Big Idea Tool
In our framework for science learning, you can see that the first phase in any unit of instruction, is the teacher constructing the big idea (Quadrant 1). Only when teachers understand where they are going in the unit, can they begin to design instruction and then take the journey with students through the three essential discourses of science understanding.
Many novice teachers feel that they must ”teach whatever the curriculum or textbook says.” Often, however, the curriculum or text book provides topics that are trivial, and they miss the big idea. One of our former students, in the middle of a unit on the topic of “batteries and bulbs” realized that he should have been teaching about the transformation of energy, not just the mechanics of how batteries and bulbs work.
Based on research about how beginning teachers think about curriculum, we have developed a Big Idea Tool. This tool will help you think about the topics you commonly encounter in science curricula and how to transform these into ideas worth teaching.