September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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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.