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