I love the beginning of the school year because my classroom is a blank slate. A new start gives me a chance to take all the learning I experienced over the summer and put it to use. Some of my time this summer was spent learning with a group of teachers in the state of Iowa around the concept of coherence and phenomena-driven lessons.
National leaders in NGSS curriculum development, implementation, and training shared with the us immersion lessons that demonstrated how phenomena are used to generate student questions, which are then used to guide the learning in the unit.
Phenomena are everywhere in our world. They can be experiences you bring to your students, such as the homemade record player or the dinosaur lightbox, they can be news stories of interesting events, or they can be a demo you love to show your students. As more and more teachers become trained in using phenomena to drive their lessons, a constant question comes up:
Where can teachers go to find phenomena that fit the NGSS performance expectations at each grade level?
We’re encouraging everyone to contribute to this Tch public form with their ideas, as well as with new ideas to add to the Phenomena collection for the NGSS Deep Dive. As a community of educators, we can help each other by sharing our lessons and collaborating on how to better implement NGSS teaching practices into our classrooms. You can view all submissions here.
Phenomena for NGSS, a website created by TJ McKenna, is also a wonderful resource for teachers. This helpful website provides images and short video clips with a description of natural events or interesting observations. Users can search through the provided images and clips and think of ways they can make connections between these phenomena and the lessons they teach in their classrooms. The website also has other resources, including a rationale behind why phenomena are useful in science, guidance on how to use phenomena to develop a lesson, and an example of how to utilize one phenomenon on the site for lesson development. I strongly recommend spending time searching through this resource and submitting your own ideas as well.
More Information On Phenomena-Driven Lessons:
- NGSS Storylines: How to Construct Coherent Instruction Sequences Driven by Phenomena and Motivated by Student Questions
Kyla Burns is a high school biology, zoology, and AP environmental science teacher at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa. She’s been teaching for 12 years and is a graduate of Iowa State University. She is currently on her district’s Science Leadership Team as well as a member of the State of Iowa’s Science Leadership Team. Kyla is a part of Teaching Channel’s Tch Next Gen Science Squad. Connect with Kyla on Twitter: @burnskyla13.