The 5-E model for instruction is a straight-forward approach to creating lesson plans that helps teachers present information to their students in an effective way.

Created by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) in the late 1980s, the 5-E model was devised to enhance student learning and be easily understood by classroom teachers. Rodger W. Bybee, author of “The BSCS 5E Instructional Model – Creating Teachable Moments,” reports that the model is based in “learning theory,” but everyday language was used to name the steps for this instruction model as “engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate.”

Here is what you need to know about each of these five E words:

5-E model1. Engage

Reaching students, getting their attention, and guiding them to focus on a problem or question are the objects of this first step of the 5-E model. This is a daunting task for today’s teachers. Bybee suggests it is as easy as asking a question or presenting a simple problem related to the content of your lesson. Hopefully, your students will respond with questions of their own, wanting to know what happened or how it happened. This step will also activate their prior knowledge and help connect what they’re already learned to new concepts.

2. Explore

Activities are introduced in this phase of the 5-E model to provide students with materials and concepts to start to investigate the idea you have presented. They may start to discuss ideas with other students in groups and connect what they have already learned to this new idea. Teachers get to know how much the students already know about the subject of the lesson.

3. Explain

Teachers take an active role in this phase by introducing more detail in the form of terms, definitions, and explanations for the specific subject or concept. Students begin to talk about their understanding and show the new skills they have learned.

In project-based learning activities, students can present their designs, solutions, or research and teach the rest of the class in this step.

5-E model4. Elaborate

Bybee stressed the key point for this phase of the 5-E model is to “use activities that are challenging but achievable by the students.” Through these learning experiences the students increase their understanding and begin to sharpen the skills learned. They are encouraged to take what they have learned and apply it to a different but related concept.

5. Evaluate

Although the 5-E model is designed so that teachers can evaluate students’ progress throughout the process using formative assessment, this final phase is used to evaluate the final outcome. How successful was the “teachable moment” that Bybee encourages teachers to start with, and how successful were the students in learning from it?

A 5-E lesson plan links the five phases as your students gather information. For example, electricity is a subject that can be engaging by asking students how it works. Once they are engaged, students begin to explore an electrical circuit and its components. The transformation of electrical energy into other types of energy is explained and other types of energy created can be areas for elaboration. Evaluation of the success of the lesson can culminate in the creation of a light source that displays the transfer and/or changes in energy.

Whatever the subject, the 5-E model can be adapted to give teachers an easy-to-follow guide for instruction through each phase of learning, and students the opportunity to get excited about learning in a different way.

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