Author Archives: Brian Klaft

Why Anchoring Phenomena Are Important in the NGSS Classroom

Who is Ivor Robson, and why is he associated with anchoring phenomena? If you are a longtime golf aficionado, you know that Ivor Robson had a special role at the British Open. Robson spent 41 years introducing each player on the first tee, and he never missed a tee time…ever. In addition, he served as […]

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How to Choose Good Phenomena

When I began aligning my instruction to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), I got lost in the details. But when I realized that phenomena could be used to anchor linked disciplinary core ideas, I started to visualize the course as a whole and was able to build storylines around the phenomena. I now begin […]

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My ‘Phenomenal’ Journey in Elementary

I am the type of educator who gets very excited about new strategies, new and innovative technology, and new activities for students. However, I was more nervous about than excited about to choosing phenomena for my science units. I felt tremendous pressure to pick the “right” ones, ones that were engaging and exciting, while matching […]

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Using the Crosscutting Concepts to Scaffold Student Thinking

At the recent NSTA National Conference in Los Angeles, three-dimensional learning was, of course, a major topic of discussion. When those discussions focus on classroom instruction, though, the crosscutting concepts are often the forgotten dimension. Some educators argue that the crosscutting concepts should develop in students’ minds organically, and that it’s enough for a teacher […]

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Digging Deeper: Modeling

At the core of a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) classroom is the sequence of exposing students to an interesting natural phenomenon, having students generate questions about the phenomenon, investigating student questions, then creating a scientific model to explain the phenomenon. Regardless of the practice defined in the performance expectation, this triad of phenomenon, questioning, […]

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Introducing Crosscutting Concepts in the Elementary Grades

Four years ago, I moved from teaching middle school science to teaching grades 2–5 STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) labs. One of the biggest challenges I faced was limited lab time in our elementary school. Because we shared instructional time with social studies, I was only able to meet with students for two […]

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Planning Three-Dimensional Instruction

Knowing that content material is most engaging when students can relate to it, I always begin my year with a student survey. The questions are designed to help me design lessons to be as student-focused as possible. Knowing my students’ interests and history also helps me identify phenomena and storylines that will be the most […]

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Digging Deeper: Designing Solutions

This month’s Digging Deeper column for the Next Gen Navigator focuses on the practice of constructing explanations and designing solutions, and specifically the design process that addresses the engineering component of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Its inclusion is relatively new in science education, and for teachers who haven’t had the opportunity to develop […]

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How I Came to Understand the Three Dimensions

When I first started teaching science, I taught the facts. I taught the nine planets (before Pluto got demoted; sorry, Pluto!), the steps of mitosis, and the workings of plate tectonics, for example. I was proud that I had students who could learn the facts and recite them to me. It was always wonderful to […]

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New NAP Publication Helps Teachers Assess 3-Dimensional Learning in the Classroom

It is a truly exciting time in science education. Science educators across the country are adapting to a new vision of how students learn science guided by the Framework for K–12 Science Education. As a result, science instruction is changing to better tap into students’ natural curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world around […]

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