I love using Graphic Organizers to make connections to the Crosscutting Concepts. This is one of my favorite strategies because these graphic organizers can be used over and over again. This helps students to make connections across concepts and disciplines.
How to Use Graphic Organizers for the Crosscutting Concepts
Here is my step-by-step approach to using graphic organizers for the Crosscutting Concepts.
1. Give them the opportunity to explore the content.
Students should be given the opportunity to explore the content that you are covering before they are asked to make a connection using the Crosscutting Concepts. Provide your students with a graph or map, a card sort or another activity. If you need ideas for an Explore Activity, check out this episode of the podcast.
2. Assess prior knowledge.
Before I introduce a Crosscutting Concept, I try to assess student knowledge of the given concept. Students tend to have a strong understanding of Concepts like Cause and Effect and Patterns. However, they struggle with other concepts.
For example, most of my students haven't had any exposure to the concept of Systems and System Models prior to my class. Also, they struggle with the concepts of Energy and Matter and Stability and Change.
If you have a robust NGSS program in prior grade levels, your students may have a strong foundational understanding of the concepts. However, if they have not had NGSS-style classes before, these concepts will need to be taught.
3. Provide information about the concept.
If the students are unfamiliar with the Crosscutting Concept, provide them with more information. This is one of the few times that I still do direct instruction in my classes. I provide students with notes or a reference sheet about a given Crosscutting Concept.
However, there are other ways to provide them with information about the concept. For example, videos can be useful tools to help students understand a given concept.
4.Walk students through the Graphic Organizer the first time that they use it for a given Crosscutting Concept.
I like to do the graphic organizer with the students the first time that we use it. We do one section at a a time as a think-pair-share.
I create general graphic organizers. So, not all components of the Graphic Organizer are relevant each time that we use it. If it isn't relevant, I just have students put an “X” over the box.
5. Let students try on their own.
Once students have used a given graphic organizer, they can be used any time that you would like to make a connection to a Crosscutting Concept.
These make great formative assessments. I hand them out to students to see how well they are able to make a connection to a concept. Then, I collect them and provide feedback. We will go over them in class and then students can keep them in their interactive notebook.
My Graphic Organizers and Reference Sheets for the Crosscutting Concepts
You can make these resources on your own, but I have posted some that I have made in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
This comes in both a digital version for Google Slides™ and PDF version. So, they can be used in Google Classroom or a physical notebook.