January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Supporting Common Core ELA Standards in the High School Science Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Jeff Orlinsky

Hello CSTA Members, my name is Jeff Orlinsky and I am the CSTA High School Director. I am a biology teacher and have been teaching at the same school for the last 27 years. During that time, I have watched a lot of “educational reforms,” and the roll out of the Common Core Standards is just the next chapter in my career. My science department is just beginning to feel the impact of the Common Core language arts standards in the science classroom. This academic school year, the science department will begin incorporating several reading and writing Common Core standards and strategies into our curriculum.

I’d like to acknowledge that many science teachers already incorporate reading and writing and I am not suggesting you stop what you are using to try something different. On the contrary, I am proposing a way to support what you are already doing in the classroom and make your lessons support the Common Core Standards.

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There are many changes in the Common Core Standards that may affect our science curriculum. First, the Common Core reading levels as measured by readability or “Lexile Scores” are more rigorous than the past ELA standards. Second, teachers need to be more attentive to the text structure, language, and the purpose of the text when incorporating reading in the classroom. Third, teachers need to create tasks that are accessible and challenging to our students, and lastly, we have to help our students learn that reading is a form of accessing information.

Here is a series of steps that you can use to make the transition from simply reading and answering questions to reading an article to obtain content.

Once you have selected a topic, provide several articles or written resources for your students to read. Using the web resources below, determine the grade level or the Lexile scores. I would recommend that you have samples of text from several different reading levels available for the students to read.

One type of strategy is called close reading. Select texts you want the students to read, and use these steps to help guide your students through the text.

  • Purpose for the reading: Decide why you want to use these articles; do they have new information for students to find? Do the articles or text support or contradict a scientific argument?
  • Determine one or two overarching questions to be answered by the article, i.e. “how is this article different from what we have learned in class?”
  • How will students engage with the text (annotations, graphic organizers)? Which vocabulary do I need to frontload prior to the students reading the text?
  • Have 2-5 text-dependent questions. These questions are specific to the text, maybe recall or analysis-level questions.
  • Writing Assignment: Have the students respond to your purpose or overarching questions. You can determine the appropriate length of the assignment.

Web Resources

Appendix B Text Exemplars and Sample performance Tasks (pdf)

Lexile Conversion Charts

Readability-Score Calculator

 

Written by Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky teaches science at Warren High School and is CSTA’s High School Director.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

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.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

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If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. 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.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. 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.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.