May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

What’s Your 2015 Resolution?

Posted: Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

by Laura Henriques

I heard a story on the radio about New Year’s Resolutions. It seems that about 44% of people make resolutions each year with 42% of them self-reporting that they’ve kept the resolution all year. That means about 18% of us make and keep a resolution each year. While the success rate isn’t all that high, the researcher being interviewed seemed to think that action of making a resolution is still a good thing. It helps us be intentional about our goals and actions, or at least our intended goals and actions! She seemed to think that simply stating your resolution and trying to keep it helped us move in our desired direction.

With that in mind, what is your professional resolution for 2015? Will you read an article related to teaching science each month? Support a colleague? Be a Master Teacher for a student teacher? Serve on a committee at school or the district? Share your expertise with others by presenting a workshop at the CSTA conference in Sacramento or writing an article for California Classroom Science (CCS)? Get better connected to other science education professionals? Try something new to help you transition to NGSS? Apply to serve on the CSTA Board of Directors?

Whatever your science education resolution is for 2015, CSTA can help. 

Read an article related to science teaching each monthCCS comes out every month. The issues have articles about pedagogy, science lesson/unit ideas and science content. The issues are available on the website and are emailed to subscribers each month.

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Support a colleague or serve as a Master Teacher for a student teacher – Many of our loyal CCS readers are veteran teachers with lots of expertise to share with others. If you find yourself in the position of mentoring new teachers either officially as a science coach/TOSA/BTSA provider or as a Master Teacher, you may find this back issue of the CSTA California Journal of Science Education to be useful. There have been numerous articles in CCS over the years which provide you with pointers to help you mentor and support colleagues. All of us need mentors, and when we’ve reached a certain level we are able to turn around to mentor others.

Serve on a committee – Your department chair, site administrator or district curriculum specialists can best point you in the direction of how to serve on committees at school or in the district. As your sites transition to NGSS there will likely be many opportunities to get involved. If you’ve been staying abreast of NGSS activities in the state, been reading CSTA’s NGSS website and its links, attended NGSS statewide rollouts, then you may be in a position to help with those efforts. CSTA also has committees for which you can volunteer.

Share your expertise: present or publish with CSTA – Think of the things you do in your classroom that work really well. It might be a teaching strategy, a unit that links science and Common Core, it might be some amazing engineering challenge. Please consider doing a workshop on that topic at the upcoming conference. Did you know that CSTA members who present at the CSTA Conference get reduced registration rates? The call for workshop proposals (due February 13th) and short-course proposals (due January 15th) are now available. If you’ve never presented before, consider presenting with a colleague (it’s less intimidating that way).

If you aren’t ready for a live 60-minute workshop on the topic perhaps you might want to write about the things that work really well for you in your classroom. An article submission for CCS could be the way to go. Article submission guidelines are available on the CSTA website.

Get connected to other science education professionals – CSTA has several Facebook groups. The intent is to share good ideas, ask for advice and advertise opportunities. Join one of the groups and become better connected to what’s happening for California science educators.

Try something to transition to NGSS –  CSTA’s NGSS website is filled with information and timelines related to NGSS. There is also a link to an NGSS blog with articles that colleagues have written about their efforts to shift towards the 3-dimensional practices associated with NGSS. Most of us are not jumping into the deep end of NGSS, but rather we are taking baby steps by implementing the science and engineering practices to existing lessons or adding engineering to our classes.

Apply to serve on the CSTA Board of Directors – The Board of Directors is currently seeking nominations for President-Elect, Secretary, 2-year College Director, Middle School Director, Primary Director and Region1 Director (representing Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, Yuba counties) and Region 3 Director (representing Fresno, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, Ventura counties). Position descriptions and the nomination/application process are available online. Consider giving your time and expertise to serve on the Board. Nominations are due January 31st.

Kudos to you for whatever professional resolution you decide to make this year. As we continue to grow as professionals and strengthen our level of professional engagement everyone benefits. We push ourselves to continuously improve, we support each other, and our students are the benefactors of our efforts.  Good luck – I hope you are part of the 18% who are able to fulfill your resolution, but even if you don’t fully meet the ambitious resolution you set, I hope you make progress towards it. Happy New Year!

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.