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 and is a past-president of CSTA.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.