May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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.

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

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

LATEST POST

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.