May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Science Subject Matter Committee Considers Your Comments

Posted: Monday, March 14th, 2016

by Lisa Hegdahl

On Friday, February 19th, the Instructional Quality Commission’s (IQC) Science Subject Matter Committee (SMC) met to discuss the field results from the first public review session of the draft California Science Framework.  The committee considered all of the over 2,000 suggested edits and revisions. As mentioned in February’s California Classroom Science, the California Science Teachers Association’s NGSS Committee sent in comments from 625 people who attended 30 Framework review sessions across California. Other organizations that submitted recommendations included Achieve, California Department of Education, Children Now, Code.org, and Lawrence Hall of Science. The meeting, held at the California Department of Education in Sacramento, was attended by, among others:

  • Lauryn Wild, Commission IQC Chair
  • Rob Foster, Science SMC Chair
  • Dean Reese, Science SMC Vice Chair
  • Science SMC Members – Jocelyn Broemmelsiek, Soomin Chao, Lizette Diaz, Lori Freiermuth, Bill Honig, and Jennifer Woo
  • Thomas Adams, IQC Executive Director
  • Cliff Rudnick, Interim Director, Curriculum Framework and Instructional Resources Division (CFIRD), CDE
  • Bryan Boyd, Education Programs Consultant, CFIRD, CDE
  • Ilene Straus and Trish Williams, State Board of Education Liaisons
  • Matt d’Alessio, current primary writer
  • Interested public members
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I attended this meeting on behalf the California Science Teachers Association and provided comments on several occasions in order to clarify particular requested revisions as well as offer suggestions as to how to address certain Science SMC concerns.  As can be imagined, many decisions were made as a result of the 8 hour discussion.  Below are outlined some of the changes the Science SMC will recommend for approval to the full IQC at their meeting on May 19-20, 2016.  

Vignettes:

  • one per grade level.
  • focus on 3-dimensional learning and making sense around phenomena.
  • the core ideas of life science, physical science and earth and space science vignettes will be spread across the grade spans as will engineering and the Environmental Principles and Concepts.
  • grades 6-8 will also have one vignette per grade level for each the preferred integrated model and the discipline specific model.
  • Some of the remaining vignettes will be shortened to snapshots while others will be placed in an appendix.
  • place performance expectations at the beginning of the vignettes so that teachers are of aware of what to look for as they read them.
  • use the vignettes to illustrate a variety of ways performance expectations will be reached – multiple choice, portfolios, performance tasks, to name a few.

Assessment and Student Learning – Chapter 8

  • the assessment chapter should focus on classroom assessment, not state assessments.
  • the committee, realizing that formative and summative assessments will evolve over time with our understanding of the CA NGSS, chose to focus the chapter revisions on providing a variety of assessment strategies to meet the performance expectations.  Teachers may use a variety of assessments to understand the sense making a student achieved around a particular phenomena.
  • Add an administrative summary at the beginning that will indicate that assessing NGSS will look different than the previous standards.

Combining Chapter 1 & 2

  • The Science SMC decided that Chapter 1: Introduction and Guiding Principles for the Implementation of the Next Generation of Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten Through Twelve, does not give enough guidance as to the nature of NGSS.  After much thoughtful discussion, the Science SMC is going to recommend that the framework writer, Matthew d’Alessio, take the best parts of Chapter 1 and combine them with the content in Chapter 2: Overview of the California Next Generation of Science Standards.  He will determine where it is best to place the remaining portions of Chapter 1; they may possibly be in an appendix.

Computer Science in the Framework.  

  • K-5 will focus on basic computer skills.
  • 6-8 will introduce students to the use of computers to help investigate and solve science problems – computer simulations, analyzing data, etc.  
  • 9-12 will acquaint students with coding – how the programs that are used to assist scientists are created.
  • Any language that infers that computer science ‘has to’ be taught in science classes will be removed and replaced with language that suggests teachers ‘can’ use computer science to enhance their teaching of NGSS.

Other Revisions of Interest:

  • Words that describe specific facets of NGSS should only be used for that meaning.  For example, the word ‘modeling’ will only be used to mean modeling as in the Science and Engineering Practice, “Developing and using Models”.
  • Reintroduce acronyms the first time they are mentioned in any chapter.
  • Provide examples of ELD scaffolds throughout the framework
  • Provide samples from “Integrating ELD Standards into K‒12 Mathematics and Science Teaching and Learning: A Supplementary Resource for Educators”.
  • Provide more examples of phenomena particularly at the elementary level.

Next Steps for the Science Framework Revision:

  • March 18, 2019 – Science SMC teleconference to review changes to revised chapters.
  • May 19-20, 2016 – Science SMC will submit their recommended edits and changes for the draft California Science Framework for approval to the full IQC.
  • June-July 2016 – Second 60-day public review and comment on IQC’s recommended Science Framework.
  • September/November 2016 – SBE action on IQC’s recommended Science Framework includes public hearing.

Keep reading California Classroom Science for updates on the progress of the Science Framework as well as specific dates for the second public review period this summer.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

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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.