August 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 12

The Next Generation Science Standards Were Released – What’s Next?

Posted: Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

by Laura Henriques

On April 8th, 2013, Achieve released the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards. Last week three in-person and one online town hall meetings took place across the state. These meetings allowed stakeholders to provide input and feedback about the standards to the California Department of Education. The Superintendent’s Science Expert Panel will review all of the input collected via these hearings and provide guidance to the State Superintendent.

Subsequently, in July the State Board of Education will hear a recommendation from State Superintendent of Public Instruction Torlakson. At this point, SSPI Torlakson is leaning towards new California Standards that will be based on the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards. Once new standards are adopted, a new California Science Framework will be written that reflects input from stakeholders with an emphasis on the application of the standards to California. During the July State Board of Education meeting there will once again be opportunity for public comment, limited to two minutes of spoken comments or longer written comments submitted in advance of the meeting. At that time CSTA will provide testimony representing the views of our members. As you can read in Rick Pomeroy’s article this month, data from our members indicate strong support for the standards tempered with concerns about implementation, professional development and assessment. At this point in the NGSS process, the focus is on adoption of the standards. The implementation, PD, instructional materials and assessment development are all important pieces, but they come next.

By November 2013 the State Board will deliver its decision regarding adoption of NGSS.  It will only be at that point that the state will begin to write the new California Science Framework and begin to look at curricular materials and assessments. Assuming that the new standards are adopted in November 2013, California science teachers will not be expected to implement NGSS until 2014-2015 at the earliest, and assessments linked to NGSS will not be available until later than that.

You may not want to wait until 2014 to start implementing some of the changes incorporated into NGSS, however. Our current standards focus on students knowing the content while the new standards ask students to do more. In addition to knowing the content, they will be expected to analyze and interpret data, develop models that predict and describe, and construct and present arguments using evidence to support claims. NGSS has an explicit link between the doing science and knowing science. That is an exciting shift that will get our students delving deeper into the content, making connections and applying what they learn. While some of us may already have classrooms where students are regularly engaged in the science and engineering practices, this will be a shift for others. Starting to try out some of these practices next year can help us get a head start on the full implementation.

There are lots of ways you can become more familiar with NGSS. If you are reading the articles and blogs on the CSTA website you are keeping abreast of the changes. It’s possible, though, that some of your teaching colleagues are not. Please share this information with them. Below are some options to help you and your colleagues continue to be ahead of the curve.

The CSTA conference in October will have lots of sessions connecting NGSS to the Common Core in addition to workshops which showcase activities which illustrate NGSS science and engineering practices.
•    You can nominate yourself to serve on an instructional materials review team.
•    Sign up to receive news about NGSS (and related workshops) on the CDE’s NGSS listserv.
•    Visit the CSTA’s NGSS website. This includes links to workshops, FAQs and related materials as well as links to the NGSS website and NSTA’s NGSS resources.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA.

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Where California K-12 Science Teachers Go for NGSS

Posted: Friday, August 14th, 2015

RegisterNowMedNow is the time to register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference presented by the California Science Teachers Association (CSTA).  Attending the CSTA 2015 conference is a great way to gain professional development, and network with other science teachers from across the state, and obtain new classroom ideas, in one place over three days!

The California Science Education Conference is your best source of information on implementing NGSS in your classroom.

The California Science Teachers Association hosts this conference to focus on what California science educators need to know to hone their craft, stay updated on standards, and apply best practices gleaned from experts throughout the state. 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.

What Is the Role of Lecture in NGSS?

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

Is there a role for lecture in NGSS classrooms? Anyone who has spent much time working on the NGSS knows that NGSS is learner centered, more about helping students to develop the tools to investigate the world than about teachers supplying knowledge. The traditional teaching style of the teacher talking and students taking notes seems to be opposite of this vision.

This vision is supported by research indicating that traditional lecture is not an effective way to teach science. Nobel Prize winning physicist Dr. Carl Wieman makes a strong case against lecture as a way to teach science.  Click here to read a summary of his findings. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Middle School Integrated Science – Getting Over It!

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

6th graders design bionic hands as they study how body systems work together in a unit that was moved to 6th grade this year- photo by Peter A’Hearn

Last spring I wrote an article/blog post that addressed the growing discussion about the decision to teach middle school integrated or discipline specific science. The article gives the rationale for the change and also some different models that were considered for how to transition.

There was a lot of feedback to that post: strongly supportive, deeply skeptical, and many follow up questions. Now that Palm Springs USD has finished the first year of the transition, I thought it would be a good time to look back and see how it went.

The middle school teacher leaders who helped to make the decision chose the “fast” transition plan below. Year 2 was what we just finished. 6th grade teachers (and kids) were introduced to structure and function in living things. 7th graders tried chemistry for the first time, and 8th graders played with waves. Everyone tried a little (or a lot) of engineering. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Staying Connected by Volunteering

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Lisa Hegdahl

As an 8th grade science teacher in a district that is participating in the CA NGSS Early Implementation Initiative, I spent much of my summer break training with members of other Early Implementer districts (see NGSS Blog- Middle School Integrated Science- Getting Over It! By Peter A’hearn. Just as our students want to feel connected to each other (see Starting the School Year Right, by Joanne Michael) teachers also seek opportunities to connect and collaborate with other educators – even more so now with NGSS implementation actively happening in California. Perhaps connecting with others is the reason why, this year, the California Science Teachers Association had a record number of its members volunteer to serve on its committees. Teachers know that we are stronger when we come together to overcome our challenges. Learn More…

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is President for CSTA.

Where to Go in Sacramento: Field Courses for the CSTA Conference

Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

When it comes to conferences I’m pretty much a workshop guy. You get lots of great ideas in a short time, lots of choices, and you are hearing it straight from teachers. But looking at the field studies being offered at the 2015 California Education Conference in Sacramento this October, I’m thinking I might just spend the whole conference learning science on the amazing field courses being offered.

Here are your choices:

AHearn_Field_Course_Photo_1The Science in Your Beer: Chemistry, Microbiology, and Sensory Analysis at Sudwerk Brewery – Visit with the scientists at the UC Davis Brewing Program, the yeast geeks at White Labs, and the brewers of Sudwerk Brewery to learn about the biochemistry and microbiology that goes into the beer you love to drink. We will share NGSS aligned activities (classroom appropriate) on reaction rate and population biology. You will also explore the chemistry of beer flavor and learn how to make taste testing scientifically rigorous! Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.