September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Primary Science – Integrating NGSS and the Common Core

Posted: Monday, October 19th, 2015

By Valerie Joyner

It’s hard to believe that it is already October and that you have been working with your primary (TK-2) students for several weeks now. As your new class settles into the routines and is now ready to begin to take on new challenges, it’s time to look at how you will integrate NGSS science and CaCCSS (California Common Core State Standards). To some this may seem a daunting task, but in reality there are many integration connections that already exist in both NGSS science instruction and CaCCSS.

Let’s start by looking at the Kindergarten NGSS Performance Expectation, K-ESS2-1 (Use and share observations of local weather conditions to describe patterns over time). Here students observe and record local weather conditions overtime and eventually begin to analyze the data they have collected. The opportunity to integrate science and math exists within the CaCCSS, K.CC (Counting and Cardinality) and K.OA (Operations and Algebraic Thinking). Kindergarten students explore numbers and operations through weather related science and that will lead them becoming proficient in math, as they count and work with numbers within the standards. This holds true for ELA (English Language Arts) as well, where kindergarteners become familiar with informational texts, listening and speaking about their science observations, and writing/recording their observations about the weather.

The first grade life science Earth – Space Science Performance Expectation, 1-LS1-2 (Read texts and use media to determine patterns in behaviors of parents and offspring that help offspring survive), shows a direct connection to CaCCSS in ELA by asking students to use informational texts to determine patterns in the behaviors of parents and offspring that help offspring survive. Other ELA connections can be made as students use the NGSS Practice of Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information about parent – offspring behaviors, as they write about and discuss the patterns. Again, there are logical connections and opportunities to use science to explore and move students towards math proficiency with Operations and Algebraic Thinking, as students compare the number of behaviors and identify patterns within the science.

The second grade physical science Performance Expectation, 2-PS1-2 (Analyze data obtained from testing different materials to determine which materials have the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose) again provides students with opportunities to use science as a vehicle for developing proficiency in ELA and math. As students test different materials and determine the properties that are best suited for an intended purpose, (such as comparing sponges and blocks for building castles) they collect, record, and share their observations with their peers. Students develop their writing skills as they write informative/explanatory texts, routinely write in their science notebooks, and ask clarifying questions about the science they are studying. In math, students represent and interpret data by drawing picture or bar graphs that represent the data they have collected.

These are just a few examples of opportunities for integrate NGSS science and CaCCSS with your primary students. As you look at your curriculum and collaborate with your colleagues identify additional ways to integrate science and CaCCSS. Please share your ideas with us.

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Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.