If you haven’t already figured it out, I am a HUGE enthusiast of the 5E Model when designing my Nitty Gritty Science curriculum.  But even before I began designing curriculum full time, I used it when planning my own lessons while in the classroom, as well as a model to help pre-service science teachers learn to design their own lessons.

The 5E Instructional Model was developed by Rodger W. Bybee and the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) team, a non-profit organization in Colorado Springs. Their goal was to share a research-based instructional model that would challenge students’ ideas on a science subject in order to master a concept.  They achieved this goal by providing a teaching model that would be understandable, usable and memorable for teachers.

An Overview

The 5E Model provides a strategy that engages students in more learning activities.  Here is a brief overview of the five phases:

5E description

Roles of Students and Teachers
The developers of the 5E Model would educate teachers on how the phases should be implemented in the classroom and what that would look like in terms of roles for students and teachers. The following table highlights the roles of both students and teachers during each phase of the 5E model.


Based on the BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Origins and Effectiveness Copyright 2006 by Biological Sciences Curriculum Study.

5E Instructional Model FAQ
Since I began designing curriculum, I have received many questions from teachers and home schoolers about the 5E model. The following are my answers to the most frequently asked questions:
Q: How do you [Nitty Gritty Science] apply the 5E with your provided curriculum?
A: Using the overview above, I would fit in my curriculum as follows:


·          Demos


·          Interactive Notebook activities (student-output)

·          Labs


·          PowerPoints

·          Student Notes (Guided)


·          Science Stations

·          Task cards


·          Mini-quizzes

·          Chapter Tests


Q: Does the 5E Model support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?

A: Absolutely!  The NGSS are standards, or goals rather, that couple science content with practice.  The NGSS allow science concepts to build upon another by encouraging integration of science, technology and engineering.  This integration can be done quite successfully using the 5E model.

Q: Can you do a phase more than once in the 5E model?

A: Yes, and I do it often.  For example, I may do the following:  explore à explain then explore à explain again.  However, this is based on different factors such as students’ ability to grasp concepts or maybe I want to chunk the material to focus on a particular skill.  Each unit provides a different learning opportunity, so I make the appropriate adjustments and will revisit phases as I see fit.

Q: Is the Evaluation Phase always at the end, or can it, for example, be a lab write-up?

A: The 5E model is designed to have a summative evaluation at the end of each unit.  Of course, you will need to complete small, informal evaluations throughout the unit, for example using the mini-quizzes I provide after each INB activity, to check for student understanding.


Overall, I have found that the BSCS 5E Model not only added depth and engagement to the learning that took place in my classroom, but it provided a perfect framework to guide planning, teaching and assessment. I’m a huge fan and I hope you find it as successful as I have!

Take care,


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