May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.