September 2016 – Vol. 29 No. 1

Unplug and Recharge

Posted: Monday, June 20th, 2016

by Sue Campbell

Every night before I go to bed I plug in my cell phone so it can recharge overnight.  I want to start the day with a full charge so I am ready to handle anything without worrying about running out of power before the day is over.  Our summer break is now upon us and it is time for us to recharge.  Unlike our cell phones and other electronic devices we often recharge best when we unplug for a time.

Teaching is a rewarding and demanding profession.  We plan, create, teach, assess, nurture, and learn.  There is little down time during the academic year.  For many of us, some of our summer time is committed to summer school and professional development.  If that is true for you, be sure to carve out some time for recharging.  Get your calendar out and look at your summer schedule.  When you have put your commitments in the calendar, look at the remaining time.  How much time do you have left?  Hopefully you will have at least two to four weeks.  It often takes a week or more to start to unwind.  Block it out for recharge time and guard it.  Unplug from work related contact during that time.

Perhaps it is the lack of a break for me last summer that has me examining my plans for this year more carefully.  It was a combination of events that lead to a too full, non-restful summer.  Some were personal.  My mom died at the beginning of June and there was so much to attend to in the midst of profound grief.  I taught summer school and attended some professional development.  Before I knew it, summer was over and it was time to head back to work.  I also changed positions within my school district and it took six to eight weeks to get things moved and set up.  No wonder I am eying this summer with a critical eye.

When I began to examine my summer plans for this year I immediately discovered that if I didn’t make some decisions quickly my summer break would be consumed with work.  Two and a half weeks in June are scheduled for professional development.  Another week may be added. I may need to work a few days to finish some projects so things are ready for teachers when we return in August.  June is gone! Although there are some more professional development opportunities in July, I decided against attending them.  July is my recharging time and I have plans for protecting it.

The first way I am protecting this time is by putting it in my calendar.  It seems like a simple, and perhaps unnecessary idea; however having this time blocked out will help me when I am contacted or asked to do something.  I can say that I have another commitment on my calendar.  The second way I am protecting my time is by handling – or not handling my email.  I will be setting a vacation response for an auto reply.  I am also removing my work account from my phone and tablet for that time period or when I officially return.  I find it hard to ignore the messages when they are right there.  It won’t take long to set it back up again.

Now that I have protected that time, I want to use it well.  I know that some of it will be used to take care of things around the house and yard.  I also need some “do nothing” days where I can sleep late, stay up late, and just do what I want.  And I will take a few trips for a day or two at a time to enjoy some of my favorite places.  Last, I will be an observer of the world, likely finding phenomena and connections to use in future lessons.  I know that it is work related – but I’m not perfect.

I hope you take the time to recharge this summer, too.

Written by Sue Campbell

Sue Campbell

Sue Campbell is the District STEM Coach for Livingston Union School District, and is CSTA’s Middle School/Jr. High Director.

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California Science Assessment Update

Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

by Jessica Sawko

In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.

At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at 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.

Some ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in your classroom

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

by Carol Peterson

1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. 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.

2016 Award Recipients – Join CSTA in Honoring Their Accomplishments

Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference  on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!

Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award

John Keller

John Keller

The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” 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.

NGSS: Making Your Life Easier

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Peter A’hearn

Wait… What?

NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?

The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

Celestial Highlights, September 2016

Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt 

Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.