of the content of the standards and the possibility of adopting standards with a more national focus. To this end, we are anticipating the release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in late 2012.

As you can see, there is a lot happening in California with the potential of updating and modifying the science curriculum.  As members of CSTA and/or friends of science education in California, it is important to stay abreast of the developments and to voice your opinions about the direction California should take. At CSTA, we will be monitoring all of the developments and distributing information as quickly as possible.

Finally, now is the time to make plans to attend the California Science Education Conference in Pasadena on October 21 – 23. The planning committee has done an outstanding job of bringing together a wide range of workshops, short courses, field courses, and speakers to pique even the most experienced teacher’s interest.  I look forward to seeing you in Pasadena in October.

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.


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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president 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.