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Week of December 10, 2012

Table of Contents


Discovery Education

AFT Wants to Raise the Bar on Teacher Certification and Preparation

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) wants to revamp teacher certification and teacher preparation. The union issued a report in early December saying that teachers “should be required to meet a universal and rigorous bar that gauges mastery of subject-matter knowledge, much like the bar exam lawyers must take before they can enter the legal profession, and demonstrates competency in how to teach.”

Raising the Bar—Aligning and Elevating Teacher Preparation and the Teaching Profession urges a much more systemic approach to preparing teachers and a more rigorous threshold to ensure that every teacher is ready to teach. 

"It's time to do away with a common rite of passage into the teaching profession—whereby newly minted teachers are tossed the keys to their classrooms, expected to figure things out, and left to see if they and their students sink or swim. This is unfair to both students and their teachers, who care so much but who want and need to feel competent and confident to teach from their first day on the job," says AFT President Randi Weingarten.

The report recommends three changes to improve teacher preparation:

  • All stakeholders must collaborate to ensure that teacher preparation standards, programs and assessments are aligned around a well-grounded vision of effective teaching. 
  • Teaching, like the medical, legal and other professions, must have a universal, rigorous entry assessment that is multidimensional. Its components include subject and pedagogical knowledge and demonstration of teaching performance.
  • Primary responsibility for setting and enforcing the standards of the profession and for ensuring quality and coherence of teacher preparation programs must reside with K–12 teachers and teacher educators. 

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards will be working to design standards and entry assessments.

View the report (PDF) or read the Washington Post article on the report.

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NSTA Honors the GE Foundation with Distinguished Partnership Award

Last week NSTA presented its prestigious Distinguished Partnership Award to the GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of the General Electric Company, at the Phoenix Area Conference on Science Education. The award pays tribute to the Foundation’s steadfast commitment to the improvement and enhancement of science education in partnership with NSTA. Read more »

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Call for Sessions at 2013–2014 NSTA Conferences

Share your know-how and good ideas … submit a session proposal for an NSTA conference. We are now accepting session proposals for NSTA's 2013 area conferences (Portland, Charlotte, and Denver) and 2014 national conference in Boston, Massachusetts (April 3–6, 2014). For strand information and to submit a proposal, visit the NSTA conferences area of the NSTA website.

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Announcing the 2013 Student Spaceflight Experiments Program: Mission 4 to the International Space Station

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, and NanoRacks announce Mission 4 to the International Space Station. This STEM education opportunity immerses grade 5–14 students across a community in authentic, high visibility research, with the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station.

Each participating community will be provided a real microgravity research mini-laboratory capable of supporting a single experiment, and all launch services to fly it to the Space Station in fall 2013. A nine-week experiment design competition in each community, held winter/spring 2013 and engaging typically 300 students, allows student teams to design and formally propose real experiments vying for their community's reserved mini-lab on Space Station. Content resources for teachers and students support foundational instruction on science in microgravity and experimental design. Additional programming leverages the experiment design competition to engage the community, embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.

All interested communities are asked to inquire by December 31, 2012; schools and districts need to assess interest with their staff and, if appropriate, move forward with an Implementation Plan. Communities must be aboard by February 18, 2013, for a nine-week experiment design phase February 25 to April 29, 2013, and flight experiment selection by May 31, 2013.

Contact: 301-395-0770 or ssep@ncesse.org.

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Science Standards Require a Teacher-Learning Rethink

How do we prepare teachers for instruction of the science standards?

That question is the basis of an Education Week commentary penned last week by three noted professional development experts. They contend that “new models” are required to support teachers and preservice education students in developing the deep craft knowledge necessary to weave together the disciplinary core ideas, crosscutting concepts, and science and engineering practices identified in the National Research Council Framework for K–12 Science Education (the basis of the Next Generation Science Standards), and that “any new system-based model of professional learning for science educators will need to support a range of delivery configurations or learning pathways so that the experience is shareable, scalable, and sustainable.”

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Plan Now to Participate in the Last Free Web Seminar in Our Series to Prepare for NGSS—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 to acquire information that are used 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 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 Framework awaits you in the NSTA Learning Center.

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Elementary Teachers: Heads Up!

NSTA’s National Conference on Science Education, San Antonio, Texas, April 11–14, kicks off with featured speakers, hands-on workshops and symposia, short courses, field trips, and social networking. We’ll be talking about the issues; Next Generation Science Standards, STEM implementation, Common Core, and best practices for the classroom. If you’re an elementary teacher with a desire to add new skills, content, and techniques, we have a wide array of sessions (more than 400) for you to consider. Visit www.nsta.org/sanantonio for a close look at our program plans using the scheduler.

Featured speakers:

  • My Wild Life—Mireya Mayor (National Geographic Emerging Explorer)
  • The Bat Flower Plant: New Hope for Treating Cancer?—Susan L. Mooberry (Professor, Depts. of Pharmacology and Medicine University of Texas Health Science Center)

 Highlighted workshops:

  • English Language Arts Common Core Standards and Science Literacy
  • The 3Rs of Science Notebooks: Record, Reflect, and Reach Out
  • They're Not Too Young—Emergent Writers Thinking and Writing Like Scientists
  • Using Evidence to Construct a Scientific Explanation
  • Science Fair: "Hey, What's the Big Idea?"
  • The Art of Energizing STEM,
  • An Engineering Strategy for Young Children: Invention
  • Beyond the Cookbook—Student-driven Investigations
  • Connecting Science and Math Through Story Problems
  • Put the "E" in STEM Using Lessons You May Already Have! Real-World Applications to Science Are Everywhere
  • Force and Motion Activities for Elementary Teachers

Check often for updates.

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Reading in a Winter Wonderland

Just in time for the holidays. NSTA Kids books and NSTA Gear make great gifts for the holiday season. Order today to wrap and put under the tree.

Written by award-winning educators and designed for grades K–6, NSTA Kids fills the needs of both teachers and parents by providing lively children's picture books that also impart sound science. Engaging narratives and bold, bright graphics help make science fun and encourage children to curl up with a good book and ask, "Why?"

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Lesley University

NSTA Press-Next Time You See Sunset

NSTA Press-Becoming a Responsive Science Teacher

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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 December featured book, Making Science Mentors.


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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