September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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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. 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.

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

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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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.