Science Phenomena For Your NGSS Storylines

I may have mentioned I have a penchant for wanting to DIY things. The idea always sounds good in theory.  Chocolate-covered Oreos are pretty expensive for that little box, why don’t I just make them myself? Oh, crib sheets? I can totally do that on my own.  Revamp my curriculum for the NGSS? No problem, I don’t need help.


What did I end up with? “Seized up” chocolate that’s gritty and gross. (Bakers out there, you know what I’m talking about!) Crib sheets that didn’t quite fit after they went through the wash. And several years of doing it wrong when it came to the NGSS.


Case In Point: Phenomena

One of the last things I really “got the hang of” when it came to designing NGSS-aligned curriculum was the use of phenomenon.  The problem with this statement is that phenomena should have been where I started. When it comes to 3D learning, science isn’t about learning facts and figures for their own sake but rather in order to explain things that happen in the natural world — phenomena. 




I missed the point there.


Learn From My Mistakes

Incorporating phenomena is an easy way to get started with three dimensional instruction. Before you introduce a new concept, present a phenomenon.  This phenomenon should spark the kind of questions that your science concept will answer.


An example? I want my students to understand the impact latitude has on climate, particularly temperature. We’re going to dive into all of the nuances of this, but I need something that’s going to spark those questions and help them make some simple connections. What could it be?


In one learning sequence within my unit that incorporates NGSS standards on resource availability, the water cycle, weather, and climate, students collect and examine temperature data from three North American deserts.  This data sparks questions like, Why aren’t all deserts hot? Why are some deserts hotter than others? What affects the temperatures of different areas? Why does temperature change throughout the year? 


The phenomenon also sparks observations. The northernmost desert has the coldest temperatures.  The desert closest to the equator has the hottest temperatures. 


The phenomenon drives the learning, as students work to answer their questions and explain their observations by understanding the impact of latitude through the learning activities.


Phenomena at work.


Just A Start

Phenomena play many roles in your learning sequence — from launching a new science concept to providing a way to assess for understanding. You can use phenomena in so many different ways, but don’t let that overwhelm you. Choose one, small way to incorporate it, and just start there. You don’t even have to change your learning activities at this point — just pull in the phenomenon to start it off or wrap it up.




Ready To Take Your Learning Further?

And finally, if you are ready to take a closer look at your curriculum and instruction and remake it 3D STYLE, you’re invited to check out iExplore Academy. We are enrolling new teachers now.

Close Menu