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.
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…