May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Using the Internet to Connect Science and Mathematics Teachers to Each Other and to Excellent Online Resources

Posted: Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Laura Henriques, Davida Fischman, David Andrews, and Elizabeth Ambos

In 2007, a group of California State University (CSU) faculty from several different campuses in the 23-campus system started working together to help preservice and in-service teachers find, evaluate and use on-line science and mathematics teaching resources. Through this project, resources were identified at the local level and then linked together online for use globally. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Building Locally, Linking Globally provided a way for campuses to connect their preservice teachers and recent alumni to one another in order to enhance mathematics and science teaching. Pre/In-service teachers were identified both within a campus and across campuses; a particular target audience was the Noyce Scholars on CSU campuses.

Noyce Scholars are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors who commit to teach in high need schools throughout the nation. Supported by NSF via stipends and scholarships, California has more Noyce Scholarship Programs than any other state. All 22 CSU campuses which credential teachers, 5 University of California (UC) campuses, and a few private higher education institutions host Noyce programs. Each campus provides in-person academic support and teaching and mentoring services to their Noyce recipients, and the  Building Locally, Linking Globally project is viewed as an important extension of the learning environments provided by CSU Noyce campuses to future teachers.

This article introduces various aspects of the Building Locally, Linking Globally project. In coming months different members of the leadership team will highlight different facets of the project, providing links to online resources and teaching materials. The resources we will highlight are all high quality, work well in classrooms, and are free. In a time where schools and teachers are strapped for cash, free resources that are tested and effective in real California K-12 classrooms are high value! Many of the resources can be used either by the teacher for classroom demonstration or other whole-class work, or by individual students working online on the materials.  We have also found that the online communities formed by pre- and in-service K-12 teachers using the various products and services are sustainable and effective ways for teachers to support learning with digital resources.

Major components of the project include:

  • Development of a web portal for preservice and novice teachers
  • Collections of online teaching resources, linked to California Science Standards and to the California Common Core Standards for Mathematics
  • Evaluation and recommendations for use of online materials for use in the K-12 classroom
  • Development of web-based portfolios
  • Use of interactive web based simulations
  • Familiarity and linkages to online databases such as the National Science Digital Library, the Mathematics Digital Library, Compadre, and MERLOT
  • Use of online data sets in the K-12 classroom

The preservice/in-service teacher web portal is an entry point for STEM teachers to learn about becoming a teacher, teacher resources (including classroom management), grants and awards, professional communities, and research opportunities. Although the page is hosted on the CSU’s server, its access is not limited to CSU students and alumni. There’s a science portal and a mathematics portal.

Groups of student and teachers have collected and evaluated online resources. These include digital libraries, interactive simulations, and more. Among our favorite resources are the Phet simulations, Virtual Courseware’s drosophola lab, and the electronic portfolio program, Content Builder.  These will each be highlighted in upcoming articles.

MERLOT is the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. This is a digital library of teaching materials for all content areas and at all levels. Searchable by topic, type and grade, MERLOT allows users to post materials, collect resources in a personalized folder or portfolio, and it is the gateway to Content Builder, a free website/portfolio program. In upcoming issues of eCCS we will share information about how to create your own websites and e-portfolios.

Over the last four years, project participants hosted more than ten (10) professional development workshops, and alumni of the program have made several presentations at CSTA meetings. As teachers it is incumbent upon us to find new ways to reach our students. Our students tend to be more savvy technologically than we are. These amazing online resources will help us meet our students where they are and teach them in new, engaging ways. A few of the lessons learned during our project relate to how the resources can most effectively be used in the classroom setting. Here are some of the highlights of what we’ve learned:

Virtual Labs

  • Virtual labs allow all students access to materials which work. Often science teachers either don’t have “hands on” materials or sufficient materials for students to use during lab. Materials that are in the classroom often don’t match and may not work well. Using an online laboratory ensures that students will be investigating with virtual “equipment” that works.
  • Not all virtual labs are created equal.
  • Just because a lab can be done online doesn’t mean it should replace doing a lab with real equipment and materials.

How to use online resources when you don’t have easy access to a computer lab

  • A projector and teacher computer allows for interactive demonstrations or class labs. A particularly nice way to use the labs in this way is to set up the situation, have students collect and manipulate the data, and determine what it all means. A Phet simulation on two-dimensional projectile motion is a great example for this. Much more engaging than simply solving for the landing spot of a projectile is solving for the location and then testing your answer with a cannon shooting a Buick.
  • Some of the simulations we found are downloadable and can be given to students on a CD or thumb drive.
  • Most kids have computer access or smart phone access. While not all labs and simulations work on mobile devices, many do.

Practice makes perfect

  • As with any new teaching tool, it takes time to become comfortable and effective using online labs and simulations. Start small and keep at it. Only use online simulations and labs when it makes sense to do so.
  • Don’t be discouraged by a less than successful first time out. Teaching with technology is a new skill for many of us, we need to have patience with ourselves until we become reasonably expert.
  • Have a back-up plan. If you are relying on internet access for your lesson and the internet connection doesn’t work that day you should have something else prepared.

Please look for the upcoming articles in eCCS. For the rest of the spring we’ll highlight different features of the project and showcase different resources which we think you will find useful for your teaching.

This project was funded by the National Science Foundation, DUE 0735011.

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and president-elect of CSTA.

Davida Fischman is a professor of mathematics at CSU San Bernardino.

David Andrews is a professor at CSU Fresno and a life member of CSTA.

Elizabeth Ambos is assistant vice chancellor for research initiatives and partnerships at the California State University Chancellor’s Office.


Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and a past-president of CSTA.

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

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…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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