May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Student Teacher Voices at the California Science Education Conference

Posted: Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

by Rick Pomeroy

As a life member of CSTA, I have not missed a California Science Education Conference for as far back as I can remember. The networking and professional development that I get each year by attending is hard to beat anywhere.  As a supervisor of teacher education, I have encouraged my student teachers to attend the conference for the past 5-6 years. Each year, they come back charged up and ready to implement a wide range of new strategies. This year, I asked them to share some of their thoughts immediately after the conference ended. The quotes below are what they said:

At the conference I learned how much teachers care about their students. It’s not done for the glory or for personal gain. Every presenter wanted to share their work and help every other teacher at the conference. Teaching is a community effort and it is all for the students. Everything teachers do is geared towards students and it was refreshing to see so many teachers excited about bringing new ideas into their classroom for the students.” PG

While at CSTA I felt empowered with the knowledge of how to implement inquiry smoothly. I was also impressed with the amount of teachers that showed up. This really gives me hope as a new teacher that whenever I am in need I have a huge support group to rely on.” EH

The Palm Springs conference was the first conference I have ever been to. It was well worth the 16 hours driving! I learned so much and had so much fun! I was also able to get to know more about the people in my cohort. Cannot wait till next year where we have the national science teacher and the California teacher conferences combine. Expecting some awesome presenters!” PN

Indeed this is a professional enrichment opportunity and filled with thoughtful, well-planned workshops.  I really enjoyed conversing with other educators and hearing their thoughts on debates of including 6th graders in middle school or not, and how the theory of evolution goes hand-in-hand with the theory of gravity. 

The smiles, welcoming atmosphere, and sharing of resources confirms my belief that education is the most valuable commodity.  I met an educator who runs a supplemental program for elementary school children doing hands-on experiments and she spoke about how the new standards are a welcome change to have a more positive influence on the completeness of education and why learning something just to learn it for a test has always been a bad idea.” JS

My experience at the conference was great. It was nice to not only hear so many fantastic presentations but also get to spend some time with the other people in our cohort. I had a lot of fun at the pool party creating our cardboard boat. I picked up some great activities throughout the weekend, my favorites being: a more kid-friendly way for students to develop lab reports, some hands-on DNA activities, a great genetics activity, as well as some useful information about NGSS. Overall I’m extremely happy with my experience at my first conference.”  KT

I really enjoyed the enthusiasm that some of the presenters showed when presenting their lessons. I not only learned valuable ideas from them, but how to be engaging and exciting to my students. I also really appreciated that some teachers gave tips on how to be cost-effective in constructing lessons during their presentations. This will be invaluable knowledge as I begin my first year of teaching next year, especially with so many budget cuts! I would have liked to see more workshops on how to construct lesson plans using the new NGSS and Common Core standards (if there were any, I missed them!). I really enjoyed the conference and had a lot of fun. I am so glad that I went!” AB

I thought the conference was extremely valuable. There are a lot of great ideas out there. It was especially good to hear different perspectives on how best to teach to the coming standards using inquiry-based labs. There were also a couple of very good workshops about how to support students’ writing. That was especially interesting for me because I was grading the first big lab write-up while down there, and could see how some of the techniques discussed were desperately needed.” JF

In terms of pedagogy, I was both encouraged, and disappointed. I was in a discussion with a couple elementary school teachers who insisted that certain teaching tools (such as dissections, posters, lab reports, building a cell model) could fall clearly into the categories of either “project” or “activity”. I tried to explain that it depends on how you present the task to the students. If the students are following a set of directions for how to conduct a lab on friction, it’s an activity; but if the students are designing the experiment themselves, it can be seen as a project. It was frustrating to say the least. But the fact that there were so many sessions trying to change the way teachers think about how they teach is encouraging.” DF

One of the things that I didn’t expect to be a highlight was Stephen Pruitt’s keynote speech, however, after listening to him speak, I feel like I saw NGSS in a whole new way. I feel like we have already been well informed about NGSS, but hearing it from the source somehow put a new spin on it. Stephen was very charismatic and enjoyable to watch.” AG

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Written by Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy

Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California Davis and is a past-president of CSTA.

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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.