September 2016 – Vol. 29 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.



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.

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is the President-elect for CSTA.


California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. 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.