TIP #3 - Integration
Time – The Illusive “Golden Snitch” in Elementary Classrooms
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) promote a philosophy of inquiry-based student-directed learning. While this approach is shown to be more effective at reaching all students (1,2,3) there is little debate that this teaching method takes more “classroom hours” than teacher-based direct instruction. So, in an elementary day, with teaching time already constrained by students leaving for RTI, out-of-classroom specials, and a national focus on ELA and math, how do you find more time to teach science?
One commonly employed strategy is integration. Science concepts form a natural motivation for students to practice and develop many skills that are central to ELA, math, social studies, and art standardsà Why not use your science content as topics in those lesson blocks?
Example 1: Integration with ELA
The completion of mini research projects, based on scientific topics, students are both learning key scientific content (e.g., 3-LS4-2; 5-ESS1-1) and practicing a variety of ELA writing (e.g., W3.2,7,8; W5.2,7) and reading (e.g., RI3.5; RI5.2,3,5) skills.
Example 2: Integration with Math
The collection, organization, and analysis of weather data (temperature, sunlight, rainfall, etc.) to be used for a science investigation supports both a variety of NGSS learning objectives (e.g., K-ESS2-1; K-PS3-1; 3-ESS2-1; 5-ESS1-2) and gives students motivation to practice necessary math skills (K.CC.7; K.MD.3,4; 5.MD.2; 5.G1,2).
The CreositySpace approach
In order to address this challenge, nearly 50 percent of CreositySpace lessons are suitable for instruction during ELA, social studies, math, or art classes. While these lessons can certainly be delivered during science instructional time, they are intentionally designed to reinforce key ELA, math, social students and art learning objectives, in addition to teaching the intended science concepts. To help visualize lesson integration an organization spiral accompanies every unit, as well as examples of spirals teachers have used in their own classroom. An example series from the grade 3 unit Mushroom Maestros is provided below
Want to learn more about our integration spiral? Check out one of our upcoming workshops here.
TIP #2 - Crosscutting Concepts
Crosscutting Concepts Front and Center:
The “Kitchen Organizers” for Understanding and Using Scientific Knowledge
The crosscutting concepts (CCCs) —previously labeled as "themes" or "unifying principles"—are the mental bins into which different pieces of information can be organized. As in your kitchen, you have a cupboard for plates (e.g., patterns), one for glasses (e.g., structure function), and a cutlery drawer (e.g., cause and effect).
In each of these bins you have a lot of different items which represent the performance expectations (PEs), science and engineering practices (SEPs), and disciplinary core ideas (DCIs). These are like the knives, forks, and spoons in the cutlery drawer. You know that if you need something to eat your food with you look in the cutlery drawer. Similarly, if you are trying to understand the result of an event (e.g., what do plants need to grow?) you look in your “cause and effect drawer" (e.g., plants need water and sun to grow).
The CCCs help students understand where in their mind they should "put" the information they are learning; what other knowledge might be "related to" what they are learning, and how they might be able to use that knowledge to understand or solve new problems. CCC connections enable a deeper understanding of individual pieces of information by formally connecting them to similar types of information from other disciplines (e.g., information that can be used in a similar problem-solving way).
The CreositySpace Approach
By connecting every core idea, science and engineering practice and performance expectation to a real-world application, CreositySpace helps students see the knowledge and information they are gaining "in action.” This "action" embodies the concept of "how the information is being used" and forms a natural and intuitive connection to the related CCC.
For example, in Battery Builders (grade 5), the investigations “Materials Mix-Up” and “Build a Better Battery” require students to identify patterns in materials properties and connect them to the performance of a battery they are building. In Green Architects (grade 2), students explore various components of sustainable design (living walls, environmentally-friendly building practices, etc.) by evaluating both the structure and the function of various alternatives. The columns below illustrate some additional examples of how the crosscutting concepts are naturally front and center in every CreositySpace unit.
TIP #1 - Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science
Influence of Engineering, Technology and Science on Society and the Natural World
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in many cases necessity is driven by a community need. Louis Pasteur invented the rabies vaccine to help people around his country. Huda Elasaad is developing mobile water purification plants to help bring clean water to small, hard-to-serve communities around the world today.
Invention and entrepreneurship are a great way to connect what your students are learning to their communities. Incorporating both into your science instruction lets students learn first-hand how engineering, technology and science influence, and improve, our society.
The CreositySpace Approach
Every CreositySpace unit features a number of STEM entrepreneurs and their technology innovations and businesses—highlighting the community need that drives their motivation. These entrepreneurs’ stories provide the spark and road map for students to look for needs in their own lives and communities, and to use their science and engineering knowledge to develop potential solutions.
Huda talks a bit about the motivation behind PV Pure and their modular water purification plants.
Natalie, grade 3, discusses her Pet Seat Traveler invention.