May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Region 2 News and Events

Posted: Thursday, March 1st, 2012

by Eric Lewis

Spring is in the air; a time to start getting excited about longer days and warmer weather.  It’s also a wonderful time to be thinking about all that you’ve accomplished this year with your students and to reflect upon what you’d like to do different (or the same) in your next year of teaching.

It’s been a few years since my first year of teaching.  I remember thinking that I was doing OK my first year.  Sure, I had plenty of students failing my class, but that was because they were absent too much and didn’t do any homework or study for exams.  I had pretty good classroom management and had a handle on what I wanted to teach when.  Of course, five years later, I would look at what I taught and think, “What was I doing??? This is HORRIBLE!”   Of course, I threw out much of my old curriculum and started to stitch together the best parts.  By then I had uncovered a huge number of resources to use: snacks and lessons from the Exploratorium, resources from the UC Museum of Paleontology, SEP’s Lesson Library (UCSF), and a myriad of online sites.   Soon the question became WAY more refined:  “How do I craft lessons and experiences to move MY students where they need to go?”  And even further – “How can I support these three students who are new to speaking English and these two students with special needs?”

Unfortunately, I think that too many of us sometimes get content with what we’ve done and get in the mindset that students need to reach our high expectations with whatever content we provide them.  While I don’t think that’s a bad thing in itself, I do think that we need to be clear that our job is to TEACH – even when students are coming to us WAY under prepared and unable to access the grade level content that is our responsibility for the year.  So, the question is really, do we have the right resources to support our students to access our curriculum – both the content AND the language?  This is challenging, especially for new teachers.  But, often our experience in the classroom prevents us from making assumptions that ALL our students CAN learn; we end up designating our students as failures or successes from the start of the year and frequently – unwittingly – we make these designations stick.  How can we turn that on it’s head and make it common to see EVERY student as a possible success?

I hope that many of you take up the opportunity to attend the California Science Education Conference in San Jose this year.  And, if some of you have great ideas and strategies to help teachers meet the diverse needs of their students PLEASE apply to lead a workshop to share your experience.  All of us can use more tools to ensure that we’re doing the best that we can to craft lessons that give students a good chance to meet high expectations in our classrooms.  Workshop proposals are due March 6, so please get them in ASAP.  You can find out more about proposal requirements right here.

Please let me know if there are things that you’d like to add to our Region’s offerings!  Also, encourage your colleagues to join CSTA.  I’m hoping that we’ll have the opportunity to grow our organization and expand to meet your needs and your colleagues’ needs.  To that end, please feel free to email me directly so that I can represent your questions and concerns with the CSTA board as a whole.

Eric Lewis, lewise2@sfusd.edu

Click here to view the calendar of events in Region 2 – Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Benito, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Solano Counties

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office and is CSTA region 2 director.

Written by Eric Lewis

Eric Lewis

Eris Lewis is high school area science support in the San Francisco Unified School District LEAD office.

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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.