May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Seeking Chemistry Teachers for a Study

Posted: Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Dear Chemistry Teacher:

I would like to bring to your attention an opportunity to participate in a research study that is examining the effectiveness of a learning tool that was developed in 1996 by the Department of Chemistry at Indiana University, Bloomington. Since 2002, CALM (Computer Assisted Learning Method) has reached over 54 High Schools across the state of Indiana. In this time, more than 82 teachers, and well over 1000 students annually, have used this system free of charge. Teachers who have incorporated CALM in their classroom are extremely supportive of it. Primarily, this has been in the form of an online homework system that allows the assessment and tracking of student performance. CALM also represents an important starting point for collaboratively engaging high school science teachers and university faculty in improving the quality of science education across the nation.

Recently, the U.S. Department of Education funded a study to examine the effectiveness of CALM in promoting student chemistry achievement. The study, funded by the Institute for Education Sciences, is an opportunity for us to extend CALM’s reach to many more teachers and students than was previously possible.

Our goal with CALM is to impact the level of high school science education across the nation, using a tool and an approach that have been proven to work. We provide teachers with a webbased homework tool that requires students to focus on and develop their problem solving skills through dynamically randomized content. In addition, CALM is a collaborative tool that creates a network linking high school teachers both with each other and with university faculty, along with resources in higher education. It is through this network (the CALM Community) that the dissemination of high quality, standards-based/aligned material is possible.

Participation in the Study

We are seeking high school introductory chemistry teachers who have not previously implemented CALM in their classrooms to participate in this study. The study itself is an experimental design, where half of the teachers who volunteer to participate in a given year will be assigned to implement the online CALM tool in their Introductory Chemistry classrooms. We are asking that teachers use CALM and/or the CALM chemistry problems as a primary source of homework or applied practice for students, assigning students at least 10 questions from the CALM database per week. We are asking teachers to commit to participation for one term of Introductory Chemistry. We will be recruiting three cohorts of teachers–one during Year 1, Year 2, and Year 3 (the current year). Control group teachers will be invited to use the online CALM tool in their classrooms after their year of participation in the study.

The criteria for all teachers being selected to participate in the study include the following:

  • May not have previously used CALM in your own classroom nor other teachers at your school;
  • Plan to teach at least one Introductory Chemistry course during the 2011-2012 school year;
  • Commit to administering a standardized high school chemistry exam (provided by research team) at the end of the introductory chemistry class targeted for the study; and
  • Provide letter of support from your building administrator and gain permission from appropriate district and/or school supervisors to participate in the study.

Additional research activities for those who are selected to implement the online CALM tool (treatment group) include:

  • Attend a two-day workshop on CALM at Indiana University during June or July of the first year selected; and
  • Allow researchers to observe chemistry instruction, participate in on-site interviews, and have students participate in focus groups about the use of CALM (if selected).

Teachers will receive a stipend of $150.00 for the year they participate in the study. In addition, a travel stipend, which covers transportation, food, and lodging, will be provided for each teacher to attend the CALM training workshop in the summer prior to implementing CALM in the classroom.

For more information about CALM, you can find us online at: If you are interested in participating in this research study and implementing CALM in your classroom or have further questions, please contact us at:

Thank you for your interest in and willingness to participate in this important study. The deadline to respond is May 13.


Suzanne Branon
Graduate Research Assistant
Center for Evaluation and Education Policy Indiana University 1900 East Tenth Street Bloomington, Indiana 47406-7512

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.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy:

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.