August 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 12

Can’t Find the Money to Attend the CSTA Conference? Your District May Be Able to Help:

Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

State Budget Includes $1.25 Billion in One-Time Funding to Support Common Core and New Science Standards Implementation

by Jessica Sawko

As you have probably heard already, the budget signed by Governor Brown at the end of June included $1.25 billion in one-time funding to help districts implement the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). But what you might have missed is that the language of the trailer bill (a legislative vehicle that accompanies the state budget that describes how budget funds are to be spent) includes the not yet adopted NGSS for California. According to the California Department of Education and per the language of AB 86, Section 85 the funds are to be spent in 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 and can be used for any of three purposes (specific bill language below for reference):

  • Professional development that is aligned to the CCSS, NGSS for California, and/or ELD Standards.  This can be provided for teachers, administrators, paraprofessional educators, or other classified employees directly involved in instruction.
  • Instructional materials aligned to the CCSS, NGSS for California, and/or ELD Standards.
  • Integrating the CCSS/NGSS through technology-based instruction, such as expenses relating to support of computer-based assessment (e.g. high-speed internet connection, etc.)

While it is anticipated that most school districts will focus their funding primarily on Common Core implementation rather than NGSS, that does not mean that you as a science teacher need be left out in the cold. The 2013 California Science Education Conference will feature program strands for both Common Core and NGSS for science educators. With this in mind, consider asking your district to use some of their one-time funds to pay for science teachers to attend! Many of you may have already started to implement portions of the Common Core in your science classroom and if not, you will likely be asked to in the coming school year. Whether or not you’ve already begun, attending the Conference is a great way to further your preparations and make your professional development part of your district’s success plan for Common Core implementation. Information about the Common Core strand at the 2013 California Science Education Conference is available online.

Trailer bill language:

  • Professional development for teachers, administrators, and paraprofessional educators or other classified employees involved in the direct instruction of pupils that is aligned to the academic content standards adopted pursuant to California Education Code (EC) sections 60605.8 (Common Core), 60605.11 (Common Core), 60605.85 (NGSS for CA), and 60811.3 (ELD Standards).
  • Instructional materials aligned to the academic content standards adopted pursuant to EC sections 60605.8, 60605.85, 60605.11, and 60811.3 including, but not limited to, supplemental instructional materials as provided in sections 60605.86, 60605.87, and 60605.88.
  • Integration of these academic content standards through technology-based instruction for purposes of improving the academic performance of pupils, including, but not necessarily limited to, expenditures necessary to support the administration of computer-based assessments and provide high-speed, high-bandwidth Internet connectivity for the purpose of administration of computer-based assessments.

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.

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Where California K-12 Science Teachers Go for NGSS

Posted: Friday, August 14th, 2015

RegisterNowMedNow is the time to register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference presented by the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  Attending the CSTA 2015 conference is a great way to gain professional development, and network with other science teachers from across the state, and obtain new classroom ideas, in one place over three days!

The California Science Education Conference is your best source of information on implementing NGSS in your classroom.

The California Science Teachers Association hosts this conference to focus on what California science educators need to know to hone their craft, stay updated on standards, and apply best practices gleaned from experts throughout the state. 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.

What Is the Role of Lecture in NGSS?

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Is there a role for lecture in NGSS classrooms? Anyone who has spent much time working on the NGSS knows that NGSS is learner centered, more about helping students to develop the tools to investigate the world than about teachers supplying knowledge. The traditional teaching style of the teacher talking and students taking notes seems to be opposite of this vision.

This vision is supported by research indicating that traditional lecture is not an effective way to teach science. Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Carl Wieman makes a strong case against lecture as a way to teach science.  Click here to read a summary of his findings. 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.

Middle School Integrated Science – Getting Over It!

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

Last spring I wrote an article/blog post that addressed the growing discussion about the decision to teach middle school integrated or discipline specific science. The article gives the rationale for the change and also some different models that were considered for how to transition.

There was a lot of feedback to that post: strongly supportive, deeply skeptical, and many follow up questions. Now that Palm Springs USD has finished the first year of the transition, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how it went.

The middle school teacher leaders who helped to make the decision chose the “fast” transition plan below. Year 2 was what we just finished. 6th grade teachers (and kids) were introduced to structure and function in living things. 7th graders tried chemistry for the first time, and 8th graders played with waves. Everyone tried a little (or a lot) of engineering. 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.

Staying Connected by Volunteering

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. Learn More…

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

Where to Go in Sacramento: Field Courses for the CSTA Conference

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

When it comes to conferences I’m pretty much a workshop guy. You get lots of great ideas in a short time, lots of choices, and you are hearing it straight from teachers. But looking at the field studies being offered at the 2015 California Education Conference in Sacramento this October, I’m thinking I might just spend the whole conference learning science on the amazing field courses being offered.

Here are your choices:

AHearn_Field_Course_Photo_1The Science in Your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Sudwerk Brewery – Visit with the scientists at the UC Davis Brewing Program, the yeast geeks at White Labs, and the brewers of Sudwerk Brewery to learn about the biochemistry and microbiology that goes into the beer you love to drink. We will share NGSS aligned activities (classroom appropriate) on reaction rate and population biology. You will also explore the chemistry of beer flavor and learn how to make taste testing scientifically rigorous! 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.