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Area educators take a "deep dive" into the state's draft science standards content  

More about New York state's
draft science standards

The draft learning science standards are part of a statewide strategic plan for science intended to "enhance science education, improve student achievement of the New York State science learning standards leading to career and college readiness and a scientifically literate population," according to the State Education Department.

The standards could be brought to the New York State Board of Regents this fall for final adoption. Local implementation would begin in the 2017-18 school year along with the beginning of assessment development.


Area science teachers "dive deep" into the state's draft science standardsIn one area classroom this summer, elementary teachers debated whether a reaction was a physical or a chemical changes. In another, they calculated density.

It was the first of a three-day professional development series for elementary teachers across the region, touted as a "deep dive" into the content, skills and ideas forming the basis for the state's new draft science standards. The sessions were sponsored by Capital Region BOCES and the Capital Area Science Supervisor's Association, and hosted by Niskayuna High School.

"Science content and instruction has taken a back seat for a number of years," said Capital Region BOCES Managing Program Coordinator STEM & 21st Century Skills Laura Lehtonen. "It is important to renew our commitment to supporting students learning science and engineering practices through relevant content and connections to the community and industry."

Greater focus on science content

The focus of the training was to build the content knowledge in science for elementary teachers, who cover many different subjects over the course of a day or a week in their classrooms.

"It was a great opportunity for this to be offered as a way for us to explore pure science concepts," said Stephanie Venerus, a fourth grade teacher at Glencliff. "We have been doing it on our own as needed, but not as in-depth as these three days have been."

"This will be great," said Heather Wood, a fourth grade teacher in Fort Ann. "I feel like I can take a lot of this back and use it in my classroom."

The sessions focused on three key areas - matter and its interactions; energy and energy transformation; and astronomy. They were led by six high school teachers - five from Niskayuna High School and one from Ballston Spa.

Elementary teachers learned about phase changes, tackled kinetic versus potential energy by building their own roller coasters, and constructed solar arc models.

Venerus and Glencliff third grade teacher Erin McMahon, said that the professional development sessions helped them gain a greater comfort level with science terms and concepts. This will help as they work with the standards and design activities to introduce the concepts to elementary students.

They also appreciated the opportunity to learn alongside teachers from other elementary grades and to make connections with high school teachers that could lead to collaboration across levels in the future.

Venerus and McMahon called the sessions an "invigorating" step in the evolution of science instruction. They believe a greater focus on science will be welcomed by their students.

"My class naturally loves science when we do it," McMahon said.

"It's so exciting and so motivating for students," Venerus said.

Full slate of summer learning opportunities

Area educators can enjoy a summer filled with learning through Capital Region BOCES Professional Learning Series. Nearly 25 seminars and workshops - created by and for educators - in math, English, social studies and more are being offered in a fun and supportive atmosphere.  Learn more about the course offerings

This story was reproduced with permission from the Niskayuna Central School District.  


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