NEXUS Games Common Core Standards

The Nexus concept provides a framework for a curriculum unit developed around a broad theme, the interdependency among energy demand, water resource consumption, and climate change. The Nexus games–Thirst for Power and Challenge and Persuade–in combination with the library of relevant Resources provided by this website can readily be used to address Common Core Standards 1-9.

A teacher can choose to use selections from our library of Resources–or provide relevant readings of his or her own choosing–to address the critical reading and writing imperatives of the Standards. Then the playing of one or both games in class can provide significant enrichment: it can be a delightful means of cementing understanding of concepts acquired from the reading/writing assignments and be a framework for rich discussion and debate.

Here are examples for how the combination of game play and readings from the Resource library could be applied to the following Common Core Standards:

Common Core Standard 1:

College and Career Readiness: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts (Grades 6-12);
    • attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions (Grades 9-12);
    • attending to important distinctions the author makes and to any gaps or inconsistencies in the account (Grades 11-12).

The Resource Library contains fact-based articles, published opinion pieces, and reports on Nexus topics, and can allow students to practice analyzing text and arguments on complex issues affecting the world today. Playing Challenge and Persuade, where players construct and evaluate arguments based on topics covered within the Resource Library, can serve to test the students’ overall content knowledge and abilities to draw logical inferences and construct arguments from fact cards and knowledge gained from the Resource Library. Thirst for Power addresses Nexus topics and can help to reinforce the concepts learned through the Resource Library in a fun and engaging way.

Common Core Standard 2:

College and Career Readiness: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

  • Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions (Grades 6-12);
    • trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text (Grades 9-12);
    • summarize complex concepts, processes, or information presented in a text by paraphrasing them in simpler but still accurate terms (Grades 11-12).

Students and teachers can use the Resource Library to find materials to analyze, identifying central ideas and themes at the Nexus. With the controversial nature of topics at the Nexus, students will have good opportunity to practice objectively reading a piece of literature, understanding the author’s intention as separate from their own prior knowledge or opinions on the topic. Several topics would serve as excellent materials toward this purpose (e.g. fracking and geoengineering) Challenge and Persuade may be used as a way to encourage the students to think about and summarize what they have read through materials from the Resource Library.

Common Core Standard 4:

College and Career Readiness: Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

  • Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grade level (Grades 6-12).

Articles in the Research Library explore scientific, ethical, and social issues at the Nexus. Given the complex nature of the issues, there are ideas, terms, phrases that are familiar and unfamiliar to any given student. The articles provide rich materials for students to learn the meanings of the language and how an author may use specific language to strengthen a point or to appeal to an audience. Challenge and Persuade provides an opportunity for students to utilize their knowledge of this language to form persuasive oral arguments. Thirst for Power provides an opportunity to build strategy based on the ideas and concepts at the Nexus, further strengthening the understanding of the Nexus issues.

Common Core Standard 5:

College and Career Readiness: Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the texts (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

  • Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic (Grades 6-8);
  • Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy) (Grades 9-10);
  • Analyze how the text structures information or ideas into categories or hierarchies, demonstrating understanding of the information or ideas (Grades 11-12).

The Resource Library contains a range of article types, from short focused synopsis of climate meetings and scientific articles to full reports by governmental committees. Each publication has a logical flow, development of ideas, and an overall organization that clearly conveys the author’s message. Any of the articles, especially those within the Overview/Synthesis Reports section, will be useful for students to analyze structure of a text.

Common Core Standard 6:

College and Career Readiness: Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

  • Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text (Grades 6-12);
    • defining the question the author seeks to address (Grades 9-10);
    • identifying important issues that remain unresolved (Grades 11-12).

The Resource Library contains articles on topics that are widely publicized and debated. These articles lend themselves well to demonstrating how point of view or purpose helps to shape the content and style of a text.

Common Core Standard 8:

College and Career Readiness: Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

  • Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text (Grades 6-8);
  • Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem (Grades 9-10);
  • Evaluate the hypotheses, data, analysis, and conclusions in a science or technical text, verifying the data when possible and corroborating or challenging conclusions with other sources of information.

This Standard is directly aimed at developing students’ ability to evaluate assertions and arguments in terms of the strength of supporting evidence. Playing one or both games in advance of the reading/writing assignments would be a fun way to introduce students to concepts they will encounter in their assignments, give them a broad context for the readings to follow, and mentally prepare them for the hard work to follow. Students will get more out of the games if they are also played after the reading/writing assignments, and the games will provide a framework for further relevant critical analysis and discussion.

Arguments on topics at the Nexus abound. For instance, the boom of recent years in extraction of natural gas by hydraulic fracturing technologies has greatly increased domestic energy supplies, but the technology is controversial because of potential threats to water supply quality and climate impact. The debate and a list of articles that address each side of this debate are found in the Resources Library here.

Common Core Standard 9:

College and Career Readiness: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Each section of the Resource library contains a careful selection of readings with contrasting points of view. This multiple reading on a topic can provide a breadth of knowledge about the topic and also provide vehicle for comparative analysis of the strength of authors’ arguments. See specific examples drawn from the Resources library on fracking, geoengineering, and hydropwer.

Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic (Grades 6-12), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts (9-12);

Here the compare-and-contrast could involve the strength of assertions in the games versus knowledge gained from the readings. Students could try to identify where a “Fact” (Challenge and Persuade) or “Action” (Thirst for Power) seems to be supported or seems not to be supported by evidence, based on knowledge they have gained from analysis of the assigned texts.

Synthesize information from a range of sources (e.g., texts, experiments, simulations) into a coherent understanding of a process, phenomenon, or concept, resolving conflicting information when possible (Grades 11-12).

The Nexus games could be an excellent vehicle for synthesizing information from a range of sources around a central concept, that being the Nexus of Energy, Water, and Climate.