Brief #91

Why and how should I use crosscutting concepts to enhance my science instruction?

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WHY IT MATTERS TO YOU
  • Teachers should support students using the CCCs to make sense of phenomena and solve problems while using them to identify strengths in students’ thinking.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should model integrated use of CCCs during professional learning when supporting sensemaking of disciplinary core ideas (DCIs) by engaging in the science and engineering practices (SEPs).
  • School Leaders should provide teachers opportunities to explore how CCCs support sensemaking (e.g., collaboratively review students’ work or videos) and join in classroom discussions to observe their use.

What Is The Issue?

In the NRC Framework vision for science education, the crosscutting concepts (CCCs) are a key component of three-dimensional learning, yet many educators and educational leaders remain unclear about their use in science instruction. The CCCs include: patterns; systems and system models; cause and effect; scale, proportion, and quantity; energy and matter; structure and function; stability and change. The CCCs are thinking tools that have applications across all sciences (and into other disciplines). Clarity on their instructional use is essential as the CCCs promote integrated understanding and are necessary for a coherent and scientifically based understanding of the universe.

Authors:

BY TINA VO, SARAH J FICK & TJ MCKENNA | OCTOBER 2022


REFLECTION QUESTIONS

  • How and when can I make use of the CCCs to frame scientific ideas and explanations in our classroom and make them more understandable to students?
  • Do my lessons and instruction highlight the CCCs as an integrated component with the DCIs and SEPs? Are there additional CCCs that could improve a lesson or unit?
  • How can I honor and support students’ use of the CCCs related to culturally based / community knowledge?

Things To Consider

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take



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