Do’s and don’ts of phenomena-based science

How to tap more effectively into students' natural curiosity
By: | February 14, 2019
Eighth-graders in Rhode Island’s Warwick Public Schools lead phenomena-based science lessons, with teachers offering guidance rather than providing the correct answers.Eighth-graders in Rhode Island’s Warwick Public Schools lead phenomena-based science lessons, with teachers offering guidance rather than providing the correct answers.

Educators and groups such as the National Science Teachers Association offer tips for teaching phenomena-based lessons.

Science of phenomena do’s and don’ts

    • Realize that instruction will look and sound different when students lead. Teachers should not be lecturing.
    • Ensure that students and teachers understand mistakes are OK and are an important part of the scientific process.
    • Encourage collaboration between students. The same goes for teachers—they should work with colleagues to develop lessons.
    • Celebrate small successes. Student projects or models may not be perfect, but teachers need to understand the goal is for students to explore the how and the why, and then apply that knowledge.
    • Understand that not all phenomena take the same amount of time to investigate.
    • Look first at core ideas and practices, match them against Next Generation Science Standards and state standards, and build lessons backward from there.
    • Be ready to do away with traditional demonstrations and experiments that may be popular but don’t fit NGSS.
    • When providing PD, avoid acronyms, which can be very off-putting to teachers.
    • Understand that assessment will be an ongoing process.

Main story: NGSS science promotes phenomena-based learning