Sunday, 9 September 2012

Planning using the 5Es (or 7Es) of lesson planning

The 5Es are engage, elicit, explore, explain, elaborate.

When planning I start with elaborate and engage. I decide what it is that I want the students to be able to say/do at the end of the lesson to show their understanding. Then I will think of how to introduce the lesson. It maybe that I want them to explain fractional distillation, so I will start the lesson with images of products made from oil.

For the elicit phase I think about how what science I need the class to have before we can move on. So for fractional distillation they need to understand boiling and condensing.

Explore and explain are the main part of the lesson. I might refer back to the engage section. The students might complete an experiment like how temperature affects the size of crystals formed, working out the efficiency of a kettle, observing a demonstration of fractional distillation, plotting the locations of earthquakes on a map. Then after the students have investigated something for themselves they explain what they found. It might be as a whole class discussion, it could be a Cloze procedure, but something that involves some degree of teacher input to ensure the students are on the right track in their thinking.

Then they need to apply what they have learned in a context in the elaborate phase. This bit is what the lesson is all about. It allows the teacher to assess that students. This is the bit of the work that I would mark.

Sometimes you can do as perfect a lesson as others.

For example F=ma. I could just tell them the formula and get them to do questions. I know ultimately I want the students to answer questions using F=ma, so that will be my elaborate. I now have to think of a context requiring F=ma that the students can answer questions about that can also engage them. Stopping distances might be one, I have a video clip of Jason Bradbury demonstrating that the stopping distance of a car is more than a motor bike. That could be the engage and the students can explain it and carry out calculations about it in the elaborate phase. Before they can explain stopping distances using F=ma students need to understand balanced and unbalanced forces, so I would question them about it in the elicit phase.

For acid/alkali indicators I would dream up a scenario where the chemist needs to know if the chemicals are acids or alkalis. In the elicit phase I might ask for a common acid and alkali. Then we would make an indicator and test it in the explore and explain phase respectively. In the elaborate phase we would use the indicator to test the unknown chemical and the students can write down what they have found in their own words.

I find using the 5Es makes the plenary of the lesson the most important part and encourages me to teach constructivist lessons.

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