Why the 5E Instructional Model is Perfect for Your Fifth Grade Classroom
It seems that every year there are new approaches or fancy buzzwords going around in education. I’m not saying these new (or sometimes recycled) ideas aren’t worth listening to – it’s good to be open to possibilities, and each teacher needs to decide what is best for them and their circumstances.
Meanwhile, the 5E model of learning is ever-present in educational pedagogy. The bottom line is: it works. If you haven’t tried it in your fifth-grade science classroom, your students deserve a chance to experience it.
The 5E model is a game-changer because it puts the responsibility for learning in the hands of students. Teachers guide and reassure, but it’s students who drive the questions, which, as we know, is the essence of inquiry-based learning and building a scientific mindset.
5E Deep Dive
Let’s dig deeper into why the 5E model is so perfect for fifth-grade science lessons.
Engage grabs the students’ attention and draws them into the learning. Fifth graders are naturally curious, so it’s time to pique their interest! This stage gets them invested in asking and answering questions because they care about what happens, why it happens, and how it happens. A good engagement activity is the key to getting students to buy in to the topic and start asking questions.
Explore is the point where the students get to try to answer the questions they may have. The best part is that they are searching for solutions and understanding - sometimes finding things that work or explain things and sometimes finding things that don’t. Fifth graders love feeling like they are real scientists.
I always told my students that learning what does not work is just as important as figuring out what does. Because at that point, they have to try and explain WHY it does or does not work, and that leads to more questions and more investment by the students into the topic.
Explain is the most teacher-centric step of the 5E lesson plan. Now it’s your turn to straighten out myths and misconceptions that may have been proposed in the previous two steps and help the students clarify the answers they came to in the Explore segment. This step is what keeps a student-led classroom from turning into a storm of misinformation.
Elaborate is where the students can take their answers and new knowledge and use it to extend their thinking or dig deeper into one of the questions they may have. This phase can include student choice projects that make fifth graders feel empowered.
Evaluate is the assessment portion of the lesson, where you can see if the student has reached the point of knowledge that is required on the topic. It could be a more traditional summative quiz or test or something more holistic as interviewing the student or asking them to demonstrate their understanding of the concept.
The true beauty of the 5E Model is the flexibility it provides both the teacher and the student. 5E science lessons give fifth-grade students the room to search for answers in their own ways and at their own pace.
There is not one perfect way to construct a 5E lesson. You can easily piece together your own 5E lessons using your own notes plus the template and descriptions I provided above.
Another option is to let me take your focus off of lesson preparation so you can put that time back into the classroom. I’ve created Kesler Science low-prep 5E lesson plans for both 5th grade and middle school curriculums. All lessons are aligned to elementary school NGSS and TEKS standards.
Whether you choose the 5E model for one lesson or all your lessons, I know you will find that both the flexibility and student-driven learning aspects will complement any science classroom.