Participants in the activity will
- understand where the Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) come from
- understand that students can use the CCCs as a conceptual framework for organizing new information
- be introduced the titles of the seven CCCs
The idea of standards including both content and practices is not necessarily new. However, the added dimension of the Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) takes more getting used to, and educators often have more questions about this dimension. They may wonder why it is on equal footing with the other two dimensions, how it fits in with the other two dimensions, and why it is important to students.
This presentation introduces the CCCs and their rationale through a story about research done with expert and novice chess players. The results of the research points to fundamental differences in how these two groups organize information. Participants are then given a chance to share their first impressions of the CCCs before diving deeper into other activities.
Watch the video above to get an overview, and use the detailed lesson plan below to lead this professional development activity for your team of educators.
Participants in the activity will
The idea of standards including both content and practices is not necessarily new. However, the added dimension of the Crosscutting Concepts (CCCs) takes more getting used to, and educators often have more questions about this dimension. Specifically they may wonder why it is on equal footing with the Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs) and Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs). Educators also often wonder how the CCCs fit in with the other two dimensions, and why they are important to students. For this reason, we recommend using the presentation to introduce the CCCs before diving into hands-on activities to develop a deeper understanding of the definitions and applications of the seven concepts.
This presentation centers around a science story that helps define the idea of a conceptual framework by comparing the ways that experts and novices organize information. The story goes like this: In a series of cognitive psychology studies, researchers looked at how chess experts and chess novices differed in the way that they organized their ideas about the game. As part of this research, chess experts and novices were shown a chess board on which pieces were randomly arranged (see the image above). Both groups were then asked to recreate the positions of the pieces from memory.
It turns out that the two groups organized the information differently. Novices tended to remember only individual pieces (rook, knight, bishop, etc.) and their position in space. Experts, however, grouped pieces together based on the strategic moves that the piece could make in the game. (See SLIDE 8 for a visual representation of this.) The experts could then use this conceptual framework to organize and make sense of any configuration of pieces on the board. This phenomenon has been observed in other areas like physics and computer programming. In general, novices rely on surface features (e.g. isolated facts or formulas) to organize ideas, while experts develop and use a conceptual framework, sorting new knowledge using big ideas or broad categories.
We can help students think like experts by providing them with a conceptual framework around which they can build their understanding and new ideas. The CCCs as a conceptual framework aim to help students learn science and think like experts in the following ways:
The conceptual framework of the CCCs supports students in thinking scientifically. Students don’t necessarily need to be science experts—instead we want to teach them how to critically evaluate their world.
Aranda, J. (2006, August 29). Fun with representations III—Hidden in plain sight [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://catenary.wordpress.com/2006/08/29/fun-with-representations-iii-hidden-in-plain-sight/
Sheridan, H. & Reingold, E.M. (2014). Expert vs. novice differences in the detection of relevant information during a chess game: evidence from eye movements. Frontiers in Psychology, 5, 941. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00941
This activity consists of a PowerPoint presentation. Try to make this an interactive presentation, drawing questions, comments, and input from your participants. The notes below describe our talking points for each slide in the presentation. Please do not view this as a script; rather, adapt the talking points to your own presentation style.
Note: to view these talking points alongside the slides, download the full activity.
Part 1: The Chess Story (10 minutes)
SLIDES 1-4: Introduction
SLIDE 5: Why the CCCs?
SLIDE 6: Experts vs. Novices
SLIDE 7: The Experiment
SLIDE 8: The Results
SLIDE 9: Connecting to Science Education
SLIDE 10: Science Learning
SLIDE 11: What are the 7 CCCs?
Part 2: Discussion (5 minutes)
The goal of this short wrap-up discussion is to share first impressions of the 7 CCCs now that participants are aware of the rationale behind them.
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