Phenomenal GRC Lessons

Welcome to our collection of 3-Dimensional Lessons aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards or any state standards aligned to The Framework for K-12 Science Education. The model lessons found here were created across districts and states through collaboration with Brett Moulding and Nicole Paulson, authors of A Vision and Plan for Science Teaching and Learning. Instructional models used in this site are used with permission from the authors.

Why build phenomenon based lessons?

Few things are more inspiring than watching a student ask “why?” — except, perhaps, seeing that student use their skills and knowledge to confidently and effectively seek an answer to their own questions to make sense of the world around them. Scientific literacy provides students with the tools to explain and evaluate the things they see, touch, and hear every day. A strong, coherent science education from grades K-12 where student engagement drives learning can help unlock their curiosity and foster science reasoning and problem solving skills, along with a life-long love of learning.

Phenomena-based instruction is a primary feature of the three dimensions in the National Academies K-12 Framework for Science Education on which our new science standards were built. A three-dimensional learning approach requires a thoughtful integration of the Science and Engineering Practices (SEP), Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), and Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) to explain the cause for how and why phenomena occur.

Phenomena do not have to be phenomenal. A phenomenon is an observable occurrence or event that can be investigated to gather evidence to support a scientific explanation. Seeing your breath on a cold day, noticing that your voice sounds funny when you talk into a fan, or leaves changing color in the fall are all examples of natural phenomena. The phenomenon and level of understanding needed to explain the it should be appropriate to the learning progression for the grade span.

Phenomenon-based instruction is driven by student questions to fuel curiosity and encourage students to make sense of the world in which they live. Choosing phenomena that students have experienced and can relate to provides a bridge for learning that allows for deeper conceptual understanding of the science behind the phenomenon that they can then apply to other phenomena they have not yet experienced. Providing a structure for students to engage with phenomenon builds critical thinking and reasoning as shown in the model below.

“When students understand that phenomena have causes, they are better prepared to seek evidence to support explanations; helping students see causes for phenomena about which they are curious is a powerful way to motivate learning.” -Brett Moulding-

Seeing your breath on a cold day is a science phenomena that students can relate to

You could engage students in making sense of this phenomenon by having them....

    • Ask Questions: How does the breath change the appearance of the air? Where did the fog-like vapor come from? Why does it not appear on hot days? Where else does this phenomena happen? Would any warm air make fog? Is this why a mirror fogs when I breath on it?
    • Develop data using investigations (e.g., observe breath at various temperatures, breathe into a bag and then release air into a refrigerator, breathe on a cold water bottle on a warm day, release cold air on a hot day.)
    • Develop relationships between crosscutting concepts and core ideas to construct explanations through models supported by evidence (e.g., heat energy transfers from high to low, matter is conserved, matter changes state, water appears as droplets in the cold air, organisms give off water vapor.
    • Communicate explanations using models and arguments to make their thinking visible

By communicating their sense-making of the phenomenon through a model, students' thinking becomes visible so that the teacher has an authentic assessment tool that communicates what the student knows at the time to inform instruction.

One way to engage students in making sense of phenomenon is by using the Gather, Reason, and Communicate (GRC) Instructional framework. This student centered model has utility for organizing instruction as well as providing structure for students’ engagement with science phenomenon.

Through this instructional framework, students use the science and engineering practices to gather information, gain understanding through reasoning, and communicate arguments for why or how their evidence supports their explanation.

Site Links- Use these site links or the tabs at the top of the page to navigate our site

Choosing a Phenomenon- Learn more about choosing an aligning a phenomenon

GRC Lesson Resources- Find the resources you need to build a GRC lesson

3D Lesson submitting form- Submit your GRC lesson

GRC Model Lesson- Find model lessons and resources

3D lessons by grade band and standard: Elementary Lessons (K-5), MS Lessons (6-8), HS Lessons (9-12)

Learn more about the 3 dimensions on which these lessons are built: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas

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Lessons posted on this site utilize this framework for instruction and have been vetted by classroom teachers before being posted. To learn more about those behind the project, visit our contact page: Going 3D Contact Information