September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Science Teachers – In What Ways Have You Partnered with Your School Librarian?

Posted: Friday, May 20th, 2016

by Laura Henriques

Early this spring the California School Library Association, CSLA,  hosted their annual conference. They invited subject area professional organizations to attend the meeting and do a presentation. I was there to represent CSTA and do a workshop. Since then I have had a few conversations with Dr. Lesley Farmer, a colleague of mine at CSULB and former President of the California School Library Foundation, CSLA’s Vice President and editor of CSLA’s journal, about ways to that our members might be able to collaborate and learn with and from each other. School librarians and media specialists can be powerful partners and help us find good resources.

As you will see in the article (below) which Lesley wrote for CSLA’s monthly newsletter, we came up with a variety of ways that our members could benefit by working together. She is putting together a joint CSLA/CSTA webinar (hosted by CSLA but available to both organizations) for this summer. We’ll share details when they are finalized.



I challenge all of us to think about ways that the implementation of NGSS can be supported by partnering with our school media specialists/school librarians. Here are a few ideas to consider. I encourage you to add your ideas to the comment section below this article.

  • We may want to have students to do some reading about the science behind phenomenon other than that which is found in a textbook. Those of you who have participated in NGSS lessons at the Rollout Symposium around the state have experienced science lessons that have a reading embedded into the lesson after you’ve had the opportunity to engage and explore a phenomenon. Our librarians may be able to help us locate appropriate texts.
  • Librarians can help us locate data from online databases. These can be used to help answer a range of quesitons, enable us to argue from evidence and much more. Many of the science and engineering practices can be employed using data from online databases.
  • Expertise in searching out resources that help us teach (lesson ideas, pedagogical strategies, and more) is another way school librarians can support us. ERIC, subject matter databases and the like have articles and resources that are helpful for us and school librarians are probably more skilled at finding and searching than we are.
  • More and more, school librarians are providing tech support. While they are not in charge of the servers or networks, they do tend to have a fluency with educational technology that many classroom teachers lack.

Thanks in advance for sharing ideas about how we can partner with our school librarians!


(republished with permission)

by Dr. Lesley Farmer, California State University Long Beach
8 March 2016
for CSLA Newsletter

We know that school library programs can only fulfill their mission if library workers collaborate with the entire school community. However, we can expand our reach by partnering with organizations. Such partnering can be done individually and as a group. Profession associations help you, your program, and the field.

School libraries should provide professional materials for teachers, including professional organization periodicals. Sometimes teachers will donate their past issues to the library if they know that the library will maintain them and ensure access to them. It is also a good practice for librarians to become members of at least one related professional association; some possible ones are CUE, International Literacy Association,  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, and subject-specific ones (which might support the librarian’s initial credential area) such as the National Science Teacher Association [or California Science Teachers Association].

Librarians can also conduct faculty development in partnership with other teachers at the local site and district level. Librarians can also present at professional associations, again emphasizing the advantage of sharing library topics to non-librarian attendees of conferences and other professional organizations. Co-presenting with a classroom teacher or administrator can be particularly impactful. Even attending professional development in a related or different discipline informs librarians, and gives them an opportunity to suggest ways that school libraries can play a role in their field.

Even if librarians cannot attend conferences, they can read the publications of those professional associations, be it a blog entry, newsletter item, or journal article. Furthermore, they can write for those publications. Often newsletters or journals announce themed issue, so librarians can plan ahead to optimize their writing contributions.

At the recent CSLA conference, a concerted effort was made to invite other professional associations to present. Dr. Laura Henriques, who is active in the California Science Teacher Association, gave a very engaging session on the Next Generation Science Standards and ways that librarians can support those standards. In a follow-up discussion with Dr. Henriques, I was able to brainstorm with her about ways to develop our professional partnerships: writing for each other’s publications – including joint articles, co-sponsoring and co-presenting webinars, co-sponsoring and co-presenting at professional development venues, and sharing resources.

These kinds of partnerships exemplify mutual benefits. Each partner brings unique expertise and experiences, and benefits from cross-fertilization efforts. They also raise awareness of each other’s organization. The sharing and learning strengthens each person’s – and each organization’s – effectiveness to provide curricular resources and instruction that lead to student success.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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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.