May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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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.