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Week of November 26, 2012

Table of Contents


Delta Education

NSTA and Children's Book Council Release 2013 List of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12

NSTA and the CBC have selected the annual list of Outstanding Science Trade Books for Students K–12. This year’s list includes books by well-known authors like Seymour Simon and Nic Bishop, focuses on some of the most primal concepts (what does an animal do on the first day of its life?), and even explains why the vampire myth persists in our society. The books on this list feature captivating stories of human achievement—like those of Rachel Carson or the diverse investigators in What Color Is My World? They combine science and engineering, like the story of the Mighty Mars Rovers. They feature outstanding art, lyric poetry, and plenty of ideas for hands-on activity. These great books have something to grab the minds and hearts of students at every level. So once again, we present a list of the year’s Outstanding Science Trade Books with pride and optimism. They have the potential to enrich and inspire, as they convey the best science content. Please share!

Teachers, parents, librarians, and anyone else who loves reading with children will want to get their hands on these titles.

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Support Computer Science Education This December

Celebrate Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek), scheduled for December 9 to 15. The annual event recognizes the critical role of computing in today’s society and the need to bolster computer science education at all levels. 

As the role and significance of computing has grown, the teaching of computer science has dramatically declined in many areas. According to Computing in the Core (CinC), the umbrella group that sponsors Computer Science Education Week (NSTA is a sponsor of CinC), there is insufficient innovative computing curricula for students at all levels. Few students have the opportunity to study computer science in an engaging and rigorous way, there are few professional development opportunities for teachers in computing, and certification for computer science teachers is virtually nonexistent nationwide.

At the CSEdWeek website learn more about computer science, access rich teacher resources, and take the pledge to support CSEd.

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NCES Report on Beginning K–12 Teacher Characteristics and Preparation

Fun facts from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) report on new teacher demographics (2009) issued earlier this fall:

  • The majority of the teachers employed in secondary school are female. Only 23% of all teachers are men, although 35.2% of STEM subjects instructors are male. Nearly 77% of teachers are white, 9.1% are Hispanic, 7.6% are black and 3.4% are Asian. Roughly 4% self-identify themselves as two or more races.
  • As of 2009, 71.6% of secondary school teachers have a single full-time job. The rest are either employed in teaching part time or maintain other employment in addition to their classroom work
  • Fewer than 13% of all teachers received credit at the college level for Advanced Placement exams, and a combined 51% were classified as having scored in the “Low” or “Low Middle” categories on the SAT.
  • 77% of teachers began their training at a 2- or 4-year public institution and 22% began at a private college.

Beginning K–12 Teacher Characteristics and Preparation by School Type 2009 presents the demographic characteristics and teaching preparation, including undergraduate course taking and certification, of 2007–08 baccalaureate degree recipients who taught at the K–12 level within a year of completing their bachelor’s degree. The analysis also compares teachers across a number of key characteristics of the schools in which they taught, including the percentage of students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch, location (rural, suburban/town, or urban), race/ethnicity, and sector (public and private).

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PD in Phoenix, Arizona, at NSTA’s Conference on Science Education

For science teachers and administrators who want and need professional development, the best comes from NSTA’s experts who present, run workshops on content and strategies, and lead talks on issues teachers care about at the Conference on Science Education, December 6–8, in Phoenix. Register today online or choose to register onsite on December 5.

This destination city will nurture the souls of teachers in cold climates who may want to consider a warm and sunny getaway with an academic intent. Take advantage of three days of more than 400 sessions for teachers in all disciplines and at all stages in their careers. Preservice to veteran status, we’ve got something for everyone. Have a look:

  • STEM Curriculum—Moving Beyond the Acronym and into Classroom Practice—Jo Anne Vasquez, Vice President and Program Director, Arizona Transition Years, Teacher and Curriculum STEM Initiatives, for Helios Education Foundation
  • Phosphorus, Food, and Our Future—James J. Elser (Fulbright Senior Lecturer, Universidad de Comahue: Bariloche, Argentina; and Regents' Professor and Parents Association Professor, Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Science; and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University)
  • Leadership Lessons from Apollo to Discovery—Col. Eileen Collins (first woman to pilot and command an American spacecraft)
  • The Current State of the Next Generation Science Standards—Stephen L. Pruitt (Vice President for Content, Research, and Development, Achieve, Inc.)
  • Flight of the Monarch Butterflies, At the Arizona Science Center—View the latest IMAX film Flight of the Butterflies and engage in classroom activities focused on the monarchs’ amazing migration across North America as well as their habitats and life cycle. Educational materials will be provided for classroom use, and a drawing for door prizes will take place at the end of the program. Breakfast will be served. Fee-based symposia, but each participant will receive a $75 stipend for attendance.
  • Experimental Design Just for PreK–5—Activities that merge experimental design with force and motion using paper to investigate flying, spinning, rolling, and floating
  • Science Notebooks: Analysis, Feedback, and Discourse (Elem–Middle School)
  • Science and Literacy for the ELL Student
  • Astronishing Astronomy: The Electromagnetic Spectrum (Middle–High)
  • Neuroscience for Your Biology Classroom (Middle–High)
  • STEM CSI (Middle–High)
  • Creating Connection to Foster Action: A Hook for Effective STEM Integration (Middle–High)
  • Full-day programs offered in chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering

Visit www.nsta.org/phoenix for details and to register.

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New NRC Report Identifies Key Indicators for Gauging Progress in K–12 STEM Education

The National Research Council (NRC) recently released a report, Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K–12 STEM Education, that identifies key indicators for measuring progress in K–12 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. This report is a follow-up to the 2011 NRC report Successful K–12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

An NRC committee developed 14 indicators linked to the 2011 report’s recommendations related to students’ access to quality learning, educators’ capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM. The report addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in K-12 STEM education and make informed decisions about improving it.

Some of the indicators identified in the report include

  • How much time elementary teachers devote to science instruction
  • The extent to which districts are adopting instructional materials aligned to the common-core standards in math and recent guidelines for new science standards
  • The level of teachers’ STEM content knowledge
  • Number of, and enrollment in, different types of STEM-focused schools and programs in districts
  • Extent of teacher participation in STEM-specific professional-development activities
  • Inclusion of science in federal and state accountability systems
  • Amount of state and district staff dedicated to supporting science instruction
  • Federal funding for STEM-focused research (in keeping with priorities previously spelled out by the NRC)

Education Week reporter Erik Robelen points out in his blog that the report suggests data for many of these indicators "are, or could be, available through existing surveys administered by the National Center for Education Statistics,” but that several indicators would require new kinds of data collection, changes in the frequency of that collection, or further research and conceptual development.

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Reminder: NSTA Seeks Input from Science Educators to Prepare for NGSS Implementation

The second and final public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is expected out soon. When the draft is released for public feedback, NSTA encourages science educators to take the time to review this important document and provide feedback to Achieve at www.nextgenscience.org.

In addition to encouraging science educators to take the Achieve survey, NSTA is seeking science educators willing to review the NGSS draft and answer questions about the implementation of NGSS, such as what types of professional development and curricular materials will be needed. We invite teachers from every level, district and state science supervisors, science department chairs, informal science educators, university level science educators, and others with a wide variety of science teaching expertise. Volunteers should be NSTA members and be prepared to spend at least 2–3 hours to review the NGSS public draft and answer the NSTA survey questions.

If you would like to be considered for this project, please click here and fill out the online registration form. Deadline to register is December 1. You will have about 10 days to complete the NSTA survey after the release of the NGSS public draft.

Applicants Needed: Join a Committee, Advisory Board, or Panel

NSTA is shaping the future of science education, and you can be a part of it. If you’re a member, consider boosting your career by joining a committee, advisory board, or panel. We are especially in need of applicants for the following committees and advisory board:

  • College Science Teaching Committee
  • Multicultural/Equity in Science Education Committee
  • Nominations Committee
  • Aerospace Advisory Board
  • Development Advisory Board
  • International Advisory Board
  • Investment Advisory Board
  • Journal of College Science Teaching Advisory Board
  • NSTA Reports Advisory Board
  • Science and Children Advisory Board
  • Science Safety Advisory Board
  • Special Needs Advisory Board
  • The Science Teacher Advisory Board

To learn more about the various opportunities available, apply online, or download an application, please click here. Please don’t wait; the deadline is December 7, 2012. Appointees will be notified in early spring, and appointments will begin on June 1, 2013.

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Engaging in Argument from Evidence is Focus of Dec. 4 Web Seminar Exploring the Practices in the Framework for K–12 Science Education

Engaging in argument from evidence is the topic of the next 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 4, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Join Joe Krajcik, a design team lead for both the Framework and NGSS, and learn more about

  • Why reasoning and argument based on evidence are essential to identifying the best explanation for a natural phenomenon or the best solution to a design problem;
  • How scientists and engineers use argumentation to listen to, compare, and evaluate competing ideas and methods based on merits; and
  • The use of argumentation when investigating a phenomenon, testing a design solution, resolving questions about measurements, building data models, and using evidence to identify strengths and weaknesses of claims.

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 Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Only one web seminar remains in this series—obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information—to be held on December 18.

The archive of all the web seminars in the series awaits you in the NSTA Learning Center.

For more information and to register for any of the free web seminars, click here.

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NSTA Press-A Year of Inquiry

NSTA Press-Science Fair Warm Up

NSTA Conference-Phoenix

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Visit the NSTA Science Store for an outstanding array of bestselling books and teaching resources. Receive 30% off the price of the November featured book, Project Earth Science: Meteorology.


Click on the logo above for more information and to register for these free professional development opportunities.

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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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