September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

The Power of Linking Science to Common Core

Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Laura Henriques

If you are like me, there are significantly more things you would like to do in your class than time allows. Finding ways to link my science instruction to other curricular expectations is one way for me to ‘buy’ time. This sometimes means that I grade an assignment for multiple purposes – I am looking at students’ understanding of science concepts and content and also looking at their writing. Students may even get two grades on the assignment.

I am guessing by now that most of us have seen one of the multiple representations of how NGSS and CCSS skills and practices overlap with each other. Whether it’s the Venn diagram developed at Stanford by Cheuk or a list which shows the eight Science & Engineering Practices linked to the CCSS math/science practices, all of us can see that there is great opportunity for us when we are purposeful in planning instruction which help students practice and master skills in more than one content area. While powerful for all grade levels, this can be a huge advantage in self-contained classrooms where the same teacher is teaching math, science and ELA.

VennNGSSCCSS_Stanford

Venn diagram developed at Stanford by Cheuk.

(Click here to read NSTA’s explanation of the Venn Diagram of Practices in NGSS, CCSS-Math, & CCSS-ELA)

This issue of CCS is filled with tried and true classroom strategies that link NGSS to CCSS math or language arts standards. There are ideas for elementary, middle and high school levels. Whether it’s Kristin Sargianis’ article  about building and testing sailboats, Jeff Orlinsky’s article about ELA reading and writing in high school science classes or Pete A’Hearn’s article about NGSS and math, I am confident you’ll find some good ideas for use in your own classroom.

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As you implement science lessons that incorporate NGSS and CCSS into your classes I hope you will share them with your fellow CSTA members. Just as sharing findings with the scientific community is a critical component of how science works, sharing within our science education community will go a long way towards helping us all learn from each other. It is a major shift for us to move from our 1998 science standards to NGSS. If you took time to review the state’s implementation plan (thanks to all of you who did and submitted feedback to the State Board of Education), you’ll have a sense of what this undertaking will entail. You will also see that the state plan relies on building and utilizing science leadership teams, sharing resources and working collaboratively. We will only be successful when we work together, have shared vision, share what works (and what doesn’t), and communicate with our stakeholders.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

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