March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

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.

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For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.

The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.

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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.