Speaker 1: When you say "phenomena," and I say "phenomena," are we talking about a discrepant event, or could a phenomena be a larger thing, like organic and non-organic elements of an ecosystem interact, could that be a phenomena? Or is a really discreet and discrepant event?
Speaker 2: I think it depends on how you put it together with the storyline. It has to make sense to the kids, so that they want to figure it out.
Speaker 1: In what ways can phenomena make science accessible to all students? In what ways can phenomena compel students to want to figure something out?
Speaker 3: Mary led today's session on instructional supports, with a particular focus on using phenomena to engage students in learning.
Speaker 4: I have a video that I'm going to run for you.
I look at things like that and say, "how did that happen?"
Can phenomena be a way to make science accessible to all students?
In looking to see whether phenomena were present, we had to come up for a definition for what a phenomenon is and I like to tell people phenomena doesn't have to be phenomenal but it does have to be something that's engaging and really hooks students' interests and so it can be related to a discrepant event or a common experience, a current event, it can be a video but it has to be something that makes the students ask questions.
Speaker 3: There are very specific criteria that try to make sure that when we examine lessons and units, we're looking for these opportunities.
Speaker 4: The phenomenon is a thread that can flow through the entire unit so I may start with the phenomenon but I imagine that I would refer back to that multiple times throughout the instructional sequence.
Speaker 3: We really need to take a critical look at the phenomena in our lessons and units. We may see them as interesting because we have enough background and interest in science already but are they really interesting to students? Are they interesting to all students? Do they connect to their lives and their interests?
Speaker 1: The lesson that we looked at today with the wind turbine, I don't really think that it had a good phenomenon associated with it.
Speaker 3: They actually begin with here's 5 pictures of turbines. Now you build one. I actually think they should be just ... We have no way to generate power. We're done. No more power in our city. Here's the resources. Go groups, figure it out, and let them design first and then refine their designs later through the process.
Speaker 4: Finding engaging phenomena is a challenge. It has to be intriguing to students so that they want to be able to explain it but it can't just be interesting. It also has to help forward their learning in a purposeful way. It has to be something they want to explain but that they need to use the science. They need to learn more science. They need to use the practices and the cross cutting to be able to explain it. It's not just something that's fun and interesting. We hope that it is that but we also hope that it's purposeful and drives the learning.
Speaker 3: Having a shared phenomenon that everyone in the class has access to really helps level the playing field. I personally see it as an access and equity issue. The common phenomenon in the classroom is that common experience that everyone has access to and so it opens up the curriculum for everyone.
Speaker 2: It's moving away from always thinking about deeper understanding with only gifted and high flying kids.
Speaker 3: Thank you for that. Leveraging the deep interest that is latent and I would argue in every student. They just don't show it but leveraging that.
Speaker 4: All people really actually want to understand how their world works and ask themselves questions about things around them but they're asking themselves questions about things that are relevant and interesting to them and we want to make sure that we provide students with that same opportunity. They'll see a purpose for using science and for learning science and they'll want to engage in this process because they see how it's relevant to them and their interests and their world.
Speaker 3: Any time we can make science learning or learning in general relevant to a student, they're going to have greater buy in and they're going to be more successful and so whether we're talking about phenomenon as a way to do that or tying into their home life or a student's culture, all of those things are going to give a student a reason to identify with what they're learning and to want to learn.