Since my students have seen several episodes, I began class last week with a discussion of the patterns across the episodes. Students were easily able to identify patterns that happen in most episodes. I didn't want to end our application of crosscutting concepts with patterns, so we moved on to structure and function. For this discussion, we identified specific characters in the episodes as structures and then identified their specific functions. An example of this is Carlos who tells a bad joke in nearly every episode, or Dorothy Ann who is always spouting, "According to my research. . ."
While this discussion did not highlight the specific elements of the structure and function crosscutting concept at the middle school level, it offered my students a very comfortable way to think about the big idea of structure and function.
Our final component of the discussion centered around stability and change in systems. We defined The Magic School Bus series as our "system." Within that system, we found that there is certain stability in each episode. This was basically a combination of our earlier discussions on patterns and structure/function.
The final component of this lesson was my challenge to the students to design an episode of The Magic School Bus about our current topic of study. They used the stability that we discussed to provide a frame around which to build their episodes. We didn't spend days perfecting their episodes because that wasn't really the intent. However, the students did leave with a better understanding of these three crosscutting concepts.
What about you? Can you use this idea with a different video series or with different crosscutting concepts to make them more accessible to your students? How will you deliberately incorporate the crosscutting concepts this week?