Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Creating 5E Lessons

Robyn Hilger, Catherine Vaughn | Published: July 16th, 2021 by K20 Center


The Creating 5E Lessons PD focuses on familiarizing participants with the 5E instructional model. The goal of the session is to immerse participants in an authentic 5E activity with an emphasis on each element of the 5E model. Participants will identify and describe the components of a 5E lesson and explain how the 5E instructional model supports the Authenticity framework. "Authenticity, It's Not Just a Fairytale" is a pre-requisite activity.

Essential Questions

How can I structure an authentic lesson from beginning to end?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will be able to identify and describe the components of a 5E lesson.

  • Participants will be able to distinguish how the 5E instructional model supports authentic learning.

  • Participants will be able to demonstrate ability to use the 5E model by modifying or creating a content lesson.

Materials List

  • Creating 5E Lessons presentation slides (attached)

  • How Am I Feeling? What Am I Thinking? handout (attached; one per participant)

  • I Notice, I Wonder handout (attached; one per participant)

  • 5E Lesson Framework handout (attached; one per participant)

  • 5E & Authenticity Rubric handout (attached; one per participant)

  • 5E Lesson Organizer handout (attached; one per participant)

  • Card Sorts (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, Unicorns) (attached; one per group)

  • Authentic Lesson Reflection Tool handout (attached; one per participant)

  • Authenticity Framework Reading handout (attached; one per participant)

  • Frayer Model handout (attached; one per group)

  • Triangle-Square-Circle handout (attached; one per participant)

  • Instructional Strategy Notes handout (attached; one per participant)

  • Large sticky posters

  • Markers

  • Highlighters

  • Pens

  • Index cards


Go to slide 2. Introduce the topic for the day and yourself. Go to slide 3. Share the learning objectives with the participants.

Go to slide 4. Give participants the How Am I Feeling? What Am I Thinking? handout. Invite participants to engage in the How Am I Feeling? What Am I Thinking? strategy by posing the following prompts: "Write a statement that represents how you feel about lesson planning" or "Write a thought, reaction, or comment that you have had about authenticity since our last session." Participants should choose one of these prompts and write a response.

Go to slide 5. Remind participants of the components of Authenticity they encountered during the last session: Construction of Knowledge, Disciplined Inquiry (Meaningful Questioning & Substantive Conversation), Real-World Connections, and Student-Centered Learning. Provide participants with the Authenticity Framework Reading handout as a reference.

Go to slide 6. Hand out and reintroduce the Authentic Lesson Reflection Tool.

Go to slide 7. Group participants by content. Give each group a Frayer Model handout. Assign each content group their component of Authenticity (ELA: Construction of Knowledge, Math: Disciplined Inquiry - Meaningful Questioning, Science: Disciplined Inquiry - Substantive Conversation, Social Studies: Real-World Connections, Unicorns: Student-Centered Learning). Instruct participants to use the Authentic Lesson Reflection Tool and the Authenticity Framework Reading to come up with a definition, characteristics, examples in the classroom, and non-examples in the classroom of their group’s component.

Go to slide 8. Instruct each group to come up with a Chant It, Sing It, Rap It based on their Frayer Model. Provide groups with 5 minutes of work time, and then have each group present.

Go to slide 9. Introduce participants to the Essential Question: How can I structure an authentic lesson from beginning to end?


Go to slide 10. Tell participants they are going to be immersed in a PD that follows the 5E instructional model format. The markers on the slides will cue them when they are moving into the next E.

Go to slide 11. Have participants show you a Fist-to-Five over the following prompt: How familiar are you (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being unfamiliar and 5 being very familiar) with the 5E instructional model?


Go to slide 13. Participants should still be in their content groups. Invite participants to complete the Card Sort containing a lesson snapshot from their content. Ask participants to first arrange the E cards (bold) into the 5Es, then place the purpose of each E (italicized) next to the Es, and then, based on their experience as lesson planners, put the lesson snapshot activities in order. Allow time for the participants to discuss why they’re formatting the lessons the way they are. Have participants leave their Card Sort intact as they engage in the upcoming activities. They will revisit it later in the session.

Go to slide 14. Hand out the 5E Lesson Framework Reading handout. Participants will read the 5E Lesson Framework Reading using the Why-Lighting strategy, keeping in mind the following questions as they read: What is this E? What could it look like in the classroom? Invite participants to highlight parts of the text they deem important to their understanding of 5E and write in the margins why they highlighted that section.

Go to slide 15. Regroup participants by having them number off 1-5. Give each group an E to create a T-Chart over (1 = Engage, 2 = Explore, 3 = Explain, 4 = Extend, 5 = Evaluate). On the left side of the T-Chart, participants will answer “What is this E?” On the right side of the T-Chart, participants will answer “What could this E look like in the classroom?”

After completing the T-Charts, participants will Carousel by rotating through the other groups' T-Charts and adding to both sides of the T-Charts. Once each group has been to each poster, groups can go back to their seats in content groups.

Go to slide 16. Give participants the I Notice, I Wonder handout. To wrap up the discussion on the connections between the Es and what they look like in the classroom, invite participants to write an "I Notice" statement, an "I Wonder" statement, or both an "I Notice" and an "I Wonder" statement.

Segue into the Explain with a discussion on: “How does the 5E instructional model support Authenticity?” (e.g., how does Explore before Explain support the construction of knowledge?)


Go to slide 18. Have participants return to groups of content teams if they did not already do so. Invite participants to revisit their Card Sort and make any changes necessary based on what they learned in the Explore. If applicable, allow time for the groups to discuss why they are making changes.

Go to slide 19. Guide participants through a tour of the LEARN repository. Go to slide 20. Allow participants to find the lesson they were given for the Card Sort to see how it is formatted (ELA: Sweet and Savory Writing, Math: Are We Golden?, Science: Water We Going To Do?, Social Studies: Resistance and Rebellion, Unicorns: Are the Odds in Your Favor?).

Go to slide 21. Hand out the 5E & Authenticity Rubric. Invite participants to evaluate the LEARN lesson of their choice and identify components of Authenticity in that lesson. Have them refer back to the Authentic Teaching Reflection Tool for a resource on the components of Authenticity if necessary.


Go to slide 23. Participants have hopefully identified their own content lesson to modify and brought their planning materials with them. Give participants a brief work time to identify areas of the lesson they can structure into the 5Es and where they are supporting Authenticity in the lesson. To scaffold this activity, you may provide participants with notecards to write their lesson activities on in order to manipulate them easily into a working order. Remind participants that it is okay if they don't completely modify the lesson in this work time, as this carries over into work that can be done between this session and the next time you meet with them.


Go to slide 25. Hand out and have participants complete the Triangle-Square-Circle handout. They will write three important points from the session next to the triangle, write anything from the session that squares with their thinking next to the square, and write anything that is still circling in their mind or they still have questions about next to the circle.

Go to slide 26. Revisit the Fist-to-Five strategy that was used in the Engage, asking participants if their familiarity with the 5E instructional model has changed. They will show you a Fist-to-Five over the following prompt: How familiar are you now (on a scale of 1-5, with 1 being unfamiliar and 5 being very familiar) with the 5E instructional model?

Go to slide 27. Give participants the Instructional Strategy Notes handout. Allow the participants time to complete their LEARN Strategy Reflection on the Instructional Strategy Notes handout. Participants will reflect on how the strategy was used in the activity and consider how they might use the strategy in their classroom.

Go to slide 28. Give participants time to jot down the Resources listed on the slide. Remind them they have several resources to rely on as they continue to modify their content lesson or even begin to create new 5E lessons (i.e., 5E Videos, 5E Lesson Framework Reading, etc.).

Research Rationale

From the K20 Center’s research brief on “Using the 5E Lesson Model” (2017):

“[The 5E instructional model] allows students and teachers to use and build on prior knowledge and experience, explore activities to construct meaning, participate in discussion and articulation of ideas, and to continually assess their understanding of a concept” (Bybee, R, et. al. 2006). “Drawing from Dewey’s reflective thinking, Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, and elements of social constructivism, the 5E lesson model supplies teachers with a lesson design strategy that organizes the elements of authenticity and sequences them together into a complete learning cycle” (Cardak, O., Dikmenli, M., & Saritas, O. 2008). “When comparing students in a 5E learning environment to a traditional learning environment, students experienced greater learning gains. These gains persisted for long-term concept retention and were consistent across gender, ethnicity, and SES” (Wilson, C. D., Taylor, J. A., Kowalski, S. M., & Carlson, J. 2010).