The STATellite (January 2016)

Page 1


Roger Barker

Teaching Students to Study


Toni Decman & Cassandra Henry

Exploring our World Using Handheld GPS Devices

Cheantel Adams & Sara Milianta-Laffin

“But I’m Not THAT 29 Dear Teacher!,” --Yes, You Are

The Official Publication of the Science Teachers Association


S TATe l l i te 2016 Winter issue

Volume 59 Issue 4


CAST Reflections Learn what your collegues have to say about the latest Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching p.17

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January 2016


President’s Column


Teaching Students to Study


Exploring the World Using Handheld GPS Devices


CAST Photos


CAST Reflections


Dear “But I’m Not THAT Teacher!,” -- Yes, You Are


STAT Contacts


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Volume 59 Issue 4

President’s Column H

i folks, Happy New Year! I hope that 2016 is filled with great things for you and your students! The turning of the year is an opportunity to reflect on the previous year and plan for the next, as we make “resolutions” that guide our progress toward personal goals. Organizationally, we do the same thing here at STAT: as always, there is much for us to learn from and build upon.

a huge “Thank You” to our staff, to Past-President Melana Silva and her team for putting on such a great conference. Another thank you goes to all those who volunteered their time to make sure everything ran as intended….the runners, tote bag volunteers, info booth volunteers, event planners, and all those serving behind the desks at registration. You are what makes CAST happen! If you didn’t get a chance to volunteer last time, please consider signing up this year, as we prepare to launch “CAST 2016


Matt Wells

STAT President

Succeeds” federal law will impact our classrooms and schools. We also have a new State Commissioner of Education, and we don’t yet know what changes he will initiate. Science teaching is a job characterized by changing priorities and moving targets, and we at STAT feel honored to serve those who have

As we reflect on 2015, and make “resolutions” for 2016, a few things stand out to me: • Our new Mentor program was launched at CAST this year, and it was great to be able to connect new and veteran science teachers from all around the state. This is a work in progress, so watch this space about changes coming to the program in 2016, and please consider joining our pool of available mentors • We take your feedback seriously, and I want to thank everyone who left notes, passed along problems to our volunteers and wrote comments on the CAST 2015 App (yes, we did read ALL of them!). Our App did not work as well as intended, (largely due to a bandwidth issue that could have been fixed on-site for an additional $200,000+!). Wifi at conferences is becoming essential, and event locations are using this to their own advantage. Thankfully, a law passed by Congress allows for people to bring their own “Hotspots” to conferences, so we will work hard to make sure we can get everyone connected at CAST 2016 in San Antonio. • Every year, we receive feedback that “There weren’t enough sessions on…(fill-in-the-blank)”. The specifics vary from year to year, but the solution is always the same – present a session!!! We can only offer workshops that have been submitted by teachers and approved via the proposals website, so when the online workshop proposal site goes live on February 15th we hope you will consider sharing your expertise with your colleagues around the state by presenting a session. • Sometimes one of our teaching awards or CAST scholarships goes “unclaimed” due to a lack of applicants. Check out the essays from this year’s scholarship recipients in the current STATellite, and think about who you would recommend for receiving one. Watch your emails for news about these opportunities, and make sure you apply when the time comes! CAST 2015 Fort Worth is in the books, and it looks like it was another successful conference. We had 5964 paid attendees, 748 PD sessions, and 370 exhibitor booths. All the critical things went off without a hitch, so we need to send

San Antonio: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants”. With the New Year comes change. Gone is the burden of “No Child Left Behind,” and now we wonder about how the new “Every Student

chosen this most noble profession. We wish you every success in 2016, whatever it brings your way, and want you to know that we’re here to help!



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Teaching Students to Study By Roger Barker

Middle School Science Teacher Killeen, TX


fter weeks of planning, teaching, demonstrating, tutoring, and completing labs my students failed the unit exam. How many times have I gone home depressed wondering “What did I do wrong?” or “What could I have done better?” I have studied the TEKS and researched the information. I have done the professional development. I have conferred with my peers. Why are my students failing my exams? The truth is that I did everything right. If it is not me then it must be my students. Are they just dumb? No, I know my students are not dumb but they are lazy. The answer to these questions are, that it’s not just me and it’s not just them. As educators dealing with all the At-Risk paperwork, modifications and accommodations for special education, duty stations, parent meetings, ARD meetings, team meetings, student club meetings, and yes high stakes testing we have had to cut some corners. Unfortunately, the corners we cut end up being detrimental to our student’s education. We are so worried about getting “all” the information out to students that we have not taught students to study.

people, is not a natural talent. It is something that must be taught just like reading or writing. I have created strategies that can help facilitate just this. The first strategy is that I make no secret to students and parents about what will be taught and what concepts that will be emphasized. Students know on a daily basis what the expected learning target for the day is because it is posted on the board. Students are required to write this into their notebook daily and we refer to it several times during the lesson. Parents are notified via email and can view the learning targets on my website on a weekly basis.

The second strategy is that I believe in pre-teaching basic vocabulary and basic concepts at the beginning of the unit. My reasoning behind this philosophy is that many students do not ask about vocabulary words that are new to them. They do not want to seem dumb in front of others. The concepts that are pre-taught are at a very basic I want to make it known that I do believe in level and are designed to make students ask quesrote memorization and mnemonic devices tions about what they are about to learn. I accomto accomplish this. This system has worked plish this by utilizing what I call an “Input/Output” for hundreds of years and as my father used page. These are notes with vocabulary used in to say “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it”. With this context. Students are required to read and synthebeing said, in today’s world with instant size the information in some way. A few examples gratification in the forms of video games and are with my younger students, I direct them as microwave meals the students of today are how to synthesize by having them rewrite the not willing to put in the “Work” required to ex- information in their own words or create a drawcel in their own education. Studying, for most ing, graph, chart, or mind map of what they read.


Volume 59 Issue 4

Teaching Students to Study The third strategy is that I encourage all students to redo work that is below standard. Our goal here should be mastery. So what if it takes two or three times to get a worksheet right. It only takes a few moments to check the assignment corrections.

Upcoming Events 2016


The last strategy that I want to talk about is testing. There are two main pieces to this. First, we should be very careful of how we design our exams. What I mean is that if I spend 20% of my unit on a certain concept, the exam should only have 20% of the questions on that one concept. The second is I have students create notes to use on the exam. I call this a “Two Pager”. The day before the exam I hold a review. During this review, students can take any notes over questions or concepts. These notes are on facing pages of the notebook and during the exam students may not turn the pages in the notebook. I have found over the years that most students will not even look at the Two Pager during the exam because they studied when creating it. I do also give study guides to students. These are not just facts or concepts to have students study. The study guide should be designed like a quiz or test. Students should have to look up the information in their notebook or textbook and complete the study guide. This is studying and they don’t even realize it. The study guide should also be an outline for the Two Pager giving students ideas for other notes on the Two Pager. In conclusion I would like to say that teaching students to study does not take much time if it is planned well. A little creative thinking and collaborating with peers can make this process even easier. Students will resist at first but once they see the marked improvement in their test scores students and parents will embrace the art of studying.

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Volume 59 Issue 4


Exploring our World Using Handheld GPS Devices By Toni Decman, Instructional Coach, Katy ISD and Casandra Henry, Science Teacher and Department Head, Katy ISD When discussing the benefits of learning from the outdoors Hartley Banack, a lecturer at UBC’s department of curriculum and pedagogy states “Experiential learning is our primary source of knowledge. Experiential learning is something that happens in the ‘real world.’ And the ‘real world’ is not in the classroom” (Gallagher, CBC News). When the idea for a field-trip lesson was first proposed to me, I thought about my outdoor experiences as a child, how those experiences had matured into a love of teaching science. As I began to research how to foster those feelings within children through field based learning I found that Randall Fitzgerald had studied the feelings of students towards science after field based learning and found that “students in a field-based learning group rated science and math studies in a more favorable light than did their counterparts in a traditional setting”. With that in mind, my department chair, Casandra Henry, and I began to put a plan into action. “Every excursion should have a well-defined purpose and well-defined expected outcomes” (Project Learning Tree). With this in mind, Casandra and I rummaged through some old projects and created our field trip. We created a project in which the students would use GPS devices to locate trees. The trees would be used to create a dichotomous key portfolio. The project requirements included:

• The student would collect and identify 10 different leaves from different trees. • The students would also need to collect data about each leaf specimen/tree i.e. height and girth measurements, observations of the habitat, proper identification of the tree and a bark rubbing • The students would create a dichotomous key for the 10 different trees

Now began the hard part, the planning. We knew that setting the students free to roam about the park with GPS units and saying “go find your tree” would not get us where we wanted to be. So we divided our plans into three activities. Activity 1: Preparation: All students received a packet of information pertaining to leaves and their attributes. It showed drawings of alternate and opposite branching, compound and single leaves, and single and clustered needles. Additionally, each student was provided with several links to websites that focused on the identification of trees through an examination of leaves. This lesson was done as the “Elaborate” portion of the 5E model. This meant that the students had already “Explored” the differences or variations of organisms and the “Explain” portion of the lesson had been addressed. We knew that we wanted the students to break into groups while at the park, but we wanted to make sure that those groups worked well together. While in the classroom, the students were separated into different groups. They discussed expectations of roles while in the field. The goal was for everyone to know his or her role and expectation when we arrived at the park. The day before the trip, we created a trial run activity. In this activity, the students received instruction on using the GPS devices. They were then required to demonstrate an understanding of the operation of the GPS devices by going outside and finding three locations on the campus.



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Volume 59 Issue 4


Exploring our World Using Handheld GPS Devices

Additionally, the students received instruction and practice time on how to find the height and girth of a tree. To prepare the park for the event, the Secondary Science Coordinator for our district, Cathy Harter, graciously offered to help me to program the coordinates for five different trees within the park into thirty GPS units. Each tree was chosen based on its characteristics and differences from the other trees. The selected trees were Loblolly Pine, Post Oak, Yaupon Holly, Water Oak and Eastern Red Cedar. Each tree was marked with either a flag or yellow tape to designate it from others. This was important as the GPS may take the students to a cluster of trees, but finding the exact one may not be possible using only the technology. Activity 2: Day of the Trip Once the students arrived at the park, each was given a GPS unit with the previously marked coordinates and a cheat sheet, designed to assist them through the data-collecting process. Additionally, each group received a plastic bag that contained crayons for tree rubbings and six-foot measuring tapes. Each group also received a one-meter stick. The students broke into their groups and began locating the trees using their GPS units. To identify the correct trees, students were required to record physical features. After locating all of the marked trees, the groups of students were allowed to select leaves from unmarked trees to be used in their projects as well.



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Exploring our World Using Handheld GPS Devices While outside, each of the groups was to stay separated. The students within each group were to work together to find leaves from different trees. The students were required to have at least one tree bark rubbing and a leaf from each tree. The students were given the option to use their iPhone and iPad to take pictures of the trees to address any allergy concerns. As an aside, we were certain to involve several adults to assist with monitoring the students. They functioned as chaperones and assisted with student questions. Prior to unleashing the students on the park, we had the adults exchange phone numbers in the event of an emergency. Activity 3: Pulling it all Together So what did our children learn in addition to the objective? They learned that there is a world out there that is worth exploring and that science is an enjoyable field of study. We were happily surprised that the projects came flooding in the door prior to the due date. As the children presented their projects, they discussed in detail the characteristics of their trees and their various methods of identification. Most importantly, as our new seventh graders get closer to the time of their fieldtrip, last year’s students build the anticipation by their declaring their love of learning science from their own field trip experiences.

Resources: Fitzgerald, R. (2002). Field Studies in Geography and Environmental Science as a Vehicle for Teaching Science and Mathematics Skills. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from Gallagher, M. (2015, April 16). UBC education expert says kids benefit from learning outdoors - British Columbia - CBC News. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from Top Ten Tips for Teaching Outside. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2015, from

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Volume 59 Issue 4

STATellite 15


The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

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Volume 59 Issue 4


CAST 2015 Reflections T

hank you for the opportunity to attend CAST 2015. There were many great things that I took away. This is definitely something I think all science teachers should attend at least once, if not every year. Some of the best things I took away from CAST 2015 included the sessions that introduced new and innovative ways to teach elementary science. I am always looking for ways to change up some of the methods I use to teach various concepts. I believe the best people to learn from are your peers that are in the classroom day in and day out. This year I was eager to hear more about Blended Learning. I teach fourth grade science and gone are the days of the “stand and deliver” method of instruction. We are confronted with students that need various types of interaction with the information provided. I use to do an excellent job creating the most awesome power points for students to watch and take notes from. Today’s students don’t learn best

that way, but my fear was that they were still too young to go off and take control of their own learning. After attending

Learning for Students in a Title 1 School” I was introduced to another tool that I will definitely use (

The Force is strong with our CAST 2016 attendees

two sessions on Blended Learning I was excited to see it would be easy to integrate. The session, “More Than Just a Video” gave us a couple of tools to use in the classroom to engage more students. I already use EdPuzzle, but I was also introduced to Zaption. These two Apps should hit just perfectly in my classroom. These programs put the ultimate responsibility of learning in the hands of my students. It is no longer just watching a video hoping they take something away from it. I love it! In the session, “Blended

Another great session I enjoyed was Science Terrific Games. Wow! The games that were presented here were really awesome. My science partner and I took many notes and have already made some of the games presented. Again, what a way to change up how you introduce and instruct. It’s a win, win. Kids have fun as they learn! Lastly, I wanted to include a couple of other sessions that were impressive. I always look for sessions with Julie Jackson. I really like her

presentation style and she always presents great ideas. I was able to catch her “Using Children’s Literacy in the Science Classroom”. I have gotten away from reading from my students. The books that Ms. Jackson presented looked so entertaining and full of great information. I made note of many that I will hope are under my Christmas tree this year! I was also excited to see Tobi McMillan and Marianne Dobrovolny. These two ladies gave us strategies that establish a culture of high expectations. This session covered strategies that examined communication with parents, actively engaging students, providing feedback, and physically organizing the classroom to spur productivity. These strategies are just best practices that all teachers should be paying more attention to, especially with the new evaluation system on the horizon. Thank you again for this wonderful opportunity!

Suzanne McCall Cathelene Thomas Elementary, Slaton ISD



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CAST 2015 Reflections T

he 2015 CAST in Fort Worth was a great experience! As a high school science teacher and academic coach, I am always looking to find new ways to keep the kids interested and the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching afforded me many opportunities. I was able to participate in many hands-on workshops that will allow me to incorporate these Active Learning techniques while maintaining a focus on the TEKS. I was able to learn many new, student-centered methodologies. I will share these with my fellow teachers in our Professional Learning Communities as well as incorporate them into my classroom. Many of the workshops I attended integrated requisite technology for a 21st Century classroom. Appropriate models to include Flipped Instruction, Augmented Reality and Game Based Learning and their associated apps were presented. Presenters allowed us the time to “play� with the technology in small groups which increased our skill level and


AST was the BEST conference I have ever attended. The exhibits were huge and had so much to offer! The sessions were my favorite part. All speakers were engaging and excited to share about their area of expertise. Two sessions in particular stick out to me. One was about a one day STAAR Boot Camp. Both presenters were enthusiastic and had a can-do attitude. I came back to my campus and spoke with the science department while it was fresh in my memory. They are so excited about the possibility of having a STAAR day and it being themed. We are in the process of assigning topics to teach and getting shirts to pump up the students. The other session that sticks out in my head was over the topic of stars. It can be a difficult, abstract topic for the students to learn. The presenters had

comfort prior to actual classroom deployment. I have already successfully used several techniques and am tweaking others to fit the needs of my students. I have been to several national science teacher conferences and was very impressed by comparison with the quantity and variety of highquality professional development opportunities available at the 2015 Cast conference. I hope to attend CAST again in the near future and will highly recommend it to my colleagues. The STAT and CAST teams were fantastic! They were available to help with conference logistics and travel arrangements. The host city, Fort Worth, hotels and venues for the conference were superb and made each of us feel that we were a special guest.

Kimberly M Lemons Coronado High School El Paso, Texas

students paint on canvas one particular type of star. After that the student was to make a scaled down version of their star. This was then put onto a HUGE Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. This allows people to see the magnitude of the stars. The students seemed to enjoy it. Overall, CAST was an amazing conference where I learned so many things that I took back to my classroom. I have gone to conferences sometimes and not used a thing. However, at CAST, it is difficult to pare down what I am using. Thanks again for putting on such an amazing conference and for the scholarship!

Gloria Rendon Houston ISD

Volume 60 Issue 1




The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

CAST 2015 Reflections R

eceiving a scholarship to attend the 2015 CAST conference is one of the greatest opportunities of my teaching career. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and the opportunities to learn that were offered at this conference. I had the opportunity to view and test the newest technology available for classrooms, to confer with peers, and, most importantly, to learn new techniques for teaching 8th grade science TEKS. The exhibit hall offered so many awesome books, tools, and tricks of the trade that it was almost overwhelming. Trying out the latest computer programs for teaching science was exciting. Being able to view so many different materials in the same space allowed me to have hands-on learning of my own. Now to convince our financial department that these are classroom necessities!

The ability to share my own thoughts and concerns with people outside my own little world gave me new insight in the form of solutions I would not have come up with on my own and affirmation that I am a better teacher than I give myself credit for being. It was so nice to be able to experience that in the cozy CAST atmosphere! Best of all, I came away from this experience with new tricks of the trade to share with my students. The ability to bring new

Peer support is always refreshing and the camaraderie that I experienced at CAST was no different. I tend to get focused on my own shortcomings in the classroom and forget that support is never more than a call away.

ideas and ways of teaching into my school is the best benefit I and my students could have received. I am so glad that I learned new activities to better teach the concepts of force and motion and the mysteries of our solar system. I would encourage every science teacher to attend CAST at least once, but I guarantee that once is not enough! You will be hooked from your first one and insist on attending yearly. This experience allowed me so

many opportunities for growth in my career. I was able to see the newest gadgets, make new connections, and refresh my classroom arsenal in one wonderful weekend in science nerd heaven, the Science Teacher’s Association of Texas’ annual CAST meeting!

Lisa Langford Hawkins Middle School Hawkins, Texas 8th grade science

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CAST 2015 Reflections S

ome say Christmas time is the magical time, but if you are a science nerd- you cannot wait for the next CAST conference to happen. It is a plethora of scientific information, lessons, concepts, and products that can easily be taken back and implemented into your classroom. I was able to attend 11 different courses during my CAST trip, where I learned valuable classroom ideas such as how to introduce Project Based Learning, successfully teach academic vocabulary, and build interactive bulletin boards. Here is an example of how I have begun using inter-

active boards in my classroom. Our topic was Biodiversity, and we built this portion of the board together


ing program at The University of Houston. The only “problem” I encountered was deciding which session I wanted to attend. In addition to the prized content offered, the networking that takes place at CAST each year is invaluable. It is awe inspiring once one realizes the years of expertise at the conference and the unique experiences each has to offer. I am currently brainstorming ideas I can share with STAT that would allow time for even more collaboration amongst educators to take place at future events. We get so caught up in obtaining as much infor-

eagerly anticipated CAST 2015 and I was not disappointed. Upon receiving the scholarship for CAST I was teaching 6th – 8th grade Science in the Houston area. I was offered a new position in October and I was initially concerned that the CAST experience would not be as meaningful now that I was out of the classroom. I was pleasantly surprised that there was an abundance of resources that I could apply in my new capacity as program director. I walked away with ample materials to share with my former colleagues as well as information I plan to implement in our ever evolv-

as a class. We will build upon this board throughout the entire unit.

constructed courses, CAST is a science teacher’s wonderland. A truly fantastic experience that will leave you with so many new ideas that it will take another week just to sort through your thoughts! Kady Gallagher Mackenzie Middle School Lubbock ISD

Between the extensive exhibit hall (which taunts you because you want EVERYTHING!) and the superbly

mation as we can from the presenters that we forget we have amazing resources sitting right beside us throughout the day. I look forward to attending CAST and other STAT venues in the future. Thank you again for the opportunity. Heather Brown

Assistant Director Science Teaching Equity Project


Volume 60 Issue 1


CAST 2015 Reflections A

s a first time CAST participant, I must admit that I am sure to be a returning teacher EVERY YEAR. The host of information in such a short time span is unparalleled. I was more than eager to delve into the wonderful world of science for three days straight. Initially, I was overwhelmed and by the end of the day realized that I had forgotten to eat for fear of not getting a seat in my first choice sessions! I didn’t regret it at all. I would love to present at CAST next year and be a part of the inside track. Every session, booth, exhibit at CAST has golden nuggets to provide and I was very appreciative to be able to take all of them in. Some of my favorite sessions were:

Wearable Science Projects: Science Wear Session I chose this session because it so closely aligned with my teaching style and how I like to engage my students in learning. With the glow-in-the-dark lunar cycle and moon phases that my students are sure to have fun with, be engaged from start to finish and I’m sure that this information will remain ‘sticky’ when we have to apply it to assessments. I really enjoyed this session as it kept me thoroughly engaged and I could just see my students doing the same!

curriculum. They get to learn the behind the scenes of shows like the LEGO movie and hands on create their own project intertwined with their own personalities. This workshop gave a whole new meaning to Project Based Learning and what it means to produce your own education.

Make TEKS Connections: Young Scientist’s Dissections (Frog Dissection) In this workshop I was able to experience what my kids would while being engaged in reptilian anatomical structure. This blended learning workshop allows my students to transform into little scientists as they explore the ins and outs of a squid and a frog. We reviewed the correlation between the structure of a part of the specimen and how that related to its’ function. Crystal Williams

Creating Stop Motion Animation Movies as Student Projects: Hue Animation Sparking exploration in not only being producers of their own learning but, they also get to use these stop motion cameras to follow their creative passion that directly aligns with technology, math and science



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CAST 2015 Reflections During the CAST 2015 conference in Ft. Worth on November 11 through 14 2015, I had an amazing experience with those workshops, which I am sharing with the administration and faculty at my school. I attended several workshops, but there were some that could be more beneficial to me to plan more meaningful lessons for my ESL, bilingual, and GT students. Some of the vocabulary workshops had easy strategies for students to interact, how to make more interactive word walls that are student generated while incorporating the ELPS strategies needed for the students to improve their academic language. Along with vocabulary, I liked the

I’m Ashley Johnson and I teach Science and Math at the University of Texas – University Charter School at Annunciation Maternity Home and Rock Springs Behavioral Health Hospital in Georgetown, Texas. When I applied for this scholarship, I wanted to attend CAST for the opportunity to discover new ideas and techniques to

Inferencing through Interactive anchor charts which engage students and build inferencing skills by interacting and manipulating content. Innovative Strategies for the elementary science classroom: Formative assessments and pedagogy strategies for science instruction in my classroom that will help the students think critically, converse deeply, while enforcing the necessary science vocabulary and concept.

meaningful relationships among science concepts. Enhancing Science Instruction with Interactive Notebooks (English and Spanish): Using interactive notebooks, the students learn how to organize their own learning. Project Based Learning and the Elementary Classroom: The skills that students need to survive in our world. It will teach them not only content, but the skills they will need.

Concept Maps for STAAR mastery: Provide a visual graphical way to organize, connect, and synthesized information to improve understanding. Use as a formative assessment to establish

I hope I have the opportunity to go to CAST next year. I really enjoyed it.

infuse into my classroom. Being that I teach five preps (Biology, Integrated Physics and Chemistry, Algebra 1, Geometry, and Math Models) in addition to providing support to students utilizing our online curriculum for credit recovery and courses that I don’t have room in my schedule to teach directly, I’m always looking for new ways to

teach and new ideas and activities to bring into my classroom that will engage my students who have me for two different courses. I was also excited about the opportunity to network with other science teachers and learn from their experiences as well as catch up with old friends that I have worked with in the past. I was thrilled to have

Maria Piralla

Spring Shadows Elementary

Volume 60 Issue 1


CAST 2015 Reflections the opportunity to attend CAST this year because of the generous scholarship through STAT. I attended so many amazing workshops over the course of the weekend at CAST. The information and ideas that were presented were innovative and informative! If I were to choose, my two favorite workshops that I attended were Laura Conrad’s Teaching Stoichiometry Using Recipes – Quick, Easy, and StudentFriendly! and Formative Assessment: Balancing and Aligning to Drive Instruction, presented by Rebecca Jinks, Jaime Noles and their colleagues from Denton ISD. In Laura Conrad’s presentation on teaching stoichiometry using recipes, she teaches stoichiometry the way that she learned stoichiometry in high school, utilizing recipes and proportions rather than dimensional analysis and found great success using this method in her classroom. Saving dimensional analysis for unit conversions exclusively, Laura pointed out that using proportional reasoning for stoichiometry is in align-

ment with what students have learned in their math classes leading up to their exposure to stoichiometry in Chemistry. Integrating a method that students are all ready comfortable with in a new context allows students to see the connections in what they are learning in more than one content area, which allows them to see the importance of the content on their own, eliminating the “why do we have to learn this” question. While I haven’t used Laura’s method in the classroom yet, I can’t wait to show my students this method and see how it impacts their ability to successfully calculate stoichiometry problems and increase their confidence in the science classroom. During Rebecca Jinks’ (and colleagues) presentation on Formative Assessment, I learned a variety of methods to utilize formative assessment in ways that I hadn’t thought about before. Using classroomtested and TEKS-aligned formative assessments in their presentation, they modeled how to use these assessments in the class-

room in real time. I could see the benefit of how they harnessed Page Keeley’s ideas and showed how to make them work in the classroom for specific TEKS – a critical component in successfully utilizing a formative assessment. These are only two of the awesome workshops that I attended over the course of the conference weekend. It was a privilege to be able to attend CAST as a STAT scholarship recipient. I appreciate STAT making this scholarship available so that I could attend; without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to do so. The ideas and activities and resources that I brought back to my classroom have revitalized and inspired my teaching practice. Ashley McMinn Johnson Science & Math Teacher, Annunciation Maternity Home & Rock Springs University of Texas - University Charter School Division of Diversity and Community Engagement The University of Texas at Austin


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Volume 59 Issue 4


CAST 2015 Reflections ”


ou’ve got to go to CAST” a teacher said to me many years ago with obvious excitement. I have repeated the same statement to fellow science teachers over the past 20 years of my career. However, over the past several years (more than I care to admit) CAST has become a victim of professional and personal budget cuts. It is one of the many unfortunate budget cuts in the education system, yet it is undoubtedly one of the most important opportunities Texas science teachers have to stay up to date. This year I was a lucky recipient of a STAT scholarship to attend CAST. When I began teaching, CAST was one of the most useful tools in growing as a professional and in bringing new teaching methods to the classroom in order to better educate and prepare students of all levels. CAST gave me new ideas and I came back recharged and excited about teaching, I learned new methods, gained new insights , had a chance to see what was going on around the state in science education and view and try new equipment. CAST allowed me to compare my own methods of instruction to my peers and take away the best of all methods. When facing budget cuts it became difficult to defend the money for CAST when it meant losing classroom supplies. Also, let’s face it, taking off school for CAST isn’t an easy task. From trying to find lesson plans for at least two days that a substitute can handle, finding substitutes, getting grading done before leaving, and making sure I am ready for the week when I return to trying to manage my personal obligations as a single parent, CAST fell by the wayside. Last year, when faced with teaching a new subject, I realized that I needed CAST to recharge myself and help me prepare for the new subject. I determined that

I would do everything in my power to go. I managed to make a one day trip last year and came to realize how important it was to me after not attending in so long. This year I was given a scholarship to attend CAST for the entire extent of the conference. I was able to meet many other science teachers and professionals in my field and participate in a number of workshops and courses. As I walked through the CAST site I was amazed at the number of teachers working together. Science activities were going on in the rooms, at the exhibits, in hallways, and even in the hotel lobbies as I saw people demonstrating things they had learned, discussing activities, lesson plans, and strategies. Some of this was part of the program but many of the observations I made were simply teachers sharing with other teachers in an effort to leave with the best and most current ideas. We have all heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child” and I believe CAST is a big part of our village. Believe it or not, this is a team sport. CAST provides a unique opportunity for us to spend time with many science professionals from around the state, to share ideas, strategies, curriculum, frustrations and solutions, and develop friendships while working as a team. Working together is the best way to ensure that we educate our students not only to the standard, but above and beyond so that the future of science will continue to grow. So I say again to every teacher out there “YOU’VE GOT TO GO TO CAST”. Suzie Seibel Crawford ISD



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

CAST 2015 Reflections W

ow! What an experience! I attended CAST 2015 in November for the very first time and it was an amazing experience. They have something for everyone! I teach 7th grade Science and I was able to see many different ways to teach the topics that I teach in my class. CAST has so much to offer teachers! The booths displayed many new and exciting ideas for purchase and many free things are given away as well! No matter what topic you teach, CAST has something for you! My favorite class was the Human Body Olympics. What an amazing idea! This can be played as a grade level or with each class! There are many great learning games that can be played in the classroom. These games are set up as an actual Olympics using the different body systems that they have been studying up to that point! It’s a great way to review the concepts that they have learned and at the same time you are accessing what they have learned. CAST offers so many great ways to get the students to take responsibility for their own learning! There are so many interactive and hands-on activities available to teachers. I am so thankful for the scholarship that I received so that I could experience CAST 2015. Without the scholarship, I would not have been able to attend. Many thanks to the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) who made it possible for me to attend! If you have not attended a CAST Conference, make plans to attend soon! Where else can you go and share ideas and lesson plans with your peers and have fun while you are learning! You will gain so much valuable information and new ideas! I am looking forward to attending CAST 2016 next year!

Jennifer Browning Hawkins ISD


oing to CAST is like rebooting a computer. Each time I go to CAST, I walk away feeling revitalized and recharged with new ideas and inspirations to help my students learn. As an 8th grade science teacher I feel as though my lessons need to be particularly engaging because the students no longer think school is cool and don’t seem to care enough about college yet to engage themselves. This makes the engaging ideas that I get at CAST all the more important. This year one of the most influential and original ideas I saw was creating a 1 day STAAR bootcamp. The teachers chose a theme for the bootcamp and promoted it year round with flyers, themed classrooms, and anything else that they could bring in. They then chose their 6 lowest TEKS that they felt needed to be reviewed before the test and assigned a teacher to each TEK. They created a rotation schedule in which all students would rotate through each TEK. We have already begun preparations for a themed boot camp in my school and are beginning to love it. It takes a lot of work but I think the results will be well worth it. I also loved the session I attended for Geoblox. For 8th grade topographic maps is almost always a TEK that is tested multiple times and is very difficult for the students to master. Geoblox has really come up with an incredibly ingenious way for students to break down what a topographic map is and how it works. By turning a topographic map into a real miniature landform they begin to really understand not only the purpose of the topographic map, but how it was made. If you have not seen the geoblox products you should look them up. I am now officially a believer. The only tweak I will make from the original presentation is that I would like to use meat trays instead of cardboard to save on cost. Overall CAST was an amazing opportunity and for anyone who is looking

Catherine Watkins Forney ISD

Volume 60 Issue 1


Dear “But I’m Not THAT Teacher!,” -- Yes, You Are By Cheantel Adams, Ph.D & Sarah Milianta-Laffin


he pavlovian “ping” of your email alerts you to a message. Test scores are in; staff meeting after school. At day’s end your peers shuffle into the library for the big numerical reveal. You listen intently as your administrator waxes on the ramifications of each percentage point of the science scores. You are focused; this is your data, these are your kids, you own this. You look up, and notice that the Reading teachers are having a heated sidebar conversation about how students underperformed on informational text. After all, it’s the science data being discussed, and each of them is not “that” teacher. The purpose of this article is to explore the reality that, as science teachers, we have a unique opportunity to foster active and meaningful collaboration between Science and literacy instruction. While the teaching profession has become very specialized, let us not forget that everyone has a responsibility to be “that” teacher. As “that” teacher, we acknowledge that science and literacy components are vitally

intertwined, and must involve intentional collaboration and implementation. As all teachers evaluate their roles in improving not just the scores but overall student achievement, we all become “THAT” teacher.

The Science Notebook has become a key classroom instructional tool. Students use their notebooks like scientists use notebooks in the field, but calling them “Science Notebooks” has created this division that implies they are not also for writing and reading. Practicing scientists note that 80% of their time is devoted to reading and writing (Palincsar & Magnusson) Science Notebooks promote oral communication, written communication, and reading development - key traits that we find desirable across the contents.

should be talking in pairs, small groups, and even whole group during an investigation. This “Science Talk” “allows them to make sense of their thinking, share their ideas with others, and receive feedback. (Campbell & Fulton, 2003) All kids benefit from this structured conversation, especially developing language learners. Through “Science Talk” students access schema, and either confirm their thoughts or address misconceptions with teacher guidance. This requires no special scientific instruction, and “Content Talk” should happen in every classroom. The science teacher provides a platform for students to showcase skills learned. These same conversations develop concepts in reading and writing. In all contents, this practice promotes and strengthens key critical thinking and problemsolving skills.

Oral Communication

Written Communication

A key element of scientific investigation is oral communication. Ideally, students

With Science Notebooks, oral communication supports written communication. By

Science & Literacy

Magnusson, S. J., & Palincsar, A. S. Teaching to promote the development of scientific knowledge and reasoning about light at the elementary school level. In J. Bransford & S. Donovan (Eds.), How students learn: History, mathematics, and science in the classroom (pp. 421–474). Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Lori Fulton and Brian Campbell. Science Notebooks: Writing about Inquiry. (Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2003), 74.



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Dear “But I’m Not THAT Teacher!,” -- Yes, You Are By Cheantel Adams, Ph.D & Sarah Milianta-Laffin building schema through discussion, we can create a safe space where now even reluctant writers have something to express in their notebooks. Through the Science notebooks, students are writing about new experiences, investigations, and classroom discussion. Often the hardest part in the writing process for students can be finding a topic. The notebook contains many previously explored, high-interest topics, allowing writing teachers to call upon this information when seeking to develop various types of writing. While the notebook does not reflect the complete writing process, it may serve as an excellent pre-writing tool, providing organization, vocabulary, and basic content information.

Reading “In this Information Age the importance of being able to read and write informational texts critically and well cannot be overstated. Informational literacy is central to success, and even survival, in advanced schooling, the workplace, and the commu-

4th Grade PLC – Teachers from all content areas performing a shadow investigation, and planning a C-E-R lesson together

nity ( Duke, 2000).” Science Notebooks are a tool that students use to organize their thinking, map processes, think critically, and draw conclusions. All of these items promote “informational literacy” (Campbell & Fulton, 2003.) We know that traditional Reading teachers often lament that students struggle with informational text, and yet in the notebooks students are creating their own informational text that they can read and synthesize because it comes directly from them. “After using notebooks as a

beginning stage of reading, students can progress to other related informational text. (Campbell & Fulton, 2003) Informational texts are an integral part of the reading process. Through collaboration with content teachers, the process of presenting informational text becomes more meaningful when connected with topics upon which students have prior-knowledge. Having background knowledge allows student to focus on apply reading strategies, which the experience simul-

Nell Duke. “3.6 Minutes per Day: The Scarcity of Informational Texts in First Grade. Reading Research Quarterly 35: 202-24 Campell & Fulton, 77.

Volume 60 Issue 1


Dear “But I’m Not THAT Teacher!,” -- Yes, You Are By Cheantel Adams, Ph.D & Sarah Milianta-Laffin benefit tremendously from such as CER (Claim, Evisupporting science teachers dence, and Reasoning) and in practicing more writing Science Notebooks. skills through practices such

Grade Teacher PLC (all content) sharing ways that they plan for Reading and Writing in Science with the C-E-R Process

taneously increases content knowledge. Applying the skills of “that” teacher, sets students up for success in all content areas.

3rd and 4th grade students showing some of their C-E-R examples for a Science & Literacy board

Collaboration to Promote Implementation When schools discuss program needs or new initiatives, teachers often shy away from subjects they don’t primarily teach or content they find unfamiliar. In effort to facilitate reading and language arts teachers’ use of informational text, the science teacher has a unique opportunity to articulate how the two are interrelated. Likewise, the reading and language arts teachers

3rd grade student working on her C-E-R poster, a lesson that was the result of cross-content collaboration and execution



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Dear “But I’m Not THAT Teacher!,” -- Yes, You Are By Cheantel Adams, Ph.D & Sarah Milianta-Laffin

Tips to Becoming or Developing “That” Teacher

Encourage cross-content plannings; share how informational texts are aligned to reading and writing instruction. Look for overlap -- “Oh, you’re working on procedural writing? What about writing the steps of our glacier investigation? We have an outline already in our notebooks.”

Foster “Teacher Leaders” willing to “take the plunge” and report back to the other teachers so that refinement and collaboration occurs.

Find creative ways to build the background knowledge of all teachers. Maybe it’s a 2 minute YouTube clip from Bill Nye, an inspirational TED Talk, a Science meme - anything that gets the conversation started.

Grow teacher’s Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) wider than the building; try Twitter chats! We recommend the #TXeduchat (follow @TXeduchat) Sunday nights from 8-9pm; great info and different perspectives from all content areas.

Share student work samples at Professional Learning Communities, and critically examine all content data. Actively collaborate; “How can I support your content?”

Encourage each other; co-teach and support this “new” way of learning -- even administrators! Above all, the vision at your campus must include the mantra that, “We’re all still learning,” and “Learning is everyone’s responsibility.” If that’s not your vision, create a new one. Remember, we are all “That” teacher.


Volume 59 Issue 4


2015 STAT Award Winners Announced AUSTIN, Texas – The Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) has named its 2015 STAT Award Winners. The winning educators will be honored at the Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST), to be held November 12 – 14 in Ft. Worth, TX. STAT members from across the state made nominations for Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year, awarded to elementary, middle and high school teachers for creativity in the classroom, excellent classroom management, and proper safety procedures. This year’s award winners include:

Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year (Elementary): Toni Worden – Caddo Grove Elementary, (Joshua ISD)

Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year (Middle School): Julie Frey – Trinity Valley School, (Ft. Worth, TX)

Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year (High School): Thomas Delgado III – University of Texas-University Charter School System at Laurel Ridge (San Antonio TX)

All STAT awards winners will receive $1,000 from award sponsor Chevron along with recognition during the CAST Friday night reception taking place at 6 pm in the arena at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The reception will also feature the Newsboyz Band as well as a full stage set of “Minute to Win it” for teachers to win prizes. Reception attendance is open to all registrants of CAST – registration is still open for all three days or Saturday only at About The Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) STAT, founded in 1957, is a non-profit organization of elementary, middle, and high school teachers, college educators, and supervisors of science. As a resource for science education, STAT is dedicated to ensuring that all students are scientifically and technologically literate. STAT is a chapter of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and serves as a unified voice and network for science teachers across the state of Texas. The organization informs members about current trends in science education and provides opportunities to view the latest in technology, curriculum, materials and services. STAT represents more than 7,200 members.



The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas

Volume 60 Issue 1

SBOE Members District 1 El Paso Martha M. Dominguez

District 9 Mount Pleasant Vice Chair Thomas Ratliff

District 2 Brownsville Ruben Cortez, Jr.

District 10 Florence Tom Maynard

District 3 San Antonio Marisa B. Perez

District 11 Fort Worth Patricia Hardy

District 4 Houston Lawrence A. Allen, Jr

District 12 Dallas Geraldine Miller

District 5 San Antonio Ken Mercer

District 13 Fort Worth Erika Beltran

District 6 Houston Chair Donna Bahorich

District 14 Waco Sue Melton-Malone

District 7 Beaumont David Bradley

District 15 Amarillo Marty Rowley

District 8 The Woodlands Barbara Cargill




The Official Publication of The Science Teachers Association of Texas



Past President

(713) 723-0273

(361) 242-7592

President Elect

Vice President

(972) 907-2838

(469) 633-6805



Matthew Wells

George Hademenos

Jo Anne Jackson (806) 766-1162

Melana Silva

Laura Lee McLeod

Kara Swindell (806) 766-1744

Members At Large:

Ann Mulvihill

Melissa Gable

Terry White

Volume 60 Issue 1


Affiliates TABT Texas Association of Biology Teachers Jennifer Kaszuba TAEE Texas Association for Environmental Education Lisa Brown TCES Texas Council of Elementary Science Susana Ramirez TESTA Texas Earth Science Teachers Association Kathryn Barclay TMEA Texas Marine Educators Association Marolyn Smith

Contacts TEA Representative:

Irene Pickhardt Curriculum Division (512) 463-9581

Executive Director:

TSAAPT Texas Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers Karen Jo Matsler

Chuck Hempstead (512) 491-6685

ACT2 Associated Chemistry Teachers of Texas Karen Compton

Janet Morrow (512) 491-6685

ISEA Informal Science Education Association Cheryl Potemkin

(512) 491-6685

Assistant Executive Director:

STATellite Submissions:

TSELA Texas Science Education Leadership Association Jennifer Kaszuba