September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

Water, Water, Everywhere! – News & Events in Region 1

Posted: Thursday, December 1st, 2011

by Valerie Joyner

Throughout our region and across the state we are heading straight into winter. We have already seen snow and rain, and look forward to more water falling from our skies. From snow high atop Mt. Shasta and the Trinity Alps, to the foggy and rainy days of our Central Valley, to the wind and rain whipped shores of our coast we can all appreciate this natural resource. Water, so critical to life on Earth, is tied to many aspects of our lives on a daily basis, as well as the curriculum we teach.


This time of year offers a great opportunity to pull water concepts into our science studies with some hands on experiences. One way I integrate water into my curriculum is through recording rainfall amounts each year. For the past several years my primary students have checked our rain gauge after each rain storm and recorded the amount of rainfall on a graph. We have rainfall records dating back to 2000. Throughout the year my students graph rainfall amounts in their science notebooks, compare amounts to previous year’s rainfall, and learn to read rainfall statistics in our local newspapers.
Students begin to see that rain falls at varying rates throughout our county. Another aspect of my water integration unit is the all time student favorite, the Room 4 Rainfall Report. This is a great tradition at our school, one that the students learn from and enjoy. After collecting rain and recording amounts, the students and I put together a rainfall report that is read over the school loudspeaker for all students to hear. After the report is finalized, three students are selected to give the report. They practice their given lines, and then go to the principal’s office.

Each rainfall report starts out the same: “Drip Drop, Drip Drop, we are your room 4 Rainfall Reporters for today”. A recording of a storm can often be heard in the background. The students go on to introduce themselves and then read the report over the school’s speaker system. The reports consists of three parts, first the current rainfall amounts are shared, followed by some rain trivia (the wettest place in the world, greatest amount of rainfall in one day, comparing rainfall in other local cities, etc.), and concluding with possible forecasts or updates on total rainfall for the year. The students end by saying “Drip Drop, Drip Drop, we are your room 4 Rainfall Reporters for today signing off“!

Using the winter months to explore and teach water concepts is an ideal way to support our students in applying science to their everyday lives; that crucial experiential form of learning. We can integrate water concepts like surface tension, solutions and dilutions, erosion, and cloud formation with water quality and conservation in our science classes. Whether we are teaching our students earth, physical, or life sciences, water always plays a role in that study. It is an integral part of many of our investigations and experiments.

We all have found and/or developed successful water science lessons, some integrated into other curricular areas and others specific to our area of study. Using our new technologies like whiteboards, document cameras, and computers adds new opportunities for our students – just see what a web search in your local area yields. Normally we try to schedule field trips for sunny weather, but a local wetland, marsh, or seasonal creek during the winter months can host an unforgettable learning experience for your students. What about a photo safari in the field followed by a session where the group works together to classify the photos on the smartboard?

I encourage you to think of all of the ways you use water throughout your science curriculum, and spend some time working with your students to find applications between their area of study and water. I would love to hear your ideas.

Events and Resources in Region 1

Bay Area Environmental Education Resources (BAEER) Fair
Saturday, January 21, 2012, 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
3501 Civic Center Drive San Rafael, CA

Spend the day at the 35th annual BAEER Fair! This year there will be workshops for teachers, parents, students, and community members interested in wildlife, ecology, adventure and much more.  Over 70 resources will be available for learning about conservation and wildlife education, school gardens, and strategies for fostering environmental awareness. Discover the latest in classroom materials, environmental education programs, and field trip sites.

For more information, go to, or call 510-657-4847.

Free Environmental Education Resources for Sonoma County Teachers (K-6)
The Sonoma County Office of Education has obtained free units of A Child’s Place in the Environment (ACPE) for distribution throughout Sonoma County.  These units, in self-contained binders, each contain 19 or 20 interdisciplinary lessons with pages in Spanish, that are designed to encourage students to become environmentally literate and to participate in environmental projects.

For more information contact Mike Roa at

California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network
The CREEC Network is one of California’s environmental education projects.  The network provides both state and regional newsletters that list workshops, curriculum materials, grant opportunities, and other items for science and environmental educators.

For more information go to, where you can request a Region 1 newsletter. You can request to be put on their mailing list.

Valerie Joyner is district science lead teacher for Petaluma City Schools and is the CSTA’s region 1 director.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

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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.