The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) represent a vision for education where students, over multiple years of school, deepen their understanding of core ideas in science and engineering through active engagement with science and engineering practices and application of crosscutting concepts (NRC Framework, 2012). Achieving this vision will require major shifts in the way that science is taught and valued in the K-12 classroom. Effective implementation of NGSS requires sustained professional learning to build the capacity of teachers and leaders. Providing teachers with an initial exposure and time to deepen their understanding of the standards is a start. The complex and challenging work of planning and teaching with NGSS in mind, as well as assessing students in a three-dimensional way, will require changes in teacher beliefs, content knowledge, and pedagogical skills.
The Alameda County Office of Education science Department offers a variety of events and professional learning to help educators learn about and deepen understanding of NGSS, plan science instruction, develop assessments, and develop PLC models. These services are designed to support and build capacity of districts and schools implementing the NGSS.
Science Department Staff
Dawn O’Connor, Director and Co-I, Science Partnership for Instructional Innovation
Dawn O’Connor is the Director of the Science Partnership and leads the ACOE science team for the past four years. The Science Partnership is a collaboration between the Alameda County Office of Education and the California State University East Bay. This partnership brings University Science and Education faculty together with pedagogical experts at the County Office of Education to support the deepening of science and pedagogical content knowledge. Dawn’s vision for science education reform and systems thinking is evident in the science projects she leads and grounded in her extensive background. Before starting at ACOE Dawn was a middle school science teacher for 20 years, a district science lead and a BTSA mentor for the New Teacher Project. Her professional experiences grounded her commitment to an equitable science program for all students and to the support of educators at all levels of the school system. In addition to these projects, Dawn is part of the State level leadership team that is focused on the statewide implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards and is the Region 4 Science Lead. She is also the Director for the East Bay Science Project, which is one of the California Department of Education subject matter projects. This work provides technical support for both local and regional partners.
Leena Bakshi, Science Coordinator
Leena Bakshi works as a science coordinator and joined the team in January of 2014. She earned her B.A. degree in biology from UC Berkeley, M.A. in Education from Claremont Graduate University, and a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Southern California. She has researched schools spanning all across the state of California and completed her dissertation on The Successful Implementation of STEM Initiatives in Lower Income Schools. Leena worked as a math, science and health teacher and instructional coach in southern California at middle schools and high schools in San Bernardino and Los Angeles County undergoing Program Improvement. Upon Leena’s return to the Bay Area, she worked in math and science curriculum development at Summit Public Schools, FLEX program development with continuation students in Albany, and is now working with Alameda County schools and districts in leading the NGSS strategic planning through professional development workshops, district consulting, and lesson study. She continues to present at state and national conferences in STEM education with topics including supporting administrators in the transition of the California Science Standards and using discourse in the classroom to support sense-making for all students. Leena is passionate about incorporating science education as a core subject across all grade levels.
Anna Newman, Science Coordinator
Anna holds a B.S. degree in Zoology from San Diego State University, a M.A. interdisciplinary degree in Science/Science Teaching from California State University Chico and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley completing her Ed.D degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Bilingual Education. As a passionate educator, Anna has experience teaching across grade levels and content areas as well as, state and international borders. She has worked at the district level to improve science education through training teachers, writing curriculum, developing district level accountability measures and leading strategic planning for implementation of district initiatives. Most recently, Anna is working at the county level as a science program director in the San Francisco bay area. As a program director, she consults with districts around developing a strategic plan for implementing the NGSS, aligning initiatives, and ensuring science inclusion in the Local Control Accountability Plan. Anna trains teachers in science content and pedagogy through intensive professional development by establishing and maintaining professional learning communities within and across local districts. Lessons learned, tools and curriculum developed are shared through presenting at state and national conferences. Anna continues to hold a vision for access and equity in STEM education and works at multiple levels in the system to achieve this goal.