September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Update from the California Department of Education: California Alternative Discipline Specific Model for Grades 6-8

Posted: Monday, February 10th, 2014

In September 2013, the California State Board of Education (SBE) unanimously approved the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as California’s new K-12 science standards. In November 2013, the SBE approved an integrated model of these standards, developed by the California Science Expert Panel (SEP), as the preferred model for California middle grades six through eight.

At the same November SBE meeting, the SBE approved a recommendation by the Superintendent of Public Instruction to reconvene the SEP in order “to develop … as an alternative model … a discipline specific model” for the grade span of 6-8. The model was to be based upon the guidance for developing a domain specific model as outlined by Achieve in the NGSS Appendix K.

The Board’s clear intent in their November action was for there to be one Integrated NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8 that was preferred by the SPI and the Board, and one Discipline Specific NGSS Model in California for grades 6-8, as an alternate. 

In December 2014, the SEP reconvened to develop a domain specific model of the NGSS. The following describes that process. 

For the California Alternative Discipline Specific NGSS Model for Grades–6–8, the SEP considered the guidance provided by NGSS in Appendix K concerning the development of the alternative domain model. As a first step, the SEP organized grade-banded Performance Expectations (PEs) into content-specific courses that match the three science domains of Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Science. One course is assigned to each science domain. Each domain is organized by Core Topics, which consist of PEs, Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts (CCs). The Engineering domain was integrated in these course models rather than presented as a separate course in this sequence. (The four stand-alone engineering PEs in each of the grade bands are connected to all three courses.)

In addition to the arrangement of the domain specific content, the SEP also considered what content, if any, from the other science domains would need to be introduced in order to facilitate student’s full understanding of each PE.

Once the three middle grades discipline specific courses were developed, the SEP designed three configurations of the discipline courses for implementation during the middle grade span 6-8.  The grade level configuration of the three discipline specific models that are being considered are Model 1: 6th grade Earth and Space, 7th grade Life, and 8th grade Physical Science; Model 2: 6th grade Physical, 7th grade Earth and Space, and 8th grade Life Science; and Model 3: 6th grade Life, 7th grade Physical, and 8th grade Earth and Space Science.  The three alternative discipline specific models and benefits and challenges for implementing each model can be viewed at the CDE NGSS Web page.

Request for Educator and Public Comment

The CDE is seeking input from California middle grades science teachers, administrators, and others in the public as to which of the three potential NGSS discipline specific models they believe would be best for CA as an alternative to the preferred NGSS Integrated Model for grades 6-8.

After gathering this input, the Superintendent of Public Instruction will subsequently make a decision about which model will be endorsed by the CDE and notify the State Board at or before its May 2014 meeting.

To view the proposed discipline specific models, please visit the CDE NGSS Web page.

To submit input regarding the potential discipline specific models, please click on the following survey link https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NGSS-MS-preference. The survey will remain open through Friday, February 28, 2014.  

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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CSTA Is Now Accepting Nominations for Board Members

Posted: Friday, November 17th, 2017

Current, incoming, and outgoing CSTA Board of Directors at June 3, 2017 meeting.

Updated 7:25 pm, Nov. 17, 2017

It’s that time of year when CSTA is looking for dedicated and qualified persons to fill the upcoming vacancies on its Board of Directors. This opportunity allows you to help shape the policy and determine the path that the Board will take in the new year. There are time and energy commitments, but that is far outweighed by the personal satisfaction of knowing that you are an integral part of an outstanding professional educational organization, dedicated to the support and guidance of California’s science teachers. You will also have the opportunity to help CSTA review and support legislation that benefits good science teaching and teachers.

Right now is an exciting time to be involved at the state level in the California Science Teachers Association. The CSTA Board of Directors is currently involved in implementing the Next Generations Science Standards and its strategic plan. If you are interested in serving on the CSTA Board of Directors, now is the time to submit your name for consideration. 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.

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.