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Anchoring Phenomena is a critical launching point for any unit; it is what initiates the storyline and continues throughout the entire unit. Many will look at this instructional practice as a hook, a way to engage students, the science jazz hands before we get into the meat of the unit. HOWEVER, a true anchoring phenomena will sustain inquiry throughout the unit and be complex enough that it cannot be figured out in just a few lessons.  

That being said, phenomena does not need to be phenomenal. Sometimes it can be events that are puzzling to students depending on their grade level or development. For example, what might constitute a phenomenon for a Kindergartener is not the same as an 8th grader. It's also important that it makes them wonder and leads them to further questions. It should not be a fact or a statement. On the flip side, it helps to stay away from ideas that are too big, or even unanswered by science. 

So what is a phenomena? A phenomena is a real world observable event that can be explained or figured out using science. This is where the science content comes alive in the real world. Great science resources will be built around a phenomena. Some resources will also have an anchoring phenomena, and then break it into small investigative phenomena. Beware - just because they call it a phenomena, does not mean it really fits the criteria. That's what this module is meant to share, how do you select, vet, or review phenomena? 


Longer Read:




Having read and watched more about Anchoring Phenomena, now let's put your learning into practice. There are a couple options for you, depending on what resources you have or what might be most supportive to your learning and instructional practice. 

A - Reviewing phenomenon with a critical is an important practice. As you saw in the Explore resources above, there are thousands of videos and resources out there that could be used as an anchoring phenomenon. In this Google Form - review 3 different phenomena related to a PE that you teach and share your thoughts. Are they really phenomenon or just an engaging video/link? 



B - Once a solid anchoring phenomena is selected, a storyline is built around it. This further helps to evaluate the phenomenon to make sure that it is complex enough to sustain a storyline, but also provides ways that students can work toward figuring it out. To plan for this, complete this template and share it back with me ** make sure you click "Notify People" so that I am alerted. This is meant to be completed once a phenomena is selected, and used as an instructional routine planning tool. You may or may not have slides set up for the lessons accompanying the phenomenon, but at least plan out the facilitation. What questions will you ask? What teacher moves will you need? It should be more thought out, than just pressing play and asking students what they think. Remember: an anchoring phenomena can be photos or a series of photos as well, or a news article. Include any links and resources in your planning doc. 



Complete this Google Form to get credit for your work. You will also need to have shared one of the two options from the PLAN section. This is how I will track (and approve) completion of the work for SCECHs. 


Anchoring phenomena should be a part of every unit. They provide context, relevance, authenticity, engagement, spark curiosity, and so much more from the very start of a unit. When thinking through how the learning will progress, this is a critical element to anchor the storyline of student learning. 

REFLECT: Considering whatever resources you may use in your classroom, whether is a full curricular resource or teacher created, how do your phenomena compare? Are students actually engaged? Might there be a more relevant or approachable way to incorporate this in your teaching. Consider your routines around the phenomena, are you really engaging students to lead toward a Driving Question Board (coming soon) or are you defaulting to a Wow moment and then on to the unit? It's easy to hook a student, but making sure that they are truly motivated to figure out why or how something happens in another task. Really take a deep look at your current phenomena, or units that do not have them. 

SHARE: Post your work to twitter, or your learning on your classroom website. Help students to understand why you begin with a phenomena and be transparent in that this will be weaved throughout the unit; an event that you will continue to come back to throughout. Join in a Twitter chat and share your learning. Write a blog post about what you've been exploring. Take a great phenomena you have found and use EdPuzzle to elicit thoughts from your students to have them respond while watching.


Have a colleague still using their science jazz hands to spark excitement, only to fizzle it out with the actual unit? Share with them about how this can guide the unit.  

Of course, feel free to reach out for support, I'd be happy to work through it with you. 

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