One of the challenges that this vision presents is finding the phenomena around which to build my instruction.
I feel like my colleagues and I have done a decent job designing hands-on instruction that aligns with the DCIs and science and engineering practices. I have good intentions to incorporate the crosscutting concepts next year. However, the idea of explaining phenomena that are relevant and important to students trips me up.
My current unit revolves around waves, light, and digital signals. We've done a lot of hands-on activities that help students understand how to model waves and connections between aspects of waves (frequency, amplitude, etc.) and events they experience (color of light, volume of sound, etc.), but we haven't looked at a big relevant phenomenon that students can use their new knowledge to explain. One of my colleagues suggested that next year we frame this unit around "a day at the beach." Were we not in landlocked central Kentucky, a field trip to the beach would be a great way to start the unit. This will be an area of concentration for me next year as I work to refine the units I taught this year. I'll be working to find those phenomena that interest students to use as anchors for our instruction and hands-on activities.
This is also one of those occasions where it is imperative that teachers and administrators understand the intent of the Framework and align our instruction to it. Just saying we teach about waves and do hands-on activities to go with it doesn't mean that we're hitting the intent of the standards. If we aren't providing experiences that help students explain phenomena that are relevant to them, then we are missing an important component of the standards.