Instructional Innovations

MCHS Newsletter: Week of September 8

Using the Five E's to Plan Great Lessons

Part of my job entails attending professional development dealing with various contents. Last week, I attended a Science in 3D workshop led by Jeremy Peacock at RESA. Kelly Cassidy, Toni Walser-Childs, and I had a great time pounding silly putty with hammers as we explored an Earth Science lesson focusing on earthquakes. Not only did we get to get rid of a little aggression on ye ole silly putty, but I also walked away with a great planning idea that science folks use in formulating lessons. It's called the Five E's. Even if you've heard of it before, I think it's worth reviewing.
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If you go on the NASA website, they give a pretty concise explanation of the 5E's and how you might use them. The definitions I've created below were informed by this website.

Engage: Arouse the curiosity of your students

  • Pique student interest by getting them personally involved in a lesson
  • Pre-assess prior learning
  • Connect prior learning to the present

Example: Have students participate in a KWL over the content they will be studying

Explore: Provide students to get involved in the topic by building their own understanding

  • Give your students the opportunity to get directly involved with your content
  • Teacher is a facilitator; students are the inquirers

Example: This is where science teachers conduct labs and fun experiments--and where it gets tricky for other content area teachers. An example in social studies may be to have different groups of students analyze various primary documents to gather information about an important historical event.

Explain: Provide students time to communicate what they've learned and figure out what it means

  • Give students time with one another to communicate what they've learned

Example: Using the social studies example from earlier, have one of your groups with a specific primary document write a memorandum about the key points of the document; Have students create various newspaper article headings and subheadings that might have occurred about the event.

Extend: Allow students to use new knowledge and continue to explore implications

  • Work with students to elaborate on learning and correct any misconceptions that have occurred

Example: Show a video clip about the historical event and add to it by providing deeper evidence (this might be where you use direct instruction to lecture)

Evaluate: Ongoing determination of learning success through formative and summative assessments

  • Through teacher observation, student interviews, and student products, determine how much learning and understanding have taken place
  • Take your data and use it to shape/reshape classroom instruction and activities

Example: Through looking at individual student work on a journal entry, you ascertain that the student doesn't quite understand the difference between two literary terms and you see this same pattern in other "tickets out the door". You use this information to conduct a mini-lesson the next day for clarification.

In summation, our science folks do a great job with implementing inquiry into so many of their lessons. The rest of us content folks might struggle a bit more with incorporating the inquiry concept in our areas of expertise. The result of this struggle is that many of us turn to the "sit and get" style of teaching. The Five E's force us to think outside of the traditional lesson planning box and help us to think about how we might engage our students while letting them explore the content.


Verstynen, S. (2013, March 18). 5E teaching model. Retrieved from

Caught in the Act...

Using Plicker in Algebra Support
This week's "Caught in the Act" teacher is Christy Chandler. Mrs. Chandler teaches Analytic Geometry and Algebra I Support--the video above took place last Thursday in her Algebra I Support class. Mrs. Chandler began her teaching career here at her alma mater, MCHS. She then spent seven years at East Jackson Comprehensive High School as a math teacher and AP Coordinator. She returned home to MCHS this year and couldn't be happier.

Mrs. Chandler is very innovative in her instructional strategies; she constantly looks for ways to enhance the learning of her students. Not only is she innovational, she also is a formative assessment guru. Step into her classroom at any given time and during your short stay you are sure to see her use one type or another of formative assessment to check student understanding. Last week she combined these two attributes to utilize Plicker, which is a free online assessment tool. You can watch the video above to see how Plicker works.

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We all know how important formative assessment is in our classrooms, and Mrs. Chandler has an arsenal of tools she utilizes on a daily basis. The photo above is another example of Mrs. Chandler using formative assessments in her classroom.
Kelly Cassidy has created a great tutorial for getting started with Plicker. Check it out!

The Difference Between Knowing and Understanding: Backwards Brain Bicycle

Here's another resource I learned about at Science in 3D at RESA. Check out Destin Sandlin's video on the difference between knowing something and understanding something as he explores riding a bike. He also has a great channel on YouTube: Smarter Every Day, that explores life through scientific topics (akin to Mythbusters).
The Backwards Brain Bicycle - Smarter Every Day 133

The More You Know

YouTube Channel: mcinstruction

I have created a YouTube channel that spotlights some great teaching happening here at MCHS. The channel is titled mcinstruction. Follow it to find some great ideas to incorporate into your own classroom. I'll be adding to it weekly.

Upcoming Professional Development: Got an App for That?

We will be holding professional development during all planning periods Friday, September 18 in our new PLC room at the old hs (the old cafeteria). We'll be focusing on creating formative assessment measures through the use of technology. Plicker, which Mrs. C. Chandler used this week, will be one of the tools we explore. Sign up using the Google Doc you receive in your email. P.S. I'm always up to bribing your participation through sugar (aka...there will be treats).

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Looking for Support? I'm Your Robin

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Please don't hesitate to contact me for assistance in lesson planning. I'd love to sit down with you to hear your ideas and then collaborate to enhance your classroom instruction.

Give me a call if:

  • you have a specific issue to address in your classroom, whether it be instructional or classroom management related.
  • you want someone to assist you in a lesson (I love to team teach/help with stations, etc.).
  • you need some help in finding materials for a lesson.
  • you're looking for something specific to be covered in a mini-lesson (I'll do those as well--remember that my background is ELA).
  • you just want to have a conversation about teaching and learning.

I am here to support you. Much like Robin did for Batman, let's team up and add some superhero proportions to your classroom.