September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

What Is CSTA Doing for You?

Posted: Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

by Laura Henriques

Last month I challenged you to think about what you could do for CSTA and for science education. While I boldly channeled my inner JFK and wrote ask not what CSTA can do for you…, this month I want to spend some time letting you know exactly what CSTA can and has done for you.

January 2014 marks the 50th anniversary for CSTA. Incorporated on January 3, 1964, CSTA has been the largest and most consistent voice of science educators in California. We have a long history of advocating for quality science education and this is something we take seriously. While California State Board of Education meetings often have lots of representatives testifying, other equally important meetings take place where CSTA is the only voice for science education. As members, we are lucky to have an organization that keeps abreast of policy and educational issues that impact science education. CSTA tries to involve you, our members, in this process as well.

Recent examples of how we have worked to involve you in advocating for quality science education include:

  • NGSS review sessions hosted throughout the state for CSTA members provided formal venues to give feedback to the California Department of Education and Achieve.
  • NGSS Town Hall Meetings were hosted by CSTA. Feedback from these meetings was shared with the State Board of Education via letters and testimony.
  • ELA/ELD Framework Review workshops to be hosted this month to create a forum for getting the science educators’ input to the Instructional Quality Commission. Since no science teachers were on the ELA/ELD Curriculum Committee it’s important that the science community take a close look at the framework and provide input.
  • We share opportunities for you to become more actively involved in science education issues. This includes applying to serve on Science Framework Focus Groups and the IQC, opportunities to provide feedback on the standards, drafts of frameworks, etc. We know that everyone cannot attend regional meetings or workshops but all of us can provide our input and CSTA shares the mechanism to do that.
  • We have been actively involved with the adoption and planning for implementation of Next Generation Science Standards. Partnering with other organizations in the state (California Department of Education, K12 Alliance, California Science Project, county offices and others) we are working to ensure that there are ample opportunities for you to learn about NGSS and how to shift from your current practice to those required in the new standards.

Over the past few months the Membership Committee has been busy adding benefits to your CSTA membership. Lisa Hegdahl and the membership committee share some of our newest benefits. While not all of these are directly related to your classroom, the Office Max discount card will provide you with some financial relief! The cards were introduced at the CSTA conference. In just one month, a handful of members using the discount cards have saved $170! Read Lisa’s article to see how to access these new benefits in our newly remodeled Members Only section of the website.

50_CSTA_logo_SmallTo celebrate and honor our 50 years, CSTA has created a brand new pin based on our 50th anniversary logo. Members who renew this year will receive the pin with their membership. Lifetime members and others are eligible to receive the commemorative pin by making a $50 tax-deductible donation to CSTA. Donations will support leadership development and programming. CSTA survives because of our membership and our volunteer leaders. We recognize that we need to help support future leaders so that we can be here for the next 50 years. Your donations to CSTA will contribute to that effort.

In addition to keeping you well informed and advocating on your behalf we also publish this newsletter, the California Classroom Science (CCS). This past year we’ve seen some changes to CCS. We have more widely solicited author contributions (thanks to all our members who have put fingers to keyboard to share their expertise), and have instituted themed issues. This allows us to get a deeper understanding of a single topic.

2014 will bring many opportunities and changes for CSTA. All the work mentioned above, and the work we have to look forward to in 2014, necessitates a membership dues adjustment. For the first time in nine years CSTA will be asking you to increase your investment in your professional association. As a 501(c)(3) organization, your membership dues paid to CSTA are tax deductible. For 2014 the new one-year membership rate is $50. Dues support the work of volunteers and staff to represent the voice of the science education community at the state level, production of 12 issues of California Classroom Science, and NGSS implementation work. Your membership in CSTA will also afford you the benefit of member registration rates for the 2014 NSTA Long Beach Area Conference – in Collaboration with CSTA (December 4-6). Rates for three-year, retired, and life members have also undergone an adjustment; a chart of the 2014 membership rates is available here. As an added bonus, our partnership with NSTA for the December conference includes a year-long discounted dual membership option.

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This month’s issue of CCS focuses on informal science education. Informal science education constitutes more than just field trips or museum/zoo visits. Any learning that takes place outside the classroom, outside the formal learning environment, is informal learning. Considering that most of our learning is informal, it’s really important for educators to think about learning that takes place in that environment. Articles this month highlight some of the exciting ways that formal and informal learning overlap. Jim Kisiel, a science educator who researches learning in informal settings, reminds us that our informal partners do much more than provide us with field trip opportunities. Informal Science Institutions provide opportunities for us to grow as professionals as well, and many provide outreach and have great resources on their websites. Most California science teachers know that the Exploratorium offers professional development for educators but you might not know that they partner with schools to support science and English language learners. Dana Goldberg’s article showcases some of their work in this arena. Lori Walsh shows us how a beach clean-up activity can foster science learning, and help students with environmental stewardship.

The other featured articles this month remind us of how valuable informal learning is. To support our thinking beyond the field trip, our Regional Directors have gathered information from a smattering of informal sites around the state. The lists they’ve compiled are not meant to be exhaustive or endorsements, rather they show us the variety of activities supported by our informal partners who help us and our students be more engaged in science learning. The intersection of formal, informal and after school learning is gaining interest and importance. Next month the National Research Council is hosting an invitation-only summit to address this very topic. The Exploratorium is hosting similar sorts of symposiums as well in February and March. We will report on these events in a later issue of CCS.

As we kick off a new year and CSTA starts its second half-century, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your commitment to high quality science education in California. Thank you for your membership and your contributions to science learning.

Written by Laura Henriques

Laura Henriques

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