May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Tips for New Teachers: Back to School

Posted: Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

by Judith Aguilar

As a brand new teacher, setting up your new classroom and preparing for that first day of school can be an emotional roller coaster. You’re excited to meet your students and you’re brimming with new ideas, yet you also feel a little nervous and don’t want to forget anything important. It’s easy to begin with the most obvious needs, and you’ve probably already been obsessing about how you’ll set up your room, prepare the seating arrangements, what to put up on your walls, and the organization of your teaching materials and supplies. These are all significant, but perhaps the most essential element to consider when preparing for the new school year is classroom management. A good plan should include not only rules and consequences, but also routines and procedures. Setting these daily, weekly, and monthly routines are a must to keep you as well as your students on the track to success.

Of course you already realize that you must take grade level into consideration as you create your classroom management plan. Not surprisingly, my first experience teaching middle school was vastly different from my first experience teaching 5th grade – the middle school students were measurably more mature than 5th graders. I quickly discovered, however, that even the older students still need plenty of structure. I learned this the hard way when I jumped in expecting my middle schoolers to take notes and complete an assignment on the first day, when in retrospect I wish I would have approached them like I did with my 5th graders by doing a hands-on, getting-to-know you activity.* No matter what their ages, students benefit from having classroom leaders, love rewards, and need to know that you care. The more clearly you can communicate expectations, the better! Deadline reminders on the whiteboard as well as their student planners, a designated place for handouts, and an easily accessible classroom calendar help students feel more confident in knowing what the should be doing and when they will be tested.

Finally, although the first day is central to setting the stage for the year, it is the entire first four to six weeks when you’ll teach your students the classroom rules, procedures and routines that will help keep you, and them, sane. Create the structure, be consistent, follow through, and establish a safe learning environment for your students.

*An introductory activity can be something as simple as a gallery walk of the curriculum they will be learning in the new school year.  You might include diagrams, pictures of well-known scientists, illustration of a concept, or maybe even some formulas you might be using.  Give them an empty list and ask them to go to each picture and write down what significance the picture has for your class.  For example, you might have a picture up of Isaac Newton or of an atom. This can give you an idea of what prior knowledge students have coming in to the classroom and you can observe student behavior. This type of activity can also help you establish the expectations for group activities and their parameters, such as noise level and movement.

Judith Aguilar is a science teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District and a member of CSTA.

Written by Judith Aguilar

Judith Aguilar is a science teacher in the Long Beach Unified School District and is a member of CSTA.

One Response

  1. Dear friend, thank you for your valuable insights! Although we have gone separate ways in our teaching careers, I still love science! I make an effort to implement a science activity with my toddlers and preschoolers! They always have a blast. Keep up the good work!!!

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

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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 California NGSS k-8 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.