May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

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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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

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.