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Introduction to the  5E Instructional Model

Posted by Francis Vigeant on May 12, 2017

5E-science-model.jpgThe widely established 5E teaching sequence – which includes the progressive stages Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate – is helpful for informing the design of science programs, units and lessons. However, it’s important to pose the question: Does their current incarnation actually work to support the Next Generation Science Standards and deepen STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning in our students, or does it require adaptation in order to best serve NGSS?

In the next several weeks, we’re going to take a look at using a 5E instructional model with Next Generation Science Standards. We will start with an examination of what the 5Es are and what they represent. We will also talk about some of the traditional models that are used in the science and engineering classroom, and how we should apply those to NGSS or rather, restructure them to increase student learning.

Specifically, we will discuss elements of curriculum such as K-W-L charts, textbooks, worksheets and so forth, with an eye toward how these may be used and modified to help students take on the roles of scientists and engineers each time they step into the science classroom.

The real question is, how can we make more effective use of the 5Es under NGSS? We'll look at how the 5Es are transitioning from their current widespread application as a linear application that takes a regimented phased approach, and modify their use to a system that's much more nonlinear. Our hope is to demonstrate that by combining and employing different aspects of the 5Es simultaneously as part of that instructional environment, you can significantly increase learning outcomes in your classroom or district.

Then finally, we will take a look at the difference between curriculum that is "aligned" with the Next Generation Science Standards versus curriculum that is actually designed for it. The unfortunate truth is that you can access resources from the National Science Teachers Association, educational companies and so on, and find an almost infinite number of resources that claim to be aligned to NGSS.

But if they are not, in fact, designed to support the standards, they fall short of the mark. They do not encourage higher order thinking, they do not engender the formation of science and engineering skills, and they fail to create students with mastery – students who can face any question or problem and understand how to go about designing an experiment or prototype that will help them work toward an answer or solution. And that is what NGSS requires.


In the coming articles, we will  ask several questions, including:

  • Do the 5Es represent constructivist learning?
  • Should we reconsider K-W-L’s appropriateness in NGSS?
  • How can we make more effective use of the 5Es under NGSS?
  • How can we create a 5E model that is both non-linear and iterative? and

What are the differences between Next Generation “aligned” curricula versus units and lessons actually designed to meet its standards? It’s important to point out that the reason KnowAtom is so excited about science, technology, engineering and math is not because we think every student should be a scientist or an engineer. We're excited about it because we believe that when students are challenged to be scientists and engineers, that they are actually developing the creative, evaluative, and analytical thinking skills that are useful for any college or career choice.

That's key. That's what opens a world of opportunity to any student. That's why we really see these Next Generation Science Standards as going beyond content. Content is not enough anymore; it is the formation of skills, and the ability to develop and use content, that is so vital to the classroom experience today.

Topics: 5E Instructional Model

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