March 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 7

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 president of CSTA.

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Engineering Brings It All Together

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Peter A’Hearn

P.Ahearn_Photo_1

I am really enjoying the creativity that NGSS is awakening in teachers. Those who want to create are taking the standards (and the freedom that comes from the lack of a test) and really exploring what engages their students. I found though, that even when trying our best to match up to the expectations of NGSS, there is a feeling that we missed something. Did we remember the crosscutting concepts? Did the students engage in the practices at the level that NGSS expects? Did we get to the engineering? How about the Nature of Science? Was the content deep enough to really teach the DCI to the point where it could be applied to a new situation? Was it engaging? About a real world phenomenon or problem? 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, Co-Chair of the 2013 Conference Committee, and a member of CSTA.

Meaningful Thinking in 140 Characters or Fewer

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jill Grace

I’ve learned the hard way that I will get “huffs”, eye-rolls, grunts, and the occasional nuclear meltdown from students if I ask them to summarize their learning in, dare I say it, a paragraph. It’s as though paragraph is a bad word and how shocking that I would ask for one in science class! I even get slammed with questions: “How many sentences to I have to write?” (why are we still asking that question in middle school?), “Do I have to use complete sentences?”, and “Do I really have to write a whole paragraph?” *teacher sigh*

First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of having students produce writing in a science class. I will also admit that this can be a challenge, and so the year that I decided to make the shift to an interactive science notebook it was glaring at me. I would be asking students for writing as a vehicle to share their thinking (in what we refer to as “outputs” in the notebook) all the time. Although we wouldn’t be able to avoid the writing, sometimes I may want to ask my students to share their thinking in a way that will avoid the drama that asking for a paragraph can sometimes generate. (Incidentally, this was all prior to implementation of the Common Core Standards – where anecdotally, in just one year, I’ve seen a big shift in student acceptance of writing outside of language arts.) Learn More…

Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace teaches 7th grade science at Palos Verdes Intermediate School and is the Middle School/Jr. High Director for CSTA.

State Board to Vote on Suspension of API for 2014-2015

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

The California State Board of Education will vote on the Public School Accountability Act (PSAA) Committee’s recommendation to suspend the calculation of the Academic Performance Index (API) for a second year 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.

Exploring the Ecosystem That Is Your Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Laura Henriques

As you read through this month’s CCS you’ll find articles about biology, professional learning, NGSS implementation tales, and finding a job. I find the juxtaposition of the articles works. When we look for a job we need to have a good fit – we need to fill a niche in the school’s ecosystem and our needs must be met. When we look at our professional learning needs we are doing a self-assessment, finding out our own needs and meeting them

Earlier this year John Speigel, Anthony Quan and Yami Shimojyo wrote an article for CCS which discussed a pathway from NGSS awareness to implementation. If we use their awareness-transition-implementation matrix to mark our efforts we can start making changes to our instruction and have a mechanism to note progress. So let’s think of our classroom as its own teaching/learning ecosystem and start modifying the system to see what positive changes we can make to student engagement and student learning. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

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

CSTA Legislative Update – March 2015

Posted: Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

by Jessica Sawko

Friday, February 27, 2015 was the last day for legislators to introduce bills. As with many things with a deadline, the last days leading up to the deadline saw a flurry of activity and many bills were introduced. CSTA will be monitoring many pieces of legislation this year and will seek to have funding for NGSS implementation included in next year’s budget. Bills of note include:

AB 631 (Bonilla)Titled the “Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Fund ActLearn 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.