Create Inquiry-based Science Lessons the Easy Way

Create Inquiry-Based Lessons the
Easy Way!
Dr. Holly Travis
Department of Biology
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Introduction to the 5-E Model
How you can use the 5-E Model to turn
great ideas into inquiry-based lessons
A little practice…
Sharing your creativity
5-E Model
A simple lesson plan format
developed by Trowbridge & Bybee
that encourages inquiry and
investigation by the students
The 5-E Model
Step 1 - Engage
Step 2 – Explore
Step 3 – Explain
Step 4 – Elaborate
Step 5 - Evaluate
Suppose you saw an idea for a lesson
about seed dispersal in a book you
found at a conference or on a
colleague’s bookshelf.
Now you need to turn that great idea into a
lesson that will inspire and challenge your
What are the first things you need to consider?
Learning objectives: What do you want your
students to know/be able to do once they finish
this activity?
Standards: What national/state/local standards
will do you want to address with this activity?
Using your handout, which NSES
Standard(s) could you apply to this topic?
1. Unifying concepts and processes in science.
2. Science as inquiry.
3. Physical science.
4. Life science.
5. Earth and space science.
6. Science and technology.
7. Science in personal and social perspectives.
8. History and nature of science.
Once you know where you want to go,
the 5-E Model makes it easy to plan your
lesson. Simply plug appropriate
activities into each step.
E. Bring in a dandelion that has gone to seed
and ask students what happens when the wind
blows or substitute a brief film clip showing the
same thing
S. Show the same brief video clip of seed
dispersal and ask students (or groups of
students) to list at least 6 different kinds of
seeds and how each is dispersed. Have groups
share their most unusual example.
E. Ask students to work in small groups
outside to locate 5 different types of seeds from
flowers, trees, and shrubs in the schoolyard
and have them determine how their seeds are
S. Take student groups outside and ask each
group to find 10 different seeds. Determine the
dispersal mechanism for each, and evaluate the
effectiveness by counting the number of each
kind of seed they find and the average distance
from the parent plant.
E. Groups will share their seeds and dispersal
ideas with the rest of the class. Have students
compare similarities and differences between
the seeds collected.
S. Have each group share their results. Have
students offer suggestions about which
characteristics seemed to be most effective and
which ones didn’t work as well.
E. Have each group (or each student) design
their own seed, using paper, string, glue,
crayons, and other craft supplies. Take the
models outside and try them to see how they
S. Groups can design a research project to test
their observations, choosing one type of plant.
These will include a hypothesis, experimental
design, data collection and analysis, and
E. Have students write a story or draw a picture,
describing the life of their seed, how its
structure helps it move from place to place, and
what it might observe as it moves to a new
germination spot.
S. Students will write a formal lab report using
the data they collected and graphing their
Now it’s YOUR turn!
Each group will choose a slip of paper
containing an activity description. Discuss the
activity and brainstorm to come up with ideas
for a lesson based on your topic.
With your group members, determine the grade
level your lesson will target, the NSES
Standard(s) it will address, and the Learning
Objectives you expect students to master.
Next, fill in the 5 “E” steps on your paper. Make
sure you keep the activities student-centered
(describing what the students will be doing) and
that they match the “E” word (the Explore
involves exploration, the Explain has the
students explaining, etc.)
Now that you have Explored the 5-E model and
have created a lesson, each group will briefly
Explain what they came up with.
Please share your topic, grade level, and a quick
summary of the 5-E steps.
As an Elaborate, take the lesson you created and
redesign it for a different age group. For
example, if you created an elementary-level
lesson, adapt the lesson for secondary students.
Finally, exchange your second lesson with
another group. As a way to Evaluate your
understanding of the 5-E model, critique the
lesson. Do the activities fit the “E” steps? Do
they match the learning objectives identified for
the lesson? Will they excite and challenge
Congratulations! You have now created two
student-centered lessons that will encourage
inquiry and critical thinking using the 5-E model.
Next time you see a great activity, remember how
simply it can be adapted for your own students!
Thank you!
If you have questions about this presentation,
feel free to contact me at [email protected]

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