The T in STEM – Technology Management in Science Classrooms
Posted: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014
by Lisa Hegdahl
Next Generation of Science Standards, Common Core, and now technology! Science teachers in California are being asked to incorporate increasingly more components into everyday lessons in order to prepare their students for college and career. Despite the increased demands, with a little preparation, technology can be an engaging way to involve students in the world of Science.
Before You Begin
Whether you have one computer in your classroom or one computer for every student, start your venture into technology with a strong Student Technology Contract. Examples of contracts abound on the Internet covering issues from permitted websites to proper use of equipment to consequences for breaking contracts. The student as well as the parents should sign the technology contract. Agreements may be written by individual teachers or created for an entire school site. Regardless of where the contract originates, periodically revisit its terms with your students.
Even though most students use technology daily, many are not knowledgeable about specific technology terms and procedures. When you first introduce computers to your students, it will be worth your while to define common technology usage terms, especially those that can have more than one meaning such as the difference between “closing a computer” and “signing out of a computer” (Heitin, 4).
Even during the most engaging lesson, students will want to wander independently through the Internet, so supervision of student activity is essential. Ideally, computers should be placed so the teacher can see all the computer screens. Computer programs exist that allow teachers to observe, close tabs, and even lock student computers remotely. Regardless of computer placement or monitoring program, there is no substitute for roaming the classroom to keep students focused on the task at hand (Heitin, 2). As you inspect screens, pay particular attention to windows that may be minimized (Hume, 2). There should be clear consequences for being off task while using computers.
If your classroom has only one computer, consider using it as a station. For long-term projects, have students rotate to the computer for a particular portion of the project. This part should stand alone as students will access the computer during different stages of the assignment. Develop a clear signal for when students will switch users, such as an egg timer or student assistant, (Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4). How much time you give each rotation will depend on the required task. The rotation strategy can also be used for computerized lab simulations. Students rotate to the computer over a class period or school week; individually or in groups. If students are using the computer in groups, assign each group member a job so each person has an opportunity to use the technology (Hume, 2; Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4). Place answers to FAQs within easy access of the computer, for instance how to log-in, frequented website addresses, how to refresh the computer screen, and how to signal for assistance (Hume, 2; Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 5).
In classrooms where each student is fortunate to have their own computer, they should always use the same computer. This will give students a sense of ownership and decrease misuse and vandalism. Spend time teaching students about maintenance and care of their devices and let them know that they are responsible for their computer’s well-being and upkeep. Students should be instructed to inform the teacher if there are problems with their computer otherwise they might be held responsible for any issues that arise (Heitin, 2-3).
Student assistants are especially helpful in multi-computer classrooms (Heitin, 3). Their attention to minor technology issues will free the teacher to interact with students about the subject matter (Hume, 2). Assistants can pass out computers, help students log-in and connect to the internet, and ensure that the computers are set up to charge overnight (Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies, 4).
With a myriad of computer programs, websites, and social media only a click a way, computers provide students with current, relevant, and engaging science content. Planning ahead will make the experience more satisfying for you and your students.
Heitin, L. ( 2013, October). For Teachers, Wired Classrooms Pose New Management Concerns. Education Week TEACHER. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2013/10/14/cm_wired.html
Hume, K. (2011, June). Managing Technology Use in Your Classroom.
TEACH Magazine. Retrieved from http://teachmag.com/archives/3510
Travis Unified School District. (2002-2014). Integrating Technology: Classroom Management Strategies. Retrieved from http://www.travisusd.k12.ca.us/travisusd/tusd/Administration/Departments/Information_Services/resources/integration_tips/management.htm
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…