Practice Brief 75 -- Topics: Implementation Instruction

Using the crosscutting concepts to reflect on and refine your teaching

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should engage as scientists in their classrooms by conducting action research and reflecting using crosscutting concepts.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should give teachers time and space to identify their own opportunities and problems of practice to focus on during professional learning (for example, PLCs and workshops).
  • School Leaders should provide time in teachers’ schedules to engage in authentic reflection and action research in service of improved practice.

What is the Issue?

A Framework for K-12 Science Education poses the idea that students are best positioned to figure out phenomena and solve problems by engaging in science and engineering practices and using the crosscutting concepts as thinking lenses. The crosscutting concepts are a broad set of useful themes that can be applied to any field, including education. By using the crosscutting concepts to approach their own problems and opportunities of practice, teachers can engage in deeper reflection and metacognition—and strengthen their ability to help students use the crosscutting concepts to explain phenomena and design solutions.



Reflection Questions

  • In your teaching, when was the last time when you weren’t sure where to go next, or when something wasn’t going as planned? What successes can you analyze to see how they might be replicated? Use the recommended process to formally explore your practice.
  • How might your students, school, or district use the crosscutting concepts in ways beyond scientific thinking?

Things to Consider

Ambitious Science Teaching outlines cycles of Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) for teachers to improve their practice. PDSA are short cycles of action-research that allow for quick adjustment based on data analysis and reflection. The steps of PDSA encourage teachers to be “scientists” and engineers of their own classrooms. They ask questions and make observations, suggest a change to implement based on interpreting the situation, implement the change, collect and analyze data, reflect, then act on what was learned.

The crosscutting concepts are a set of common lenses that students use across science content to make sense of the world. Similarly, the crosscutting concepts can serve as a form of structured reflection lenses to help teachers better understand classroom phenomena.

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