Why do I use inquiry in teaching science? Inquiry is the best method for teaching science. It allows students to gain conceptual understanding based on their own experience during the lesson. Skilled teachers will provide an engaging experience and then they will ask questions that allow the students to construct and articulate their knowledge. Not only does this provide for higher level and critical thinking, it also helps students to internalize and retain information. The Learning Cycle or 5 E model
is one of my favorites.
The Learning Cycle or 5 E Model
The learning cycle is based on 5 e’s. Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend and Evaluate. They do not always flow in a linear direction.
Engage is where the teacher does something to pique the interest of the students. A decrepit event, puzzling situation, or short focusing activity can be useful here. Engage is usually a quick moment just to focus the attention of the students: “Look what happens when I turn the light switch on and off.”
Explore: During the explore the teacher has the students interact with some materials. Often the teacher gives a simple, but open ended direction. “Using these materials try to make the lightbulb light up.” The teacher will not give the students direct instruction here. Students through trial and error will figure out what works. Or they may be given an activity to do and the teacher challenges them with additional questions. “Is that the only way to do it?” Why do you think it is doing that?” “What is happening?” “What do you notice?”
Explain: During this portion of the lesson the teachers asks questions to get the student to articulate the learning based on the experience in the previous step. The teachers does not explain the concept. The teacher will continue to ask questions and give examples in order for the students to gain and articulate the concept. Well planned questions ahead of time are key to keeping the lesson inquiry and helping the students make connections and articulate the concepts.
Extend: In this step the teacher provides a chance for the student to apply the learning in a new, but related way.
Evaluate: This step can actually take place all through the learning cycle. Here the teacher assesses in some way that the students have learned the required concept.
Below are links to several 5 e learning cycle lessons that I have developed. Each of these lessons also includes interactive notebook sample pages.
Inquiry Lesson on Center of Gravity, 5 e
Owl Pellet Inquiry Lesson, 5 E
Inquiry Based Lessons on Light
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