September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Region 4 News and Events: Fall is Here!

Posted: Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

by Jeanine Wulfenstein

The weather in region four has become crisp and cool… the winds are picking up… fall is here! Teachers and students across the region are settled into classrooms and are hunkering down with their curriculum. Educators are busy analyzing best practices for the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the impact the standards have on science instruction. CSTA, along with several county office of education in region 4, have hosted events to engage educators in the dialog about the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards and what that means for instruction.

For example, teachers in the Orange County region met on August 22nd at the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) to discuss the NGSS standards and the rationale used by the Science Expert Panel (SEP) to design their recommendations for middle school science. The OCDE also hosted their first annual “Fall Back- to-school” science teacher symposium on September 28th. It was an excellent opportunity for teachers to come together to share best practices and gear up for the 2013 – 2014 school year.

Some exciting events coming up in the region include:

2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs, hosted by CSTA, October 25 – 27, 2013. For more information visit

Science Safety in the Classroom is being offered by the OCDE on October 2nd from 8:30 – 3:30. For more information please contact

On October 2nd the OCDE is hosting a technology festival from 9am – 5pm.  For more information please contact

STEM network meeting on October 3rd from 4:00 – 6:00 at the OCDE. For more information contact

Embed Informational Text into Your Science Instruction workshop on October 16th from 4:00-6:00 pm at the OCDE. For more information contact

A Meeting the Common Core Standards in Science and History workshop will be held on October 23rd from 4:00 – 6:00 pm at the OCDE. For more information contact

Embed STEM and Engineering Tasks into Your Existing K-12. This workshop will be held on October 29th from 4:00 -7:00 at the OCDE. For more information contact

A workshop entitled, Meeting the Common Core Standards in Science and History will be held November 6th at the OCDE from 4:00 – 6:00pm. For more information contact

Simple Science for the Classroom (K-6) will be held on November 7th from 4:00 – 6:00pm. This workshop will be held at Rancho Sonado. For more information contact

Think, Read, and Write Like a Scientist: CCSS & NGSS in the Science Classroom for K-5. This workshop is a 3-day series to be held November 12th, November 19th, and December 3rd from 4:00 – 6:00 at the OCDE. For more information contact

I look forward to seeing you October 24th through October 27th at the Palm Spring Convention Center! It is going to be a great time!

Written by Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein

Jeanine Wulfenstein taught science at Gardner Middle School and is now assistant principal at Bella Vista Middle School in Temecula. She is a member of CSTA. You can reach her by emailing

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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.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

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.