College of the Canyons hosted a group of more than 50 local fourth- and fifth-grade elementary school teachers as part of a four-day outreach training session this week in preparation for the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were formally adopted by the State Board of Education in September 2013.
As part of that training, members from the college’s School of Mathematics, Sciences, and Health Professions offered hands-on activities that will help support content standards inside K-6 classrooms, while reinforcing the ongoing training being provided to local teachers.
Teachers from the Castaic Union, Newhall, Saugus Union, and Sulphur Springs Union school districts were all represented at the event.
Led by Teresa Ciardi, chair of the COC Earth, Space, and Environmental Sciences department, with support from Dr. Eric Lara, COC MESA director, the week’s activities allowed participants to learn more about both theoretical concepts and practical applications that could be utilized in their classrooms.
“Our college is deeply committed to supporting our K-6 partners by identifying the most effective hands-on activities to engage elementary school students,” said Omar Torres, dean of the college’s School of Mathematics, Sciences and Health Professions.
Offered through the college’s Educational Outreach Alliance with Santa Clarita Valley school districts, the NGSS training covered topics that included wave properties, light and sound, solar energy, heat energy, gravity and acceleration.
“Through this training we are learning from experts who are already using these activities in the classroom and know what works and what doesn’t,” said Teresa Mobley, a fifth-grade teacher at Plum Canyon Elementary School. “I’m really excited about the NGSS standards. I have a passion for science and I look forward to giving students examples to demonstrate what they are doing, instead of just memorizing content from a textbook.”
The implementation of NGSS is meant to improve science education in schools through a three-dimensional approach: science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts. When combined, each dimension provides a cohesive understanding for students by teaching them to make connections between biology, chemistry, earth science, physics and engineering. These research-based standards also give teachers more flexibility when creating learning experiences for students.
“The four elementary school districts are very fortunate to partner with College of the Canyons to provide local teachers with the opportunity to expand their science knowledge, collaborate with teachers across the Santa Clarita Valley, and to begin our work in planning NGSS lessons,” said Kathy Harris, assistant superintendent of Instructional Services for the Sulphur Springs Union School District. “This training will help ensure that our students will be excited, engaged scientists.”
Earlier this summer, a similar four-day outreach training session was provided for William S. Hart Union High School District science teachers.
“The college’s mission to provide a high-quality education to students also applies to the next generation of scholars and scientists in our very own community,” said Torres. “We are confident that these new standards will increase scientific literacy in schools and foster a lifelong passion for science in students.”