Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Using the Five E's when Teaching Science

After over 30 years of teaching, in my opinion, the Five E's still ROCK!

Yup, and I certainly never heard about them in the 60's when I was in college.

I think I always understood them to be a good way to teach. Clustering teaching strategies around the Five E's has always been natural to me. I'll bet that's how they were "invented." Someone must have actually LOOKED at good teaching!

What are the Five E's? Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate.

Looking back over the years, I see that most of my happiest teaching days were spent applying the Five E's. I like the flexibility of the system. One day can be all Engage and Explore. Another day can be all Explain and Elaborate. I love coming up with new ideas for the each part!

If you look at what I have on my website, you can probably put the activities into these five categories yourself. Many go in multiple categories.

ENGAGE - PowerPoints with Images only, Team Games, Introductory Labs or Activities, YouTube Videos
You need to catch their attention, create a need to know, make it worth their while, make them WANT to learn the lesson. I have never believed that LECTURES did a good job of this. So early on, I was always on the lookout for activities that would ENGAGE my students. You should, too!

EXPLORE - Pairs or Team Games, Lab Activities, Pairs Worksheets, YouTube Videos

My Science Methods professor at the University of Minnesota was the famous Roger Johnson--the collaborative guru. He thought kids needed time to PLAY with materials to get a feel for them. It's hard to squeeze this in with all the state requirements nowadays. Try, anyway!

EXPLAIN - PowerPoints with FollowSheets, Foldables, Lab Activities, Skits

I went into teaching with a distaste for the LECTURE. Any college grad probably feels this way, but I went one step further, probably because Roger Johnson had showed it was possible. I looked for ways to INPUT NEW MATERIAL without standing in front of a class talking at them. If you HAVE to lecture, I recommend the
PowerPoint. It's more visual, and if you add a Cut and Paste FollowSheet, you've got an active element, too!

ELABORATE - Cut and Paste Vocab, Pairs or Team Games, Skits, Videos, Kid-Produced PowerPoints

This is the fun part. You've got them into the topic and now you want them to LEARN it, explore it, play with it in a controlled manner, etc. I love labs, projects, anything that has them working together in pairs, teams, by themselves, you name it. Just so they are DOING something.

EVALUATE - Pairs Quizzes, Group Tests, Regular Tests, Pop Quizzes, Individual or Group Presentations, Lab Write Ups.

Why just go with the traditional test all the time? Try something new! That's why I love Pairs Quizzes and Team Tests. If you are careful in how you set them up so the "smart one" doesn't do all the thinking, you get some nice collaboration and a different approach to showing what you've learned. This is what the "Rubric" is all about.

CONSIDER THIS: Look for creative, unusual activities that actively engage your students in the Five E's.

FUN LINK: Check out my How to Write a Science Lesson page.