September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Update on the New Science Curriculum Framework – Opportunity for Public Review Coming Soon

Posted: Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Dear Fellow Science Teachers:

I want to bring you an update on the 2016 Revision of the Science Framework for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve. As you know, the California State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve (CA NGSS) as our new science standards in September of 2013. Since that time, many educators in various capacities have been busy adapting and interpreting the CA NGSS to form a draft curriculum framework. The Instructional Quality Commission (IQC) is the appointed state body tasked with overseeing this process. This started with the development of the guidelines that came out of the Science Focus Group meetings and has most recently been the work of two groups. The first is the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CCFC), a group made up of twenty educators from all areas of education and from across the state. A majority of the Science CFCC are K-12 teachers. The other group working steadily on this process is the writers from the California Science Project. The Science CCFC has read and reviewed multiple versions of the draft framework and given in-depth meaningful feedback to the writers. The CCFC’s task was formally finished on May 21, 2015.

This brings us to the next stage of the process. On August 28, 2015, the Science Subject Matter Committee of the IQC will review the draft Science Framework in preparation for full IQC review. Then on September 24–25, 2015, the IQC will approve the draft Science Framework for initial 60-day public review period. Information about the process is located at the CDE website: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/sc/cf/.
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If the IQC decides the draft framework is ready for the public review and comment, you will have the opportunity to provide feedback during October and November of this year. It may seem like it takes a long time with many hurdles to get over, and it does, but it’s a great process. As the Chair of the Science Subject Matter Committee for the IQC, I have had the privilege of watching and listening to the people involved in the process as it unfolds. I can tell you, they have been working long hours to get it right. In the fall, everyone is invited to take part in the first Public Review and Comment period as we move toward the adoption of a new Science Framework for California Public Schools.

This is an historic opportunity for you to participate in the process to prepare the framework that will guide future instruction in California and I encourage you to do so.

Thank You,

Robert Foster
Chair, Science Subject Matter Committee
Instructional Quality Commission
California Department of Education

Robert Foster is a middle school science teacher at Beattie Middle School in Redlands, CA. He was invited to submit this article by CSTA Executive Director Jessica Sawko.

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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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

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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

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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.