The New Mexico Science Teachers Association (NMSTA) is dedicated to providing a network for educators throughout the state to work collaboratively towards improving science education from Pre-kindergarten through college. The NMSTA assists classroom teachers enhance science education by providing guidance and sharing strategies through professional development.
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Announcements & news
NGSS Focus group report 01-08-2015
By Deb Thrall, NMSTA President Seven members of NMSTA’s board attended the “Understanding the Framework and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to Guide Instruction” focus group on January 6-7 in Albuquerque hosted by the NM Public Education Department – Math and Science Bureau. The purpose of the workshop was to begin the conversation about the possible adoption of NGSS standards for our state and included over 80 science teachers and resource professionals from around the state of NM. The National Research Council's (NRC) Framework describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science; it rests on a view of science as both a body of knowledge and an evidence-based, model and theory building enterprise that continually extends, refines, and revises knowledge. It presents three dimensions that will be combined to form each standard: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Disciplinary Core Ideas. This workshop covered the Vision for Science Education presented in the National Research Council report “A Framework for Science Education”, Implications of the Framework and NGSS for School Programs and Classroom Practices, Engaging Students in Science and Engineering Practices, Engaging Students in Science Performances using Mathematics, Making Thinking Visible in the Science Classroom, Crosscutting Concepts in Science Performances, Adapting or Adopting? Aligning School Programs and Instructional Practices with NGSS, Disciplinary Core Ideas in Student Science Performances, and Gathering, Reasoning, and communication: Literacy in Science Instruction. All workshops were based upon the concept of three dimensions student performances of Gathering (Developing Evidence), Reasoning (Using Evidence) and Communicating (Presenting Arguments Supported by Evidence) and the seven core concepts which are further classified as Systems, Patterns and Causality. The three dimensions were defined by the NRC study as (1) Scientific and engineering practices, (2) Crosscutting concepts that unify the study of science and engineering through their common application across fields and (3) Core ideas in four disciplinary areas: physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science The classroom educators who attended will now use this information in a working session in February to investigate the correlation between the current NM Science Standards and the NGSS. The goal of this next workshop will be to determine if NM will (1) adopt the NGSS as written, (2) adopt the NGSS with NM specific modifications, or (3) not adopt the NGSS and rewrite the current NM Science Standards. You can find more information about NGSS at http://www.nextgenscience.org/ with the specifics of the standards found at http://www.nextgenscience.org/case-next-generation-science-standards NMSTA strongly supports the adoption of these standards for the state of NM! The most compelling reasons expressed by our members are:
- The framework on which the standards are based was developed and reviewed by educators, scientists and the public. It provides a coherent approach to science education that includes:
- Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) that are developmentally appropriate for each grade band and are similar to our existing state science standards
- Science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts that promote deeper understanding of essential concepts that are necessary to produce scientifically literate citizens
- NGSS standards that come cross-referenced with appropriate Common Core State Standards, which will guide teachers’ implementation of both sets of standards
- The DCIs reduce the number of concepts taught at each grade level. Our current standards simply include too many facts and concepts to be taught in any year. Covering fewer concepts in a year is consistent with developing deeper understanding.
- High-stakes testing is a major concern for our teachers. Science teachers are generally dissatisfied with the current set of science tests. Each NGSS standard defines what the student should know and be able to do, with clearly defined testing boundaries. Since we are a PARCC state, PARCC tests developed for science will be aligned to NGSS.
- The NGSS are essentially nation-wide standards. As a small state, our access to quality instructional materials has been limited by small differences in content standards. Aligning our standards with those of a larger population means more richly designed and affordable curricular materials. Additionally, nation-wide standards better meet the needs of our mobile student populations.
- Our state is home to two national laboratories, many highly technical industries such as Intel, and numerous research universities. The increased focus on engineering will better support these institutions.
PED Announcement - teachers needed to review science content 12-06-2014
The Math and Science Bureau at the Public Education Department (PED) is recruiting K–12 science teacher participants for a focus group to evaluate our current science standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A representative panel from across the state will spend 4-6 days reviewing our current content and comparing it to the NGSS. They will make recommendations to the PED regarding adoption of NGSS and/or revision of our current standards. The application deadline is December 15, so hurry! NGSS Memo (Word document) Application Form (Word document)
Service to Science Award 12-06-2014
NMSTA is pleased to announce that our 2014 Service to Science Award Recipient is Selena Connealy. She will receive her award during our upcoming general meeting at the Soar to Greater Heights NMSTA/NMCTM,EEANM conference in ABQ on November 15th. The meeting is from 2-2:45 in the Multi Purpose Room of the Natural History Museum. Please join us in congratulating Selena on her many accomplishments! Selena was the Education Director at the NM Museum of Natural History and Science and was also a key leader in the Science Education Institute of the Southwest. In both of these roles she was dedicated to providing meaningful, effective professional development for teachers in math and science. Selena has also held a leadership role in the NM Partnership for Math and Science Education for many years. Her organizational skills and understanding of the issues in science education in New Mexico have made her an effective advocate for improving science education. Selena's has experience and an extensive network in the informal science education community. She has been critical to the establishment of the NM Informal Science Education Network and has helped to develop and deliver the ISE Net's teacher professional development program. She is also a member of the Math and Science Advisory Council for the Public Education Department and has taken a leadership role in the Collective Impact Team for Science Education facilitated by NM First. Selena has had a lasting impact on NM science education in both formal and informal settings through her work with the museum community, teacher professional development and education policy discussions and decisions.