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NCTM Publication Identifies Key Mathematical Topics in Grades PreK-8

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) last week released Curriculum Focal Points, a new publication that identifies three important mathematical topics at each level (preK through grade 8) described as “cohesive clusters of related knowledge, skills, and concepts” which form the necessary foundation for understanding concepts in higher-level mathematics.

NCTM intends the Focal Points to be a first step toward a national discussion on how to bring consistency and coherence to the mathematics curricula used in the United States and “present a vision for the design of the next generation of state curriculum standards and state tests, and present a way to bring needed focus to what is taught in mathematics.”

“While the report is being published by the NCTM, it was reviewed by numerous math experts from across the country, some of whom have strongly disagreed with the organization’s past positions on essential skills. The new NCTM document reflects an attempt to overcome those conflicts and focus on a number of crucial, agreed-upon concepts,” reports Education Week reporter Sean Cavanaugh.

To learn more visit http://www.nctm.org. Or read the September 13 Education Week article at http://www.edweek.org (registration required) or the New York Times article (http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2006_09_18_nctm.htm) on the Curriculum Focal Points.

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‘Physics First’ Is Moving Slowly Into Nation’s High Schools Reports Education Week

Currently only 3% of the nation’s public schools teach physics in ninth grade and only 9% of private schools do. In the September 6 issue of Education Week, reporter Sean Cavanaugh examines some of the hurtles many schools and educators face to reverse the traditional lineup of science courses and teach physics before chemistry and biology, such as push back from current physics teachers, lack of qualified teachers, and parental opposition to “watered-down science.”

To read the story, visit http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/09/06/02physics.h26.html (registration required).

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NSTA Eastern Area Conference Early Bird Discount Deadline Approaches

Register for the November 2-4 Baltimore Eastern Area Conference by September 22 to get the best rate of the season! Baltimore’s scenic setting provides an ideal location to discuss topics as diverse as Designing Authentic Investigations to Understand the Nature of Science, Supporting Science through Reading and Writing, Evaluating Instructional Success through Assessment, and so much more! As with each NSTA conference, we provide the best speakers to give you the latest tools for educating your students and enhancing your own content and pedagogical knowledge. From strands which give you a quick look at what presentations are of similar interest to half- day and full- day long Symposia with experts, NSTA’s area conferences have something for everyone! And don’t forget about our NSF-supported preconference: Science and English Language Learners! See the conference web site http://www.nsta.org/conferencedetail&Meeting_Code=2006BAL for details.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology and NSDL Kick Off Fall NSTA Web Seminars Series

The NSTA continues its ongoing program of free online events with an interactive Web Seminar, September 26, plus additional events through February 2007. NSTA Web Seminars are 90-minute, live interactive learning experiences that use online technologies to allow distant participants to meet with recognized experts, scientists, engineers, and education specialists from government agencies and NSTA Press. Seminars are conveniently scheduled for all U.S. time zones to participate, and content and pedagogical experts provide real-time answers to questions.

NSTA is pleased to announce the first fall Seminar will feature Colleen McLinn and Jennifer Schaus from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They will talk about birds on September 26, 6:30-8 p.m. (EST). McLinn and Schaus will detail the latest research on birds and animals garnered through observational field study and also share their ideas about how students can become citizen scientists, contributing to real research from their own schoolyard. Robert Payo from the National Science Digital Library (NSDL) will explain electronic resources related to birds available at NSDL’s website (http://www.nsdl.org).

Grant-funded, these online events are offered at no cost to registrants. Because participation is limited, advance registration is strongly advised. NSTA will e-mail reminders to registrants for future seminars just before the event date. For a full schedule of seminar topics, dates and times, and to register, visit http://www.nsta.org/pd/institute.aspxweb_seminars.asp.

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Headline Science: Space Shuttle Atlantis Mission—NSTA SciLinks Give You a Great Online Learning Tool for Your Classroom

An orbital construction crew of six astronauts arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on September 11 after NASA’s Atlantis shuttle docked at the high–flying laboratory to deliver its first major addition since 2002. Atlantis’ ISS arrival kicks off eight, fast–paced days of joint operations for the STS–115 and ISS astronauts. By September 15, the two crews expect to have staged three space walks from the station’s Quest airlock to equip the P3/P4 truss with vital power and cooling lines, remove launch restraints, and deploy new solar arrays.To read the complete article, visit “Hard Hat Area: Space Shuttle Atlantis Docks at ISS Construction Site,” visit http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060911_sts115_issdock.html.

To read additional articles on the mission, visit the ABC article “Is Conversation Better in Space: The Crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis Says the Dinner Table Is Rarely Silent in Space (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=2430657&page=1); the CBS News article "Shuttle Brings Addition to Space Station" (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/09/11/ap/tech/mainD8K2US9G1.shtml); the Houston Chronicle article "Harmful chemical leaks in space station (http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/science/4194999.html)." A related story, "First Female Space Tourist Takes Off" tells the story of a businesswoman who paid millions of dollars to travel with a Russian team to the International Space Station (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=2455201&page=1). .

Help your students understand the science behind the science headlines with SciLinks, NSTA’s teacher-approved internet service. To view specific SciLinks sorted by grade level, visit http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2006_09_18_headline.htm.

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Apply for NSTA's 2007 Awards

NSTA and its sponsors recognize and reward exemplary teachers (K–college), principals (middle level and high school), and students (K–12) with valuable support and professional development resources to improve and enhance their education. These awards also offer opportunities to share your school’s science education success stories.

New this year is the NSTA Distinguished Fellow Award. This award recognizes NSTA members (the number of awards will be determined by the Awards Committee) who have made extraordinary contributions to science education through personal commitment to education, specifically science teaching or science; educational endeavors and original work that position recipients as exemplary leaders in their field; and significant contributions to the profession that reflect dedication to NSTA as well the entire educational community.

Also new this year are the Sylvia Shugrue Award and New Teacher Scholarship. The Sylvia Shugrue Award honors an elementary school teacher who has established an interdisciplinary, inquiry- based lesson plan. The New Teacher Scholarship, which has recently been added to the NSTA website, provides selected K-12 teachers in their first three years of teaching with funds to attend the annual National Conference on Science Education.

Don’t miss the application deadline for NSTA’s 2007 Teacher Awards: October 15, 2006. To learn more about the awards and to download or print application forms, go to http://www.nsta.org/awardscomp.

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And Don't Forget…

  • Register now—at discounted Early Bird rates—or the next session of Project 2061’s popular workshop, “Using Atlas of Science Literacy,” which takes place October 16-18 at the AAAS headquarters in Washington, DC. Designed for K-12 science educators, the workshop helps participants use the Atlas strand maps and other Project 2061 tools to take a benchmarks-based approach to improving science curriculum, instruction, and assessment. For more details and a registration form, go to http://www.project2061.org/events/workshops/dcOctober.htm.
  • NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources: http://store.nsta.org. And don’t forget each month we feature a title for 30% off! The September special is Uncovering Student Ideas in Science! (http://www.nsta.org/onlinespecial2)
  • NSTA Recommends for objective, thoughtful reviewed science-teaching materials: http://www2.nsta.org/recommends
  • NSTA Position Statements for policy statements, goals, and recommendations on effective classroom teaching and much more: http://www.nsta.org/53.
  • Look at the top of this email, are you a LAPSED member? If so,we want you back, and we’ll give you 15 MONTHS OF NSTA MEMBERSHIP FOR THE PRICE OF 12! Click here to learn how (http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2006_09_18_membership.htm).

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

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