Exploring the 5E model

The exact definition of the 5E model varies from place to place. Some have expanded the model to include 6Es or 7Es and standards. Let’s accept the variations and avoid symantics, for the sake of a short post. The common intent is to provide a (mostly) sequential path for student learning that engages the student and lets them explore a concept before getting into vocabulary or the textbook.

Before my lengthier definitions, here’s an overview of the Es:

Engage the student, allow the student to Explore the concept in some way, ask the student to Explain what they’ve experienced, Elaborate on what was learned to apply to other applications and Evaluate the learning, and Extend the acquired knowledge to new situations.

One teacher I know is curious about this model of instruction, but is reluctant to jump in with both feet. He has explored his own version by doing his lab activity first, THEN going through the lecture experience and notes as needed.

Here’s a more in depth discussion of each stage, primarily distilled from a introduction by the Miami Science Museum that I think explains it nicely:

Engage (sometimes “excite”). The teacher grabs the learner’s attention and outlines why the learning is important and why the student should be interested in the concepts to be learned. The teacher provides opportunities for the student to makevery clear connections with past and present learning experiences.

Explore. Learners explore the concept that will be taught, and all students will now have a minimum level of experience with the concept shown. They have the opportunity to use materials or refer to phenomenon that show some of the interactions that result from this concept. This is a good place for students to ask questions “what happen if…” and then try it out to see the relationship.

Explain (sometimes or “expand”). Learners start to form explanations for the relationships they have just witnessed. Effort is made to sequence events into a logical format, and communication occurs between peers, the facilitator, or within the learner himself. The teacher can start to introduce vocabulary for the concepts that the students are attempting to explain. The teacher can also clearly and methodically use the experiences to help students overcome misconceptions. Learners make apply their generalizations to situations outside of the classroom.

Evaluate (sometimes “elaborate” or “exchange”). The teacher and learner evaluate the progress made towards learning goals. These assessments should include student reflection, informal teacher observations, rubrics, small group discussions, checklists, student interviews, portfolios designed with specific purposes, project and problem-based learning products, and embedded assessments.

Extend (sometimes “enrich”). The student takes the learning and applies it to a new set of circumstances or a more challenging situation. Students propose investigations that permit further exploration and inquiry into the topic at hand. Applications may include collaboration with other students locally or globally, investigating a local or global issue – current or historical – that relates to the concept, creating artwork, media, or writings connected to the concept.

The Miami Science Museum goes on to say “the learning process is open-ended and open to change. There is an on going loop where questions lead to answers but more questions and instruction is driven by both predetermined lesson design and the inquiry process.”

I hope that gives you something to think about. I hope you’ll share comments about your experiences with 5E.

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