September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Stanford University – MOOCs Supporting Innovative Assessment Practices

Posted: Friday, May 20th, 2016

Starting this fall, 2016, Stanford University is pleased to offer a set of free online courses (MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses) to help your state and local educators use innovative assessment practices – instructionally-focused formative assessment and curriculum-embedded performance assessments for deeper learning, with a focus on language that will support English Learners. The new forms of innovative assessments are rich with language and often require different forms of argumentation and justification to support student understanding and engagement with content. In these assessments that are embedded in instruction and the curriculum, the inclusion of academic language is integrated by design, connecting language to content and critical thinking. Information on the MOOCs are detailed below. 

Please mark next Wednesday, May 25 at 9:00 PDT/12:00 EDT for a webinar about these offerings, and how you might prepare your district staff to engage in these free resources. Over the years, Stanford University has developed considerable experience in supporting teacher professional development through these online resources, and has developed various collaborative arrangements with districts and states throughout the nation. In our webinar, we will also review some of the “best practices” from this experience, and address any questions you may have in utilizing them in your district or state.

Please use the information below to join the webinar, and read further for details…

Topic: Stanford University – MOOCs Supporting Innovative Assessment Practices

Time: May 25, 2016 9:00 AM (GMT-7:00) Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android:

Or iPhone one-tap:  16465687788,804208475# or 14157629988,804208475#

Or Telephone:

Dial: +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll) or +1 415 762 9988 (US Toll)

Meeting ID: 804 208 475

International numbers available:

Further details:

The MOOCs will focus on instructional improvement and student learning related to both the academic standards and the English Language Proficiency standards of your state. In this particular offering, we are especially targeting Oregon, Washington and Iowa because they share standards as well as annual summative assessments in both academic areas (in ELA and Math) and English Language Proficiency – i.e., they both use the SBAC and ELPA21 assessments. However, if your state has adopted similar standards that are college- and career-ready, these courses should easily translate to the needs in any setting.

Starting this coming Fall, we will offer MOOCs that address two related strands in which participants can develop competencies:

Strand A – Language as Formative Assessment: This strand will consist of two courses that build the capacity of teachers to observe student language as a formative assessment practice during instruction. One course will focus on student-to-student discourse, and the second course will focus on the language of argumentation. Both of these uses of language are part of the practice standards in the Common Core as well as essential components of the CCSSO/ELPA21 standards. In the MOOCs, the assignments will focus on obtaining samples of student language across disciplines (ELA, Math and Science), analyzing and sharing them with colleagues in the course, and learning different ways to extend and deepen the quality of the language.

Strand B – Building Performance Assessments:  This strand will build educators’ capacity to use and develop curriculum-embedded performance assessments that fit local contexts. Course activities include reviewing sample performance tasks and developing a performance task that is aligned and embedded with a specific curricular unit and performance outcomes. A second course will focus on improving the tasks by obtaining and analyzing student work samples from the performance assessments in relationship to student and community assets and funds of knowledge.

Each of the four courses (2 in each strand) will take approximately 35 hours of learning time. Successful completion of the assignments for each course will result in a “Statement of Accomplishment” which can be used by systems to recognize professional development units or, if graduate credit can be awarded, through the local granting institution.

These courses are based on highly popular MOOCs developed by Stanford University through Understanding Language and SCALE (Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity), with over 50,000 teachers registered. The courses support various aspects of English language development and performance assessment development.

Our experience shows that the most successful MOOC rates of completion are accomplished when participants collaborate in face-to-face settings in between the online sessions, such as in organized professional learning communities or during after-school meetings led by district coaches. In recognition of this fact, we will be offering a set of learning opportunities this summer to help familiarize potential facilitators with the content and the online platform. These opportunities will focus on the content of the MOOCs, managing the online MOOC platform, and facilitating skills for hybrid environments that combine online learning with face-to-face sessions. These will be offered in July-August, and will also be available throughout the course meetings.

Please forward this information to your districts or to anyone else interested in your state.

Thank you for your interest in our resources!

Kenji Hakuta
Lee L. Jack Professor of Education, Emeritus
Faculty Director, Understanding Language / SCALE

Ray Pecheone
Executive Director
Understanding Language / SCALE

Phone:  650-723-5620

Note:  These resources will be made free thanks to a grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

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.

2 Responses

  1. How does one register or sign up for the Fall MOOCs? Thank you,

    Dr Harris

  2. I recommend you contact them at 650-723-5620.

Leave a Reply


California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.