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The 5e Lesson Plan: Everything You Need to Know About It

The 5e lesson plan is a very student-centric learning program. that was developed by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study in 1987.  The philosophy behind it maintains that students learn much better when adding experience to their knowledge.
For those of you that have read my blog, you know that I am all about experiential learning and using the senses to maximize learning.  So the 5e lesson plan goes hand in hand with a lot of the lesson planning material that you will find on Complete Literature.

So what is the 5e lesson plan and how can you use it to improve the quality of life in your classroom?  In this article, we will break down the 5 e’s of lesson planning (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate).  Then we’ll see how they relate to one another through the process of lesson planning.  Finally, you will be able to use these methods to improve the quality of life of your classroom.
While the 5e lesson plan model was originally formulated to cover science lesson plans, I found that it easily translates to every other subject as well.
Click here for a study that was done to show the effectiveness of the program.


The purpose of the engagement stage of the 5e lesson plan is to conduct a quick activity that will immediately cause the students to draw them into the learning process.  We want them to be exciting about what they are learning.  Yep, even the “boring” stuff can become fun when we present it in creative ways.
What you want to think of here is the anticipatory set.  You can read more about this by clicking here to access my article about anticipatory sets.
The activities that you choose to do to grab your students’ attention need to be pretty short, no longer than 5-10 minutes.  Some great examples are:

Video introducing the subject
Short Game
Display with items relevant to the subject
Short story related to the subject
Quiz game
KWL chart
Role playing
Short interview with someone in the field
Related food

Remember the goal of this is to introduce the day’s or week’s lesson in a way that excites your students.  As long as it fits into a short period of time, you can do just about anything that is fun and related to the subject at the same time.

5e lesson plan


Now that your students are excited about what you have for them to learn about today, the next step in the 5e lesson plan is for them to explore the subject and learn new things about it.
Once again, the more hands on you make this, the better the students will retain the information.  Having an open class discussion is one of my favorite ways to do this.  First, I capitalize on what the students already know by asking pointed questions.  Then we start taking that knowledge and building on it.  That can take many forms:

Art Projects
Shared readings
Extended interviews or visits with relevant people

It is important that the projects are done before class discussion so that during the discussion time you can fill in any gaps that were not covered.  It also allows them to process the information better when there are tactile aspects to their lesson.


This is one of my favorite parts of the 5e lesson plan.  I love seeing the students start to recognize what they have learned based on the projects and instruction they have already received.
One of my favorite ways to do this is to have all of the students pick an index card that has a question or action item on it.  Then I divide them into several groups.  Each group helps all of the other members to process what is on their card.  Then I have them present what they have learned in their groups up front.  The owners of the cards do the presenting after the small groups have worked through them all.
Students, especially in middle school, love the freedom of presenting what they have learned in their own style.  And this activity makes them comfortable with getting up in front of the class and making presentations.  Having their small group up there with them while they present also makes them feel less on the spot.  This will be helpful for your more introverted students and help them to come out of their shell just a little bit more.


The elaborate phase of the 5e lesson plan uses the information that the students have already showed mastery of to now build even further on their knowledge.  This would be an even more in-depth activity.  So it could start with some lecture but build quickly into a more hands-on approach.  Once again, classroom discussion works well here because it allows the students to draw from what they have learned. Now they start making conclusions based on what they are learning and how they are able to put all the pieces together.
The strength that the students learn from this activity is so valuable in helping them to see the power of lifelong learning.  And it takes the pressure of the teacher to teach facts to a test.  It also allows the students to take pride in their ability to stretch themselves academically.
You could also add case studies here for students to be able to see how what they have learned is applied.  This can be in any form you can come up with.  Some suggestions are:


You will want this project to be different than what you have already done.  So if you have already done a video or experiment, go with a craft or game.  Not only does the variety keep your students engaged, it also reaches more students’ favorite activities.

5e lesson plan


There is a lot of freedom in the evaluation stage of the 5e lesson plan.  You can do a formal written test if that is what your school requires.  Or you can do evaluations based on the knowledge displayed by the students during their presentations and other activities.  Both methods have advantages.  Formal testing helps them in academia because they will be taking tests as long as they are in any school setting.  But evaluations based on performance in the classroom is more of a real-life scenario.
Making your testing a combination of the two makes this the best of two worlds.  And that is only beneficial for your students.  While it is training them in both academic and real world settings, it is also allowing their grades to be better based on whichever method of testing they are stronger in.


So this is the 5e lesson plan in a nutshell.  It works well in nearly any school setting.  And it helps your students learn to function in the classroom as well as in the real world.
How has the 5e lesson plan worked for you?  I would love to hear your experiences with it.  Feel free to comment below.
If you enjoyed this article, I think you will also be interested in the following articles:

Problem-based Learning:  Boost Your Students’ Success in the Real World
Why Teachers Hate Lesson Planning and How to Grow to Love It
Eleven Proven Ways to Prevent Boredom in the Classroom, Part 1
Eleven Proven Ways to Prevent Boredom in the Classroom, Part 2

This Post Has 62 Comments

  1. Tia J McKinzie

    I wish this is something they would show more teachers and encourage them to use! I think it would be very effective. as a former teacher you always want to get the attention of your students and keep it! This is the best way they will learn and remember what they learned!

    1. Marie

      You are exactly right, Tia! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  2. Krysten Quiles

    Oh wow, I wish this is something that my teachers had used when I was in school. Sounds like a great way to learn! Thanks for sharing Marie!

  3. Passion Piece

    Now the schools have been closed in Poland for 2 weeks, so we need to know how to engage students and how to make them stay tuned with everything online. Great article and great tips! Again! 🙂

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Izabela! Our schools have just closed in America. I hope everything improves quickly worldwide.

  4. Holls

    I love the idea of more focus on experiential learning. I’m going to try to find ways to incorporate this when I teach

    1. Marie

      That’s awesome Holls!

  5. Jen Walker

    It’s definitely easier to learn things when you give it a hands on or practical approach rather than listening to a teach go on and on and on in that monotonous tone! Now that my kids are home with the school closure, I’m looking forward to taking some of this into their days to keep them learning without making it boring, for them or for me!

    1. Marie

      That’s awesome, Jen. I think they will like the activity and not even realize it is keeping their brains going. 🙂

  6. Amber Myers

    I didn’t know about this lesson plan at all. I think I like it! It sounds like kids can learn a lot.

  7. kcarr125

    As an educator, this is a great way to help students learn. All of the 5e’s are important for a complete lesson

  8. Erika Ravnsborg

    Wow! I wished we had this when I was in school. School will be alot better with ideas.

  9. CA

    This is so refreshing yet also familiar. Engagement is always key in getting attention and participation in any type of discussion. What you have presented is such an exciting way of teaching and learning. Maybe this can be applied at work as well during meetings.

    1. Marie

      I am sure that it can be applied to work situations as well. If it can make happy students, I bet it can make happy employees!

  10. Monidipa

    Eperntial learning clears the point way effectively. Your posts I have read earlier as well, I must say your ideas are really great.

    1. Marie

      Thank you Monidipa!

  11. Alyx B

    I have never heard of this, I think more schools need to implement this! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Clari says,

    Oh, this is informative. I think parents would love this approach. Their children will be more interested and happy to learn.

  13. Kimberly Caines

    These are some great 5e lesson plan we need to know and how to teach our kids in a fun way.

  14. Joanna

    This lesson plan should be used by all teachers. I like that it includes engaging and explanations in the same time. Evaluating at the end of the class is definitely a great way to measure how much the students understood and if there is any gap that needs to be covered in later classes.

  15. Holidiaries

    How I wish this was shown to my teachers in school. I think exploring and evaluating was something missing during my time.

  16. This sounds like a really effective way to approach a lesson plan! I love that it encourages students to learn hands on and come to their own conclusions/explanations of what they have learned.

  17. Tara Pittman

    This sounds like a great way to keep my kids learning during this time of break. I will be trying these steps with our learning

  18. shrutibhattacharya

    More schools need to implement such ideas. This is a great way to continue learning even when not going to school.

    1. Marie

      Very true!

  19. Rachel Loza

    Very interesting way of teaching and learning! I’m just dabbling in homeschooling my children now but will keep this in mind for the future.

    1. Marie

      All of this works for homeschooling as well!

  20. Stephanie Jeannot

    You would be good at writing a text book. The white space makes such a difference to the eye. I love the way you write.

    1. Marie

      Thank you, Stephanie! I have had the best trainers. 🙂

  21. successunscrambled

    I have no idea what they are teaching in schools these days but this is such a great idea that is so focused on each student according to their needs. The department of education recently announced a change in the schools curriculum which will take 2-5 years to set up so I hope something like this is included.

    1. Marie

      I hope so too, Alvern.

  22. Recovering Superwoman

    This is very similar to the learning style that I often write about- Montessori! I must say that I wasn’t otherwise familiar with it before your post- but I’m all about learning through actual experiences!

    1. Marie

      It is very similar to Montessori! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. 🙂

  23. Chantal

    It is important to engage and help children in their learning process. I am happy you made these steps clear for us to know.

  24. Peachy A.

    I wish this is something they would show more teachers and encourage them to use! it would be very very effective!

    1. Marie

      There are a lot of teachers doing this at varying levels in their classroom.

  25. Caitlin + Dani

    We love this! Maybe parents will implement these ideas while the kids are at home.

    1. Marie

      I hope so!

  26. Nayna Kanabar

    What a great way to teach and learn, this would be so good if we were all showed this method when studying.

    1. Marie

      I think a lot of teachers are using this at varying levels. I do hope we see more of it.

  27. Cindy E Ingalls

    I wish this is something that my teachers had used when I was in school. Sounds like a great way to learn! Most students learn better when are allowed to be hands-on.

    1. Marie

      Yes, it definitely helps to cement the concepts in their mind better when there are supporting activities.

  28. Lisa @ Midwest Glam

    This sounds like a very interesting approach. I like your introduction ideas. It got me excited about a lesson. 🙂 Too bad many of the schools are closed for a while. Maybe even the rest of the school year.

    1. Marie

      I know. What a strange time we are in! I hope that maybe some parents can implement some of these ideas. It will help keep the kids from getting bored!

  29. Nyxinked

    Interesting approach to learning. I wonder how teaching will be effected for the rest of the year? A lot of lessons etc are now going to have to be conducted at home, but what happens if parents have to work? It’s all so confusing. Hope you’re staying safe!

    1. Marie

      Yes, it is a strange time and a mess here in America too. So far we are staying safe. I hope you all are doing well, too. You will be through it sooner than us. America has had the luxury of learning from the experiences of Asia and Europe and we have maybe been able to head some of it off. I hope it is all over sooner than later with minimal loss.

  30. aisasami

    I try to use more student-based learning in my classroom. But it can be quite hard as I work in an ESL classroom where they are beginners at English (and not allow to use their mother tongue). But, I do try my best.

    1. Marie

      I remember that challenge when I taught ESL. I had an advanced class so we were practicing mostly conversational language. But I worked with the other teachers at their levels and saw the challenges of each class. And I loved getting to the end of the year and seeing what a difference those classes had made and how far the students had come! It is a rewarding job!

  31. amberleshae

    I think being the fact that everyone is home, this will really be of benefit!

  32. Candy Rachelle

    I’ve never heard of this program. I do agree that when you’re teaching something new, it should be done with hands on experience.

    Candy Rachelle
    Keeping Up With Candy

  33. World In Eyes

    Wow, great lesson plan cycle, I have read the project management cycle but as like same it is really a good idea of 5e Lesson Plan from engage to elaborate and last step evaluation which is more important.

  34. Kevin Brotac

    Amazing, I did not know about this! The 5e lesson plan is an amazing way to teach your students.

  35. Cristina Petrini

    I would have liked teachers who could have guided this way of studying to understand and understand as well as remember. Effective!

  36. Mow Debnath

    I think practicals ways of teaching are best and splitting it into the 5e’s will sure help improve the student’s engagement and knowledge retention.

  37. blair villanueva

    Schools are now back here in VIC Australia, and the kids are having that “drain mood”. Maybe they felt overwhelmed during the first day, and hope they will be alright the following days.

  38. Ben

    I wish I’d had a learning experience like this. I’m a smart guy, but I barely made it through school. I was sooooooo boreed.

  39. Melanie Frost

    I have never heard of this type of lesson plan before. Wish they had this when I was in school. My own child would probably benefit from this too!

  40. Emman Damian

    This is the first time I heard about the The 5e Lesson Plan! It seems very helpful for teachers. So nice! Will share it to them.

  41. Lily

    First time learning about 5e lesson plan. Very detailed and informative.

  42. Kuntala Bhattacharya

    I liked your 5e plan, in fact teachers must follow this rule to gain interest of students and to take care of their attention span.

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