September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Thank You and Farewell

Posted: Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

by Tim Williamson

It’s hard to believe that two years have gone by so quickly!  As my presidency comes to a close, I would like to reflect on a few of the challenging issues that we have faced, and say thank you to some wonderful people who have helped me along this fast-paced, ever-changing, and incredible journey.

Unfortunately, as most of you know, the downturn of the economy did not spare us. As a result, CSTA has gone through some structural and financial transitions over the past two years. With the help of our experienced and knowledgeable executive director, Christine Bertrand, your CSTA Board of Directors took on the difficult task of balancing our budget during these severe economic times.  We carefully examined our income and expenditures and made some serious decisions that allowed us to balance-out the budget during these trying times.  After a complete overhaul of our publications structure, going all electronic, we were able to eliminate a big part of our expenditures. We also decided to restructure our administrative staff, again to save some money and bring our budget more in-line with our income. This task was made much less difficult by the unfortunate, yet anticipated, retirement of our wonderful executive director of 15 years, Christine Bertrand.  A very dedicated and effective search/transition committee consisting of Rick Pomeroy, Dean Gilbert, Meg Burke, Christine Bertrand, and me began this restructuring process by discussing the pros and cons of reducing number of office staff personnel. It was decided to eliminate an office position and promote our existing staff members. Jessica Sawko was promoted to the executive director position and Connie Morrill was promoted to manager of programs and membership.  There were many other “belt tightening”, cost saving measures, all resulting in a balanced budget with our reserves remaining at required percentages. I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to Christine, Jessica, Connie, my search/transition committee, and all of the board members for their contributions in keeping the California Science Teacher’s Association strong and financially viable. We couldn’t have done it without everyone’s cooperation.

The members of CSTA’s Board of Directors are some of the most hard-working and dedicated people I have ever had the privilege to work with. These people are volunteers and receive no compensation for their hard work. I would personally like to thank them all for their time, expertise and thorough work ethic. This group is the machine that makes things happen for you, the CSTA members.

Our CSTA office staff, consisting of Jessica Sawko, Executive Director and Connie Morrill, Manager of Programs and Membership, is the backbone of our organization. They quickly adapted to their new positions and made what could have been a very difficult transition a very smooth one. A huge thank you to both of them for putting up with my bothersome phone calls and incessant emails. We are so lucky to have you both!

And finally, my heartfelt thanks to you, the CSTA members. Your continued support through your dues, conference attendance, volunteering, and outstanding science teaching to California’s youth helps keep the California Science Teacher’s Association one of the finest, effective, and influential state content associations in the US.

So, as of July 1, 2011, I pass the torch to Rick Pomeroy. His tenacity, determination, and just plain old hard work will allow CSTA to continue to thrive, even during these difficult economic times. Have a wonderful summer break and enjoy some well deserved R&R. You’ve earned it!

Written by Tim Williamson

Tim Williamson is a science methods instructor at CSU Long Beach and is a member and past-president of CSTA.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. 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.