I've been toying with a side project for a while now. It's been very persistent in occupying my brain, so I figure it's time to give it a chance to see the light of day. So, here it goes.
Well, here it almost goes. First, some background. I spend a lot of my time at work exploring the Next Generation Science Standards. In essence, I try to make the NGSS accessible for the teachers in my district. If you're not familiar with the standards themselves, they have a unique architecture in that they're three dimensional. That means that they're made of three distinct, yet tightly intertwined, components:
- Disciplinary Core Ideas: what scientists and engineers know
- Science and Engineering Practices: how scientists and engineers do their work
- Crosscutting Concepts: how scientists and engineers think about the world
Teachers seem to be pretty on board with the first two because they look the most like our old standards. But those crosscutting concepts seem especially tricky for many. Seeing those big themes of science and thinking on that scale is challenging...and I have a science degree and a science background! However, to effectively teach the NGSS we have to make sure that teachers understand the crosscutting concepts and can effectively design and deliver instruction that helps students develop their own conceptual understanding of the crosscutting concepts. So, I see a need, now the question is how do I help to address that need with my teachers?
One piece of my answer is to interview practicing scientists and engineers about their practice and to ask for specific examples of how they see those crosscutting concepts in their own work. I'm hoping (cross those fingers) to partner with the never equalled Pete A'Hearn who runs the wonderful Crosscut Symbols website (sounds like he might be interested). And I think I've lined up my first guinea pig, a former high school classmate (honestly a former boyfriend) who is now a Post-Doc researcher studying supernovae at UT Austin.
There are still so many questions to consider. Would anyone actually check it out? What form will it take? How will I share it out? How will I find enough active scientists and engineers who can effectively communicate with non-sciencey folk? Should I call it "Crosscutting Concepts in Action"? Or "Crosscutting Concepts Across the Disciplines"? Will my brain let me go to sleep now that I've at least publicly put the idea out on the web? Only time will tell!