September/October 2017 – Vol. 30 No. 1

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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LATEST POST

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.