May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

State Superintendent Torlakson Visits CSTA President Elect Lisa Hegdahl’s Classroom to Shine a Spotlight on NGSS

Posted: Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

On April 21, 2015 State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson visited McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA. Galt is in Sacramento County about 30 minutes to the southeast of the city of Sacramento. Why the visit to McCaffrey? To shine the spotlight on the school, district, teachers, and students – all participants in the California K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative. Superintendent Torlakson didn’t come alone, he attracted two local newspaper reporters, two video camera crews, and yours truly.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

Elementary teachers Neika Estey (far left) and Leah Wheeler (seated next to Neika), participants in the K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative share their experience with integrating what they have learned thus far into their elementary classrooms.

The day began with a meeting in the school library during which Superintendent Torlakson heard from elementary and middle school teachers in the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District actively participating in this first phase of the Initiative: Christa Dunkel, Jenne McGranahan, Christine Neal, Neika Estey, Leah Wheeler, and Lisa Hegdahl (CSTA President-Elect). Also participating in the presentation were Karen Schauer, the district superintendent, Ron Rammer, middle school principal, Barbara Woods, district science coach (CSTA Member), and two 8th grade students, Ariana Pamplona and Nicholas Picazo. Following the meeting, Superintendent Torlakson, the media, and others, in total about 20 people walked to Lisa Hegdahl’s 8th grade science classroom to observe the lesson for the day.

Guiding Question, Agenda, and Homework on Lisa Hegdahl's 8th Grade Science Classroom Whiteboard.

Guiding Question, Agenda, and Homework on Lisa Hegdahl’s 8th Grade Science Classroom Whiteboard.

Lisa and her students were several days into a Sun-Earth System Lesson Sequence. This sequence was developed by Lisa with assistance from Ron Rammer and Barbara Woods to address the NGSS Performance Expectation MS-ESS1-1: Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.  The guiding question that day was: What is the relationship between the sun and the Earth and how does this relationship impact temperatures on Earth? Lisa started with leading her students through a review of what they had discovered and learned through their lesson sequence prior to today. She then provided a data table of average temperatures throughout the year in the city of Galt, some basic instructions, and the materials that the students could use to develop their models. The materials included a styrofoam sphere on a stick and a flashlight in a small basket. In a manner that clearly showed the students familiarity with classroom protocols and group work the students quickly reconfigured their seats to sit in teams of four, gathered their materials, and got to work – all while 20+ strangers, two video cameras, and at least four other cameras watched their every move.

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Superintendent Torlakson joined one group of three students and Lisa, Principal Rammer, District Science Coach Barbara Woods, CDE Director of Professional Learning Support Carrie Roberts, Superintendent Schauer, and other educators in the room observed the student tables, asked questions of the students, and overall provided support. It was a good thing there were so many hands on deck to help with the students, as Lisa was pulled away several times during the student work time for a TV interview, newspaper interview, and other conversations with observers not familiar with NGSS.

The Superintendent’s visit ended with time for media questions and interviews in the library. During the interview Superintendent Torlakson expressed support for dedicated funding for new standards implementation that included support for teacher professional learning. He also gave a nod to CSTA for their work in advocating for science education in California.

The following is a slide show of images from the day (click on the photo to view the full size gallery):

The K-8 NGSS Early Implementation Initiative was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve, this Initiative is a fast-start demonstration project to build local education agency (LEA) capacity to fully implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in grades K-8.  Selected in a competitive application process, with input from expert reviewers, and funded by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the eight California districts are: Galt Joint Union Elementary School District, Kings Canyon Unified School District, Lakeside Union School District, Oakland Unified School District, Palm Springs Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Tracy Unified School District, and Vista Unified School District. The two California CMOs in the Initiative are Aspire and High Tech High, whose participation is funded by the Hastings/Quillin Fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. (Source: WestEd)

Media coverage of this event included:

KCRA 3 News (local NBC affiliate): http://www.kcra.com/news/galt-school-district-first-in-state-to-test-new-science-standards/32495464

Galt Herald: http://www.galtheraldonline.com/articles/2015/04/22/feature_story/doc5537d27089f05964302006.txt

Cabinet Report: https://cabinetreport.com/curriculum-instruction/a-head-start-implementing-the-new-science-standards

Lodi News: http://www.lodinews.com/news/article_f4956d2c-e8bc-11e4-b31d-cbcd70eec39b.html

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

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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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

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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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

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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.

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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.