Reflecting on the 5E Model

One of my big instructional changes this year has been incorporating the 5E Model into my science lessons. For those who may not know this involves structuring lessons or units beginning with some engaging activity in a topic which the students will then explore. After which you or the students might come together to explain the concept and then elaborate on the idea with a project type activity. It ends with evaluate.

Honestly, I had not heard of this model until last spring when I was working on my Masters, though I already tried to incorporate some engaging activity at the start of a new topic or unit. If the model sounds interesting to you and isn’t one you know a lot about NSTA Press has a good book about it.

When I moved to my new school district one of the big ideas put forth in the Summer Institute was to bring this model into our science classes as a way to increase inquiry and student led learning. So that’s what I’ve tried to do.

One of my struggles has been deciding the place for the 5E Model. Different people propose it as either being for units or for being for individual lessons (which are likely multi-day lessons). We tried doing it unit wide for our unit on matter and changes, but it was really difficult to reach all of our learners. Now, that may be because I am new at the model and although I am trying to bring in more student led activities and project based learning I am not where I could be in that change, so maybe I am fighting it. But I would describe that unit as only moderately successful in general and only moderately successful at truly being 5E structured. My initial lesson brainstorm is here, though I didn’t stick with it exactly and changed with student needs.

But, ultimately it didn’t work how I wanted. After that I moved to smaller 5E activities for individual topics and found that, that worked better than trying to wrangle in a whole unit worth of material. However, a concern remained. Although I gave student support throughout, there were some who didn’t meet the learning objective and, honestly, could benefit from someone sitting down and explaining the topic to them more directly. How should I give these students appropriate intervention?

In December I got my answer, Flipping. I had heard of the idea of flipping your class when I taught math and liked the idea, but the logistics of my placement that year prevented me from doing that. Thankfully I got to attend a workshop put on by a DLC in our district about Flipping which was full of great information and during it she suggested a book called Flipped Learning for Science Instruction which among other great ideas had the suggestion of using flipped videos for intervention during or after inquiry activities. This was the suggestion I needed to hear for if for no other reason it told me I wasn’t the only person who didn’t have every student succeed in mastering content from an inquiry activity alone, which I needed to hear.

As I move into the new year we are looking at balancing chemical equations and I am busy planning how to incorporate the 5E Model and Flipping into my plan to cover that.



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