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.
To 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.
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.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Joseph Calmer
Probably like you, NGSS has been at the forefront of many department meetings, lunch conversations, and solitary lesson planning sessions. Despite reading the original NRC Framework, the Ca Draft Frameworks, and many CSTA writings, I am still left with the question: “what does it actually mean for my classroom?”
I had an eye-opening experience that helped me with that question. It came out of a conversation that I had with a student teacher. It turns out that I’ve found the secret to learning how to teach with NGSS: I need to engage in dialogue about teaching with novice teachers. I’ve had the pleasure of teaching science in some capacity for 12 years. During that time pedagogy and student learning become sort of a “hidden curriculum.” It is difficult to plan a lesson for the hidden curriculum; the best way is to just have two or more professionals talk and see what emerges. I was surprised it took me so long to realize this epiphany. Learn More…