May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

What Am I Going to Teach?

Posted: Monday, September 14th, 2015

As I write this article, it is the day before I return to my classroom to begin a new school year. Across California, thousands of science teachers are doing the same. Sometime before that first bell rings, we all have to face the question, “What am I going to teach and how am I going to teach it?” As a CA NGSS Early Implementer, I know I will teach the California Next Generation of Science Standards, blending its three dimensions of science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas into a learning experience that will help my students construct meaning…at least I will make every attempt to do so. But as I sit down to plan out the details of the first lesson sequence, all that I have learned about NGSS over the past few years stares me right in the face and challenges me to determine how the entirety of all the professional development, research, and collaboration translates into an actual classroom.

NASCO

On CSTA’s many Facebook pages, where Science educators in California go to collaborate, more frequently teachers and professional development providers are asking the same questions about NGSS. Fortunately, since NGSS first came on the scene, CSTA has been supporting teachers, initially by helping them to understand the structure of NGSS, and now to begin its implementation in the classroom.

At the CSTA hosted 2015 California Science Education Conference in Sacramento, October 2-4, teachers can not only get what they need to know to help them implement NGSS and apply best practices from experts around the state, but also get updated on the state’s progress with the standards. Teachers will make connections, gain new classroom ideas, and grow professionally. Workshops, field courses, short courses, focus speakers, and keynote speakers are just a few of the offerings at this well anticipated event. There is even a 9-hour Primary Pathways professional development opportunity for teachers Pre-K – 2 to help our elementary school colleagues coordinate Common Core State Standards (CCSS), NGSS, and the ELD standards into their daily curriculum.

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For additional ideas on how to teach NGSS in California classrooms, CSTA members can access archived articles from California Classroom Science that describe NGSS lesson ideas and strategies. Recent articles include:

  • December 2014The E Word – A teacher’s journey to come to terms with the engineering in NGSS – opportunities to enrich student science learning through the practice of engineering.
  • January 2015Next Generation Science Standards: Jump Right In – 6th grade teacher describes an NGSS lesson sequence that culminates in students creating a Mars habitat prototype.
  • February 2015Bold: Showing the Ability to Take Risks – A lesson sequence combining the concepts of states of matter, energy, and density to engineer hot air balloons.
  • March 2015Staying Local – Investigating the Schoolyard – Monterey Bay Aquarium Science Specialist shares ideas and strategies for getting kids to explore the ecosystems right outside their classroom door.
  • August 2015Middle School Integrated Science Getting Over It – the first year of CA NGSS Early Implementation in Palm Springs Unified

This coming year, look for additional articles by CA NGSS Early Implementation teachers, K-12 Alliance cadre instructors, and other California science educators sharing their NGSS experiences and expertise.

For all of us, successful implementation of NGSS will take time. What I teach in my classroom and how I teach it will evolve as I try new ways of helping my students construct understanding by weaving together the three dimensions of science learning. At times I will be successful while other times I will realize that I need to step back and re-think how to improve. CSTA will be on that journey with me, and with all the science educators in California, helping us to feel confident in our ability to teach NGSS.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th-grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is Past-President of CSTA.

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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.