May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

President’s Retrospective

Posted: Monday, July 1st, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

When I began my term as president two years ago in July I had no idea of the changes that would be brewing for children in California schools. In July of 2011, I was focused on re-professionalizing science teaching, increasing membership, and providing more services to our members and didn’t yet fathom the gathering storm that standards, both Common Core (CCSS) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) represented. Two years later, it is clear that the new CCSS and NGSS will bring major changes to what we do in our classrooms, and in what CSTA, as your professional organization, will be doing for you.

The two years of my term as president have been consumed by the development and release of the NGSS.  It began in July of 2011 with the release of the Framework for K-12 Science Education, followed by writing and review of at least two drafts of the NGSS before their release in April of 2013. (For a detailed timeline of the development of NGSS go to http://www.nextgenscience.org/development-process) As Laura Henriques clearly describes in her article in this issue, the process is not finished. In California there is still much work to be done. On Friday, June 29, the Superintendent of Public Instruction proposed what California’s new science standards should look like, the Next Generation Science Standards, with a few changes for California. Once approved in their final form, the process of developing curricula for California will begin again, eventually resulting in a new vision for science education in our state.

With those changes looming, I asked myself how I would assess my years as president? In terms of membership, our numbers have remained reasonably stable. Given all that has happened in these two years, I am disappointed about this. I would have hoped that science teachers in California would see the value of membership in a professional organization, working together as a team, to move our goals of better science forward. Over the next several years, as our movement to new standards and new frameworks becomes increasingly California-centric, there will be many more opportunities for California science educators to come together to support each other and our efforts to build a stronger science curriculum.

In terms of professionalism, many teachers contributed to the NGSS development process, often at their own expense or with minimal support. This to me is a sign of professional commitment and I would like to thank all of you who have participated on a panel, as a reviewer, a speaker at the public comment sessions, or as a member of an organization or group that provided training and support. As we go forward, science teachers must continue to be active participants in this process. Regardless of reimbursement or compensation, your contributions will not only help determine what science education in California will look like for the next several decades, it will also help you to understand what you are going to be asked to teach in your own classroom. Participation in planning sessions, on committees, attending conferences, and encouraging other teachers to participate and become members are examples of your commitment to professionalism.

Finally, in terms of providing increased services to our members, I believe that although not highly visible, CSTA has been your representative at every single NGSS activity, meeting, conference, legislative hearing, and State Board of Education meeting. Serving as your advocate is one way that CSTA can provide service to our members, but it is not the only way. Over the next several years, there will be many opportunities to provide professional development, participate on framework and assessment committees, and to share success stories with our members.  This is true service to our members and I encourage you to participate in any and all of these if possible.

Overall, I feel that it has been a good two years. As always seems to be the case, we accomplished a lot but there is so much more to do. I want to thank you for this opportunity to serve as your president and I look forward to working with Laura Henriques and Lisa Hegdahl, (the President and President-elect for the next two years), as we strive to make the vision of the work we have done a reality.

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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.

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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.