Phenomena Should Have Been Where I Started
One of the last things I really “got the hang of” when it came to designing NGSS-aligned science 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.
Science is literally about understanding and explaining things that happen in the natural world — phenomena.
Learn From My Mistakes
I spent years developing lessons around topics and ideas. That’s how I was taught to teach.
- Identify your topic.
- Craft your objectives.
- Give all the info.
But that is not how we learn…
See the problem there?
We truly learn when something catches our attention, sparks our curiosity, and makes us wonder. This process is what makes the topic or idea actually relevant — and relevancy is vital to both engagement and retention. If we want it to “stick,” we need our learners to care.
Phenomena — those things that happen in the real world — do that.
Investigating a phenomenon gives context to a concept or idea — it makes it interesting, real-world, authentic. It makes it matter.
It must be the starting point for our lessons.
(If you’re tracking so far, but you aren’t sure what phenomena are — check out this post.)
Phenomena play many roles in your learning sequence — from launching a new science concept to providing a way to assess for understanding.
At The Beginning Of An Instructional Sequence
Use phenomena – a real world happening – to launch a new learning sequence. After learners have the opportunity to observe the phenomenon, discuss their observations — and ask them to use those observations to craft questions they can investigate. By starting your instructional unit with their questions, you’re setting them up to be active learners who are taking ownership of their education. They crafted the questions — they are inherently invested in finding out the answers (and learning the science content you’re aiming for!)
As An Investigation Tool
To Evaluate Understanding
When we put phenomena first, our students are more engaged, driven, and simply better learners. Science becomes what it’s really about at its core — an investigation of the natural world.
If you are ready to begin putting together instructional sequences built on phenomena, grab a seat in one of my upcoming workshops right here.
If you are currently teaching in a virtual environment and are wondering how to incorporate phenomena into your digital classroom, check out the video below!