Have you ever been teaching a unit and think, I could do better? Well, I have been in that rut for the last two or three years. To be honest, I have been looking for a way to teach my entire 8th grade science curriculum through one topic. I wanted a topic that would allow for all my units (biology, chemistry, physics, geology) to come into play.

At the beginning of this school year, the University of Kentucky started a lecture series on Climate Change for Teachers (CCT) and What’s New in Science (WNSS). This has been a great set of lecture series to go and listen too! I bring this up because at the WNSS they bring up a very pertinent topic and discuss among a panel of a chemistry, physics, psychology and geology professor panel. That got me thinking of why can’t I teach my curriculum in an integrated approach? Well, that’s where the CCT series came into play. I sat through two of those sessions (loved them) and started thinking that Climate Change could be what I was looking for in that regard.

Climate change is relevant, topical, hot topic to elicit a response and very, very integrated. No one knows everything about it forcing the collaboration angle. Very topical as it is all over the place. Relevant because it is and will impact the very lives of my students. So I first went to my administration and pitched my idea, teach the entire 8th grade required science curriculum under one thematic approach. I asked them just because there may be some parents who do not want their child taught this subject all year. They gave me their blessing. The next step was to talk with one of the professors from the CCT series. She loved it and in fact was able to recruit four other UK professors to come meet myself and the district science coordinator! The seven of us are pumped to be working together on this task and hope that we can see positive gains.

Our first task is to develop the driving questions for the first unit (Energy Transformations). We all agreed that we are going to take a heavy PBL approach and that all the mini units will be set in the context of Global Warming. All students will be involved in long term research throughout the year. We also agreed to find another classroom in the district of similar standing to use as a control. Lastly, our next concern is to begin to look at the Next Gen Science Standards once they are released and determine where we go.

I am very excited, nervous and partially thinking, what did I get myself into now? What’s the worst thing that happens, the students learn some science? What’s the best thing that happens, the students learn some science in a deeper contextual and process oriented method that sticks with them for a long time!!

We shall see what happens.