September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

San Diego Early Implementers Take the Lead in Strengthening Support for Science in Their District LCAP

Posted: Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Jill Grace

For the past couple weeks, the *Core Leadership Team and Teacher Leaders of the CA NGSS (K-8) Early Implementation Initiative in San Diego have rallied together to positively impact San Diego Unified School District’s Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) to increase support for science in their district. With State Board of Education President, Mike Kirst and Member, Trish Williams call to start implementing NGSS in this recent Ed Source article, I thought it prudent to share with you the grassroots work this team is doing to support those of you who are also raising up your voices as a stakeholder group in your district plan.

As a very large urban district of over 131,000 students (SDUSD is the second largest district in California), this team faced an onerous hurdle to try and make an impact. Realizing that support for science and implementation of CA NGSS was very weak in the plan (by law, districts must post these drafts on-line for public input), the team decided to take action. Two weeks ago, the team formed an “LCAP committee” making sure they had representation from all six “areas” in the district. The committee poured through the district website to get information on when area community meetings were taking place and set to work filling out a sign-up schedule for representation at all LCAP meetings. This is a big task for San Diego as each of their six areas have sub-area’s known as “clusters” which host their own community meetings. Each area representative on the committee then recruited teachers who would be available to attend and speak at the meetings.  Fortunately, cloud sharing documents make it convenient for the committee to set up and track a schedule.

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The committee then used resources from the LCAP toolkit and input from the California Alliance for NGSS to draft a statement to be read at the community meetings along with specific edits and recommendations they were calling for in LCAP. Finally, the committee created a handout organized around the district goals to be distributed at meetings and/or emailed so other teachers, administrators, parents, and community members could submit specific feedback via the district’s LCAP survey.

To date, the team has received mixed responses at the community meetings (held through the end of May). In some cases, they have a very short time to speak but were encouraged to give on-line feedback. In others, they were warmly welcomed and had meaningful discussions around the importance of supporting science in the LCAP.

The team has graciously agreed to share their work in the hopes that it might support others trying to strengthen their district LCAP:

Support NGSS in the LCAP Speech for Community Meetings

Support NGSS in the LCAP Handout (in English)

Support NGSS in the LCAP Handout (in Spanish)

The end of the year is a hard time for teachers who are tired, overwhelmed, and really just need a break. Despite that, this team decided to be proactive and take on a leadership role in rallying their District to support science and implementation of NGSS! Knowing how much work and support is truly needed to transition to the NGSS, the team knew they had to fight for strong support in their district LCAP. In doing so, they are fighting for a quality education for ALL students they serve, reducing the chances of inequity among schools, and empowering their students to be college and career ready. Power of one!

*The CA NGSS (K-8) Early Implementation Initiative is currently in it’s 2nd of 4 years and facilitated by the K-12 Alliance/WestEd. In each of the 8 districts and 2 charter management organizations that are a part of the initiative, they have set in place a leadership structure to retain capacity in the district long after funding for the initiative is over. The Core Leadership Team is made up of teachers, administrators, and science resource teachers that receive mentoring in supporting teacher leaders and outreach at the administrator and district level. Teacher Leaders are teachers receiving targeted support for implementing the NGSS and, in turn, provide guidance to their respective school sites.

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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.

LATEST POST

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.