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S1 E7 How You Can Incorporate Phenomena

July 6, 2020

The use of phenomena is one of the biggest shifts that has come with the implementation of the NGSS. During this episode, Erin discusses the significance of phenomena in an NGSS aligned classroom. Also, she distinguishes between anchoring and investigative level phenomena.

Introduction (0:45)

Using phenomena in one of the 5 biggest shifts. Nicole and Erin discussed these shifts on Episode 2 in Season 1, How the NGSS Changes it All. Check out this episode to see the other major instructional shifts.

What are phenomena? (1:22)

Phenomena are the natural occurrences that spark curiosity. Also, phenomena can be problems or events. And, they connect the content that you are teaching in your classroom to the real world.

It's important to note that phenomena don't have to be phenomenal. Many teachers think that the phenomena that they choose need to be some epic scenario. Really, it more important that they connect closely with the content and cultivate curiosity.

Therefore, everyday occurrences can make excellent phenomena. These occurrences are easier to connect to things that students have observed or experienced themselves. Or, these events and observations may be related to their community.

Why is phenomena important?

It's important to make phenomena relevant because the shifts that come with NGSS are difficult for students. In an NGSS classroom, students take a bigger role and drive the instructional sequences. This shift is difficult for them. Students who aren't curious will be less likely to do this difficult work.

Also, phenomena give students something to figure out. “Figuring out” the content increases the likelihood that students will remember what they are learning.

Finally, presenting students with phenomena alleviates the problem of students not knowing why they are learning something. Instead, students are presented with a real-world application at the start of an instructional sequence or unit.

What are anchoring and investigative phenomena? (3:57)

There are two types of phenomena that are seen in an NGSS aligned classroom.

Anchoring Phenomena

Anchoring phenomena are the phenomena that are used at the start of your instructional sequence. Additionally, it will be referred back to throughout your instructional sequence. Students may figure out or explain your anchoring phenomena at the end of your instructional sequence.

Investigative Phenomena

Investigative level phenomena are used for a shorter period of time. Also, it should help students to make sense of a component of the anchor. Investigative phenomena also tend to be more closely related to the content that you are teaching.

Where can you find phenomena? (4:29)

Unfortunately, the answer to this question isn't simple. It's important that phenomena be relevant to your students, their community and the things that impact them. Therefore, there isn't a single place to look to find it.

Erin suggests that you start by bundling your standards. Then, she recommends that you think about how each bundle relates to your students. Bundling allows you to bring in content that is less directly related by making a connection to something that is more directly related.

Want to learn more?

Phenomena Resources

More Resources

  • Check out Nicole's blog and resources at iExploreScience!
  • Check out Erin's blog and resources at SadlerScience!
  • Enroll in the free, 5-day mini-course that will help you get a grip on the new standards – Intro To The NGSS!
  • Looking for a full, step-by-step guide to “NGSSing” your science class? Check out iExplore Academy.
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