January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

So Many Questions

Posted: Monday, October 23rd, 2017

by Debbie Gordon

Whenever I think about teaching science in my second-grade classroom, I think about how curious my students are. And all the questions they ask. My favorite astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson, has said, “There is always a place I can take someone’s curiosity and land where they end up enlightened when we’re done. That’s my challenge as an educator. No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don’t ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives.”

That led me to think about the questions we are asking as teachers, principals, and administrators regarding science education for all students. As a leader in the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative, these are the questions I hear most often:  How do I find the time?  Where do I get the materials? Will it be tested? Won’t it be messy and noisy? What if I don’t have a science background?

In my opinion, these questions lead to one big circle of inaction and deflection. “I Can’t Possibly Teach Science” might as well be a bumper sticker. To be sure, teachers have an incredible amount of plates in the air, and all the plates are important. But can we, with good conscience, limit the number of plates when it comes to science and scientific literacy for our students? I propose taking up the challenge of Dr. Tyson and rewording the questions we have been asking so that we may not remain clueless.

Instead of asking: “Where can I find the time for science?” We should be asking:  “How can I not find time for science?” A scientifically literate public is a requirement to fully participate in human culture and democracy. The cost of uninformed decision-making on our nation and the world is just too high. It is on teachers, including or maybe especially, elementary teachers to believe all children must have the chance to explore their world through inquiry and phenomenon and find the time to include it in their day.

Instead of asking: “Where do I get the materials?” We should be asking the caregivers and the community to help. My supply list for the beginning of the year included pencils and crayons. It also included aluminum foil or rubber bands, a bag of marbles, and paper towel tubes.  Teachers need to get creative, dig their own dirt, and share with each other. School sites and districts must budget for supplies to support the explorations of their students.

Instead of asking: “Will it be tested?” Ask: “When can my students show what they have learned?”

Instead of asking: “Won’t it be messy or noisy or hard to manage?” We should ask: “Won’t it be fun to see kids getting messy, talking to each other, and moving around instead of sitting in one seat all day?” As teachers, we are used to being in control and might be afraid of not having control over the experience we have carefully set in motion.  I felt the same way until I tried it. Then there was no going back. The look of awe when the boy who is just learning English, or the girl who never raises her hand, gets it and smiles from ear to ear because they understand a science concept is priceless and worth a little mess. Get a better vacuum.

Finally, instead of asking: “What if I don’t have a science background?” We might try, “Where can I find the information I need to guide my students on this journey of science learning?” There are videos on every topic. A short background reading will give the information needed to teach most concepts. Teaming up with someone who knows more, bringing in TOSA’s, enlisting parents who are doctors or engineers, are a few ways to bridge this gap. But, more important is to believe in you as an educated, awesome teacher. You can teach a child to read! That is amazing, right there. You CAN teach science, and if you don’t know something there is always Google!

The smallest of children are trying to make sense of the world around them. They play in puddles, stir cake batter, and watch butterflies on flowers. California’s Next Generation Science Standards start our kindergartners off on this journey to discover their world. Every year they build and expand on the previous understandings. Every year children find more questions to ask. Every year we, as teachers, take their hands, open our hearts, and ask, “What else do you wonder about?”

Debbie Gordon is the Elementary Science TOSA and Co-Project Director for the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative for Palm Springs Unified School District and a member CSTA.

Email: dgordon@psusd.us

Powered By DT Author Box

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.

One Response

  1. Great article Debbie! I love how you turned the question around.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

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.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

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.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal 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.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. 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: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.