December 13, 2013
High School Science Newsletter #7
 Office of Curriculum & Instruction
STEM Department - Science Division
Spotlight on Science Notebooks
by Rosita Young, Elementary Science Content Specialist, SFUSD
Many teachers in SFUSD have long been using math and language arts journals in their classrooms and have come to appreciate their value in enhancing student learning in these subjects. The journal serves as a place for the student to solve problems, practice what they have learned, take notes, develop and collect ideas, record experiences, test new ways of thinking… just to name a few. Teachers love them because it is a formative assessment tool, a record that provides evidence of student learning, and a place to provide feedback.  Journals, or notebooks as we call them in science, have proven to be invaluable in helping students learn, and they look like they are here to stay. 

Science notebooks are gaining popularity in recent years, in fact, so much so that the term “notebooking” has been coined as science notebooks take up residence inside a growing number of students’ desks.  You may wonder: Why is this the case, and why now? 

The advent of new standards, CCSS in English Language Arts and Math, and NGSS in Science require changes in the way teachers teach and students learn. The science notebook fits snugly into a niche created by the roll-out of the new standards. Teachers are expected to increase instructional rigor to meet new standards and to prepare students for the new assessments.  The demands of proficiency in reading and understanding complex informational text and writing in the argumentative genre fall squarely on the shoulders of all teachers, including teachers of science. Shared literacy development means shared responsibility for all teachers. The complexity of the teaching enterprise can now seem overwhelming at times, but the science notebook is a versatile tool that can help make integrated teaching and learning possible.

Imagine you walk into a science classroom. Students are busily engaged in investigating environmental preferences of sowbugs and beetles. In their science notebook, a focus question guides their investigation: Do sowbugs prefer to be in dry, moist, or wet soil? An observant student writes a prediction statement in her notebook: "I predict the sowbugs will be mostly found in the moist pile of soil. This is because I saw a lot of sowbugs under a rock in the corner of my yard and the soil there was dark and moist."

As the investigation continues, students prepare a data table to record their observations: after 10 minutes, after 30 minutes, after 2 hours along a vertical column; dry, moist, wet soil along a row at the top of the table. Following a lively discussion to make sense of the results, the students busy themselves with writing a claim and evidence statement, followed by a conclusion that attempts to answer the focus question. Throughout this investigation process that mimics what real-world scientists do, the students and teacher fluidly interacted with materials and information, using the notebook to help them ask questions, plan the investigation, record observations, and collect data. Beyond being just a place to record information, the science notebook provides the space for students to develop their scientific thinking skills: to analyze the data collected, to make claims backed by evidence from the investigation, to construct explanations to answer the focus question and to show and hone their reasoning skills. The classroom is abuzz with science learning: young scientists toggling the tasks of discussing, thinking, and writing about their investigation results. A simple tool, the science notebook is the accountability element that gently nudges students to think harder, talk deeper, and record their thoughts with clarity.

Apart from writing science investigation reports, the science notebook is also a place to take notes from science readings, write a field trip journal, keep a science glossary, do a math extension activity, write a science report, sketch some nature observations, or keep photos for projects. The versatility of the science notebook as a tool for learning is limited only by our imagination.

I hope by now you are convinced that science notebooking is well worth a try. Whether you are a new teacher just getting started in teaching science, or a veteran teacher with lots of science teaching experience, the science notebook is definitely a useful tool that will transform your science classroom and increase instructional effectiveness, not only in science, but conveniently, also in language arts and math as well.
Contact the SFUSD Science Department to request site-based Science Notebooking PDs. See contact info below.
Attend district Science Notebooking PDs.
Writing in Science: How to Scaffold Instruction and Support Learning, by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler
Opportunities and Resources for Secondary Science Teachers!

  • SFUSD Centralized PD Series: Implementing the Common Core Literacy Standards in the High School Science Classroom:  This three-part series will provide high school science teachers with an overview of CCSS literacy standards for science, commonalities and key literacy skills between the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards; and strategies for integrating literacy skills and science content.  In each session, participants will engage in hands-on science integrated with opportunities for reading, writing, and communicating about science; and provided with the opportunity for reflection and planning for one's own classes.  Session dates and times: 1/14, 1/28, and 2/18 4:30-6:30 PM.  Register through Cornerstone here.  
  • SFUSD Centralized PD on NGSS: Professional development workshops designed to introduce the major shifts in science education the Next Generation Science Standards will bring.  The workshops can be taken individually or as a series, and will incorporate hands-on science activities and planning resources.  All workshops are planned in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences.  Search and register for any of 4 NGSS workshops here through Cornerstone. 
  • Nautilus Exploration Program- STEAM Communication Fellowships: The Ocean Exploration Trust is now accepting applications for educators to participate in the 2014 Naturalist Exploration program season that will explore the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Black Sea regions.  Click here for more information about opportunities available to you.  Applications  are due today, 12/13
  • NASA Webinar on Exploring Earth from Space: This “Earth-based” webinar integrates science, technology, engineering, mathematics and geography with Earth observations, remote sensing and maps as Earth is explored from the unique perspective of space. Register hereMonday, December 16, 3:30-5 PM.  
  • NASA Webinar on Rockets: Experimenting with Projectile Flight: Investigate rocket stability and trajectory with rubber band  powered foam rockets. Access the activity here and register for the webinar hereTuesday, December 17, 3:30-4:30 PM.
  • Shell Science Lab Makeover Competition: Compete to win much-needed laboratory resources for your school! In addition to the lab equipment provided by Ward's Science, winners receive Shell cash grants, NSTA membership, and support to attend NSTA Conferences on Science Education. The grand-prize winner and four national finalists will be honored at a special banquet and ceremony at NSTA's National Conference on Science Education in Boston in April 2014.  Access information here and download the application here.   The deadline is December 20, 2013.
  • The Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship Application for High School Teachers is Live!  This fellowship program is designed to support early-career high school teachers by providing them with opportunities to develop expertise in teaching their content area and leadership skills.  Applicants should have 2-7 years of teaching experience.  Click here for more information on the fellowship and to apply.  Applications are due January 15, 2014. 
  • Present at the NSTA Area Conference in Long Beach: Share your great ideas and/or lessons at the NSTA Area Conference in collaboration with CSTA. The conference dates are Dec 4-6, 2014.  Presenters usually receive free/discounted registration. Click here to submit your application.  The deadline to apply to present is January 15, 2014.  
  • NOVAS OST Educator Workshop: Two-day workshop (1/24 & 1/25) that highlights how you can use art and multimedia projects and activities to help you teach science in your afterschool, summer, or other "out of school time" (OST) programs for SF Bay teens.  This NASA-funded workshop is open to all Bay Area OST educators who work with teenage youth and will be led by staff from the NOVAS program. Click here for more information.  The deadline for applications is January 15, 2014 at 5 pm PST.  
  • Amgen Award for for Science Teaching Excellence: Win $5000 for you and $5000 for your school for your excellence in elevating the level of science literacy through creativity in the classroom and motivation of students. You must have 3 or more years teaching experience before the 2013-2014 school year. Click here for more information and to apply.  The deadline for applications is January 28, 2014.
  • CSTA Board of Directors Region 2: SFUSD's Eric Lewis has served on the CSTA's Board of Directors and has been termed out.  It would be great to have another SFUSD teacher serve the two-year term. Information here and application here.  Please submit your application by January 31, 2014.
  • IISME Summer Fellowship Program For Teachers: The IISME Summer Fellowship Program places eligible K-16 teachers from all disciplines into high-performance corporate and research environments for the summer. Teachers work full-time for eight weeks, complete a project for their host organization, and are paid $8,200 for their work. Teachers devote 10% of their paid time to focus on how they will transfer their Summer Fellowship experience back to their students and colleagues. For more information and to apply, please click here.  Applications are now open and educators are encouraged to apply by February 15, 2014.  
  • LiMPETS Introduction to Sandy Beach & Rocky Intertidal Monitoring: Get trained to do authentic, hands-on coastal monitoring experiences with your students to conduct real science at monitoring sites in SF and along the coast of CA. $50 stipend. Register here ASAP! Dates: Sat, Feb 15 (Sandy Beach in SF) and Sat, March 1 in Moss Beach.
  • Free Admission to the Exploratorium: The Exploratorium is pleased to announce its free admission program for California public school K–12 teachers.  Register here for your free admission ticket.  
  • California Academy of Sciences has published their Teacher Workshop Schedule for Spring 2014!  Content for high school teachers includes a 3 session series on Climate Myths, a two session series on Infographics in the Classroom, and additional sessions on NGSS.  Click here for more information on these and all Spring 2014 teacher workshops.  
  • Attend Nerd Nite at the Rickshaw Stop on the 3rd Wednesday of every month. Topics vary but are all STEM related. $8 cover, doors open at 8pm. It's recommended to buy tickets in advance and show up early to get a spot. More information here
  • AP Science Training: Have questions about the format and content area of the new AP Chemistry course?  Want content area support in AP Biology?   Receive subject-specific support and training to strengthen your AP science course. Click here to access the AP subject area workshops at the February 1, 2014 training at Aragon High School in San Mateo.  Speak with your administrator about getting approval for PROP A Professional Development hours for this training!
  • SF Bay Area STEAM Colloquium: This 4th annual colloquium will address critical issues in implementing STEAM education, showcase best practices, build leadership capacity for educators, and provide opportunities to develop learning communities throughout the region. The $60 fee  includes breakfast and lunch (register by Dec 20 and/or in a team of 3 for a discount). Access more information and registration directions hereFriday, February 7, 7:30 AM-4:30 PM in San Ramon.
  • Bay Area Wilderness Training (BAWT): This annual snowshoeing course includes an evening session on Wednesday, 2/5 from 7-9 PM in Oakland and a day-long trip to Tahoe on Saturday, 2/8.  Participants will learn how to properly use snowshoes, plan winter trips, and some snow-based environmental education.  All graduates of the training will be eligible to borrow snowshoes, boots, and all other winter clothing from our gear library for friends and for classes of students.  Cost is $45 to $60. Click here for more information. Registration deadline is Tuesday, Feb 4.
Upcoming Opportunities for your School and Science Students!

  • Brothers Code: Introducing African American Young Men to Tech will share tech possibilities with middle and high school black male youth. Participants will meet African American men who are tech professionals, learn more about tech career options to consider, and use hands-on modules to learn the basics of coding. All successful participants will get a gift card. Register hereSaturday, December 14, 2013 from 10 AM-3 PM, Laney College Technology Center, Oakland
  • TASC: Design and Deliver Innovative Public Programs for Museum Visitors.  Engage with the Academy's mission of exploring, explaining, and protecting the natural world through the creation and delivery of innovative public programs.  Youth work with Academy professionals to create experiences for museum visitors that communicate science in fun and engaging ways such as flash mobs, collections based fashion shows, and pop-up experiences.  Spring programming will run Saturdays and Sundays (9:30 AM - 3 PM) from February 2 - May 17, 2014.  Applications are due January 6th.  Click here and scroll down to TASC for more information and to apply.  
  • Food Sleuths:  During the "Food Sleuths" youth program, a group of high school teens will have the opportunity to learn about where their food comes from, how it is produced, what kind of impact their food choices have on the environment, and what people can do to live and eat more sustainably. The program runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 PM - 6 PM and the first Saturday of each month from 2/1/14 - 4/26/14.  Access more information and apply here.  
  • Virtual Expeditions - Making Science Come Alive for the Academy's Visitors: Interested in creating an interactive science game for Academy visitors?  Come to the Academy and learn how to use digital media to tell exciting science stories.  Work with academy scientists, prototype and launch a multimedia science game for visitors, and explore digital media and technologies.  The program runs Mondays from 4 PM to 6 PM plus Saturday 3/29 and 5/10 from February 3 to May 10, 2014.  Click here and scroll down to Virtual Expeditions for more information and to apply.  
  • Winter Quarter Enrollment - Stanford Science Circle:  The Stanford Science Circle is now accepting applications.  The program offers lectures from Stanford faculty and other scientists.  It is held on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30 PM on the Stanford campus.  Students interested in participating should go to the High School Program page here
  • Coastal Art & Poetry Contest: The California Coastal Commission invites students in all grades to submit artwork or poetry with a CA coastal or  marine theme to the annual Coastal Art & Poetry Contest.  Click here for more information. Entries must be postmarked by January 31, 2014.
  • Wishbone is currently accepting applications from high school students who would like to attend a top-notch summer program of their choice.  Wishbone is a non-profit organization that enables high school students with limited financial resources to pursue their passions by helping them access and afford high-quality summer and after-school programs.  Please visit to learn more and access the first phase of the application.  
  • The NASA Airborne Science Program invites highly motivated undergraduate students currently in their junior year to apply for the NASA Student Airborne Research Program, also known as SARP, 2014. The program takes place in summer 2014. Successful applicants will be awarded a stipend and meals allowance for eight weeks of participation in the program. Round-trip travel to California, housing and transportation will be provided. Click here for more information.  The deadline for applications is Feb. 7, 2014
  • Nautilus Exploration Honors Research Program: The Ocean Exploration Trust's Honors Research Program invites rising high school seniors (junior year completed by 6/2104) to participate in a seven-week summer program from July 7 - August 8, 2014 with an additional 7-14 days on an oceanographic exploration expedition.  Applications due February 7, 2014.  Click here for more information and to apply. 
  • The Arthritis Foundation is now accepting applications for their 2014 Summer Science Internship Program.  This program places 12 outstanding students in laboratories at UCSF and Stanford University.  Interns receive hands-on experience in the fields of rheumatology and immunology.  Students can learn more about the internship and apply through the Summer Science Internship Website:  The deadline for applications is 5 PM on February 21, 2014.
Science Field Trips & Presenters
  • Sutro Tower: Field Trip opportunities are available to interested teachers and students to visit Sutro Tower and have a guided tour and informational discussion with the General Manager of the tower inside the control room!   Contact Katie Tobin at if you are interested or have questions.  You can also contact the tower's spokesperson, Dave Hyams at Logistics: Date and time determined by teacher, 10-15 students, 1-2 hour duration.  
  • Chemical Engineer Guest Speakers:  Interested in inviting a chemical engineer for a class presentation or career day? Contact Katie Tobin at to help facilitate this opportunity for your school and students.   
Save the Date for Science Events!   
  • Helix Science Center Grand Opening: The Exploratorium is bringing a blend of interactive science and inquiry to this Silicon Valley community.  Friday, 12/13 from 6-8 PM and Saturday & Sunday (12/14 and 12/15) from 10 AM - 8 PM.  316 State Street in Los Altos, CA.  Admission: Pay what you wish!  
  • SFUSD Science Center Ribbon Cutting & Teacher Resource Fair February 4, 3-6 PM.​ Access more information here.
Contact us!  

The Science Team at C & I is here to support your science education needs.  In addition to centrally-located professional development opportunities, we are available to provide on-site individual and department-wide support in: 
  • Common Core Literacy Standards for Science
  • Next Generation Science Standards
  • Integrating science inquiry
  • Data-based inquiry to inform your science instruction 
  • Content and Language Objectives in Science
  • Strategies for English Language Learners
  • Curriculum development
  • Coaching
Dawn Rege, Secondary Science Content Specialist, Science Department (STEM @ C & I)
Katie Tobin, Secondary Science Content Specialist, Science Department (STEM @ C & I)
Eric Lewis, Secondary Science Content Specialist, LEAD - High Schools Division
Copyright © 2013 SFUSD Office of Curriculum & Instruction.  STEM Department, Science Division, All rights reserved.

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