November/December 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 2

What Do Teachers Do?

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Joseph Calmer

There is a quote from the newly published version of the California Framework:

“Teachers and administrators will not only have to consider a new context and programs, but they will need to think differently about their roles and their day-to-day work. The entire educational system will need to consider how to support these shifts throughout teacher and administrator careers (from pre-service to in-service) and how to implement policies and programs to support the transition from the awareness phase of the CA NGSS through and beyond the full implementation phase of the CA NGSS.” (Education, 2016)

This quote is something for us to reflect on. For a long time we’ve demonstrated to students how much we know and we simply were tasked with transmitting our knowledge to them. The Paulo Freire notion of “Banking Education” comes to mind as an analogy to this approach to education (Freire & Ramos, 2014). In his description of this model, teachers “deposit” knowledge to their students. The effect is that true learning does not occur. This model probably is not universally true, but the previous standards were written in such a way that it could occur, and often has.

The new California Framework wrote the standards in such a way that they will try to avoid the Freire Model of Education and approach something else. The standards are 3 Dimensional, aligned to the 5 E Model, and heavy on student thinking and action. In this situation, the student is tasked with demonstrating their knowledge to us, the teacher. That is the significant change in our work that is mentioned in the above quote. Before, we measured how much the students’ retainment of what we gave them. Now we need to measure their learning (outside of what we gave them). Our task is different. We can’t simply check for alignment of what a student’s knowledge is, compared to ours. The scenario is a true paradigm shift, from the every since of the word, is occurring in front of us and we need to change too. We are Copernicus trying to work in Ptolemy’s geocentric world. Our work, in our classrooms, has to change that drastically.

The work we need to do and our experience comes in at a different point than it once did. One of the great emerging tenets to come out of How People Learn is the concept of Expert vs Novice Learners (Bransford et al., 1999). As teachers, we are expert learners. Our work now is to turn novice learners into expert learners. The material we used to teach was good for an era that did not have super computers, smart phones, quantum computing, and a myriad of other things that make everything 5 years ago obsolete. This emergent technology makes resources and information available so conveniently, that we just need to learn how to use them as means rather than the ends themselves.



Our work, as science teachers etc., will have to change. This work is just beginning. I really like the NGSS standards. I have had to realize that I can’t teach the same way or salvage any old practices. I need to work in a way that will make my classroom a place for learning experiences to emerge. Sometimes that aligns with pacing plans and Common Summative Assessments, sometimes it doesn’t. I have to make a choice: What’s more important getting students to pass a 60 question multiple choice test and “get on schedule” or manage the learning something of value beyond the quarter? As an expert on pedagogy, I can read the room and see what emerges. I have seen the power of using phenomena to drive instruction, that means sometimes going off schedule and introducing new things that emerge. The work of teaching is fundamentally different from an accountant (no criticism, just illuminating a difference in skill sets). When your classroom starts next year what type of work are you going to do?


Bransford, J., Pellegrino, J. W., Donovan, S., ebrary, I., National Research Council. Committee on Learning, R., & Educational, P. (1999). How people learn: bridging research and practice. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Education, C. D. o. (2016). 2016 Science Framework Retrieved from

Freire, P., & Ramos, M. B. (2014). Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing.

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:

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Priority Features of NGSS-Aligned Instructional Materials

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

Recommendations for Publishers, Reviewers, and Educators. The California Science Teachers Association and the science teachers associations of three other Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) west-coast states, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, have co-authored a white paper on priority features of NGSS instructional materials. This is the first time our states have collaborated to convey a common vision on an issue of great importance for the implementation of the NGSS. We understand all too well that for meaningful shifts to happen and to support the full vision of the NGSS, strong K-12 Instructional materials are required. 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 Board Moves Forward Two Key Pieces Supporting CA NGSS Implementation

Posted: Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

CSTA President Jill Grace provides public comment at the November 8, 2017, California State Board of Education meeting.

On November 8, 2017, the California State Board of Education (SBE) took action on two items of import relating to the implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). One item was relating to the California Science Test (CAST) and the other to instructional materials. CSTA provided both written and oral comments on both items along with providing input on what CSTA and many other advocates view as a critical component of our state’s emerging accountability system – student access to a broad course of study. 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.

NGSS – Early Attempts and Later Reflections from an Early Implementer Teacher

Posted: Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

by Christa Dunkel

  • There are so many acronyms! Where do I start?
  • What “baby step” should I take first? 
  • How can I make this happen in my elementary classroom?

All of these thoughts and more swam through my head over three years ago when I began my journey into NGSS. I was fresh from a week-long institute with the K-12 Alliance as part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative. Much of the week was spent on digging into the NGSS architecture – how the standards are set-up, how to read the standards, what each of the three dimensions meant. Now that I knew how to read them, I needed to figure out how to implement them into my classroom of 24 eight-year-olds. With some guidance from the K-12 Alliance leaders and my own district-level NGSS team, I began the process with some easy “baby steps.” 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.

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.

Expanding Your Definition of Informal Science Education

Posted: Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

by Lori Walsh

When deciding on a field trip, zoos, aquariums and science centers typically come to mind. These facilities offer students hands-on opportunities to make science observations using inquiry. Teachers can schedule standards aligned workshops or self-guided visits. If your students have already visited these facilities, you can broaden your options by exploring the larger world of Informal Science Education. Nature centers, non-profits, and environmental groups often also offer NGSS aligned programs in the natural setting. Your students can discover the local environment while making memorable experiences. Learn More…

Written by Lori Walsh

Lori Walsh

Lori Walsh is the Education/Operations Supervisor at SEA LIFE Aquarium at LEGOLAND California Resort and Informal Science Director for CSTA.