February 26th, 2010 Bob
Spring is always a busy season for organizations like OSTA. You’d think it would be Fall, when the conferences and in-services are typically held, but nope, late-winter to early spring is when the decisions are made that will affect how the group will ultimately fare in the next year.
Dr. Christol at work...
OSTA President Pam Christol is in the process of appointing chairpersons to the OSTA Standing Committees. She’s knows a lot of folks, and that helps when it comes to matching good people with the tasks that must be accomplished. But she doesn’t know everybody and she doesn’t know that YOU are willing and able to donate a little time and effort to the cause of OSTA.
OSTA’s Nominations Committee is the standing committee charged with developing the pool of volunteers who will serve on committees and run for Board positions. Kathy Pursley is the Chair of the Nominations Committee and she need YOU to step up and let her know that you are willing to help OSTA advance the cause of science education in Oklahoma. You might want to consider serving on a committee and there are several standing committees that require population by members (not Board members). One of the largest is the Professional Development committee, which puts together the great staff development programs offered by OSTA, like the Science Safety Summit and the Fall Conference. But the other committees are places to serve as well. If you would like to be on the Membership, Constitution, Nomination, Communication, or Election committees, please email Pam and/or Kathy and they can get your name to the committee chairs. If you would like to be considered for a Board position at some point, let Kathy know so she can add your name to the pool of nominees.
There is a place for you to serve and be an active part of OSTA. Now is the time to step up and take your place.
February 23rd, 2010 Bob
NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, has teamed up with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to produce http://www.nbclearn.com/Olympics
, Science of the Olympic Winter Games, a 16-part video series that explores the science behind individual Olympic events, including Downhill and Aerial Skiing, Speed and Figure Skating, Curling, Hockey, Ski Jumping, Bobsledding, and Snowboarding.
This groundbreaking project between the NSF and NBC Learn uses the global spotlight of the Olympics to make science more accessible and more interesting to students by showing how science helps athletes fulfill the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius — Swifter, Higher, Stronger. As part of the project, NBC Learn interviews athletes, coaches, and scientists in this original 16-part series, and unravels the physics, biology, chemistry, and materials engineering behind the Olympic Winter Games.
February 12th, 2010 Bob
Here are several quick, up-to-date links to DNA Day resources designed to help you involve your classroom, school, group or community in this year’s DNA Day activities.
National DNA Day celebrates the promise of DNA and genetics for all and has been successfully included annually in K-16 classrooms since the national program started over five years ago.
Get Your Group or Classroom Up and Running for National DNA Day:
Overview of DNA Day: National DNA Day is a unique day when students, teachers and the public can learn more about genetics and genomics! The day commemorates the description of DNA’s double helix (April, 1953) and the completion of the Human Genome Project (April, 2003).
DNA Day Classroom Resources: A number of resources for those teaching and learning about genetics and genomics. A ready-made DNA Day slide show, animations, a Talking Glossary of Genetics, a “Guide to Your Genome,” an animated timeline of genetics from Mendel to the 21st century, podcasts, and much more!
Visit Our Online Chatroom With Your Class and Ask an Expert a Question:
Each year, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) sponsors a day-long DNA Day Chatroom where leading genetics researchers are online to answer student and teacher questions for 10 hours straight. This year, you and your students can join genomic researchers in our online chatroom on Friday, April 23 from 8:00 am EST until 6:00 pm EST.
Become Your State’s National DNA School for 2010:
This year one of our goals is to have our chatroom experts answer questions from at least one school in every state, plus Puerto Rico and Guam. Although the chatroom will be open public, questions from schools who pre-register for the chatroom will be given preferred treatment assuring your questions are answered in a timeframe that your students can see live on the Internet.
How do I sign up my class? Simply send an email to Carla Easter at the NHGRI (firstname.lastname@example.org). Simple directions will be sent to you in a return email on how to sign-up.
DNA Day on Facebook: National DNA Day is on Facebook. Help us raise awareness of DNA Day, and keep abreast of new ideas and tips for DNA Day as the happen! Become a fan!
Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms: If you haven’t seen it yet, here is our best new learning tool for understanding genetic terms. Over 250 terms explained by friendly, normal-talking researchers in short audio files. Plus color illustrations, 3D animations and a random 10-question quiz.
Join the Community of Genetic Educators: Free, run by NIH as a service to genetics educators at all levels, here you can download the latest slides and illustrations, meet and contact people like you who teach some aspect of genetics, and get the latest news and tools. Over 600 teachers are now members, join us. Contribute – collaborate – share- learn.
Don’t see it? Confused? Have something to share? Excited and want to do more? Contact Carla Easter at the NIH.
February 11th, 2010 Bob
An expert panel is trying to identify ‘core ideas’ across the disciplines.
By Erik W. Robelen, EdWeek.org, published online February 10, 2010
Washington. A national effort is getting under way to craft a set of “next generation” science standards for elementary and secondary education that are intended to reshape the focus and delivery of instruction across U.S. schools.
The congressionally chartered National Research Council late last month convened for the first time a 16-member panel of experts here that has the task of devising a “conceptual framework” to guide the new standards.
The organizers hope the initiative will play a critical role in reshaping state science standards. The effort is separate from the process now taking place with the support of 48 states to craft common standards in mathematics and English/language arts. (“State School Boards Raise Questions About Standards,” Feb. 3, 2010.)
It also comes amid growing interest in promoting education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including from President Barack Obama and state governors. Many policymakers and analysts have expressed concern about disappointing levels of science achievement among American students.
Thomas E. Keller, a senior program officer at the NRC’s board of science education, said two central goals of the project are to focus science instruction on a smaller set of critical concepts and to ensure that students don’t just learn facts and figures, but gain a deeper conceptual understanding of science that is grounded in thinking and reasoning skills.
“The research is pretty clear that helping kids answer the right fill-in-the-bubble [questions] doesn’t make them science-literate,” he said. “And our goal is, we want a scientifically capable society.”
The NRC panel will identify and articulate a small set of what officials are calling “core ideas” in each of the major science disciplines, as well as those ideas that cut across disciplines.
That approach, and the very phrase “core ideas,” echoes a 2006 NRC report, “Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8,” that called for an overhaul of science education in the United States.
The approach also has echoes of the much-publicized curriculum guidelines issued the same year by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Those guidelines offered a streamlined set of crucial math skills and principles that elementary and middle school students should master. (“Math Organization Attempts to Bring Focus to Subject,” Sept. 20, 2006.)
The NRC says the framework committee, composed of experts in the science disciplines and education, will draw on current research on science learning, as well as research and evaluation evidence related to standards-based education reform, in undertaking its work.
Once the framework is final, it will be used as the basis for teams from three national organizations—the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, a group formed by governors and business leaders—to collaborate on writing the standards.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York is providing financial support for developing both the framework and the standards. (Carnegie also provides grant support to Education Week.)
A draft framework will be put out for public comment in late spring or early summer, Mr. Keller said, with a final document ready by fall. The standards themselves are expected to be completed in about two years, said Michael Cohen, the president of Achieve.
‘Too Much Information’?
The initiative comes nearly 15 years after the NRC first issued a set of national science education standards, in 1996. Separately, in 1993, the AAAS published its “Benchmarks for Science Literacy.” Both documents, which experts say have a lot in common, are seen as having significantly influenced state standards in science.
The documents have faced criticism over time, however, including the charge that they contain too many learning objectives.
“Everyone seems to agree that there’s just too much information in both documents,” said Richard A. Duschl, a professor of science education at Pennsylvania State University. “And when that gets put into the hands of people at the state, … you start to get the problem of coverage rather than spending time on deep understanding or enduring understanding.”
In any case, one motive for writing new standards is that much has changed since the early to mid-’90s, not only in science itself, but in understanding how young people learn about the subject.
“We’ve had a lot more research on science learning,” Mr. Keller said. “The research base is much stronger now. … We have the opportunity to apply that in a much better way to the things we think kids should know and be able to do.”
In addition, experts say, a great deal has been learned about how standards do, and often do not, effectively shape instruction and learning in schools, which they hope will help guide the effort.
The NRC’s “Taking Science to School” report is expected to play an especially key role in informing the framework and ensuing standards.
It raised concerns about the state of science standards, assessments, and curricula.
“Many existing national, state, and local standards and assessments, as well as the typical curricula in use in the United States, contain too many disconnected topics given equal priority,” the 2006 report found. “Too little attention is given to how students’ understanding of a topic can be supported and enhanced from grade to grade.”
It advised that the “next generation” of standards and curricula at the state and national levels “should be structured to identify a few core ideas in a discipline and elaborate on how those ideas can be cumulatively developed over grades K-8.” It also called for better alignment across standards, assessments, curricula, and teacher professional development.
In addition, the report said many standards and widely used curriculum materials “fail to reflect what is now known about children’s thinking, particularly the cognitive capabilities of younger children.”
James W. Pelligrino, a professor of education and psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said he’s pleased to see the national-standards work in science getting started.
“Many in the science education community feel that we’ve needed to do something with respect to rethinking science education in the United States for quite some time,” said Mr. Pelligrino, who serves on the NRC panel. “It is very incoherent in terms of lacking a consistent conceptual framework for what students are supposed to learn in grades K-8, and how that’s supposed to feed in to what happens in high school.”
He added, “We need to rethink what science students really need to learn, and how we might best structure that across the K-12 spectrum.”
At the NRC meeting in Washington, held Jan. 28-29, participants discussed a range of issues related to the framework and standards, including concerns about how to be sure their work will reach schools. (Only a portion of the Jan. 28 meeting was open to the public.)
“Are we going to produce something that sounds good, but where we have not really confronted the actual … issues of [effectively] implementing it?” said panelist Marc W. Kirschner, a professor of systems biology at Harvard University.
“One of the problems states have with standards is they cost money to implement, and also there is the question of the instructional materials available,” said Brett P. Moulding, a panelist and the director of the Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning, a five-district professional-development collaborative. “You have this wave, but you don’t have a surfboard.”
Meanwhile, the panel’s chairwoman, Helen R. Quinn, a professor of physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University, said a big challenge ahead is moving from conceiving the core ideas to figuring out what students really need to know.
“The top-level, big ideas are relatively easy to agree upon,” she said. “What is much more difficult is how far down [to go], and what details do students need to know.
Added Ms. Quinn: “The question is: What’s the right level of understanding of those ideas, and what are the minimum things you need to know … for scientific literacy?”
Another question the panel pondered was how far to veer from the previous NRC standards.
“As we look back on it, do we need new standards that are really radically different from what we had before,” asked Mr. Kirschner, or “some more contemporary restatement?”
“You have to maintain the system at some level, and at the same time, you have to change the system,” replied Rodger W. Bybee, a former executive director of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based nonprofit organization, who is also part of the new science-standards effort.
“You cannot be too bold,” he said. “To arrive [in schools] and say there’s this entirely different thing that especially teachers can’t identify with—they don’t see it; it’s not going to work very well.”
Before reaching schools on a broad basis, the new standards would have to be embraced by states. Organizers hope that states will buy in to the effort.
Mr. Keller said the NRC is reaching out to key groups, such as the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which are spearheading the common-standards work in math and English/language arts.
“What [states] decide to do is their call,” he said, adding that the framework itself is likely to have uses that go beyond state standards, such as informing instructional materials.
“There needs to be a conversation with states around this,” said Achieve’s Mr. Cohen, during a break in the meeting. “I think the job now is to get the substantive work going.”
He added: “If you wanted to write science standards that have credibility, you would want the science community behind it. Here is the science community.”
February 10th, 2010 Bob
The Oklahoma Legislative session began last week and it doesn’t take long to realize it’s an election year . Attached is a list of the bills that have something to do with education. The list contains the bill numbers, the author, and usually the words “An Act Related to Schools…” Some of the bills are funding measures for may state agencies that are necessary each year, others are “shell” bills that have very little other than a number ascribed to them as yet because there will be other measures rolled up into them or they are awaiting budgetary figures and conference reports.
And there are the others…
Some of the bills have already garnered public attention such as Tom Ivester’s sb1338 which is ” An Act relating to schools; authorizing independent school districts to offer elective courses on Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament to certain students; stating purposes; prohibiting a requirement that students use specific translation as text; requiring certain courses to follow applicable law and certain guidelines; prohibiting certain courses from promoting or disfavoring any religion or nonreligious faith or religious perspective; stating Legislative intent; directing State Board of Education to adopt certain curricular standards by certain date; requiring Attorney General to review standards and ensure compliance with certain provisions; prohibiting Board from adopting standards without approval of Attorney General; directing Board to approve certain teacher training materials and resources by certain date; directing State Superintendent of Public Instruction to distribute list of approved training materials and resources to districts by certain date; requiring certain districts to provide certain materials to teachers of certain courses; prohibiting certain construction; prohibiting requirement of additional funds for certain authority; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.; Effective Date: 11/01/2010″. By the way, Bible as Literature courses are already perfectly legal and have been for some time.
Brian Renegar’s HB3047 ” An Act relating to schools; amending 70 O.S. 2001, Section 1210.513, which relates to participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress; clarifying language; and providing an effective date.; Effective Date: 11/01/2010. ” Which proposes full state participation in NAEP and a audit of the state curriculum standards.
Gary Stanislawski’s, sb1391 “An Act relating to schools; amending 70 O.S. 2001, Section 1210.508, as last amended by Section 8, Chapter 456, O.S.L. 2009 (70 O.S. Supp. 2009, Section 1210.508), which relates to the Oklahoma School Testing Program Act; providing certain exemption for certain students; modifying required end-of-instruction tests for Geometry and Algebra II ; requiring students to take ACT assessment; directing State Board of Education to contract for administration of ACT assessment; limiting responsibility for certain fees or costs; modifying testing window dates; amending Section 6, Chapter 432, O.S.L. 2005, as last amended by Section 11, Chapter 456, O.S.L. 2009 (70 O.S. Supp. 2009, Section 1210.523), which relates to mastery of state academic content standards; modifying requirements for graduation from public high school; providing an effective date; and declaring an emergency.; Effective Date: 07/01/2010 Emergency. ” Which proposes elimination of all EOI test other than English II and Algebra I and substitute the ACT as the state graduation test (be careful what you ask for is all I can say…)
These may or may not be perfectly good ideas, but it’s easy to see why they might have an impact on schools and students across the state. To help you be a better informed Legislature watcher, I’ve attached a list of the prefiled measures that are directly related to education. That doesn’t mean something won’t get changed or amended over the next few months, but it is a starting point. If you wish to know more about each measure and follow it as it changes along the way, go to the Legislature’s web page at http://www.lsb.state.ok.us/. There you can read the text of each bill and follow it’s progress through the legislative process.
February 9th, 2010 Bob
More in the Bank, Less from the Environment
A Teacher Workshop on Consumer Conservation Curriculum
OKC Zoo & Botanical Gardens, 2101 NE 50th OKC, OK
9am-3:30pm *Registration 8:30 – 9am
Thursday, February 25th, 2010
A Nurtured World Inc., a non-profit education organization, is funded by the US EPA to train Oklahoma teachers on a “Consumer Conservation” curriculum that is correlated to Oklahoma State Standards for 6th – 8th grade science, math, and English language arts.
The curriculum teaches students about their personal behavior and the environment. It iscompletely transferable to other age groups and has been taught throughout the US to children, teenagers, and adults, who on average are saving $2,000 and reducing 2.1 tons of CO2 per year.
Attendees will receive a Teacher Guide, Student Guide, six lesson curricula on CD-ROM (includes optional Power Point slides), and Action Bags that can be used in the classroom to teach the curricula, reduce environmental impacts, and save money. The Guides contain reading passages for the students, discussion questions for classroom use, activities for the students including math, science, and English activities, and evaluation instruments for each lesson.
Download the workshop flier here.
February 7th, 2010 Bob
The National Association of Biology Teachers invites nominations for Oklahoma’s Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for 2010.
All biology/life science instructors (grades 7-12) with at least three years teaching experience in public, private, or parochial schools are eligible and self-nominations are invited. NABT membership is not a requirement for consideration; however, a major portion of each nominee’s career must have been devoted to the teaching of biology and/or life science. Unsuccessful candidates may be re-nominated in subsequent years. Colleagues, administrators, students, the teacher candidates themselves, or anyone competent to judge the candidate’s teaching effectiveness can nominate a teacher to receive the award. Candidates will complete a form summarizing their professional experience, academic background, and educational philosophy and provide four recommendations from colleagues, students, etc. The criteria for the award include teaching ability and experience, cooperativeness in school and the community, inventiveness, initiative, and student-teacher relationship. Winners receive a special gift from Pearson, a microscope from Leica Microsystems, Inc., a one year complimentary membership in NABT plus certificates and a pin from NABT. In addition, recipients will be honored at an awards ceremony at the annual NABT National Professional Development Conference (to be held November 3-6, in Minneapolis ).
Please send the name and address of your nominee (including phone number and e-mail) to Kay Gamble, 1115 East 15th St., Ada, OK 74820 or by e-mail to email@example.com. Go to the Oklahoma OBTA wiki at http://obtaoklahoma.wikispaces.com/ E-mail nominations will be acknowledged by a reply. You may also nominate someone by using the nomination form available at www.nabt.org. The deadline for nominations is March 5, 2010.