May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces State Approves Middle Grade Recommendations for Modern Science Standards Science Expert Panel to Reconvene and Consider Additional Model

Posted: Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

November 6, 2013 Press Release from the California Department of Education:

SACRAMENTO—California’s move to modern new science standards took another step forward as the State Board of Education approved a preferred model for middle grade learning progressions, which integrate science instruction, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) bring science instruction up to date, reflecting new understanding of not only knowledge and skills, but of how students learn best. NGSS emphasizes a deeper focus on understanding the cross-cutting concepts within and across scientific disciplines. These new standards integrate engineering practices with science practices to help students understand the workings of science and the natural world. NGSS will cut across various science disciplines and incorporate the Common Core State Standards<http://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cc/> in math and English language arts, so students will build and deepen their knowledge of science.

“This decision means that all students—from kindergarten through graduation— will have a smooth learning transition from grade to grade,” Torlakson said. “California’s economy and status rest in part on our leadership in science and technology, and these standards will help ensure our students will graduate with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed outside our classrooms.”

The Board also requested the California Department of Education reconvene the Science Expert Panel to develop an alternative model of science instruction that is specific to each middle grade level. The Science Expert Panel was convened by Torlakson earlier this year to review the standards. It included kindergarten through grade twelve teachers, scientists, educators, business, industry representatives, and informal science educators.

California was a lead state in developing the standards, in a voluntary and transparent process over the last two years. California teachers, scientists, college professors, business and industry leaders, and educational experts all took part in an 80-member California NGSS review team that thoroughly examined the standards five times. The state’s previous standards were adopted 15 years ago.

Next, a Strategic Leadership Team will be appointed by Torlakson to develop a plan to implement the NGSS. This includes a timeline for implementation, adopting a science framework, developing student assessments, and strategies for school districts. Once the team completes its work, the strategic action plan will be presented to the State Board of Education for approval at a future meeting.    For more information on the development of the NGSS, visit the California Department of Education’s Next Generation Science Standards<http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/ngssintrod.asp> Web page.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) industries are major components of California’s economy. A 2011 U.S. Department of Commerce study, “STEM: Good Jobs Now and For the Future<http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/stemfinalyjuly14_1.pdf>,” found that over the past 10 years, growth in jobs involving STEM fields was three times greater than that of non-STEM occupations. The report also forecast that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than others in the coming decade.

California is preparing to host its first annual STEM Symposium, set for November 18-19, 2013, at the Sacramento Convention Center. This symposium will highlight how quality STEM programs align with Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards and provide strategies and resources for program implementation. For more information, visit the 1st Annual California STEM Symposium 2013<http://cdefoundation.org/stemconference/> Web site.

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The California Department of Education (CDE) is a state agency led by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. For more information, please visit http://www.cde.ca.gov<http://www.cde.ca.gov/> or by mobile device at http://m.cde.ca.gov/. You may also follow Superintendent Torlakson on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cadepted and Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CAEducation.

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.