Times They Are a Changing
Posted: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
by Rick Pomeroy
As we decompress from the 2011 California Science Education Conference, I want to thank all of the people who worked so hard to provide the workshops, Short Courses, and presentations in Pasadena. This is your conference and the thing that makes it so valuable to teachers across California is that the majority of the sessions are presented by fellow teachers and educators sharing their ideas and experiences. Thank you to all who attended and to those who were with us in spirit. I would also like to thank the conference co-chairs, Dean Gilbert and Laura Henriques, and their committee for all of the work that putting on a meeting of this size requires. Finally, I want to thank the CSTA staff, Jessica Sawko, Connie Morrill, and Kayla Froehlich-Williams for the professional handling of the logistics of the conference. Until you have worked along side the staff and volunteers, you can’t possibly understand all of the mega and mini details that have to be attended to.
On the Saturday morning of the conference, I had the pleasure of hosting the annual awards breakfast. During the breakfast we honored CSTA’s Future Science Teacher Award winner, Guadalupe de la O, and together with the California Department of Education, we recognized the California finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMST), Dean Baird, Ziba Mayar, and Ericka Senegar-Mitchell. It is a pleasure to honor all of the recipients and to look forward to their work and their participation in CSTA in the future.
For those of you who were unable to attend, I summarized much of the excitement for the future in science education in California in my general session address:
These are exciting times to be involved with science education. To borrow a line from the Bob Dylan: The Times They Are a Changing.”
As you may or may not know, two significant events in the past two months have the potential to significantly change the landscape of science education for students in California. On September 20, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson announced that California will be one of 20 states to lead the effort in the writing of the Next Generation Science Standards whose structure is guided by the Framework for K-12 Science Education that was released in July of this year. This was exciting news, given that the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the President of the State Board of Education, and the Governor agreed that it is time to bring the California Science Standards into the 21st century. However, this proclamation was meaningless with out the second event, the Governor’s signing of Senate Bill 300 on October 8. SB 300, which was sponsored by YOUR association, authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction to update and revise the California Science Standards and requires them to be based on the Next Generation Science Standards. Without SB 300, there was no directive to make any changes in the current standards which were developed in 1998.
So what does that mean for you, the members of CSTA? For those of you who are just embarking on your careers, it means exciting times ahead. All of your dreams and motivation for choosing a career in teaching: to make a difference, to share your joy of science and learning, and to give back, have a realistic chance of being fulfilled. For those of you who are nearing the other end of your careers, here is a chance to return to the engaging inquiry process approach to science that we so eagerly embraced during the years of integrated science, the 100 Schools Project, and a framework that emphasized big ideas and themes, not factoids and discipline specificity. Finally, for those of you in between, here is a reason to be re-energized about science teaching. When you reach that point where you ask: is this all there is? You can say no, there is so much more.
This transition is not going to be easy and we should not treat it or these precipitating events lightly. Now is the time to commit ourselves the future! CSTA, as your association, will take an active role in helping these dreams become a reality. To do that, we need you and your colleagues. If our voice is to be heard as the voice for high quality science education for all students, we need to represent all of you. Your association will speak loudly for an exemplary science education for all of California’s students. As professional educators, your membership in this professional association shouts your commitment to your field. When people ask you “What do I get for my membership fee?” tell them “You get to be heard.”
There are other things you can do as well. Please consider taking an active role in the leadership of CSTA. As your President, I can tell you that the best way to feel in control of an organization is to become involved. In addition to the board of director positions that make the decisions that guide all actions of CSTA, there are conference committees that plan and implement meetings like the California Science Education Conference, a publications committee that provides input into CSTA publications, a legislative oversight committee, e-communications, and more.
As we move forward, it is important to hear the voices of our members, particularly the new and mid-career teachers whose professional lives will be most impacted by the decisions and positions that the board takes.
I want to leave you this thought, shared with me by my colleague, Herb Brunkorst, CSTA member and faculty member at CSU San Bernardino who said:
“The door to the future of science education in California has opened a crack. We can let it shut and lose a chance for changing science education for the next 20 years, or we can push through it and move on to a new and exciting frontier.”
Rick Pomeroy is science education lecturer/supervisor in the School of Education, University of California, Davis and is CSTA’s president.
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…