May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

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 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.