Understanding the 5E Model of Lesson Planning

Understand the 5E Model of Lesson Planning


Teachers who can adopt instructional models just like the 5E Model into their classrooms help students build a strong foundation of knowledge through active participation.

When choosing an instructional model, teachers seek strategies that are useful for students to gain an entire idea of the latest concepts. Teachers aim to make students participate, motivate them to gain knowledge, and guide them to develop skills. The 5E Model is an inquiry-based approach, which is grounded in active learning.

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The theory behind the 5E Model

The 5E Model is completely based on the constructivism theory. This model helps students to construct knowledge from their experiences. It supports the students to reflect on activities, students get the ability to reconcile new knowledge with previous ideas.

Inquiry-based learning, active learning, experiential learning, discovery learning, and knowledge building, are variations of constructivism.

Constructivism needs teachers to build inquiry, exploration, and assessment into their approach of instructions. This means that the teacher guides the students as they learn new concepts. The role of the teacher is just a facilitator, not a teacher!

Phases of the 5E Model

The following is a brief explanation of the five phases of the 5E Model.


In this phase of the learning cycle, the teacher must check:

  • the prior knowledge of the students
  • identify any knowledge gaps

It is also important to foster an interest in the upcoming concepts so students will be ready to learn.

How can the teacher check the prior knowledge and knowledge gaps in the students?

  • task students by asking open questions.
  • ask the students to write down what they already know about the topic.


During the exploration phase:

  • the teacher offers the students opportunities to explore the new topic in detail.
  • students become start to wonder about the new topic. They ask questions and explore the limits of their understanding.
  • this phase allows students to learn in a hands-on way - through experiential activities in collaborative groups.


In this phase, the students have an opportunity to hear from the facilitator. The explanation phase is mainly led by the teacher.

So far the teacher role has been mainly facilitating learning. In the explanation phase:

  • the teachers use his expertise to explain the topic and answer the questions asked by the students/answer the questions students may have about their learning.
  • the teachers ask the questions to the students whether they are able to explain what has been learned.


  • this phase gives the students space to apply what they have learned.
  • this helps the students to develop a deeper understanding of the concepts/content
  • the teacher may ask the students to create presentations, conduct additional investigations to reinforce new skills.
  • this phase allows students to cement their knowledge before evaluation.


After the objectives are taught, now it is time to assess. The 5E Models allows for both formal and informal assessment.

The teacher can use different assessment strategies, like self-assessment, peer-assessment, writing assignments, and exams, a reflection, a project, a book report, or a model.

Limitations of the 5E Model

The 5E Model is best when students are encountering new concepts for the very first time because there's an opportunity for an entire learning cycle.

  • the 5E Model is best used in a unit of two to three weeks in which each phase is the basis for one or more distinct lessons. 
  • using the 5Es model as the basis for a single lesson decreases the effectiveness of the individual phases due to shortening the time and opportunities for challenging and restructuring concepts and abilities—for learning.

And if an excessive amount of time is spent on each phase, the structure isn’t as effective and students may forget what they’ve learned.


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