September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Back to School with NGSS

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Peter A’Hearn

Collecting data on mealworm habitat preference.

Collecting data on mealworm habitat preference.

This month the theme for California Classroom Science is  “Back to School.” But what about the standards you are teaching as you return to your classroom this fall?  We are still responsible for the 1998 California Science Standards, while we are also expected to start addressing the Common Core in English and Math and many of us are already anticipating the Next Generation Science Standards  (NGSS) and the changes in science learning that they will create.


 

Modeling erosion with a stream table.

Modeling erosion with a stream table.

Looking back at what I have written about the NGSS over the past year and a half, there are plenty of ways to start your school year with more NGSS in mind while still meeting the demands of the current standards and preparing kids for the CSTs (whichever ones may or may not be given). Here are some ideas to get you started:

Comparing the model to the real thing on a field trip.

Comparing the model to the real thing on a field trip.

    • Read the NGSS for your grade level and subject and the Framework for K-12 Science Education on which they are based. Understand how core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts are related.
    • Think carefully about which content you can cut so that you can provide more depth and focus on science practices while addressing the content that your students will be tested on.
    • Include career readiness in your units – who uses this science in the work place? Who needs to be able to use these science practices? Bring in guest speakers or Skype with them.
Engineering wind turbines.

Engineering wind turbines.

    • Use science fair as an opportunity to dive deep into the science practices and the Common Core. If you teach primary, consider doing a whole class project- there is lots of opportunity for reading expository text and writing based on evidence.
A proposed solution for a water filter.

A proposed solution for a water filter.

    • Look closely at the practices, especially those that are new compared to the current standards. Use multiple kinds of models to help understand concepts (physical, conceptual, scale, mathematical) and help your students be critical of their strengths and weaknesses. Compare your models to the real thing!
    • Engage in argument from evidence.  Read and write like a scientist and use multiple sources instead of just your text.
    • Get started with engineering where it connects to your content.
    • Start to think about which crosscutting concepts fit your unit best and about how to include them in your teaching. Go to http://crosscutsymbols.weebly.com/ for ideas.
  • Get outside and collect data!
Collecting insect population data with pit traps and transects.

Collecting insect population data with pit traps and transects.

Enjoy the new school year and the adventures in science it will bring!

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

One Response

  1. Great advice Pete!
    Thank you for including the links.

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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.