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Week of December 17, 2012

Table of Contents

Congratulations to the 2012–2013 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy Fellows

NSTA, in collaboration with The Dow Chemical Company; the Amgen Foundation; Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; the American Honda Foundation; the Bayer USA Foundation; and Lockheed Martin, announced the 244 middle and secondary science teachers from across the country who will take part as fellows in the 2012–2013 NSTA New Science Teacher Academy.

For this academic year, The Dow Chemical Company, the primary sponsor of the program, will fund the participation of 195 science teachers as Dow–NSTA Fellows. The American Honda Foundation will support three science teachers as Honda–NSTA Fellows and the Amgen Foundation will support 11 science teachers as Amgen–NSTA Fellows. Astellas Pharma US, Inc. will support 14 science teachers primarily from the Chicago area as Astellas–NSTA Fellows, and the Bayer USA Foundation will sponsor six science teachers as Bayer–NSTA Fellows. The remaining 15 science teachers will be supported by Lockheed Martin and named Lockheed Martin–NSTA Fellows.

Representing 34 states and the District of Columbia, the 2012–2013 fellows were selected on the basis of several criteria, including showing evidence of a solid science background and displaying a strong interest in growing as a professional science educator. Each fellow will receive a comprehensive NSTA membership package, online mentoring with trained mentors who teach in the same discipline, and the opportunity to participate in a variety of web-based professional development activities, including web seminars. In addition, each fellow will receive financial support to attend and participate in NSTA’s 2013 National Conference on Science Education in San Antonio.

Click here for a complete list of the 2012–2013 fellows.

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"Take It Again, Sam"?

Do you let your students retake a test or quiz on which they performed poorly? This question has appeared (in various forms) on the NSTA list serves and has sparked some interesting discussions. We’d like to hear more about this topic. Take the NSTA Reports poll now.

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Call Congress, Urge Lawmakers to Stop the Cuts to Education

Sequestration—the 8.2 percent automatic, across-the-board cuts to nearly all federal spending—will happen in January 2013 unless Congress acts to stop it. For education programs, this will result in a loss of $4.1 billion to states and districts that receive federal money. Unless federal lawmakers act soon, the potential loss of educator jobs, programs, transportation, and key school services could have a devastating effect in every state.

The ASCD resource on sequestration includes a primer for educators including actions they can take to urge lawmakers to stop the cuts.

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NEA Health Information Network Offers Online Crisis Guide

To help teachers and administrators deal with school tragedies like the recent shootings in Connecticut, the NEA Health Information Network has produced a step-by-step guide on how to respond to a school crisis, including providing advice to educators about how to talk about these incidents with kids in an age-appropriate way.

Students across the country will likely hear about this tragedy, so educators and administrators across the U.S. will need to know how to address this in their own schools when children come back to school. The questions and suggested lesson plans/discussion guide can be modified for any educator (whether in an impacted school or not) to use with students.

The most important thing all educators, parents, and other adults must do for kids is to create a sense of normalcy and assure a sense of safety.

See also:

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16 Winners of Race to the Top District Competition Announced

Last week the U.S. Department of Education announced that 16 applicants representing 55 school districts across 11 states and D.C. will receive funding as part of the 2012 Race to the Top (RTTT) District competition. These districts will share nearly $400 million to support locally developed plans to personalize and deepen student learning, directly improve student achievement and educator effectiveness, close achievement gaps, and prepare every student to succeed in college and their careers.

The four-year awards will range from $10 million to $40 million, depending on the number of students served through the plan. The Department received 372 applications for the RTTT District competition in November. Among the winners is a rural-area consortium representing 24 rural districts, which comprise 44 percent of the total number of districts that will benefit from the 2012 competition.

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Unwrap the Magic of Science

Last-minute gift shopping? We've got you covered. NSTA Press books and NSTA Gear make great gifts for the holiday season. Ideas for science fairs, hands-on activities, and a year’s worth of support and instruction are just a few things you'll find within NSTA professional development books.

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TIMSS Results Show Little Change Since 2007

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 was released last week, and for the most part little has changed for science achievement since 2007.

In 2011, the average science score of U.S. 4th-graders (544) was higher than the international TIMSS scale average (500). The United States was among the top 10 education systems in science, and scored higher than 47 education systems. Six education systems with average scores above the U.S. were Korea, Singapore, Finland, Japan, the Russian Federation, and Chinese Taipei-CHN.

The average science score of U.S. 8th graders in 2011 was 525, higher than the TIMSS average scale score of 500. At grade 8, the United States was among the top 23 education systems in science (12 education systems had higher averages and 10 were not measurably different) and scored higher, on average, than 33 education systems.  The 12 education systems with average science scores above the U.S. score were Singapore, Massachusetts-USA, Chinese Taipei-CHN, Korea, Japan, Minnesota-USA, Finland, Alberta-CAN, Slovenia, the Russian Federation, Colorado-USA, and Hong Kong-CHN.

There was no measurable difference between the U.S. average science score at grade 8 in 2007 (520) and in 2011 (525) or at grade 4 in 2007 (539) and in 2011 (544).

In 2011, 57 countries and other education systems administered TIMSS at grade 4, and 56 administered TIMSS at grade 8.

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Last Seminar in Series of Eight on Science and Engineering Practices—Tues., Dec. 18

Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information is the topic of the last web seminar in a series of eight on the scientific and engineering practices described in A Framework for K–12 Science Education. It will be held on Tuesday, December 18, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET.

Join Philip Bell, Leah Bricker, and Katie Van Horne and learn more about

  • Why and how scientists and engineers must communicate clearly and persuasively the ideas and methods they generate;
  • The importance of critiquing and communicating ideas individually and in groups;
  • The multiple ways to communicate information and ideas; and
  • Multiple sources that are used to acquire information in order to evaluate the merit and validity of claims, methods, and designs.

The Framework, published by the National Research Council (NRC), describes the major practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that all students should be familiar with by the end of high school and is being used to guide the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

For more information and to register for the free web seminar, click here.

The archive of the entire series of eight web seminars on the practices in the Framework awaits you in the NSTA Learning Center.

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Spring Online Courses for Science Teachers Begin Soon

Earn graduate credit this spring through online courses for science teachers from Montana State University’s National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN). Courses are open to all and can lead to a graduate certificate in one of five specialized content areas or even a master’s degree in science education.   Registration for spring classes is still open in many courses, but space is limited so be sure to register soon!

A wide variety of courses are being offered in Earth Science, Science Education, Land Resources and Environmental Science, Microbiology, Physics, and Astronomy. Some online course highlights this spring include Across the Sciences (designed for teachers who are looking for a broad field science course that is a mixture of content and pedagogy); Landforms for Elementary Teachers (examine a variety of landscapes and how they came to look like they do); Water Quality (a “must” course for teachers involved in any aspect of biological sciences); and Comparative Planetology: Establishing a Virtual Presence in the Solar System (course participants will learn about the “new” Solar System and how to engage their students in the wonder of exploration).

Visit Montana State University’s NTEN website, www.scienceteacher.org, for more information on our online courses offered this spring, or for general information about our program. NSTA members receive a 10% discount on select courses.

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NSTA Express is Goin' Ice Fishin'

Or sledding. Maybe we’ll just take a long winter’s nap. In any event, we wish you Happy Holidays.

See you in 2013!

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Professional development courses in your future?
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Take a look at these groups offering courses for science educators!

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