June 2015 – Vol. 27 No. 10

Time for a New Start – Again!

Posted: Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

It is early August as you read this. For lots of people, August means summer vacations. For educators, however, August means it is time to begin another school year. I tend to think of the start of the school year as New Year’s Eve. My husband, also an educator, and I toast the start of the school year in ways that most people toast the start of a new calendar year. We reflect on the past year and set goals for the year ahead. Just like New Year’s resolutions, the act of setting educationally related goals helps keep me on track. My New Year’s resolution of going to the gym five times a week may not pan out, but having committed to improve my level of physical activity has been clearly stated and set as a goal. Similarly, as I set my goals for the academic year I am making a commitment to do something to improve my practice, my skills, or content knowledge.

Pause to reflect on the past year
Nikki Bailey’s article  mentions the importance of recharging your batteries and reflecting on past practice. By the end of the school year we are all tired. Taking some time away from planning, teaching, and grading is important, but so too is the act of reflection. What is working well in our classrooms? Which aspects of NGSS have we started to implement and how is that going? What colleagues might you work with this coming year to plan innovative science and STEM lessons? In order to move forward and improve we need to know where we’ve been and what we have learned. This makes it much easier for us to replicate the good things in our classroom and eliminate the less effective.

Consider Areas for Personal and Professional Growth
Learn more about NGSS.
I am hopeful that all science educators will be making this an area for professional growth. The NGSS are adopted, the state has developed an implementation plan (the public feedback period is now open), the Instructional Quality Commission has put together the Science Curriculum Framework team and the California Department of Education is at work discussing what science assessment will look like for California. This is a lot of change and it comes on top of the implementation of Common Core. We cannot sit back and wait for a few years before seriously digging into NGSS. Please read about what’s going on and attend workshops, conferences and state-wide symposium. This fall there will be the Superintendent’s STEM Symposium in San Diego Sept 21-23, state-wide NGSS Roll-Out workshops and the NSTA/CSTA conference in Long Beach December 3-6, and check out the NGSS section of the CSTA website. It is one of the most comprehensive sites for California specific NGSS information.

Some of us will have new roles in the fall.
Perhaps you will be having a student teacher, causing you to take on the role of Master Teacher. Maybe you are about to become a department chair or TOSA or site administrator. Perhaps you will be a BTSA Coach. Serving in new roles is exciting but it comes with challenges. As you move into new positions seek out mentors for yourself.

If you will be serving as a Master Teacher for a student teacher you will find the road ahead challenging but hugely rewarding. You will need to relinquish control, help a novice teacher learn the ropes, and make their thinking about teaching visible to the newbie teacher in their classroom. This takes time but it is among the most important things you can do to help our profession. As you nurture and support a new teacher you are helping build our profession. Thanks in advance for your work and effort to support the state’s student teachers. It’s a really important task. It can also be daunting if this is your first time in the role. Megan McKenzie, Corey Lee, Yukako Kawakatsu, and Rick Pomeroy share strategies about how to prepare for hosting a student teacher. Many of the tips and strategies they share will be helpful even if you do not have your own student teacher. Your department or school may have hired a new teacher in your department or school this year. You do not need to be the official “Master Teacher” or BTSA Support Teacher to provide a helping hand. CSTA’s 2007 journal about helping new teachers succeed and thrive is a useful resource. Take some time to consider how you can help your more novice teachers be successful.

Set goals for the coming year and figure out how to make them a reality
New strategies for the classroom.

In the last few weeks of summer, you might want to plan how you will implement a new strategy. I know lots of us participated in some sort of science education professional development this summer. While we cannot implement everything we learned all at once, we can and should think about which strategies and content we can introduce into our repertoire.

This month, CSTA Middle School/Jr. High Director Jill Grace writes about how to implement interactive notebooks. It’s full of great ideas and tips about how to get started and manage notebooking in your classroom.

CSTA Primary Director Valerie Joyner  provides suggestions about how to build a culture for science instruction at the primary level and how to set up your classroom for successful science at that level. She urges us all to consider how we can help every child get science instruction every day – talk about a great goal!

Never forget the importance of setting routines and helping your students learn how to be successful in your classroom. Lisa Hegdahl reminds us that the students who start the year with us need to learn our routines, procedures and expectations and it is our job to help them with that. Those basics need to be addressed first and then we will be well poised to try out some of the new teaching strategies we learned and read about this summer.

Set your goals and get involved!
As you think about what you need to help you grow as a science educator and a science advocate, think about how CSTA can play a role. I know the year ahead will be filled with opportunities to participate in the state’s transition to NGSS. This includes providing feedback to the Science Framework Committee and providing input to the state about science assessments moving forward. There were two 2-day meetings hosted by the California Department of Education and ETS [link to Jessica’s article] related to this and a call for public input will be sent out soon, so be sure your membership settings allow you to get emails from CSTA about these sorts of issues! Finally, the state’s NGSS Implementation Plan will be brought to the State Board of Education in November and you now have an opportunity to provide your thoughts about that as well. CSTA is a great source of information for all things NGSS. Your membership dollars support our efforts to keep you informed and engaged. If your membership has lapsed, now is the perfect time to renew. Not only does your membership support CSTA’s NGSS related efforts, it keeps you involved and provides you with member discounts on the conference, professional development opportunities and more.

As we wind down summer and ramp up for a new school year I hope you can take time to reflect on what worked well for you this past year, think about how to implement some of the new things you’ve learned this past year and summer, and set goals to push yourself to be the best science educator you can be. Happy New Year!

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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My Last Words . . . Thank You!

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

This is my last column as your CSTA President. I thank you for the trust you placed in me to serve as President. It has been my privilege to serve the organization. I am most appreciative of the members who have taken steps to get more involved in promoting high quality science education in California.

Just two years ago, when I was taking over as President I challenged you to become more engaged and involved. This has been a rallying call of mine since I joined the Board of Directors. There are big changes happening to science education in California and we need lots of people involved if we hope to realize the promise of those changes. The CSTA Board of Directors does a great deal but they cannot do everything. As an organization, however, we can make a huge difference! In August 2013, in one of my first columns as President, I urged you to consider baby steps towards leadership. I revisited that theme again by encouraging you to see what you could do for CSTA and how to “lean in” and lead by example. Many of you accepted the challenge – thanks! Those of you who know me (or who have read my columns) know this is an important theme for me. A full twenty percent of my CCS columns were devoted to the topic, I talk about it in leadership forums, and I have been known to twist a few arms to get colleagues engaged. Learn More…

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

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

California STEM Learning Network Launches Policy Brief “Science Education and Local Control” and LCAP Toolkit for STEM Advocates

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Chris Roe

The California STEM Learning Network and the Lawrence Hall of Science have partnered to create a new toolkit to help educators, parents, students, community partners, and business leaders participate in the development of their school district’s Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Register for the 2015 California Science Education Conference!

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Casey Passmore

california_science_teachers_association_large_cropped

With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards (including Literacy in Science!) and the Next Generation Science Standards, science education is finally becoming more of a priority for many school districts. Now is a great time to start planning to attend the California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, Friday, October 2 – Sunday, October 4. Registration is open and hotel reservations can be made now. 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.

Primary Science Comes Alive with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), California Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and English Language Development (ELD)

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Valerie Joyner

Join your primary colleagues for the wonderful opportunity to learn about Next Generation Science Standards. You’ll learn how NGSS aligns with 21st Century Skills, links to CCCSS and supports ELD. Teams of 3-5 teachers/administrators from your school/district are encouraged to apply for this amazing workshop. Space is limited so apply now!

As California educators strive to provide a twenty-first century education for all students, there is nothing more important than a strong foundation in science education. The time to nurture and develop this foundation is at the beginning, as students enter primary grades. It is essential for the youngest of our students to develop scientific literacy and interest from the start. As we focus priority on our youngest students, there are few missions more urgent to long-term educational goals than equipping primary grade teachers with science content knowledge and pedagogical strategies to kindle the love of science in their students and set a course for lifelong learning. Learn More…

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is CSTA’s Primary Director.

Cup of Tea

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

by Leah Wheeler

Have you ever felt like your time is split between too many subject areas in your classroom and you’re torn on how to teach all of the content? As a 5th grade teacher in a self contained classroom, I have always struggled with integrating curriculum in my classroom instruction. Through my participation with the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS) Early Implementation team in Galt, I have learned how to take the science and engineering practices (SEP) and incorporate them into the other curricular areas using simple modifications to my instruction.

Instead of looking at science and engineering practices as only part of the three-dimensional learning of NGSS, I try to think of ways to incorporate them into other content areas, so I can create bridges for learning.  For instance, inspired by the Boston Tea Party after my students studied the American Revolution, students engineered crates to hold tea. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.