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Phenomena-Based Learning with Propello

We all learn and process information in different ways. However, one similar factor in all of us is that we need engagement and interest in the content to really learn it. 

Kids are no different. 

Student-centered learning is one way to help build that engagement, specifically by tapping into learners’ natural curiosity. That’s where phenomena-based learning comes in, especially in an inquiry-based style. But if you’ve never taught this way, or worry that it might not be an ideal fit for your own classroom, you may have some reservations on making that pedagogical shift. 

And that’s totally understandable. 

Here at Propello, our goal is to help make that shift easy. If you’ve signed up for our free platform, then you’ve seen the wealth of standards-aligned, inquiry-based, phenomena-anchored activities we have available for educators and students (if you haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for? It’s free!). 

Let’s get started!

What Is Phenomena-based Learning?

In phenomena-based learning, teachers present students with real-world concepts, a phenomenon. These phenomena are things students likely already have familiarity with: think of the sun rising, water boiling, rain falling, a soccer ball bouncing off a goal post, why the moon is full…and endless others.  Using a familiar phenomenon, a teacher engages students in asking questions about it. Think “Why” and “How” questions: 

  • “Why does the sun rise?”
  • “How does water boil? Why are there bubbles in the pot?” 
  • “Why does the soccer ball bounce on the grass?” 
  • “How is the moon full only once in a while?” 

Students find the answers to such questions throughout the lesson cycle. This can lead to further questions, more advanced applications and investigations, and ultimately higher engagement and deeper learning. 

Propello Labs and Activities

Teacher guidance is key with phenomena-based, inquiry-style learning. If you’re new to this style of pedagogy, it can be daunting to know what to do at first, and as former teachers ourselves, we get it. 

We’ve been there. 

With that in mind, every unit and topic within the Propello platform has a detailed teacher guide with suggestions on how to use the resources in a phenomena-anchored, inquiry-based lesson cycle.  

Everything a teacher needs to know is right there: 

  • Standards 
  • Suggestions for questions. 
  • 5E breakdowns (if you are using the 5E Model of Inquiry)
  • Suggested sequence of activities. 
  • Teacher background knowledge
  • Common student misconceptions
  • Accommodation and/or enrichment suggestions to meet unique student needs. 


Think of it as a virtual coach, helping you lead students from initial observations and inquiries to investigation, analysis, critical thinking and problem solving as they apply new knowledge to the phenomenon. The teacher guide leads you step by step as you lead your students to science learning that harnesses their natural curiosity. 

Options for Every Teacher - Differentiation

One of the most unique features about the Propello teacher guides is that it’s not set in stone. It’s exactly what it says it is: a guide. If a suggested activity doesn’t work for you or your students, you don’t have to do it. The activities aren’t dependent on each other in sequence, so you can pick and choose what works for you and your classes, or supplement it with activities from your own toolbox. 

It bears repeating: It’s all about what works for you and your students. Every teacher is different and every class is different, and we know that flexibility is critical when it comes to planning. 

In Summary 

The world is constantly evolving, and as teachers, our methods naturally evolve as well. If you’re curious about phenomena-based learning, it offers a unique approach to education and can enhance students' understanding of real-world concepts. 

By working with Propello and its resources, teachers can create student-centered, collaborative learning environments that engage students and build science knowledge that meets standards. 

Try out Propello for free today and see how we can help your students’ learning soar!