November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually 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. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 2017.

Each applicant must display subject mastery, appropriate use of instructional methods and strategies, lifelong learning, and leadership in education outside the classroom. State finalists were selected by a panel of their peers who reviewed each candidate’s content knowledge, teaching effectiveness, achievement results, and professional involvement.

Science Finalists

Kathryn Beck is a high school teacher at Bolsa Grande High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District and has been teaching 18 years. She creates a safe classroom environment for her students using cooperative learning through table talks and group discourse. Beck developed College Board-approved advanced placement  Physics B and AP Physics C curriculum as well as a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) after-school extension class, which was developed with the Orange County Department of Education. Kathryn is an active member of CSTA and serves on CSTA’s Legislative Oversight Committee.

Erin Dunroe teaches at Lake Center Middle School in the Little Lake City Elementary School District. She has been teaching for nine years. Dunroe teaches life science and physical science along with Advancement Via Individual Determination. She provides multiple opportunities for students to show their understanding, including open-ended questions, peer discussions, and hands-on investigations. She serves as a mentor for student teachers through the Los Angeles County Office of Education. Erin is an active member of CSTA.

Allie Kittay is a high school teacher at Redwood High School in the Tamalpais Union High School District. A 31-year veteran of teaching, she teaches AP biology and Integrated Science 3-4. Kittay mentors student teachers and provides a variety of instructional strategies to support the students within her classes. She provides workshops for new and experienced AP biology teachers, such as inquiry-based labs and quantitative skills in biology.

Kari Milton teaches grades six through eight at Bancroft Middle School in the Long Beach Unified School District and has been teaching for 16 years. Milton teaches computer-aided drafting, which implements top-design concept, and coding skills through HTML and CSS. She is also the advisor to the Genius Bar, where students participate and help with the technology needs of the school. She rewrote and updated course guides for grades seven and eight technology curriculum for the district that follow accountability with national technology standards and also provides support for those who would like to earn their National Board Certification.

Jose Rivas is a high school teacher at Lennox Mathematics, Science, and Technology Academy in the Lennox School District. He has been teaching for 14 years and currently teaches AP physics, principles of engineering, and engineering design and development and uses a variety of instructional methods including phenomenon-based learning, structured discourse, and modeling. As the department chair, he coordinates and leads professional learning and observations for the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Department. He has presented at local and national conferences such as the National Science Teachers Association Conference and the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference.

Mathematics Finalists

Clayton Dagler teaches at Luther Burbank High School in the Sacramento City Unified School District and has been teaching for 17 years. He currently teaches International Baccalaureate Mathematics Standard Level classes, one applied math class with computer programming and robotics, and an introduction to computer science class. He has been one of the main trainers for the University of California, Davis (UCD) C-STEM program, and was the 2013 C-STEM Teacher of the Year at the UCD Center for Integrated Computing and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. In 2016, Mr. Dagler was named one of California’s Distinguished Teachers by Teach California.

James Snyder teaches at Anderson Valley Junior Senior High School in the Anderson Valley Unified School District and has been in the profession for 10 years. He is the Mathematics Department Chair and has taught every level of mathematics from grade seven through Advanced Placement (AP) calculus. He is the founder and director of the Boonville Space Program that challenges students to build a weather balloons to collect data and imagery from space. In 2015, Snyder was the California State Science Fair Teacher of the Year, Senior Division.

Andrew Walter teaches at Alonzo Stagg Senior High in the Stockton Unified School District. A 22-year veteran of teaching and a Nationally Board Certified Teacher, he currently teaches pre-calculus, AP calculus, and pre-engineering. He is a Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) advisor and received the MESA award of excellence in 1994, 1996, 1999, and 2000. He led student groups to the national competitions in 2006, 2012, and 2014.

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; U.S. Department of Defense Schools; and the U.S. territories.

For more information, visit the CDE’s Presidential Awards for Math and Science Teaching CDE Web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/sr/pa/, or the PAEMST Web site at https://www.paemst.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.

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Apply to Join Achieve’s Science Peer Review Panel

Posted: Friday, December 15th, 2017

Achieve is excited to announce the expansion of the Science Peer Review Panel!

Achieve’s Science Peer Review Panel (“Science PRP”) is an elite group of educators who work to evaluate and share high-quality lesson sequences and units that are designed for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Members of the Science PRP are part of the solution to a persistent problem in the science education field: not enough examples of high-quality instructional materials designed for the NGSS.

Join the Science PRP by filling out this online application and connect with a network of educators across the country committed to advancing science education for all students, develop your expertise in the NGSS, and work to make better science instructional materials more widely available to the science education field. This opportunity includes free, valuable professional learning experiences designed to deepen your understanding of the NGSS and the evaluation process for instructional materials. Learn More…

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California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. 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.

State Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. 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 – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

Posted: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
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  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” 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.

CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.