September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 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 a member of CSTA.

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State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces 2017 Finalists for Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching

Posted: Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today nominated eight exceptional secondary mathematics and science teachers as California finalists for the 2017 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).

“These teachers are dedicated and accomplished individuals whose innovative teaching styles prepare our students for 21st century careers and college and develop them into the designers and inventors of the future,” Torlakson said. “They rank among the finest in their profession and also serve as wonderful mentors and role models.”

The California Department of Education (CDE) partners annually with the California Science Teachers Association and the California Mathematics Council to recruit and select nominees for the PAEMST program—the highest recognition in the nation for a mathematics or science teacher. The Science Finalists will be recognized at the CSTA Awards Luncheon on Saturday, October 14, 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.

Thriving in a Time of Change

Posted: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

by Jill Grace

By the time this message is posted online, most schools across California will have been in session for at least a month (if not longer, and hat tip to that bunch!). Long enough to get a good sense of who the kids in your classroom are and to get into that groove and momentum of the daily flow of teaching. It’s also very likely that for many of you who weren’t a part of a large grant initiative or in a district that set wheels in motion sooner, this is the first year you will really try to shift instruction to align to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I’m not going to lie to you, it’s a challenging year – change is hard. Change is even harder when there’s not a playbook to go by.  But as someone who has had the very great privilege of walking alongside teachers going through that change for the past two years and being able to glimpse at what this looks like for different demographics across that state, there are three things I hope you will hold on to. These are things I have come to learn will overshadow the challenge: a growth mindset will get you far, one is a very powerful number, and it’s about the kids. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.

If You Are Not Teaching Science Then You Are Not Teaching Common Core

Posted: Thursday, August 31st, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn 

“Science and Social Studies can be taught for the last half hour of the day on Fridays”

– Elementary school principal

Anyone concerned with the teaching of science in elementary school is keenly aware of the problem of time. Kids need to learn to read, and learning to read takes time, nobody disputes that. So Common Core ELA can seem like the enemy of science. This was a big concern to me as I started looking at the curriculum that my district had adopted for Common Core ELA. I’ve been through those years where teachers are learning a new curriculum, and know first-hand how a new curriculum can become the focus of attention- sucking all the air out of the room. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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

Tools for Creating NGSS Standards Based Lessons

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Elizabeth Cooke

Think back on your own experiences with learning science in school. Were you required to memorize disjointed facts without understanding the concepts?

Science Education Background

In the past, science education focused on rote memorization and learning disjointed ideas. Elementary and secondary students in today’s science classes are fortunate now that science instruction has shifted from students demonstrating what they know to students demonstrating how they are able to apply their knowledge. Science education that reflects the Next Generation Science Standards challenges students to conduct investigations. As students explore phenomena and discrepant events they engage in academic discourse guided by focus questions from their teachers or student generated questions of that arise from analyzing data and creating and revising models that explain natural phenomena. Learn More…

Written by Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke

Elizabeth Cooke teaches TK-5 science at Markham Elementary in the Oakland Unified School District, is an NGSS Early Implementer, and is CSTA’s Secretary.

News and Happenings in CSTA’s Region 1 – Fall 2017

Posted: Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Cal

This month I was fortunate enough to hear about some new topics to share with our entire region. Some of you may access the online or newsletter options, others may attend events in person that are nearer to you. Long time CSTA member and environmental science educator Mike Roa is well known to North Bay Area teachers for his volunteer work sharing events and resources. In this month’s Region 1 updates I am happy to make a few of the options Mike offers available to our region. Learn More…

Written by Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw

Marian Murphy-Shaw is the student services director at Siskiyou County Office of Education and is CSTA’s Region 1 Director and chair of CSTA’s Policy Committee.