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The Crosscutting Concepts: science, children’s literature, and beyond

STEMTLnet Meetup Recording
Valerie Bang-Jensen
Mark Lubkowitz
Kathy Renfrew
Published Date
September 23, 2021
Grade Level
Middle School
Subject Area



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Description: Scientists share a common framework for thinking: the Crosscutting Concepts described by NGSS. This is why someone studying goat stomachs can converse intelligently with someone studying La Niña. They may have different knowledge bases, but they use the same framework for thinking and communicating about their respective topics. Valerie and Mark will invite you to consider that the crosscutting concepts are a framework, not only for scientists, but for all human thinking. This is why we can see these concepts shouting and whispering in every children’s book we pick up. When we look closely we can even see how this framework can help us understand social problems and offer solutions. Join Valerie and Mark as they ignite a conversation about how the crosscutting concepts inform how we understand children’s literature, our classrooms, and beyond. 


Valerie and Mark
Photo: ©Heinemann 2017.
Photo by Michael Grover

About the Speakers: Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz have each served as Professor and Chair of their respective  departments--Education and Biology-- at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) this molecular biologist and literacy expert have worked together for over twenty years exploring the natural partnership between science and children’s literature. Valerie and Mark began their interdisciplinary collaboration by creating a collection of gardens that are a learning laboratory to explore the relationship between science and children’s literature. This initial project blossomed into two books: Reading Books, Talking Science: Exploring science concepts with children’s literature (2017) and Books in Bloom: Discovering the science in great children’s literature (2014). Both recipients of the college’s teaching award, they work across the country with teachers exploring how the crosscutting concepts form a framework not only for scientific thinking but also for understanding children’s literature, and truth be told, everything.


About the Moderator: Kathy Renfrew is an experienced elementary teacher/educator who has been privileged to hold many roles in her career. She was an elementary teacher who moved to the Vermont Agency of Education as the ElemenVermonttary Science Assessment Coordinator. Kathy returned to MA where she was an elementary science coach. Currently Kathy is an education specialist for the Wade Institute for Science Education, a virtual coach for Sibme, an EdReports reviewer and a science volunteer in a 2nd grade classroom. Kathy attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst for her undergraduate degree in Human Development. She followed that with a M.Ed in Professional Teaching and a MS in K-8 Science Education. Kathy is an active member of NSTA, CSSS and NSELA, She is a board member of the MA Science Educational Leadership Association.( MSELA).


The STEM Teacher Leadership Network is pleased to partner with the Society of Elementary Presidential Awardees on this Meetup!


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