How Can I Keep Up with Changes to Standards?

When NSTA member Tina Harris found out that her state’s science standards were going to change the following year, she knew she needed help. As part of the changes, her state required that teachers cover weather and climate in the eighth grade, rather than in the sixth grade. Tina, who at the time was teaching eighth grade, turned to her NSTA membership for content help on weather and climate.
Harris: Our books didn’t have information on weather and climate, and our school district did not want to pay for new books, so we had to create our own curriculum to teach this new subject area. I had been using the NSTA Learning Center since 2009 and I was on it several times a week. So I thought I’d turn to the Learning Center as a resource.
I went into the Learning Center and began working with the Portfolio tool. I set up a plan of action and listed ways to improve my background knowledge on weather and climate. I made a collection of journal articles and went back and read through the articles for lesson ideas and resources. I added helpful professional development resources to the portfolio from outside of the Learning Center. For instance, I completed a short course on weather from the American Meteorological Society.
I read through the NSTA journal articles for lesson ideas and resources I could use in my classroom. I also looked at NSTA conference papers on climate change. The links to the conference papers really came in handy. I ended up having a file in the Learning Center with all of my resources. (Note from NSTA: You can search for learning resources and opportunities by state standards in the Learning Center.) In addition, since I knew about the changes in advance and had about a year to prepare, I attended NSTA Conferences on Science Education and made a point of going to sessions focused on teaching weather at the middle-school level.
I sat down with the other eighth-grade science teacher at my school and we reviewed the resources I collected and discussed how to integrate them into our curriculum. We both felt prepared to cover weather and climate in our classrooms. (Note from NSTA: If your state has recently adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), see the NGSS@NSTA Hub, a central online location for NGSS resources with a user-friendly table that breaks down the standards by topic.)
How long have you been a member of NSTA and in what other ways has your membership helped you in your career?
Harris: I have been a member for around 20 years and right now I’m in the process of looking for a new job, so I’ve been using the NSTA Career Center. In addition, I always go to an NSTA regional or national conference. I enjoy reading the “Blick on Flicks” column on how science is represented in movies.
When I teach my college courses, I use the NSTA Learning Center a lot. My preservice science teachers access the articles on the Learning Center. The Learning Center has so many different resources, and the ones I use the most often are the portfolio, the journal articles, the forum, and the conference materials. I don’t think a lot of people know that the conference materials are searchable online and are a valuable resource, as well.
Not a member of NSTA? Learn more about how to join.
Jennifer Henderson is our guest blogger for this series. Before launching her freelance career as a writer/editor, Jennifer was Managing Editor of The Science Teacher, NSTA’s peer-reviewed journal for high school science teachers.

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