September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

State Science Education Updates

Posted: Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

The start of a school year is always a busy time. This year has a great deal more energy around science education than we’ve seen in a long time. The adoption of new science standards has taken place, the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee has begun their work, a few thousand STEM education enthusiasts descended on San Diego for the STEM Symposium, NGSS State Rollout Symposiums are being conducted around the state, LCFF/LCAP legislation allows districts to support science professional development and science standards implementation, and the NSTA Regional Conference in Long Beach is just around the corner.  These are good times for science education in California! Read on to learn how CSTA is involved in these activities and how you too can be involved.

Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC)
The State Board of Education appointed a team of 20 science educators to serve on the Instructional Quality Commission’s Science CFCC. The team had their first meeting in September and will meet every month through February. The group reads drafts of chapters prior to arriving at the meeting. As a group they provide input for improvement. This process is open to the public and CSTA is attending these meetings and providing input into the process as allowed. Once the CFCC has provided its input, a draft will be released for a 60-day public review period in June-July 2015. The Science Subject Matter Committee (part of the IQC) will review public input and staff recommendations before a second public draft is released. This draft will also have a 60-day public review period (October/November 2015). CSTA’s NGSS Committee will be reviewing drafts of chapters as they are available and providing input as we are able through the public comment process of the CFCC meetings. (Click here for CSTA’s overview of the CFCC, timelines, and other information. See also CDE’s CFCC website

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2014 California STEM Symposium
The second California STEM Symposium was held in San Diego September 21-23. Approximately 3,000 STEM educators from around the state gathered to hear keynote addresses, participate in round table discussions and hands-on workshops. 100 of the attendees stopped by the CSTA booth to get their CSTA member ribbon. It was nice to see so many of you in person and we look forward to seeing you at other upcoming events in the state. Be sure to stop by the CSTA booth/table to get your member ribbon so you can show your CSTA pride! Check out their Dropbox site for handouts and presentations.

Next Generation Science Standards State Rollout Symposium #1
A collaboration between California Department of Education, California Science Project, K-12 Alliance/WestEd, Curriculum and Instruction Steering Committee, and CSTA resulted in the development of a two-day NGSS workshop (part 1). To date, workshops have been held in San Joaquin County, Long Beach, Yucaipa and San Diego. There are three additional sets of dates to catch this workshop. Fresno (October 16-17), Oakland (October 20-21) and Redbluff (October 23-24). Teams from districts are encouraged to attend together. It would be ideal to bring an administrator and teacher leaders. Details about the events and registration information is available online. Find your CSTA representatives to get your CSTA member ribbon!

LCFF/LCAP Update
As we reported earlier, the Local Control Funding Formula and Local Control Accountability Plans call for districts to develop plans about how they will implement state adopted standards (all standards — including science). Money allocated under State Priority #2 enable schools to support science professional development. Be sure that you are part of the conversation when your school and district develop their plans so that what you need for successful implementation of NGSS gets included in the plan.

NSTA Regional Conference in Long Beach
End out 2014 with your science education colleagues in Long Beach! The NSTA Regional Conference (in collaboration with CSTA) will bring together thousands of science educators from California and beyond. There will be workshops, speakers, short-courses, field trips and a great exhibit hall. Check out the conference preview booklet and register now. Early bird prices expire on October 24th. CSTA (or NSTA) members save $90 on conference registration. Since CSTA membership only costs $50 that’s $40 in your pocket! In addition to all the NSTA events, there are three CSTA-hosted events and a CSTA Membership Meeting. Preconference field trips to Catalina and the San Andreas Fault take place on Wednesday December 3rd. The CSTA Night at the Aquarium of the Pacific NGSS Science & Engineering Showcase will highlight outstanding STEM/Engineering/NGSS instruction, speakers and time with the fish. All three of these are ticketed events (with discounts for CSTA members). The CSTA Membership Meeting & Awards Presentation will be Thursday 3:15-4:30 in the Long Beach Convention Center. This will include Steven Pruitt as the keynote speaker sharing the latest resources to support NGSS implementation. Stop by the CSTA booth to get your CSTA member ribbon, chat with Board Members, and learn about the October 2015 conference in Sacramento.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

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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.