September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

RAFT Collaborates With New Teacher Center on Science-Focused Professional Development Program for Bay Area Teachers

Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Texas Instruments and Tech CU Support new Middle School NGSS Leadership Alliance Program

Resource Area for Teaching (RAFT) has partnered with New Teacher Center (NTC) to strengthen science education in the Bay Area by creating a professional development program for lead teachers in the Evergreen, Franklin-McKinley, Mt. Pleasant, and Oak Grove School Districts, all part of San Jose’s East Side Alliance.

This new Middle School Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) Leadership Alliance program will support 25 middle-school science “Teacher Leaders” in strengthening their leadership skills and building their confidence in using hands-on learning in science classrooms.

The program results from a three-year collaboration between RAFT and NTC, both educational organizations, which merges their expertise and experience to support teachers and students. The 25 Teacher Leaders will receive ongoing leadership training and practical hands-on experience in implementing the NGSS. By the third year, RAFT and NTC will have worked with and trained four leads from the program participants to develop and maintain lab classrooms, which will be model centers of hands-on science teaching, ultimately impacting every middle-school science teacher and student in the four districts.

“We’re very excited to work together, RAFT brings their knowledge of hands-on education, and NTC brings our expertise in accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders. These two assets will create a great program that’s really going to strengthen science education in participating districts,” says Kevin Drinkard, Senior Program Consultant at NTC.

The Middle School NGSS Leadership Alliance is being supported by Texas Instruments (TI), who initiated multi-year funding for this partnership, and Tech CU who recently added their contribution to fund the first-year of the program. Through their support, TI and Tech CU are demonstrating their commitment to critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education in underserved communities.

“Teacher effectiveness in STEM is the primary focus of our philanthropic efforts,” says Andy Smith, Director of Corporate Philanthropy for Texas Instruments. “We look for programs that have support from school districts, have proven, measureable results and strong collaborations. Also, we have a specific emphasis on programs that reach under-represented students, especially girls, African Americans and Hispanics. This grant fit those criteria perfectly. We’re excited about the program’s potential to reach all middle school science teachers and students in the four districts and look forward to seeing results.”

RAFT was founded in 1994 and was created around the idea that students learn best when they are active in the learning process. Hands-on learning has proven to deliver a richer, deeper understanding to students, especially in STEM subjects.

“We love this unique approach to STEM education,” says Tech CU’s VP of Community and Government Relations, Janikke Klem. “Science is one of those subjects that comes alive for kids when they are truly engaged — and who better to engage them than the teachers in the classroom. This is why it’s so important to support our teachers with both resources and training to improve learning in the classroom.”

About RAFT
RAFT believes the best way to spark the love of learning for the next generation of thinkers, innovators, problem-solvers, and creators, is through hands-on learning. A nonprofit organization since 1994, RAFT serves 12,000 educators each year who teach over 900,000 students. Find out more about RAFT and how to get involved at http://www.raft.net.

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.

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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.