COMET • Vol. 21, No. 02 – 3 August 2020



(1) Stronger Together, A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools

Source: California Department of Education

In June, the California Department of Education released a 62-page guidebook to provide advice for the safe reopening of the state’s schools, many of which have been closed since mid-March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the foreword to Stronger Together, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond states that “the effects felt by COVID-19 have been widespread and created impacts unlike anything that we’ve ever seen. I want to commend the people of California for your resilience and the quick manner in which you moved into distance learning. Thank you for all that you’ve done to help keep California’s students safe and able to continue learning… We provide this guidance as a ‘how to’ for safely reopening our schools…”
The document includes numerous resources, FAQs, guidance on instructional scheduling models, and sections on social-emotional learning, special education, professional relationships and learning, mental health, school services, and more.

(2) Free Two-Day Distance Learning Academy Begins Tomorrow

Source: Jon Dueck, Fresno County Superintendent of Schools STEM Coordinator
Contact: Jeanette Martinez –, (559) 497-3816

The Office of the Fresno County Superintendent of Schools (FCSS) is offering all educators a free 2-day virtual conference tomorrow and Wednesday. This Distance Learning Academy will “provide teachers and school leaders with tech tools to ready themselves for the demands of distance learning as well as with ideas for how to deliver content in these virtual platforms that are engaging and exciting for students.” Over 50 sessions will be offered, as well as virtual discussions on current issues related to distance learning and the challenges facing the educational system on the lead-up to the new school year.
Visit to view the session schedule, descriptions, and speakers. To register, visit (The deadline to register has been extended until midnight tonight; confirmation and session access information will be sent tomorrow morning around 7:30 a.m.) The sessions will be recorded and accessible later via the FCSS Distance Learning Resource webpage:

(3) California STEAM Symposium Offers Special 2-for-1 Virtual Conference Package


The eighth annual California STEAM Symposium will be held online on December 11-13, 2020. Included in the price of the Symposium is a special half-day Back-to-School Preconference tomorrow (August 4) with the theme “Building Community with STEAM.”

In addition to keynote speakers, the preconference will include ideas for building relationships with students in a socially-distanced world, as well as hands-on activities and interactive breakout sessions highlighting in-person and online instructional activities. 

The multi-day STEAM Symposium in December will feature on-demand access to all sessions and “ideas, strategies, and innovations that work for ALL students,” with the goal of advancing STEAM equity in all learning environments.”

Early bird registration rates are guaranteed through August 31, while the regular rates are available through October 21. For more information about #CASTEAM20, visit


Related Opportunity

Lunch Bites Podcast Series Supports Virtual Instruction

This summer, CDE Foundation ( has been producing podcasts hosted by Karyn Warner and Glennon Stratton where “innovative practices, resources, and practical solutions to benefit our students” are discussed. Weekly video episodes were also produced during the spring, beginning a week after California’s statewide stay-at-home order was issued on 19 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The slide decks and resources for these 11 webinars can be found at


(4) Virtual California Science Education Conference

Source: California Association of Science Educators

The California Association of Science Educators (CASE; formerly the California Science Teachers Association–CSTA) is hosting a virtual California Science Education Conference on October 16-18, 2020. Conference features include 90-minute workshops, three- to six-hour short courses, updates on the CA-NGSS curriculum materials and ideas on implementing NGSS in the classroom. For more information, visit and to register, visit

CASE shared its name change in a Tweet (@cascience) on 1 July 2020: “As of today, CSTA is transitioning to California Association of Science Educators (CASE). We recognize that science education not only takes place inside the classroom, but everywhere, and we advocate for all!”


(5) California Mathematics Council North and South Conferences

The sixty-first annual CMC South Conference will be held virtually on November 6-7 ( The sixty-third annual CMC North Conference is scheduled to be held at Asilomar in Pacific Grove on December 4-6 (


(6) Virtual Workshop: Mathematical Models for Prediction and Control of Epidemics

Source: Mathematical Sciences Research Institute

The Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley is hosting a virtual workshop on August 10-12 that will bring together researchers from epidemiology, global health, and mathematics to discuss challenges in developing predictive models for epidemics as well as policies and algorithmic solutions for their control and mitigation. It will give the mathematics community access to some of the challenging issues and mathematical problems in the field. For details of this 3-day workshop, please visit


(7) Free Virtual Math Summit 2020 for Elementary Teachers

Source: Build Math Minds

The Build Math Minds Virtual Math Summit 2020 will be held on August 3-5 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. PDT daily). Those who register for this free conference may attend the 25 sessions live or access the archived videos any time through August 10, 2020. Speakers include Mark Chubb, Robert Kaplinsky, Beatrice Moore Luchin, Janice Novakowski, Peg Smith, and many other talented professionals. To view all session titles and descriptions, as well as to register, visit


(8) 2020 Virtual Early Math Symposium – Session Videos Available Free of Charge

The fourth annual Early Math Symposium was a free professional learning event presented by the California Early Math Project on 25 June 2020. Recordings, presentation files, and handouts from the 19 sessions with keynote speakers such as Doug Clements and Stuart J. Murphy are now freely available at

The overall goal of the California Early Math Project is to “promote awareness of the importance of math in early education (birth to age eight), provide tools to parents and educators, and collaborate with agencies and organizations working to advance mathematical learning.” Visit the project’s website for more information about this important imitative:


(9) Los Alamos ScienceFest Discovery Day – Event Videos Now Available


The first virtual Los Alamos ScienceFest Discovery Day was held on July 7-12, 2020. Visit the event website,, for links to recordings of the featured speakers, which include Pat Brown (CEO and Founder of Impossible Foods) and Camille Schrier (Miss America 2020; a strong advocate for STEM). Links to all sessions can be found on the full agenda at


(10) “Science is Cool” Virtual Unconference Video Now Available

According to the event moderator, more than 10,000 science teachers from 120 countries registered for the second “Science is Cool” (ScIC2) virtual unconference, which was held on 21 May 2020 and hosted by PocketLab. Headlined by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and comedian Chuck Nice, the day-long conference featured speakers from the Exploratorium, PhET, Hooked on Science, and more. To view a recording of the entire event, visit

For more information or to apply to speak at the next ScIC virtual unconference, please visit


(11) SJSU Offers Free Online Teaching Academy for K-12 Teacher Support


San José State University’s Connie L. Lurie College of Education established a free K-12 Online Teaching Academy to support pre-service teacher candidates and current teachers to strengthen their online teaching skills and adapt to our current circumstances. Each of the 23 webinar recordings features a 1-1.5 hour presentation and conversation on a different topic with a current educator along with links to their slides and additional resources. Topics include the following: Leveraging YouTube for Distance Learning, Rethinking Assessment for the Google Generation, Ed-Tech/UDL Mash-up Online, Fun and Fantastic Ways to Engage Students During Remote Learning, Lessons Learned from Math Intervention at a Distance, Techquity–Culturally Responsive Teaching in the 21st Century Classroom, and more.

Online learning communities (LinkedIn or Facebook group) have been established for sharing resources and networking with others. Visit to view the videos and for more information.


(12) STEM Learning Ecosystems Presents Over 200 Online STEM Resources for Educators


The STEM Learning Ecosystems Community of Practice has compiled over 200 online STEM resources for teachers of all levels. View this extensive annotated compilation at To contribute to this list, please visit


(13) 2021 Mathematics Framework Revision Update

Source: Jonathan Lee, California Department of Education

The third of six scheduled meetings of the Mathematics Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC) will take place this Wednesday and Thursday (August 5-6) via Zoom. Visit for the meeting agenda, access details, and public comment information. 

The whole-group proceedings for this meeting will be livestreamed at the day of the meeting. In addition, Zoom log-in information for the small group breakout sessions can be obtained by emailing Mathematics Framework Revision listserv subscribers will also receive this information. (To subscribe to this listserv, send an empty email message to

Email to provide comments on or to obtain a link to the draft chapters included on this month’s meeting agenda:

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Teaching for Equity and Engagement

Chapter 4: Exploring, Discovering, and Reasoning With and About Mathematics

Chapter 8: Grades 9-12

The timeline for the development and approval of the Mathematics Framework is available at  More information can be found on the Mathematics Framework web page: 


(14) Commission on Teacher Credentialing to Explore Micro-Credentialing at August Meeting

Source: California Commission on Teacher Credentialing

URL (Agenda):
URL (Item 4I):

At its August 7 meeting, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) will participate in a study session on micro-credentialing. For this agenda item (4I), the presenters will provide an overview of the topic, share where and how micro-credentialing (“digital badging”) is being used throughout the nation (e.g., for adding teaching authorizations in computer science and career technical education), and “how micro-credentialing might intersect with the current statewide implementation of virtual instruction.”

The agenda item includes links to resources on micro-credentialing for the Commission’s consideration on The item also notes the following: “The Commission’s current process for adding an authorization to an existing credential is based either on completion of specified coursework or passing the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET) that addresses the Commission’s adopted Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) for that content area. In other states, micro-credentialing is seen as an additional pathway for teachers to demonstrate their depth and breadth of knowledge and skills in certain areas such [computer science and career technical education]. Information will be presented during this study session on the various ways that other states are implementing this pathway to support and facilitate teacher development…. Based on Commission discussion and any potential direction from the Commission for additional information, staff could bring a future item for the Commission’s consideration.”


(15) AB 2485 Would Add Another Option for Teacher Candidates to Demonstrate Subject Matter Requirement


Currently there are two paths to demonstrate subject matter competency for California teaching credential candidates: (a) completion of a Subject Matter Program approved by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) or (b) passing specified California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET) subtests. California Assembly Bill 2485, which has thus far received strong support from legislators, would permit the use of undergraduate or graduate coursework completed as part of a degree program at an accredited college or university to satisfy in whole or in part the Subject Matter Requirements (SMRs) for teaching credential candidates. The bill, which would sunset on 31 December 2023, would also permit a mixing of the three options to satisfy the SMRs (e.g., coursework satisfying some of the SMRs in mathematics might be combined with one of the two required CSET Mathematics subtests to satisfy the requirement for a Single Subject Credential in Foundational-Level Mathematics).

CTC has stated that “AB 2485 creates new pathways for teacher candidates to meet the subject matter requirement…These alternatives will be especially beneficial to California’s diverse teacher pipeline, particularly those impacted by COVID-19 school site and testing center closures. These new options will remove barriers to entry for otherwise well-qualified teacher candidates and reduce the teacher shortage.”


(16) Middle School Computer Science Teachers Sought for Study

Swati Mehta, a doctoral candidate at Michigan State University, is seeking participation from middle school computer science (CS) teachers to explore their classroom practices in teaching CS concepts using culturally responsive tools ( while following the Computer Science Teaching Association (CSTA) standards:  Teachers will receive $60 for their participation. For details, please contact Swati at


(17) CUE Welcomes Joe Marquez as New Director of Academic Innovation

Former Clovis Unified School District middle school science teacher Joe Marquez has been named as the Director of Academic Innovation for CUE (Computer-Using Educators). An interview with Joe is available at

CUE Executive Director Pam Gildersleeve-Hernandez noted that “Joe is at the forefront of understanding best instructional practices and how to accelerate learning through the use of technology. He brings a strong background in STEAM with him and is an excellent fit to round out the CUE team as we support teachers, administrators, schools, and districts in providing the very best in professional learning.”

In his interview, Joe addressed the challenges of fall instruction: “[Fall] excites me because I foresee many teachers taking traditional methods of teaching and mashing them together with something new and innovative. This is the way teaching always needs to be – to be transformed in a manner that is fun, exciting, important, and uncertain… As a teacher, you don’t have to be certain your lesson is going to work. You don’t have to be certain that you know how to use a tool 100% perfectly. You don’t have to be certain at all…you just have to be willing to try new things. I think having a portion of uncertainty in any lesson is incredibly important when you’re looking at teaching in the classroom – it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, I always emphasize a great teacher doesn’t mean perfect teaching, right?”


(18) State and National K-12 Assessment Weekly Updates

The California Department of Education produces an informative weekly newsletter on statewide testing (primarily CAASPP and ELPAC) for K-12 educators. To subscribe to “Assessment Spotlight,” send a blank message to Past issues are available at

A few snippets from the 31 July 2020 issue are included below:

–  Back to School Assessment Playbook

The Smarter Balanced Consortium has just released the Back to School Assessment Playbook, which describes how educators can use Smarter Balanced resources such as Tools for Teachers and Interim Assessment Blocks in support of high-quality instruction in the formative assessment process… The Playbook can be found on the CDE Interim Assessments information web page and CDE Tools for Teachers information web page.

– Updates: National and International Assessments

      The National Center for Education Statistics has canceled some of the national and international assessments–the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)–planned for the 2020-21 school year and will announce final plans for the 2020-21 NAEP by the end of August 2020…

      NAEP still under consideration: Grades four and eight reading and mathematics–for state, national, and Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) results. California’s TUDAs include Fresno Unified School District (USD), Los Angeles USD, and San Diego USD…



(1) 2020 STEM for All Video Showcase: Learning from Research and Practice

The National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM for All Video Showcase is an annual online event hosted by TERC showcasing federally-funded STEM and computer science education projects through 3-minute videos. This year’s interactive event, held on May 5-12, included 171 videos and 695 presenters. All videos are available in a searchable archive (by subject, grade level, state, institution, etc.). Visit to peruse the plethora of videos and read the accompanying dialogue between the researchers and event attendees.


(2) PhET: Free Interactive Simulations for Mathematics and Science


Carl Wieman, recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physics, founded the PhET Interactive Simulation Project in 2002 at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where the project is still based. The PhET website includes over 100 free, interactive simulations to actively engage learners of all ages in exploring and learning a wide variety of concepts in mathematics ( and science (

The simulations, which are written in Java, Flash, or HTML5, can be downloaded to a computer or run online. Helpful notes for teachers are included with each simulation. For more information, visit the main website or


(3) KQED Free Digital Media Academy for Educators

The new KQED Media Academy offers a set of four free, instructor-led online professional development classes during 2020-21 for K-12 classroom teachers to support curriculum goals. Topics include video production, analyzing and evaluating media, podcasting and audio production, and graphic and interactive media production for the classroom. Visit for course descriptions and registration information.


(4) Mars 2020 STEM Toolkit, STEM Webinars, and More from NASA


On July 30, NASA successfully launched the Mars rover Perseverance, which is expected to land on the surface of Mars on 18 February 2021 and stay for at least one Mars year (687 Earth days). Perseverance will seek signs of ancient life on Mars and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth. Also on this flight is NASA’s Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, to demonstrate the first powered flight on another planet.

Visit for a 2-page document filled with information, links, and educational resources related to the planned missions to the Moon (Artemis) and Mars, as well as the relationship between the two efforts.

A series of NASA live webinars and other resources are available free of charge for K-12 teachers, university faculty, and preservice teachers. Visit and to explore all that is available.


Related Article:

NASA’s First Crewed Spaceflight with SpaceX a Success; First Female Head of the Human Spaceflight Program Named

After spending 64 days in space, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley returned to earth yesterday on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft, a highly successful test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Dragon was the first commercially built and operated spacecraft to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station and return them to earth. At the “welcome home” ceremony for the astronauts yesterday afternoon, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was exuberant about the success of the mission and stated, “What this heralds really is a fundamentally new era in space flight – a new era in space exploration. We’re going to go to the moon, we’re going to have a base on the moon, we’re going to send people to Mars, and make life multiplanetary” (

Both Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine acknowledged Kathy Lueders, former manager of the Commercial Crew Program in charge of NASA’s public-private partnerships and recently named Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. A story about Lueders appears at on the resource-rich “A Mighty Girl” website, billed as “the world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.”


(5) NCTM Celebrates its Centennial Year with 100 Free Webinars through 15 October 2020

Source: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

On 1 April 2020, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) launched its online “100 Days of Professional Learning” in recognition of the organization’s 100th anniversary and in support of educators nationwide, as many were forced to “shelter in place” and transition rapidly to online instruction in mid-March due to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. These free webinars, which are presented at 4 p.m. PDT on selected weekdays through 15 October 2020, provide educators with a unique opportunity to view presentations originally scheduled to be delivered in Chicago at NCTM’s 2020 Centennial Annual Meeting and Exposition on April 1-4.

The webinar schedule is available at, where you can also select archived videos from past webinars to view.

NCTM announced that “to continue the celebration of NCTM’s Centennial year and to support the math education community, we will be announcing a new, separate special virtual learning opportunity to be presented this fall.”


Related Information:

NCTM Offers Educators Trial Membership and Additional Free Resources


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is offering non-members a free 30-day trial membership, providing access to publications and resources. NCTM is also offering all educators “Figure This!” resources for families, free lessons with connections to current events, online interactives, problems to ponder, and more. Visit the website above to explore NCTM’s free resources.


(6) Exploring the Roots of NCTM in its Centennial Year

Reference: Oregon Teachers Monthly (Journal of the Oregon State Board of Education) – September 1920


As the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) celebrates its centennial this year, it’s natural and important to explore the roots of the world’s largest and most influential organization of mathematics educators. The NCTM website lists the organization’s leaders since its inception:

Delving a bit more deeply, the September 1920 issue of the Oregon Teachers Monthly includes an article containing historical tidbits about the formation and early days of NCTM, as well as some unique perspectives about mathematics education through a century-old lens. A quote from the only member of the first NCTM executive committee who was from California is included in this article and is indicative of the passion of this teacher to encourage secondary teachers to join the new organization and share their ideas about its work and purpose. (The passages below are from pages 292 and 294,

“The organization meeting was held at Cleveland, Ohio, February 24, 1920. The next meeting will be at Atlantic City, February 27, 1921. The purpose of the National Council is to bring the interests of mathematics to the attention and consideration of the educational world, and to improve the teaching of mathematics by securing a greater degree of coordination and solidity among teachers up the subject and by unifying and vitalizing the work of the different local organizations of teachers of mathematics in junior and senior high schools…

“If there ever was a time when teachers of mathematics should units to accomplish the aims set forth in the statement of the purpose of this council, it is the present. Unless teachers of mathematics undertake to modify the content of the subject matter and the method of presentation to conform to the demands of modern educational ideas and to bring the real values of the subject to the attention of the educational world, they may be obliged to stand by helplessly and see their subject cast aside as useless.

“It may be observed that among the members of the [first] executive committee, the far west is represented by a teacher in Fresno, Calif. [William A. Austin], the only member west of Iowa. This representative is very anxious to have the teachers of the far west assert themselves in the policies of this council. He, therefore, urges all teachers to write their suggestions as to the nature of the work of this council and the needs of the profession, and invites them to join the council and give it moral and financial support. A card will be sufficient to bring a sample copy of the first issue of the official journal. Teachers who wish to join the council may fill out the following membership blank and mail it to Wm. A. Austin, Fresno, Calif., care high school. Membership blank: ‘I hereby agree to become a member of The National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics for the year 1921, with the understanding that the membership fee of $2 entitles me to one year’s subscription to the official journal of the council.”

NCTM’s first official publication, Mathematics Teacher was acquired from the Association of Teachers of Mathematics in the Middle States and Maryland (now the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics). While the journal was launched in 1908, NCTM’s first issue was published in January 1921, and the last issue of Mathematics Teacher was published in 2019, superseded by Mathematics Teacher: Learning and Teaching PK-12 in 2020.


(7) NCTM Annual Meetings Scheduled for 2021 – Speaker Proposals are Invited


The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) St. Louis (MO) Annual Meeting and Exposition, originally scheduled for October 21-24, 2020, is scheduled to be held in St. Louis on April 21-24, 2021.

Proposals are currently being accepted for the 2021 Atlanta (GA) Annual Meeting and Exposition scheduled to be held on September 22-25. Visit for strand titles and descriptions, as well as proposal submission and review guidelines. The deadline for submission is 1 October 2020.


(8) A Plethora of Math Problems Developed in International Project Available Online

The following message is from Alan Rogerson, International Coordinator of the Mathematics Education for the Future Project and Coordinator of the International Directory of Mathematics Educators:

“This is to alert all teachers world-wide about DQME (Developing Quality in Mathematics Education), an enormous resource of 4650 original, stimulating and motivating math problems/worksheets/applications developed and written by teachers and tested and retested in schools in 11 countries in 10 languages over the six-year period of the EU-funded DQME Projects I and II (2004-2010).

“The materials are individually classified in topics, age group and language, and you can download them and freely use them in your classes and for virtual learning immediately! Most of the materials are copyright but the authors have kindly agreed ALL materials may be used as long as they retain the DQME logo heading to ensure that they are attributed to our project.”

Please email for details on how to access the DQME website and make use of all the resources there.


(9) Call for Papers on Mental Computation for the Journal of Mathematics Education


The Journal of Mathematics Education invites manuscripts for a special issue focused on mental computation that will be published in June 2021. The deadline for papers (4000-5000 words in length) is August 30. For more details, please visit the website above.



(1) State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Digital Divide Task Force Identify Resources and Partnerships Available to Support Successful Distance Learning in the Fall

Source: California Department of Education

(2) National Science Teaching Association Offers Free Zoom Seminars and Associate Membership

The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) offers several levels of membership plans including an Associate Membership that is free of charge and offers access to four resources a month. Visit for more information.


(3) Sal Khan’s Advice on Preparing for and Succeeding with Distance Learning

Source: EdSource – 31 July 2020

On EdSource’s July 31 podcast, “Sal Khan, creator of the free online learning site that bears his name, offers advice on what effective and engaging distance learning should look like when schools reopen this month.” The podcast host notes that use of has tripled since the pandemic began. (To subscribe to EdSource for daily news and information on current and important education topics, visit


(4) Statistics in School Activities from the U.S. Census


Source: United States Census Bureau



(5) STEM Activity Clearinghouse


STAR Net (Science-Technology Activities & Resources for Libraries Network) and Cornerstones of Science have produced the STEM Activity Clearinghouse which contains curated STEM activities that are searchable by grade, content area, lesson features, and more. Visit to learn more.


COMET is supported by a grant from the California Mathematics Project.

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Carol Fry Bohlin, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Program Coordinator, M.A. in Education-C&I
Director, Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI)
Reporter/Editor, California Online Mathematics Education Times (COMET)
California State University, Fresno
5005 N. Maple Ave. M/S ED 2
Fresno, CA  93740-8025      
Twitter: @STEM_Fresno