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Lesson Planning

When making decisions concerning instruction, teachers must determine the prior knowledge of their students. The goal of instruction is to build upon what students already know and to allow them to gain a deeper understanding of reality.  Several instructional models for constructivism exist. One such model was developed by Roger Bybee of The Biological Science Curriculum Study. This model is best known as the "Five Es".
The Five Es Instructional Model
1. Engage: This stage provides the opportunity for the teachers to discover what students know or what they think they know.
2. Explore: This stage provides a common set of experiences as well as a broad range of experiences. This stage allows students to compare what they think about with what they are actually observing.
3. Explain: This stage provids opportunities for students to connect their previous experiences and to begin to make conceptual sense of the main ideas within the unit of study.
4. Elaborate: In this stage students apply or extend the concepts in new situations and relate their previous experiences to new ones.
5. Evaluate: Evaluation of students' conceptual understanding and ability to use skills begins at the Engage stage and continues throughout the model.  

The chart that follows outlines teacher and student behaviors within the 5 E model.

Taken from 


Suggested Activity

What the Teacher Does

What the Student Does  


  • Demonstration
  • Reading
  • Free Write
  • Analyze a Graphic Organizer
  • KWL
  • Brainstorming  
  • Creates interest.
  • Generates curiosity.
  • Raises questions.
  • Elicits responses that uncover what the students know or think about the concept/topic.
  • Asks questions such as, Why did this happen? What do I already know about this? What can I found out about this?
  • Shows interest in the topic.  


  • Perform an Investigation
  • Read Authentic Resources to Collect Information
  • Solve a Problem
  • Construct a Model  
  • Encourages the students to work together without direct instruction from the teacher.
  • Observes and listens to the students as they interact.
  • Asks probing questions to redirect the students’ investigations when necessary.
  • Provides time for students to puzzle through problems.  
  • Thinks freely but within the limits of the activity.
  • Tests predictions and hypotheses.
  • Forms new predictions and hypotheses.
  • Tries alternatives and discusses them with others.
  • Records observations and ideas.
  • Suspends judgement.  



  • Student Analysis & Explanation
  • Supporting Ideas with Evidence
  • Structured Questioning
  • Reading and Discussion
  • Teacher Explanation
  • Thinking Skill Activities: compare, classify, error analysis  
  • Encourages the students to explain concepts and definitions in their own words.
  • Asks for justification (evidence) and clarification from students.
  • Formally provides definitions, explanations, and new labels.
  • Uses students’ previous experiences as basis for explaining concepts.


  • Explains possible solutions or answers to others.
  • Listens officially to others’ explanations.
  • Questions others’ explanations.
  • Listens to and tries to comprehend explanations the teacher offers.
  • Refers to previous activities.
  • Uses recorded observations in explanations.  


  • Problem Solving
  • Decision Making
  • Experimental Inquiry
  • Think Skill Activities: compare, classify, apply  
  • Expects the students to use formal labels, definitions, and explanations provided previously.
  • Encourages the students to apply or extend the concepts and skills in new situations.
  • Reminds the students of alternative explanations.
  • Refers the students to existing data and evidence and asks, What do you already know? Why do you think…?
  • Strategies from Explore apply here also.


  • Applies new labels, definitions, explanations, and skills in new, but similar situations.
  • Uses previous information to ask questions, propose solutions, make decisions, and design experiments.
  • Draws reasonable conclusions from evidence.
  • Records observations and explanations.
  • Checks for understandings among peers.  


  • Any of the Above
  • Develop a Scoring Tool or Rubric
  • Test
  • Performance Assessment
  • Produce a Product
  • Journal Entry
  • Portfolio  
  • Observes the students as they apply new concepts and skills.
  • Assesses students’ knowledge and/or skills.
  • Looks for evidence that the students have changed their thinking or behaviors.
  • Allows students to assess their own learning and group-process skills.
  • Asks open-ended questions, such as: Why do you think…? What evidence do you have? What do you know about x? How would you explain x?  
  • Answers open-ended questions by using observations, evidence, and previously accepted explanations.
  • Demonstrates an understanding or knowledge of the concept or skill.
  • Evaluates his or her own progress and knowledge.
  • Asks related questions that would encourage future investigations.  

5 E Model Science Lesson

Indicator: Observe and describe the process of erosion, transportation, and deposition of the earth’s land surface using natural phenomena and models.

State Outcomes:

Concepts of Science Nature of Science

Habits of Science Application of Science

Processes of Science Attitudes (develop throughout)

Objective: Students will observe and describe the processes of erosion, transportation, and deposition by creating a physical model.


paint tray (the kind used for a paint roller)

pieces of sod (enough for each group)

potting soil

heavy clay like soil

Rainmaker (paper cup with about ten tiny holes poked in the bottom)



Take students on a walk outside the school building and ask them to note where the soil is worn away or seems to have collected. Before going on the walk you may want the children to explain what they will look for or what are the signs that soil has worn away or built up? ( Suggested answers may include: erosion - puddles, hollowed out areas, areas that dip or are lower that the surrounding area; deposition - mounds of dirt, collection of soil or other materials in a certain spot, etc.) Upon returning to the classroom make a list of the sites where soil was worn away or collected.


bottom of slide under swing

end of splash guard by rain spout at entrance to door

path leading to the playground at the bottom of hill/slope

Do you notice anything different about these areas? ( They are just dirt; no grass is growing here.)

What do you think caused these changes? ( Students walking over them; water running through it.)


Construct a model to investigate how these changes may have occurred. Provide materials so the students can construct their own model of a landscape. It should include a piece of sod, fine potting soil, and a heavy clay like soil. Have them use a paint roller tray as the base of the landscape. Do not put any landscape materials in the bottom well; it should remain empty. Once students have constructed their models have them diagram and label their models and make a prediction as to what will happen if it "rains" on their landscape.

One student pours a cup of water all at once into the rainmaker. Hold the rainmaker about 4 inches above the upper end of the landscape and slowly move it back and forth so the water "rains" down on the model landscape. Observe what happens to the landscape. When it is finished raining have the students observe the final effects of the rain on their landscape. Have students go back to their predictions and record what actually happened.


Tell me what some of your prediction were before it rained on your landscape. ( Record on board.)

What actually happened to your landscape when it rained on it? (record so you can make comparisons.)

How is your landscape different after the rain than before it rained on it?

What happened to the soil? Where did it go? Why did this happen?

As students share their ideas and understandings, record key phrases on the board. Some phases that may be valuable to your later discussion may include:

dirt and soil washed away

the soil collected at the bottom of the slope

the water hollowed out the soil

the rain carried the soil down the hill

when the water washed away the soil it formed a hole

Relate their observations to the processes scientists observe over an extended period of time. Use student models to identify and label erosion and deposition. Have students work to create definitions for these terms. When you are sure students have a real understanding of the terms, formulate a final definition and post on board or chart in the classroom for future reference. Demonstrate the process of transportation and lead students to understand that it is the movement of soil particles from one place to another. Refer to the list generated during the engagement and have students make connections; they should use the new terms to discuss and explain what they saw. Help them to understand that they just used water to simulate erosion , transportation, and deposition, but it can also be caused by wind, people, animals, etc.


1. Using the same paint roller tray as the base for their landscape, have the groups of students plan a method to decrease or eliminate erosion. Students should draw a diagram of the model planned and label the materials used in their landscape. They should write a short explanation explaining why they think this will work to curb erosion. ( Tell students that you will provide the same materials that they used today and they are responsible for supplying the rest of the materials to build their new landscape tomorrow.)

2. Have students use a variety of resources and references to research various landmarks that are the result of these processes (e.g. Grand Canyon, Mississippi River Banks, etc.). You can then lead a class discussion on the topic: Erosion and Deposition - Help or Hindrance?


1. Have photographs representing each process and have students identify and explain why they identified it as such.

2. Have students take a walk in their own neighborhood tonight to find examples of each process. They should draw and write one sentence telling what they observed.

3. Have students write their own definition and list an example for each process in their science journals.


Click on the link to access a blank lesson plan outline to aid you in the creation of  Constructivist lesson plans.  We would appreciate your feedback on this experience. This is a great activity to participate in if you are currently enroled in ETEC 530. It might help to get you started with Assignment #2.