Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

LEARN 5E Instructional Strategies

Lindsay Hawkins, Lindsay Williams | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


In this professional development session, participants discover how various instructional strategies can be used as authentic tools to create and facilitate student-centered lessons with the 5E Instructional Model. Individually, participants will choose a component of the 5E Instructional Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend, Evaluate) and then work in groups to explore how specific strategies from the K20 LEARN site might support lesson design and implementation.

Essential Question

How might the use of instructional strategies support 5E lesson design?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will identify the components of the 5E Instructional Model.

  • Participants will identify and explain how instructional strategies from the K20 LEARN site might meet the criteria of the 5E components.

  • Participants will explore a component of the 5E model and identify how specific instructional strategies support student learning within that component.

  • Participants will identify and explain how the implementation of instructional strategies in a 5E lesson might be used to create an authentic student-centered learning environment.

  • Participants will identify and explain how the implementation of instructional strategies might be used within their content to design a 5E lesson.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • Session Agenda (attached)

  • LEARN Instructional Strategy Note Sheet (attached)

  • 5E Lesson Model handout (attached)

  • LEARN 5E Graphic Organizer (attached)

  • We Think, I Think T-chart (attached; print double-sided)

  • SCORE Reflection (attached)

  • 5E Card Sort and Answer Sheet (optional; attached)

  • Colored paper: red, yellow, and green (one sheet per color)

  • Paper and pencils/pens

  • Participant computers & Chrome browser on each device

  • Internet access

  • Access to instructional strategies from the K20 LEARN site (or printed copies from the LEARN site, detailed below)

  • Poster paper labeled with the 5Es to create the Reverse Sticky Bars Strategy

  • Five different colors of sticky notes (see the Presenter's Note in the Explore section for the quantity of each color)


Use the attached Presentation Slides to guide the session. Begin with slide 2 to display the title of the PD. Welcome participants, and briefly introduce yourself and the professional development session. Identify the Session Agenda on each table as well as the Instructional Strategy Note Sheet, and invite participants to take notes as each strategy is modeled during the session.

Move to slide 3, "The 5E Lesson Model." Ask participants to use a Stoplight strategy self-assessment activity to self-identify regarding their knowledge of the 5E Instructional Model: Green (expert), "I am pretty familiar with the 5E model and use it to structure my lessons"; Yellow (intermediate), "I have heard of the 5E before, but I'm not really sure what it entails"; or Red (beginner/novice), "The 5 What’s?"

Then, ask participants to move to the area of the room that matches their level of experience, designated by color. Within these experience groups, have participants share briefly what they know about the 5E Instructional Model. If a participant feels they are not in the correct group based on the brief conversation, then they may move to another group that is a better fit. As the yellow and green groups discuss what they already know, have the red group write questions they have about the 5E Instructional Model.

Once participants have an opportunity to talk within their own groups, the yellow group shares out what they know about the 5E Instructional Model first. This acknowledges what they do know. Then, the green group elaborates on the yellow's explanations. The red group (and yellow group, if needed) then have the opportunity to ask questions to learn a little more about the topic or ask for clarification about the 5E Instructional Model. If they don't have any questions remaining, they may synthesize the knowledge they gained from the other two groups. As the facilitator, you can provide additional information and help answer questions after the other groups have had the opportunity to share.

After groups have finished sharing and asking questions, change to slide 4 and pass out the attached 5E Lesson Model handout. Participants will read through the handout, thus creating a leveled understanding for each participant. Also, it will be the main resource to refer to for the rest of the session.


Show slide 5, "Today we will . . . " and briefly highlight the session objectives. This will provide a road map of where you will go together during the session and let participants know what to expect.

Change to slide 6, "Sticky Bars." Ask participants if anyone is familiar with the Sticky Bars Strategy and, if so, if they would mind sharing a short explanation of the strategy. If no one is familiar with it or willing to share, you may share a short explanation of the strategy.

After the short description, click the slide again to bring up the word "Reverse" and the first task. Explain how Reverse Sticky Bars will work (participants will pull a sticky from the poster instead of placing one on it). Ask participants to think about the 5E components they would like to learn more about. Specifically, instructional strategies that align with that component and how they support authentic teaching and learning experiences within the 5E lesson model. Then, send participants to the Reverse Sticky Bars poster a few at a time to remove one sticky note located above the component they would like to explore further (Note: A second or third choice may be required in the event that their first choice is already taken).

Change to slide 7 and have participants group with others who have like-colored stickies. Explain that the strategies being explored today can all be found on the K20 LEARN site. It is a great resource for teachers and students, providing 5E lessons, instructional strategies, and other activities for learning beyond the traditional classroom.

Slide 8 displays the first four strategies on the K20 LEARN site. This may be used if you cannot access the internet to highlight the whole LEARN site. If you have internet access, use the hyperlink in the presentation to access the LEARN site.

Change to slide 9, "Instructional Strategies Quest." If there is internet access, groups will either use the K20 LEARN site to filter the instructional strategies by 5E component, or they will receive a list of strategies grouped by components. If participants do not have internet access, they should receive a printed copy of the instructional strategies that best fit within the component they are exploring.

Based on the selected method from above, instruct groups to use the resources provided (5E Lesson Model handout, LEARN 5E Graphic Organizer, and the filtered instructional strategies from the K20 LEARN site) to review the descriptions of these strategies.

Groups will identify how these strategies meet the criteria for the 5E component they are exploring. The LEARN 5E Graphic Organizer will be used to record examples and evidence of the component. Allow at least 15 minutes for groups to work.


After groups work for at least 15 minutes, ask them to wrap up any final thoughts. Instruct all participants to turn their paper over to the back and view the T-chart labeled "We Think, I Think."

Change to slide 10, "We Think." Instruct each group to pick one strategy that they all would like to share aloud with the whole group. First, give them a minute or two to quickly discuss, choose, and record this strategy under the "We Think" column of the T-chart.

Then, ask the groups to share their selected strategy and how it meets the criteria of the 5E components with the whole group. As groups share, encourage the other groups to take notes under the "We Think" column. Participants may ask questions if necessary. The facilitator may elaborate on the strategy when necessary, but this elaboration should not dominate the conversation, since this is about what the groups have learned about the strategies.


Once groups have each shared one strategy, change to slide 12, "I Think." Ask participants to consider and record, on the right side of the T-chart, how one of the strategies they explored in this session might be used in their own content area when creating a 5E lesson. This strategy does not need to be the strategy shared by their group.

Allow a few participants to share out the strategy and how they could implement it in a 5E lesson. Encourage others to record what is shared in the "I Think" column of the T-chart.


Change to slide 13, "I Notice, I Wonder." Ask participants to silently reflect on this session, thinking about the strategies they used, heard, or learned today; the 5E lesson components; and any questions they may still have.

After a moment of quiet reflection, instruct participants to use the Instructional Strategy Note Sheet to record three things they notice about how the 5E model supports student-centered learning. These will be written in the designated space on the left side of the chart at the bottom of their instructional strategies note sheet. Then, to the right, they should write one question they still have regarding any of the topics discussed today.

If time allows, briefly have a few participants share out some of these items recorded. When participants are allowed to ask their questions, it provides an opportunity for them to be answered by either the facilitator or the other participants. This is also an opportunity to clarify any misconceptions about the session or strategies explored today.

At the end of the session, transition to slide 14 and encourage participants to use at least one of the strategies explored today in an upcoming lesson. Inform them there will be a follow-up session, and during that session, they will reflect on the implementation of these strategies.

Research Rationale

The 21st-century student needs opportunities to critically think, collaborate, problem-solve, and relate knowledge to experiences outside the classroom (Lombardi, 2007). The LEARN instructional strategies can provide that opportunity when implemented as an authentic instructional tool to create and facilitate student-centered lessons using the 5E Instructional Model lesson design. It is unreasonable to expect students to develop necessary 21st-century skills in a traditional classroom because, typically, lessons designed in these environments do not create opportunities for students to practice high levels of critical thinking, collaboration, or problem-solving, nor do they allow practice in connecting new information to experiences outside the classroom setting.

By using instructional strategies that promote authentic and inquiry-based teaching, students can gain more autonomy and meet high expectations for learning. When comparing traditional teaching approaches, such as note taking with lectures or bookwork, to more active learning, such as the use of LEARN instructional strategies within a 5E lesson, the lessons that promote active learning have been shown to increase student achievement on assessments as much as 55% (Freeman et al., 2014). The 5E instructional model provides a research-based learning cycle lesson format in five phases (Engagement, Exploration, Explanation, Extension, and Evaluation). These phases allow students to engage in learning new content though meaningful learning experiences. These meaningful learning experiences provide opportunities for students to construct knowledge through exploration and they support higher-order thinking through discourse, discussion, and explanations, deepening understanding through extension and elaboration of learning and assessing understanding through relevant and meaningful evaluations. The LEARN strategies can be naturally implemented to create an active, engaging, and meaningful learning experience for the 21st-century student.


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