September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Science Is in the Air – So Much Going On!

Posted: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

It’s May and with that comes AP exams, science fair, science Olympiad, NGSS Rollout Symposium, plans for summer professional development opportunities for us and our students. There are so many things happening in our regions and around the state. It’s hard to keep up on everything, but try we must!

Springtime is when our students show us what they’ve got!

Springtime is the culmination for a wide range of year-long or semester-long science activities. Congratulations and thank you to all of our members and science friends who helped with Science Olympiad, Science Fairs, academic decathlon, AP exams, robotics competitions, science or STEM fairs and more. We all recognize that it takes a lot of time, work, energy and passion from teachers and kids to get to the point where kids are able to share what they know, apply their knowledge and skills, be competitive, and shine. Those long after-school sessions, Saturday work sessions, the time away from family, the extra hours… they are worth it. You do make a difference and the opportunities that you are providing to your students will be remembered long after the event(s) are over. 

NGSS Professional Learning Opportunities

Registration

At press time, there is one NGSS Rollout I symposium still to come – June 1-2 in Ventura. The first NGSS Rollout II symposium took place April 27-28 at the San Joaquin County Office of Education. Two hundred science educators from around the state took part in two packed days of NGSS learning. Evaluation data from the rollout was positive. There was lots of learning, good connections and networking, and a sense that we can do this. There are two additional NGSS Rollout II sessions this spring and a half-dozen more in the fall. For details and to register visit regonline.com/NGSS2015Training. CSTA was part of the team that planned, wrote and presented at the rollout. Thanks to CSTA members who participated in these roles. Sessions include NGSS 103, The Tool (a tool to help with planning lessons), A Lesson (participation in grade level lessons so you can feel what a NGSS 3D learning sequence is like), Practices, and the opportunity to pick a session from Engineering, Administration Strand, Crosscutting Concepts and High School (course sequence discussions). It was great to see so many CSTA members in San Joaquin. I look forward to seeing more CSTA members at future rollouts. Stop by the CSTA table to see the latest NGSS timeline, get a membership ribbon or just visit.

CSTA and NSTA are teaming up again for a summer institute about NGSS on July 9th in Anaheim. CSTA members get a discounted registration rate for this full-day event. In addition to a keynote there will be breakout sessions for elementary and secondary science. Presenters include some national names associated with NGSS and California Science Project’s Maria Simani. Find out more and register online.

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The 2015 California Science Education Conference (October 2-4 in Sacramento) will have ~200 workshops, presentations, field courses and talks to help you continue on the journey from awareness to transition to implementation of NGSS. Registration opens soon. The conference committee, under the leadership of Deb Farkas, is putting together a great event. Check out the site to find out some of the unique programs we have planned for you.

Our Regional Directors find out what’s happening in their region and share that with all of us. As we learn about new summer opportunities they get posted to the CSTA events calendar. Check out the opportunities listed within each region.

Framework Update This month the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee will see the final draft of the CA Science Framework. This group of dedicated individuals will have read more than 3,000 pages this school year, providing input to the writers. After the May 20-21 meeting the framework will go to the Subject Matter Committee then to the Instructional Quality Commission and then to all of us for the public input period. A big thanks to the writing team (headed up by the California Science Project) and to the CFCC members. You should also know that the CSTA NGSS Committee has read all the drafts and provided feedback along the way as well. The entire membership owes them a debt of thanks for their contributions to the process.

Earth/Space Science ad-hoc committee getting started

Maria Simani (California Science Project) and I (CSTA) have been engaged in conversations around the dilemma of earth/space science not being a D-lab course for UC/CSU A-G requirements. We know that this is a concern for many of our members, especially geoscience teachers at the high school level. We figure that the adoption of NGSS might be a good time for us to re-examine the issue and see what we can do about getting a change in thinking. A small ad-hoc committee has been formed to develop a working plan. The committee will meet in early June. Once we have a plan we will call for wider participation and input from the CSTA membership.

And finally …. CSTA will be holding its quarterly Board of Directors meeting on June 6th in Long Beach. Just as the state is busy determining how to transition and implement NGSS, CSTA continues to support you through the process. Our board members and committee members serve in a variety of ways to help support science education in California. We’ll spend some of our time at the June board meeting determining how best to do that. Please let me know if you have suggestions or questions.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

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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.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.