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Week of June 25, 2012

Table of Contents

NSTA Makes Recommendations to Achieve on NGSS First Public Draft

As a partner in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), NSTA recently conducted a comprehensive review of the first public draft when it was released for input in May and has provided feedback to Achieve. NSTA’s report highlights a number of critical issues regarding the structure and content of the NGSS and offers seven recommendations to the writers to consider as they begin work on the next draft.

The most critical of the issues is the omission of nature of science in the standards. Other issues cited in the report include the structure and intent of performance expectations, grade level appropriateness, time and resources needed to achieve the standards, and the survey mechanism used to solicit feedback from the science education community.

While NSTA supports the development of the NGSS, the issues identified in the report to Achieve are vital to the successful development of science standards that can be supported and used by science educators nationwide. To read the NSTA report and recommendations, click here. For NSTA updates and resources on NGSS, go to www.nsta.org/ngss.

Achieve has removed the NGSS first public draft from the web while work begins on the next draft. To read about the development process, writers, and for more information, go to the NGSS web site at www.nextgenscience.org.

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NAEP Interactive Assessments Show Lack of Student Understanding

American 4th, 8th, and 12th grade students can identify answers when doing experiments but may not have a deep enough understanding of the science concepts to be able to explain the reasoning for their answers claims a new report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released last week.

NAEP Science 2009, often referred to as The Nation’s Report Card, administered hands-on tasks (HOTs) that provided students an opportunity to demonstrate how well they are able to plan and conduct scientific investigations, reason through complex problems, and apply their scientific knowledge in real-world context; and interactive computer tasks (ICTs) that required students to solve scientific problems in a computer-based environment.

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Take Advantage of Summer Learning From Your Laptop

Summer is the perfect season to catch up on topics that you’ll have to teach in the fall. NSTA’s Learning Center offers science educators, elementary through college, a convenient platform for building new content knowledge and teaching strategies for the classroom. Accessible 24/7, more than 8,500 resources are available to improve your understanding of science concepts. Have a look at some of features:

  • Interactive simulation-based web modules
  • Searchable journal articles and e-book chapters devoted to your topic
  • Hundreds of lesson plans aligned to standards with vignettes and samples of student work
  • Web seminars on the topics you need led by top scientists, engineers, and professional development (PD) experts
  • Practical tools that enhance your learning experience: a personal library and notepad, a PD plan and portfolio, a PD record and certificates, a PD indexer to diagnose content knowledge, and a robust community forum for sharing ideas and resource.

A subscription can be purchased, or just visit to access free Science Objects (1–2-hour learning experiences) that will bring you up to speed on such topics as Newton’s First Law or Cell Structure and Function. Check it out at learningcenter.nsta.org and imagine the performance you’ll command when school opens in the fall.

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Triangle Coalition Fall Conference October 1–2

Registration is now open for the Triangle Coalition’s 12th annual STEM education conference, October 1–2, 2012. The conference will focus on building world-class leadership in STEM education.  Program topics will focus on training and retaining world-class STEM teachers; implementing strong common curricular approaches; benchmarking student success; the roles of technology in enhancing teaching and learning, and state and district-level STEM education initiatives. The second day of the conference, participants meet with their Congressional delegations. Early Bird registration (by August 31) is $225 for Triangle members, $275 for nonmembers. For more information visit the Triangle Coalition website.

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NSTA's "Science Sourcebook" Serves Up Fresh Science Content

K–8 teachers who want to add additional elements to their lessons and hands-on activities to help teach science concepts can turn to The Everyday Science Sourcebook: Ideas for Teaching in Elementary and Middle School. This revised 2nd edition includes hundreds of new and updated entries selected to engage students directly with phenomena in our world and build upon national standards.

The Sourcebook is structured like an easy-to-use thesaurus and centered around six broad content categories. Teachers can select a topic from the Index Guide and then use the reference number to find a wealth of related activities. For example, the topic of meteorology leads to notes on the Earth’s temperature. From there, teachers will see entries on how students can make a liquid thermometer, graph air temperatures, and measure the conversion of solar energy to heat energy.

Download an excerpt on "Weather" for a glimpse inside this invaluable reference, and see classroom activities that create a humidity indicator (hygrometer) or test the effects of temperature on evaporation rates. The Everyday Science Sourcebook deserves a prominent spot on the bookshelves of all teachers who want a springboard for ideas to make their science lessons truly memorable.

To download a free chapter or buy a book, visit www.nsta.org/store.

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Calling All Principals of New Middle and High School Science Teachers

If you have a limited budget for staff professional development, your new teachers have at their fingertips a terrific program, virtually cost-free, to consider. It’s NSTA’s New Science Teacher Academy, which supports second- and third-year science teachers when they need it the most.

Participants have access to resource-filled, professional development and mentoring to boost teacher confidence, to create excellence in teaching and learning, and to develop better content knowledge. Those selected (it’s a simple application) are rewarded with approximately $6,500 in quality PD over the course of one year.

“Fellows” in the Academy become instant members of the National Science Teachers Association and enjoy all the benefits. They are able to access online learning experiences, short courses, and web seminars that are facilitated by nationally known experts in science education, and network with an active online community of peers. Complimentary registration to NSTA’s National Conference in 2013 with free air travel, lodging, and meals is the “all-time favorite” opportunity for the Fellows.

It’s an opportunity not to miss. Visit www.nsta.org/academy to learn more. Have your newest teachers complete an application. The deadline is Aug. 24, 2012.

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This Is Your Brain-NSTA Press

Everyday Science Sourcebook-NSTA Press

Teaching Science Through Tradebooks

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Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these groups offering courses for science educators!

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