September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Stages of NGSS Grief

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Jill Grace

So here we are in August. You are likely a responsible science educator and have spent some time digging into NGSS and considering how you will be making some changes this school year. Observing so many teachers across California these past two years of NGSS awareness, I get the sense we could all use a good laugh at this point! (I would like to express that in no way is this intended to trivialize those suffering from grief.)

As we settle in, we realize that we have a lot of work to do get ready for the NGSS. I am experiencing a lot of emotions with respect to this change and I’ve been witnessing similar emotions in other teachers during the course of this journey we’ve been on together.

CONFUSION
Although not an official stage of grief, I think confusion is relevant in this situation. Confusion was that moment you thought, “Wait, what? New Science standards?” and the world seemed to actually stop turning and everything went silent except for the blood you could hear rushing past your ears as it drained out of your head.

DENIAL
You then fell quickly into denial. “Nooooo… they can’t be serious. Someone, please tell me this is isn’t real.” You looked at your colleagues for comfort, but they just started laughing and said, “That’s a good one, I needed a laugh”. Work commenced as usual as you and your colleagues brushed off the scare. But like student references to zombies being real, it didn’t go away.

ANGER
After some time to think, the anger set in. “There’s no way one more thing can possibly be added to our full plates. What are they thinking?!” It’s around this time that the mere mention of NGSS would cause your eye to twitch and your mouth to spout some choice words on the matter

BARGAINING
After a few days to calm down and some time to let it sink in a little, you realized this was no joke. That’s when the bargaining happened. That moment when you finally started to actually read the standards. You started with the DCI’s because that felt safe and familiar. You decided that all you really had to do was make a chart to show the labs you currently do and where they will fit in NGSS, this wasn’t going to be so bad, right? That’s when it caught your attention that you had some new things to teach and you chatted with your principal, “If I do this, I’ll get that new piece of lab equipment, right”? You convinced yourself that this could work to your advantage, “Bring it on”!

DEPRESSION
A few months, articles, workshops, twitter NGSS chats, and webinars later, it finally hits you. You have to teach three dimensionally and you need a phenomenon. You can’t just do the one-for-one lab swap. You are utterly doomed. In a moment of weakness, you busted out that tub of ice cream and downed it to the shock and disgust of your family (if it’s Rocky Road it counts as integrating geology, right?)

ACCEPTANCE
Ironically, the more you began to dig, the more you began to realize that the NGSS were going to be truly transformative for student learning. As a teacher you have a long road ahead of you, change isn’t easy, and this is going to be a lot of work. But looking past that, you can now clearly see that students will be engaged, students will be thinkers, students will be doing science. You can learn to live with this. Dare I say you even feel a little excited about the change? That’s when it finally crept up on you… acceptance.

Grace_Graphic_1

Of course, as any good science teacher, you know that the only thing that flows in a true cycle is a life cycle. This thing is probably a lot more like a really messy rock or carbon cycle situation.

After acceptance you had that moment when you went back to confusion: “So this is just Common Core for science?” a friend asked with that tone in their voice. You stumbled for a moment and didn’t know how to answer. (For the record, it’s not, but you knew that, right?) You attended the state-wide Roll Out and fell back into anger because we did an ecology conceptual flow and even though the session was intended to showcase a tool and not content, it had nothing to do with physics (or is that confusion?) Then there was that moment you realized you now have to teach some Earth science and depression hit. That freaked you out and you started bargaining with your colleague about swapping semesters, “I’ll teach the chemistry and you’ll teach the Earth science and happy hour will be on me for eternity.” Then there was that time you plunged back into denial when you realized you didn’t have the first clue about engineering. But you pushed forward and tried some new things this year anyway and at the end of the year, a kid came up to you and told you that they had no idea they could learn so much. You glanced over at your cheat sheet with all of the NGSS acronyms decoded, and beamed with acceptance. “I can do this!” you shout triumphantly to the student who is now looking confused and slowly backing away towards the door.

Grace_Graphic_2

Yes folks, this is a dizzying but empowering journey. Good thing we are in this together and can support one another!

Need a little more support to help you through this? CSTA moderates five different Facebook groups to help foster collaboration between California educators. Request to join the group applicable to what you teach:

California Elementary Science Teachers
California Middle School Science Teachers
California High School Science Teachers
California Science District Coaches
California Science Education Faculty

These groups are active and exclusive to educators that meet those descriptors. Check your “other” message box for verification once you have requested.
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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.

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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

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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.

Is This a First: Young Female Teens Propose California Water Conservation Legislation?

Posted: Monday, August 28th, 2017

Meet the La Habra Water Guardians from the Optics of their Teacher Moderator, Dr. P.

by Susan M. Pritchard, Ph.D.

You have just won the 2016 Lexus Eco Challenge as one of four First Place Winners in the Middle School Category across the nation! Now, what are you going to do … go to Disneyland? No, not for four of the six La Habra Water Guardians, Disneyland is not in their future at this time. Although I think they would love a trip to Disneyland, (are you listening Mickey Mouse?), at this moment they are focused big time on one major thing … celebrating the passage of their proposed legislation: Assembly Bill 1343 Go Low Flow Water Conservation Partnership Bill and now promoting the enactment of this legislation. Learn More…

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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.