March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

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.

Advertisement

Advertisement

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.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

California Science Curriculum Framework Now Available

Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.

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.

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.

Call for CSTA Awards Nominations

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. 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.

Call for Volunteers – CSTA Committees

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

Volunteer

CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: 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.

A Friend in CA Science Education Now at CSTA Region 1 Science Center

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.

Learning to Teach in 3D

Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”

I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. 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.