Reflection: Complex Tasks Lethargic Lizard - Section 6: Closure


The NGSS Crosscutting Concepts ask students to think more deeply about what they read, write, and explain.  Once students realize that this rigor applies across topics and disciplines, they are better prepared to make connections and generate deep questions.  

Middle school students do not naturally dig into thinking (their own, and the thinking of others).  It is something they need to practice.  Even if provided with a list of the concepts, they still might struggle to see the connections.  For middle school students to learn to apply the Crosscutting Concepts, they need to take time to break down and understand what they mean.  Middle school students need practice defining and describing the CCC with every unit you teach.  Without this, in the middle school brain, they won't seem crosscutting.

As students really begin to understand what each concept means, you will see an increase in their ability to read for meaning and in the ability to generate thoughtful predictions and questions.  However, it takes time.  With each unit, give the students time to connect to each Crosscutting Concept and redefine what it means to them.  You see, the more about science topics they know, the easier it is to make connections.  At the beginning of the year they might not be able to identify that "the transfer of energy can be tracked as energy flows through a designed or natural system” (Energy and Matter) in life science and recognize these as the same ideas when we study forces and motion.  However, after I have taught my multiple units, students can begin to see the connections between them.

Teaching the Crosscutting Concepts is like a locomotive, it picks up steam with each unit.  And, if practiced and taught, it carries through the year to deepen understanding and increase meaningful scientific discourse.  The big point here is that it is not enough to look back at your lesson and say, "That connected to "Patterns" because the students found patterns in the data."  Without teaching the students what patterns in science mean and can be used for, the students will not naturally make the connections you are making.  

  The Benefit of the Crosscutting Concept
  Complex Tasks: The Benefit of the Crosscutting Concept
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Lethargic Lizard

Unit 6: Chemical Properties and Reactions
Lesson 9 of 9

Objective: Students will be able to construct, test, and modify a device that either releases or absorbs thermal energy by chemical processes.

Big Idea: Students design a warm pack that can keep a bearded dragon warm during transport during the cold Michigan winters. Students choose a chemical, a concentration, and a cover for their warm pack that will maintain the optimal temperature of the lizard!

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Science, Chemical Reactions and Balancing, physical change, reaction
  80 minutes
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