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.