What do you do after you choose an anchor?
Anchoring phenomena are a huge part of NGSS units. They tie your standards together, frame your instruction, and create a rationale for students. (Now you have an answer to that ever present, “Why do we have to learn this!?”) While determining an anchor for a unit is a challenge, your work doesn’t end once you choose your anchor. You actually have to use it, too! So how do you do that?
Launch Your Unit
Well first, your anchor was literally chosen to launch your unit, so you obviously want to do that. Present your phenomenon to students in whatever way you’ve identified and allow it to spark curiosity, questions, and ultimately inquiry.
Revisit and Revise
But the anchor doesn’t just stop its work there. Nope. You also chose that anchor because it was a big “thing” that couldn’t be easily explained. You chose it because to explain it, students would need to develop an understanding of a myriad of science ideas and concepts over time. Well, now you have to give students the chance to do that.
As students gain an understanding of whatever science concepts you’re teaching, return their attention to the anchoring phenomenon. How does what they have learned shed light on the phenomenon? How are they better able to explain it, knowing what they now know?
Your anchor provides a rationale for learning. It leads students through your unit. Return to it again and again, putting an explanation together puzzle piece by puzzle piece.
Consider The Assessment
Finally, consider whether you might incorporate your anchor into your final assessment. For some units, you may be able to use your anchor on your assessment while in others you may choose something “similar but different.” This decision hinges on both the anchor you choose and the standard itself, so I can’t give you much clearer advice here. But it’s something to consider. It’s possible you may both begin and end your unit with the same phenomenon.
Resources for Finding Anchors
Where can I learn more about anchor phenomena?
You can learn more about what makes a good anchor, choosing your anchor, and using your anchor at these blog posts.