January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

Tapping All of Your Resources

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Gregory Potter

Like many new teachers, you want to be that special teacher for your students.  You want to be the teacher that every student remembers and enjoys and most importantly, learns a great deal from.  As you look forward to your future career, you begin to ask yourself, “How am I going to make this happen?”  While I have no doubt that you have the passion and desire to be the best teacher you can be, it is vital that also you tap all of the resources that are available to you.  Here I will highlight two important ones: professional teaching organizations (e.g. CSTA) and ways to supply your new classroom (e.g. RAFT).

One of the questions/challenges I offer to all of my preservice teachers is to identify their greatest pedagogical content weakness as a future teacher.  For a multiple subject teacher it might be teaching a particular subject like math or science or for a single subject teacher, it might be a specific facet of their chosen content such as orbital hybridization or Punnett squares.  Once you have found some content you are concerned about teaching, it is your professional obligation to strengthen that identified weakness. This is why I encourage all of my students to attend professional organizations’ annual meetings.  At these meetings, experienced and talented teachers not only explain but also demonstrate how you can expertly teach the specific content you are concerned about.  In addition, they will often supply you with black line masters of the lesson that they are teaching and welcome future conversation with you to clarify any details.  This is what it means to become a professional.  Your responsibility is to your students and becoming the best teacher you can be means your education doesn’t stop when you graduate with your credential.  Your methods instructors provide you with a foundation and afterward it is your job to shore up any weaknesses that you may have brought to the building project.

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Another challenge many (if not most!) new teachers face is how to become an awesome science teacher if the district doesn’t provide me with the proper supplies.  I am not going to lie to you: while science can engage your students and teach a variety of content beyond science, if done right, it often requires quite a few materials.  If you always go to the science supply companies, it can quickly become very expensive.  One resource that has reduced a great deal of this burden is Resource Area For Teaching (RAFT).  Their mission is to help teachers be the best that they can be:

  • RAFT is a non-profit organization that believes that hands-on teaching is the best way for students to learn about math, science, technology, and art.
  • Uses hands-on education to prepare kids to compete in a global market.
  • Partners with local businesses to collect surplus materials that are re-purposed into hands-on learning activity kits.
  • Provides educators with the materials, resources, support and professional development tools needed to create engaging learning environments.

Not only is RAFT a great resource for inexpensive teaching materials, they also provide low cost workshops (in most cases FREE) to show you how to use these materials with your students.  RAFT is both an environmental and teaching bonanza!  While RAFT is a Northern California tradition, there are similar resources near you.

So, if you want to be that special teacher that will reach all of your students and prepare them for a brighter tomorrow, you need to prepare yourself.  You need be reflective and active in improving your teaching.  These resources can go a long way in preparing you to be that special teacher.

Written by Gregory Potter

Gregory Potter

Gregory Potter is CSTA’s four-year college director and is an assistant professor at the Bernerd School of Education at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

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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.

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.

Opportunities to Support NGSS Implementation with CTC

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

What follows are several opportunities for science teachers to work with the Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) on various projects that have direct or indirect implications for the implementation of NGSS in California. Please consider applying to one or more of the following opportunities.

CSET Field Testing Opportunities

Field testing opportunities for future CSET Multiple Subjects and Science tests are available beginning Dec. 5, 2016. Participants will have the choice between a $50 Barnes and Noble eGift Card or a $75 test fee voucher that may be applied to future test registration fees. For more information, including how to register to participate, please visit: http://www.pearsonvue.com/espilot/cset.asp. 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

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

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…

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.