May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2013 Finalists for Prestigious National Teaching Award

Posted: Thursday, August 1st, 2013

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated five outstanding secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2013 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

The science nominees are Amanda Alonzo (CSTA Member), a biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in the Fremont Union High School District, Santa Clara County; and Scott Holloway, a physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, Ventura County.

Both Amanda and Scott will be provided with a complimentary registration to the 2013 California Science Education Conference in Palm Springs will be honored at the Awards Breakfast during the conference.

The math nominees are Marianne Chowning-Dray, an Algebra II and trigonometry teacher at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, San Mateo County; Michelle Rene Katz, an Advanced Placement (AP) calculus teacher at Northridge Academy High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles County; and Andrew Walter, a pre-calculus teacher at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in the Stockton Unified School District, San Joaquin County.

“These remarkable teachers and their colleagues around the state play a central role in preparing students for college or career,” Torlakson said. “Science and math education is crucial not only to our students’ futures, but also to California’s future as a leader in innovation and opportunity. All students need a solid foundation in these rapidly expanding fields to succeed in a global economy.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partnered 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. Each applicant must demonstrate a mastery of math or science, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, effective use of assessment strategies, lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom. Each candidate also was required to submit a 45-minute video lesson in support of their application. State finalists were selected by a review panel of their peers who reviewed each candidate’s content knowledge, pedagogical effectiveness, achievement results, and professional involvement.

Science Finalists

Amanda Alonzo is a biology teacher at Lynbrook High School in the Fremont Unified School District in San Jose, where she has taught since 2002. In addition to teaching biology and human physiology courses, Alonzo also coaches students who compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair—20 of whom have been named “outstanding finalist.” Recently, Alonzo began an integrated Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) research course that is open to any student in grades nine through twelve. Students design an original STEM research project and then work with Alonzo to carry it out. Alonzo has a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology from Pitzer College and a Master of Arts in Science Education from Stanford University. Her video focused on a ninth-grade biology course, and her lesson topic was “Evidence to Support the Theory of Evolution and Alternative Argumentative Essays.”

Scott Holloway is a physics teacher at Westlake High School in the Conejo Valley Unified School District, where he has taught for five years. Prior to coming to Westlake High, Holloway taught chemistry in the Los Angeles Unified School District for nine years. When he arrived at Westlake High, only 13 students enrolled for AP Physics, and the district discussed eliminating the course. In 2012-13, 150 students registered for the AP Physics course, and his students had a pass rate on the rigorous AP exam of 98 percent. Holloway’s students also are active in the American Association of Physics Teachers Physics Olympiad and the regional Physics Bowl. Holloway advises the campus Robotics Club, which has been successful in regional competitions. Holloway holds a Master of Arts in Science Education from California State University, Northridge; a Single Subject Credential in Physics from the same institution, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His video lesson focused on “angular accelerations due to torques acting on the object and dependent upon the moment of inertia.”

Mathematics Finalists

The first mathematics finalist, Marianne Chowning-Dray, has 22 years teaching experience and has taught at the private Eastside College Preparatory School since 2007. Eastside College Preparatory educates students historically underrepresented in high education. Chowning-Dray also has taught in public schools in Palo Alto, California; Mercer Island, Washington; and Essex Junction, Vermont. She is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned her master’s in the Stanford Teacher Education Program, and Smith College. In her video lesson, Chowning-Dray taught about the radian measure of an angle.

The second mathematics nominee, Michelle Katz, is a founding math teacher at Northridge Academy High School, a comprehensive high school that opened in 2004 in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) and is operated in partnership with California State University, Northridge. Katz has received National Board Certification and has devoted her teaching career to the LAUSD, which she joined in 1992. She is a graduate of California State University, Northridge, where she received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. In her video lesson, Katz demonstrated multiple mathematical formulations for expressing rates of change over time.

The third mathematics finalist, Andrew Walter, teaches mathematics at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School in the Stockton Unified School District, where he has worked for 20 years. Walter currently serves as the school’s Mathematics Department Chair and also serves as a Mathematics, Engineering, Science, Achievement (MESA) advisor for pre-engineering students at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. Walter emphasizes innovative thinking and mathematical and engineering principles. Walter holds a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the University of the Pacific and a Master of Science in Integrating Technology from Walden University. In his video lesson, Walter linked academic language to equations, graphs, derivatives, and limits.

The National Science Foundation administers PAEMST on behalf of The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. PAEMST was enacted by Congress in 1983 and authorizes the President each year to bestow up to 108 awards. PAEMST awards primary and secondary teachers in alternate years. Awards are given to mathematics and science teachers from each of the 50 states and four U.S. jurisdictions including Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Department of Defense Schools; and the U.S. territories.

Since the program’s inception, 84 California teachers have been named PAEMST recipients. Please visit the PAEMST Web site for additional information. (Please note that the 2012 national recipients have yet to be announced.)

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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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