May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 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 past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

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Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

On March 31, 2017, Achieve released two documents examining some lessons learned from the California K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. The initiative began in August 2014 and was developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd, with close collaborative input on its design and objectives from the State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, and Achieve.

Eight (8) traditional school districts and two (2) charter management organizations were selected to participate in the initiative, becoming the first districts in California to implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Those districts included Galt Joint Union Elementary, Kings Canyon Joint Unified, Lakeside Union, Oakland Unified, Palm Springs Unified, San Diego Unified, Tracy Joint Unified, Vista Unified, Aspire, and High Tech High.

To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

Middle school teachers in Kings Canyon Unified School District (KCUSD), a CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative district, have been diligently working on transitioning to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) integrated model for middle school. This year, the teachers focused on building their own knowledge of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs). They have been gathering and sharing ideas at monthly collaborative meetings as to how to make sure their students are not just learning about science but that they are actually doing science in their classrooms. Students should be planning and carrying out investigations to gather data for analysis in order to construct explanations. This is best done through hands-on lab experiments. Experimental work is such an important part of the learning of science and education research shows that students learn better and retain more when they are active through inquiry, investigation, and application. A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) notes, “…learning about science and engineering involves integration of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., content knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the framework seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K-12 Science Education” (pg. 11).

Many middle school teachers in KCUSD are facing challenges as they begin implementing these student-driven, inquiry-based NGSS science experiences in their classrooms. First, many of the middle school classrooms at our K-8 school sites are not designed as science labs. 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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

In spring and summer 2017, Jupiter is the most prominent “star” in the evening sky, and Venus, even brighter, rules the morning. By mid-June, Saturn rises at a convenient evening hour, allowing both giant planets to be viewed well in early evening until Jupiter sinks low in late September. The Moon is always a crescent in its monthly encounters with Venus, but is full whenever it appears near Jupiter or Saturn in the eastern evening sky opposite the Sun. (In 2017, Full Moon is near Jupiter in April, Saturn in June.) At intervals of 27-28 days thereafter, the Moon appears at a progressively earlier phase at each pairing with the outer planet until its final conjunction, with Moon a thin crescent, low in the west at dusk. You’ll see many beautiful events by just following the Moon’s wanderings at dusk and dawn in the three months leading up to the solar eclipse. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.