Teaching with the Next Generation
Science Standards

Mar 26, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Differences in Phenomena: Early Elementary, Elementary, and Middle School

Of course, phenomena plays out a little differently depending on the age group, so let’s take a moment to explore what it looks like in early elementary, elementary and middle school. At an early elementary level, the complexity and the modality are muted and simplified, respectively. At an early elementary level, the teacher would most likely read aloud instead of giving students individual reading material because, obviously, most kindergartners can't read yet. As they plan investigations, they may do so in a more visual and verbal than what a 4th grader would be doing in a blank composition notebook.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 24, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What Comprises a Lesson?

A lesson is a group of experiences. Each lesson represents deliberate practice, a deliberate thoughtful experience that comes together in the following way. Think about a lesson taking place in a middle school, for example, over the course of five days, meeting with students for 45 minutes at a time. On the first day, you might use a read-aloud, a visual or some other kind of media that brings that anchor phenomenon to life. Students encounter the anchor phenomenon – the flooding in New York City, for instance – within the context of this piece of media.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 22, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Implementing Phenomena Within Lesson and Unit Flow


In order to implement phenomena into the flow of lessons and units, we must first take a next generation inquiry approach to what lessons and units even are, and then adjust them to fit different grade levels. When integrated naturally into the cadence of lessons and units, phenomena become very powerful real-world contexts against which students can hone their science and engineering skills, really cement understanding of the disciplinary core ideas and start to see true crosscutting concepts functioning within greater systems.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 16, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Anchor vs. Investigative Phenomena

Now let’s explore the phenomena themselves. There are two basic flavors of phenomena, and one hangs on the other. First of all, we have anchor phenomena. These are those observable, real-life contexts that form the basis of a question or a problem to be solved. They tend to be very complex, and represent question we can’t answer in a single experiment, or problems we couldn’t solve in one round of prototyping. This context gives the lesson its overarching focus, but is nevertheless too broad to define a single lesson.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 15, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Phenomena: Connections to PBL and Hands-On Inquiry

(Right) Authentic problem-based learning and hands-on inquiry puts students up close and personal with materials and problems that encourage students to actually become scientists and engineers, rather than just “do” science and engineering.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 11, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What does a Phenomena-Centered Classroom and Curriculum Look Like?

There are five basic aspects of qualifying a classroom as phenomena-centered.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 10, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Three-Dimensional Performance Expectations

Under NGSS, a student who is proficient has to be able to demonstrate it independently. That’s why we think about the new science standards as performance expectations. A student needs to be able to perform the expectations of the standard by developing and using the content. They must be able to solve problems and answer questions as a scientist or engineer would. And they must be able to make connections across the content by describing its attraction to other ideas and content.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 8, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

What Are Phenomena?

In this blog we will take a look at what phenomena are and how they relate to the Next Generation Science Standards. In addition, it is crucial to understand the nature of the science and engineering cycle as well as the traditional versus the next generation models of science instruction. 

Phenomena as Observable Events

In order to put phenomena to work for you in your classroom, you need to understand what they are. So just what are phenomena?

A phenomenon is the context that motivates the work of a scientist or an engineer, the events, circumstances or framework that defines what they do, the knowledge they’re looking for and the problems they’re trying to solve. In plain language, a scientist or an engineer doesn't go to work to remember facts or previously learned knowledge. That's not why people hire them.

Rather,

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 5, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Latest eBook: Using Science Anchor Phenomena Effectively


Located just north of Boston in Salem, Massachusetts, KnowAtom is a team of educators who have developed a K-8 solution designed for NGSS, helping to change the face of science, engineering, technology and math instruction.

In this eBook, we take a look at what are now being referred to as anchor and investigative phenomena and their capacity for driving science instruction as well as related subjects. When it comes right down to it, phenomena are the fabric of everyday teaching and learning, and we hope to help teachers across the country understand how to use them to effectively engage students of all grades.

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Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

Mar 3, 2017 by Francis Vigeant

Using Full Release of Responsibility as a Tool for Mastery

Students who are given full responsibility to oversee their own experiment or prototype design, execution, data gathering and conclusion forming are actually in the roles of scientists and engineers. Conversely, students who follow prescribed courses are not fully enmeshed in these roles.

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Topics: science and engineering practices, Next Generation Science Standards

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