Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Power of the 5 E's for NGSS

At first sight the NGSS might seem overwhelming and scary. But when we start to delve into them, do we find best practices that many teachers have already been doing in other content areas? Yes! !

The 5 E's of NGSS: Engage, Explore, Explain, Evaluate, and Elaborate 

(image used from Google Images)

As teacher we strive to apply these verbs in other content areas to best reach our learners. With NGSS we take what we've been doing in those content areas and apply it to science. When I reflect back to my learning as a child, there are few lessons/activities I remember and within those activities even fewer memories as to what the purpose of the learning was... What I do recall is 4th grade science: erupting volcanoes, eggs crashing into a wall due to inertia, landforms constructed out of graham crackers with various edible items, and whipping cream transformed into cool whip (chemical and physical changes)... to name a few. Why do I remember these? Because they incorporated the 5 E's! In my entire student career, these are the lessons the stick out to me. Not only do I remember the excitement of the activity, but I also remember the learning intention. Wow! What power the 5 E's have played in my life, and I will strive to imprint these ideas and learning experiences onto the lives of my students. 

Of the 5 E's, I am taking baby steps in my science instruction. I want to focus on just a few of them and share what they look like in my classroom: Explore, Engage, Explain

Background: In February we acknowledged Dental Awareness month and with that came an excellent Scholastic News article to generate my first grade students' thinking. After reading this article, I asked my students "What stains our teeth?" And later on as a follow up questions, "What can we do to prevent this?"

Through these questions ignited: Explore
Students began to discuss, observe, question, and predict.

We used red juice, soda, water and milk. The eggs (because I couldn't get a hold of the tooth fairy to borrow any teeth) hung out in the liquids for 24 hours. The following day, it was time to discover and see if our predictions were correct!

This is where Engagement came in.... To engage: create interest, generate curiosity, and raise questions. I couldn’t help but giggle as the students were overwhelmed with excitement, interest, and curiosity to see what happened to our eggs.

From what the students observed, they discussed, analyzed,  and Explained the end result with their partners: Red juice and soda will stain our teeth (egg). 

My next steps in the 5 E's: Evaluate and Elaborate... Still being relatively new to not-so-scary science instruction, my next steps are to focus on Evaluate and Elaborate. Have any great ideas? Please share!

Many thanks my 4th grade science teacher who happens to be my mom, a teacher at Lexington Elementary, and  to Kelly Chapman, the Gifted Specialist at Willow Creek and instructor of the professional development class “Put a Little Magic in Your Science Instruction”. Kelly helped supply some of the resources and showed me the way to the 5 E's.

Check out some awesome websites to familiarize yourself with the 5 E's, NGSS and science experiments:
Don’t have the resources, prep time, or space for a science experiment? Check  of science experiment videos by Steve Spangler

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