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.
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.
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…