September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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.

Leave a Reply


CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.