September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Season’s Greetings

Posted: Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

Happy December! I am exhausted but really happy after the Long Beach Conference. It was great to see so many CSTA members! With more than 5,200 people in attendance (most from California), this was one of the biggest NSTA regional conferences ever. Sessions were packed, some to the point of overflowing. I applaud NSTA’s efforts to extend the conference into Saturday afternoon and I thank the conference presenters who were willing to repeat their workshop on Saturday. (To get handouts from the sessions please visit the NSTA Conference site, browse sessions and select the session(s) of interest. If the presenter has uploaded handouts you will find them posted with the session information.)

The CSTA hosted events at the conference were great. The two pre-conference field trips were sold out. In spite of rain, people loved the trips to Catalina Island and the San Andreas Fault. The CSTA Evening at the Aquarium was also sold out with hundreds of people having a great time with the fish, each other and the STEM/Engineering Showcase. The CSTA Annual Meeting provided us with an update on CSTA activities this past year, a chance to recognize our various volunteers and the opportunity to honor this year’s awardees.


While it might have been a little frustrating to be standing in the doorway or sitting on the floor, it was energizing to be surrounded by so many colleagues who all share our passion for quality science teaching. I think lots of us have been feeling the surge of energy around science education in California. We have adopted new standards. The State Board of Education approved the state’s NGSS Implementation Plan. Local Control Funding Formulas allow districts to make decisions about how best to support their teachers and students. This means that there is finally money to support science professional development again! It’s been a while since we’ve had that and it’s incumbent upon each of us to make sure that our districts continue to include science funding in the local plans.

One of the things I always enjoy about CSTA (or NSTA) conferences is wandering around the exhibit hall. I always find instructional materials, supplies and equipment to support my teaching. I usually find things for the young people in my life (who always get science presents from me!). This year’s exhibit hall produced the same results. However, more than the t-shirts, supplies and science earrings (can never have too many of them!), I was pleased to see so many colleagues from across the state. The CSTA Booth was constantly buzzing with members stopping by to check out the latest news and California’s NGSS timeline, pick up their member ribbon, or stop by for their aquarium ticket.

In addition to renewing and new memberships, we had a few of our members make donations to the CSTA 50th Anniversary Fund. Money from this fund supports CSTA’s efforts, especially leadership development efforts. This is an ongoing mission for CSTA and something you’ve seen me write about before. During the conference we hosted a CSTA Leadership Forum. This is part of our ongoing effort to identify and nurture future leaders. The event was supported by donations to CSTA by members and Carolina Biological Supply.

As you think about your end of year gifts, please consider supporting CSTA. You can do this outright, with a donation to CSTA (donations are tax deductible, CSTA’s Tax ID number is 94-2926545) or you can donate more passively by using Goodshop/Goodsearch or Amazon Smile for your holiday shopping with CSTA as your designated charity.

As the year comes to a close, CSTA has much for which to be thankful, but we still have work to do. We are blessed with dedicated, hard-working members who devote their time to serve on the Board of Directors, CSTA Committees, volunteer at conferences and write articles. CSTA is only successful because of these contributions. On behalf of the entire Board of Directors, thank you for your membership and your commitment to CSTA.

Have a great holiday and we’ll see you next year!

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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LATEST POST

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.