"The nature of teaching elementary children is that we teach all subjects. True integrative teaching means that each new lens is not additive, but rather it is synergistic. Each of the crosscutting concepts can be seen in all types of literature, and learning to see them enhances the reading experience itself while simultaneously developing the mindset necessary to think like a scientist. This is why we see literature as an authentic context for helping students see science concepts everywhere."
In the following video, Valerie and Mark discuss why their book Sharing Books, Talking Science: Exploring Scientific Concepts with Children's Literature is a great place to start for any teacher looking to inspire themselves and their students to look at any subject, text, or the world at large, through a more scientific lens.
"Culturally, many of us have science heebie-jeebies because the language isn’t familiar and the volume of content knowledge is daunting. It isn’t that scientists are smarter than everyone else; it is just that the framework based on the crosscutting concepts helps them organize, see, and talk about scientific ideas more easily. Many of us learned science by memorizing content and then we tried to understand how these lists of facts fit into some larger framework. Scientists approach content differently; they view content through the mindset formed by the crosscutting concepts."
"When a scientist sees a sharply curved bird beak, because she understands structure and function, she already knows this is a raptor who feeds on flesh. We all want our students to develop an understanding of how things work, and the secret is not memorizing content but rather understanding the concepts. Once the crosscutting concepts are part of our thinking, the content comes more easily because it follows a familiar pattern."
Valerie Bang-Jensen is Professor of Education at Saint Michael’s College. She earned her A.B. at Smith College and MA, M.Ed., and Ed.D. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. Valerie has taught in K-6 classrooms and library programs in public and independent schools in the U.S. and Paris, and was the district elementary writing coordinator in Ithaca, New York. She serves as a consultant for museums, libraries, schools and gardens for children.
Mark Lubkowitz is Professor of Biology at Saint Michael’s College, where he received the Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award. He earned a B.S. in Biology at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He was a post-doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics at the University of California, Berkeley. As a scientist, Mark studies the molecular mechanisms of transporters and the various roles they play in plants.