May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Welcome Back!

Posted: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

by Laura Henriques

I love the start of a new school year! While I have yet to start a year without wishing for just one more week before school starts, I am always eager to get back into the classroom to be with the students. I’ve worked in elementary, middle, secondary and post-secondary classrooms and it’s the kids that keep me going. They challenge me to be a better teacher and a better person as I endeavor to help them develop into the best versions of themselves. What a great responsibility and awesome opportunity we have each year! The work we do, day after day, enables students to learn and grow. Parents send us their children, trusting that we are going to do what we can to help them blossom into productive, kind, learned people. We are privileged to play a role in this process.

I recently read a children’s book called The Three Questions (by Jon J. Muth, based on a short story by Tolstoy). The protagonist in the book asks three questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? The answers to those questions serve as a gentle reminder to us as we step back into the classroom.

When is the best time to do things?

There is only one important time, and that time is now.

The time we spend with our students is our most important time. We need to be sure that when we enter the classroom we have done all we can to ensure that it is quality time. We need to be well planned, create meaningful learning experiences that engage our learners, and take into account what we know excellent teaching and learning looks like. Each day we have with them matters. In spite of what it feels like in September, our time with students is very limited. We need to prioritize our learning goals, ensure that our time is efficiently and meaningfully used, and that the learning opportunities are maximized.

Who is the most important one?

The most important one is always the one you are with.

The reason we do what we do day after day, year after year, is the kids. While many of them already think that they are the center of the universe, when they are in our classrooms they should at least be the center of our universe. We need to give them our undivided attention and make sure that they know we are committed partners to their success. We must be sure that the units and lessons we teach are created with them in mind. Lessons need to be developmentally appropriate, student centered, allow for differentiation (we all know that a class is filled with students of varying abilities and backgrounds), and be engaging. This is a tall order to fill, but it is what we are charged to do as professionals.

What is the right thing to do?

The most important thing is to do good for the one who is standing at your side.

The most important thing we do is to help our students on their journey from child to adult. As they learn science content, scientific and engineering skills, and develop a sense of awe about the world around them, students are also learning how to learn. Empowering a student to be an independent learner, a critical thinker, a critical consumer of information is heady stuff. When a child (no matter what their age) leaves our room with these skills, we have provided them with tools that last a lifetime.

As you step back into the classroom this fall I encourage you to keep the story’s three questions and answers in mind. Make the brief time you have with your students – one year from their entire life – make that time important. Make the students with whom you work feel worthy and respected. Make what you do with them something worth doing.

On behalf of all the kids you’ll teach this year (most of who won’t think to tell you), thank you! Thanks for the time you take to grow as a professional, the effort you give to creating valuable learning opportunities, and the time you sacrifice away from family and loved ones to make learning and growth happen in your classroom. Have a great year.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques is a professor of science education at CSU Long Beach and past-president of CSTA. She serves as chair of CSTA’s Nominating Committee and is a co-chair of the NGSS Committee.

One Response

  1. Thanks, Laura, for reminding us of what is important as we get wrapped up in the day to day chaos that is the start of school. I look forward to reading your column as the new CSTA President. Thank you for your vision and leadership.

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LATEST POST

Participate in Chemistry Education Research Study, Earn $500-800 Dollars!

Posted: Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

WestEd, a non-profit educational research agency, has been funded by the US Department of Education to test a new molecular modeling kit, Happy Atoms. Happy Atoms is an interactive chemistry learning experience that consists of a set of physical atoms that connect magnetically to form molecules, and an app that uses image recognition to identify the molecules that you create with the set. WestEd is conducting a study around the effectiveness of using Happy Atoms in the classroom, and we are looking for high school chemistry teachers in California to participate.

As part of the study, teachers will be randomly assigned to either the treatment group (who uses Happy Atoms) or the control group (who uses Happy Atoms at a later date). Teachers in the treatment group will be asked to use the Happy Atoms set in their classrooms for 5 lessons over the course of the fall 2017 semester. Students will complete pre- and post-assessments and surveys around their chemistry content knowledge and beliefs about learning chemistry. WestEd will provide access to all teacher materials, teacher training, and student materials needed to participate.

Participating teachers will receive a stipend of $500-800. You can read more information about the study here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HappyAtoms

Please contact Rosanne Luu at rluu@wested.org or 650.381.6432 if you are interested in participating in this opportunity, or if you have any questions!

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.

2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption Reviewer Application

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

The California Department of Education and State Board of Education are now accepting applications for reviewers for the 2018 Science Instructional Materials Adoption. The application deadline is 3:00 pm, July 21, 2017. The application is comprehensive, so don’t wait until the last minute to apply.

On Tuesday, May 9, 2017, State Superintendent Tom Torlakson forwarded this recruitment letter to county and district superintendents and charter school administrators.

Review panel members will evaluate instructional materials for use in kindergarten through grade eight, inclusive, that are aligned with the California Next Generation Science Content Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS). 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.

Lessons Learned from the NGSS Early Implementer Districts

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

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To more closely examine some of the early successes and challenges experienced by the Early Implementer LEAs, Achieve interviewed nine of the ten participating districts and compiled that information into two resources, focusing primarily on professional learning and instructional materials. 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.

Using Online Simulations to Support the NGSS in Middle School Classrooms

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

by Lesley Gates, Loren Nikkel, and Kambria Eastham

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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 NGSS 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.

Celestial Highlights: May – July 2017

Posted: Monday, May 8th, 2017

May Through July 2017 with Web Resources for the Solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017

by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graphs of planet rising and setting times by Jeffrey L. Hunt.

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Written by Robert Victor

Robert Victor

Robert C. Victor was Staff Astronomer at Abrams Planetarium, Michigan State University. He is now retired and enjoys providing skywatching opportunities for school children in and around Palm Springs, CA. Robert is a member of CSTA.