7 CCs of Science Standards – STAT!

Regurgitation Warning: I didn’t sell my soul or anything. My goal here is just to succinctly share what I’m understanding so far from one part of the NGSS – hoping it might make the monster easier to tackle for my colleagues out there. BTW, I’ve been working on an infographic to contextualize it all.

As a teacher of multiple science and engineering courses, I’m starting to digest the “cross-cutting concepts” within the Next Generation Science Standards. At this point only 3 states in the U.S. have officially adopted NGSS, but, since it’s likely that Iowa will also adopt them, I need to get my study on.

ngss_alt_logoThe NGSS have three areas – represented by the three sides of the Möbius strip that makes up the logo.

  • Science and Engineering Practices (This is connected to the methods of learning and teaching associated with the terms ‘inqury’ and/or ‘constructivist.’)
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas (Content)
  • Cross-Cutting Concepts

Perhaps I’ll do a series of posts on digesting NGSS. No promises. In this post I’m just going to start thinking about the cross-cutting concepts. The document from which I glean the following is right here (pdf from final April 2013 edition).

Motivations for Using CCCs Perceived by the Authors

Emphasis and de-emphasis are my own, and reflect my current perception of value.

  • CCCs are notions that help students understand content.
  • CCCs help students understand methods of science engineering.
  • Revisiting CCCs explicitly and implicitly allow students to build familiarity with using them. Let them come to the surface. Let them swim below. Help them emerge again later.
  • Complexity and sophistication of CCCs grow over the years.
  • CCCs can offer common vocabulary.
  • CCCs are not to be assessed directly.
  • (In perceived contradiction to #6…) Performance expectations are associated with CCCs.
  • CCCs are for ALL students!
  • The CCCs are for individual standards are where you’ll find treatment of the Nature of Science and engineering concepts.

The Actual Cross-Cutting Concepts

Here, the headings are the names of the actual CCCs. The scant commentary for each is my own – based on my experiences predominately as a physics teacher.

Category 1: Patterns

CCC 1: Patterns

From my experience in a modeling instruction workshop, the name of the game is creating scenarios … in which students can identify patterns … that can be generalized into the laws of physics.

Category 2: Causality

CCC 2: Cause and Effect

I think this is a good one. When people hear “B happens because A,” I perceive that there is difficulty distinguishing between “A causes B” and “B causes A.”

Example: “Why are there seasons on Earth?”

  • Plausible valid response: “In alternating portions of Earth’s revolution around the Sun, each N/S hemisphere receives alternating more and less direct sunlight.”
  • Surprisingly common response that shows that someone doesn’t understand the causality in the question: “So that flowers can grow in the

CCC 3: Structure and Function

I’m passing the ball to you, Life and Health Sciences.

Category 3: Systems

CCC 4: Systems and System Models

Be they circulatory, respiratory, reproductive, lymphatic, or nervous – systems are certainly present in bio. Also, engineers can be concerned with all sorts of systems. In these cases, though, we’re talking about the tangible.

The system models used in energy-, momentum-, or force-based analyses are abstractions. So, other than a linguistic coincidence, I don’t feel clear about why these are lumped together.

CCC 5: Scale, Proportion, and Quantity

My understanding is that this about numeracy.

  • How does 1 km compare with 1 mm?
  • WRIAEB the radius diameter of a circle and its circumference? (Sorry, Vi! I’m still with you on Tau!)
  • Use unit analysis/dimentional reasoning for problem solving and #pattern finding.

CCC 6: Energy and Matter

From one perspective, I’m wondering why energy and mass are the conserved quantities the sorting hat chose to be crosscutting. Feels a tad arbitrary. What about momentum? Charge? Color?

From another perspective, I’m really feeling how widespread appreciation and respect for the finiteness of Earth’s resources is pressing.

Also, what are the psychosocioeconomic implications of entropy?

CCC 7: Stability and Change

I suppose this is about the first (rate of change) and second derivatives (rate of rate of change) for anything within “scales, proportionality, and quantities.”

Where will I see this stuff?

Left side of each standard page. In green. If you print the NGSS documents, I’d recommend you do so with a color printer; doing so will prevent allay cognitive overload. (Administrators, be ready to refill those color ink cartridges.) Sample.