Covid 19 has educators and educational institutions worried about and preparing for possible school closures. What happens if students have to stay home for days or even weeks? How can we keep them learning remotely? What strategies and technology tools can teachers use to take traditional classes online?

I have fielded multiple questions about the best ways to engage students and leverage online learning tools if schools close for a period of time. Despite the fear and anxiety that accompanies a health emergency or a natural disaster, both of which have the potential to close schools, learning does not have to stop because kids are at home.

Everyone is in a different place when it comes to lesson design and navigating technology. I have recorded a video overview for each stage of Roger Bybee’s 5 Es instructional model for teachers who need additional support in designing an online learning experience. I also include quick introductions to technology tools that pair nicely with each stage of the 5 Es.

Below is a template that teachers can use to create their online learning experience using the 5 Es instructional model. I encourage teachers to visit the Hyperdoc website and check out the templates and already-created hyperdocs available for teachers. Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis are the authors of The Hyperdoc Handbook and have created a website full of free resources for teachers.

The beauty of building an online learning experience using a Google document, like the one pictured above, is that teachers can create different versions of the same learning experience. This allows them to subtly differentiate the content for learners at different levels. Readings, videos, and activities can be customized or personalized, and the various versions can be shared quickly via Google Classroom.

As teachers face uncertainty, I encourage them to leverage the power of technology to keep students engaged in inquiry, collaboration, and learning online. However, it is important to note that a 5 Es learning experience will likely span days and weeks, depending on the scope of each task. Students learning remotely juggle many different assignments and responsibilities, negotiate shared spaces with family members, and deal with the emotional and mental impacts of being socially isolated. As educators, we must consider these factors as we design learning experiences and give students plenty of time to complete the work we are assigning.

Teachers interested in learning more about the 5Es instructional model should check out…

The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Creating Teachable Moments by Rodger Bybee

Teaching Science for All Children: An Inquiry Approach (5th Edition) by Ralph Martin, Colleen Sexton, Teresa Franklin, Jack Gerlovich, and Dennis McElroy

If you want to learn more about how to design a 5Es student-centered inquiry that blends active, engaged learning online and offline, check out my 5Es instructional model mini-course.

107 Responses

  1. Some out of state school districts have taken their weekly workshop hours and implemented a training for teachers to review how to teach on-line should schools be closed for a length of time. Perhaps training can be given to the students too. Has this been considered?

  2. “Elaborate” makes me think the teacher is required to “explain further”, would offer words like “exercise” or “employ” for your use of that stage as application & implementation

    • My understanding of elaborate is that the teacher will develop ways for students to apply new knowledge/skills through projects, hands-on work, writing, lab
      experiment, independent practice. This then can lead into the next “E” evaluate, which is assessment.

      • Exactly ! ‘The elaborate’ phase of the 5 E model certainly does not envisage teachers “explaining further”. The idea, I believe, is to encourage the learners to climb further up the Bloom’s taxonomy ‘ladder’…helping them to apply their ‘constructed’ knowledge/understanding in real or hypothetical situations.

        • Reflecting on the comments given already I just wanted to add that I adapted the 5E terminology for ‘elaborate’ stage to ’employ and implement’ as this was picked up by colleagues during staff training on this approach. I have been using this approach with both HE students and 16-18 learners in FE for over 12 months and my research and experience has evidenced that when this approach is applied with appropriate planning and consideration given to each students level of understanding the approach can be adapted for all ages and across all curriculum topics. As a spin off from this my advice to colleagues has been use 3 online tools you are confident in to support you in engaging, enabling and empowering the learners and then build up on your digital skills as you go on along (created my own theoretical model along the way!) The more confident I became in the tech I used the more confident my students became. We worked at dealing with tech issues together where we could and often my students ended up advising me or their peers on how to overcome tech issues which seemed challenging at the time. I also always had a contingency plan when students were not able to engage in the live sessions for whatever reason. This mindset alongside looking at issues with a solution focused approach was integral in the success of delivering this approach with my learners who all remained engaged and motivated in their learning during lockdown despite the many challenges some faced in their personal lives.

    • Your videos have eased my anxiety!! Thank you!!! Can you elaborate on how this template would be utilized/uploaded to Google Classroom. New to Google Classroom and online instruction.

      • I’m thrilled to hear it, Katie!

        I would build your entire learning experience in this template. Include all of the direction, links, resources that students will need to navigate the 5Es in this model. Then post the template on Google Classroom for your students and allow them to self-pace through the parts of the learning experience remotely. Depending on the scope of the individual tasks, that could take them a couple of weeks.

        I hope that helps!

    • It doesn’t require for the teacher to explain further but usually is a time where kids work individual or collaboratively. During this elaborate part the teacher can confer with students and provide meaningful feedback.

      • Catlin, 2-31-20

        How much time do you spend on each of the 5 E’s? How do I make sure students are doing the work? How do I grade the work without it being overwhelming, as I have 6 students? I have never taught 5th grade science and social studies and I don’t get effective help from my district or colleagues. I have text that I can scan and upload to Schoology. I have been reading the materials as a class, although I would not do this in a live classroom. I do this because I know my students would not read the material independently. I have an hour to fill. How do I do this? In a live classroom I would only teach/speak for 10 minutes. I have to tape a lesson. How long should the lesson be? What should be included? Thank you in advance for your help.
        Elaine R.

        • Hi Elaine,

          A 5Es usually spans 2-3 weeks in length. It can be the sole focus or a complement to a traditional unit of study. Usually, the “Explore” and “Elaborate” (multiple days each) take the longest and lends themselves to students having more time.

          If students are completing the parts of the 5Es in a Google Document or Slide Deck, then you can see their progress as they work. I would also build in mechanisms to check for understanding and collect formative assessment data to monitor their progress.

          I would begin your design work by identifying the “target standards” and use those target standards to create a standards-aligned rubric to assess what your students know (content knowledge) and what they are able to do (skills).

          I hope that is helpful! I have a module dedicated to the 5Es in my new Advancing with Blended and Online Learning course if you want to do a deeper dive into this approach to designing learning.

          Take care.

  3. Hi Catlin,
    I’m a research librarian and love this post to support teachers as most schools move to online learning. I’d love to embed your videos in a resource guide I’m creating for our teachers, as well as add a link back to this page. Thanks for considering and for a wonderful blog!

      • Hi Catlin,
        Thanks for this great resource. I am the Head Teacher at a Distance Education School in NSW, Australia. This year we have begun teaching our lessons lives – but also posting the videos on our eLearning Site for those students who can’t attend. Your tutorials are great – sensible and easy to follow and implement. Would you mind if I use them as a reference source for our staff locally as well as across NSW as staff prepare to go online?

  4. Thanks for sharing this great resource! It is indeed useful and helpful for us educators in this time of uncertainty where there is school closure.

  5. So interesting to see this as this is the lesson design in the textbook that I wrote with Dr. Ralph Martin and Dr. Colleen Sexton – “Teaching Science for All Children” editions 1-5. We have used this for years with K-12 teachers of science and mathematics.

    • Hi Dr. Franklin,

      I’ve heard about science teachers use the 5Es instructional model for years, but it seemed a great way to design an engaging inquiry-based online lesson too. My online work is grounded in the Community of Inquiry Model and this approach to designing a lesson is a great fit. I started using the 5Es to create online lessons after reading the Hyperdoc Handbook, but I will add a note to the bottom of this post directing teachers to your work as well! If they want to dive into the model in more depth, they may want to check out your books.


  6. Catlin,

    Thank you so much for this resource. I feel like I can handle distance learning. I feel like this will be an amazing thing!

    I’m a high school science (Biology and Env & Climate Sci) teacher at a school for kids who learn differently. We all want to make sure that families know we’ve got their kids’ best interest. Right? But how to do that remotely? This is the big, underlying question. How do you make those connections?

    My colleagues and I have continued to make our positive connections this past week, but your post is EXACTLY what I was searching for. I teach the 5E model, but was really stumped 🤔 on how to translate it to tech. Regardless of my colleagues teaching 5E or not, I’m definitely passing this to them & to our school’s IT Dept (for Lower and Upper Schools), which has created a Classroom page for useful resources.

    Feeling less anxious. Like, WAAAAAAAAAY less anxious. I’m very confident now that I can keep on making those connections with my awesome teenagers. Thanks so much again.

    Looking forward,
    Kathryn Saussy, San Francisco

    • Hi Kathryn,

      I am thrilled this resource has given you more confidence approaching online learning. I was hoping it would support other educators during this tough time.

      Good luck navigating the next few weeks. I hope you and your students stay safe and healthy.

      Take care.

  7. I think it is important to clarify that it is the 5E Instructional Model, not 5E lesson plan tempate. It represents a learning cycle that is meant to take a minimum of 2 weeks. The 5Es is not meant to be a daily lesson plan template. “The optimal use of the model is a unit of two to three weeks where each phase is used as the basis for one or more lessons (with the exception of the engage phase, which should be a less than a lesson).” The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Personal Reflections and Contemporary Implications by Rodger W. Bybee as shared in Science and Children, April/May 2014.

    • Thank you for taking the time to post this comment, Jaime. This is an important clarification. I think my use of the word “lesson” was misleading for teachers who associate lesson with a single day. I did not mean to suggest this would happen in a day or even a week. The length of time a teacher dedicates to a learning experience like this will depend largely on the scale and scope of each part of the cycle. In an effort to clarify that point, I have removed the word lesson and replaced it with “learning experience.”

      I have also added a note encouraging teachers to be aware of the volume of work they assign during school closures because students are juggling so much mentally and emotionally. They are also negotiating shared spaces with their families, which may complicate their ability to focus and work for long stretches of time.

      Thank you again for taking the time to post a comment!

      Take care.

  8. Love this! Would you be willing to share that Google Form Exit Ticket you showed in the last video? I’m on our school’s Instructional Leadership Team and that would be a REALLY good template for PD, especially with the closures!

      • Sorry, not seeing Form at the top of the sheet. Had a google and can insert a form, am I missing something?

        • Hi Linda,

          Were you able to see the Google spreadsheet I shared? If so, make a copy of it. Then at the top of your copy of the Google spreadsheet, it should have “form” as one of the options.


          • Hi Caitlin,
            I made a copy of the spreadsheet, but I’m not sure how to convert it to a form. I see an option to Insert a form, but it creates a new Form, not keeping the information.
            Help would be greatly appreciated.

          • Hi Anna,

            If you click on “Form” at the top of your spreadsheet, you should have the option to select “View live form.”

            Let me know if that works.

          • Catlin,
            You are such a lifesaver! I’m starting the year on Canvas and will use the 5Es to plan my week. I’d love this form also. I went to the spreadsheet but don’t have the option anywhere to view the live form. Maybe because it is view only?

          • Hi Maranda,

            I’m thrilled this post was useful!

            If you go to “File” on the spreadsheet and select “Make a copy,” it will save a copy of the spreadsheet in your Google Drive. Then you can go to “Form” at the top and click “Edit” to make any changes you want to your copy of the form.


          • Hi all, I am also trying this. I didn’t see “form” as an option until I created a form by going to menu “insert” then “form”. But, while it created a form with the same title, there were no questions. Now that I have created the form, I do see the menu option “form” but again no questions are automatically added. I’ve only ever created a form with questions from a Google doc, but never from a form. I’ll keep looking and if it’s possible I’ll repost here.

            Thanks for the shares Catlin! I found out about 5Es back teaching science for the first time and it helped me so much in designing lessons. I love the idea of the exit ticket in this format.

            Also, if anyone is looking for the HyperDocs templates link it seems they’ve changed since this first post:

  9. Hello Catlin,

    Thanks for the resource! I am going to share and use this to plan lessons.

    I would like to pick your brain about setting up assignments. I teach 134 students. Only have 2 preps of biology (honors and on level) divided into 6 periods. Would you set up a padlet for each class period or one large one for all students?


    • Hi Krystle,

      I would probably divide your classes into two or three groups and create a wall for each group. One large wall will feel like a lot to manage or read through if everyone is posting there.


  10. Thanks so much for sharing this valuable resource during these confined times! My team is putting together linked websites of vetted resources to share with our teachers. My colleague and I were raving over the videos and how easy it is to follow them.

  11. One of the ways I have found working with adults and technology is to break up the information and show them how it is applied. Giving them real-world examples provides depth in the learning experience. We show how the theory is applied by first explaining the concept then showing how it works. This is a complicated suggestion.
    Take each step in your training, and edit in, a classroom of students actually working together, and applying each step. By showing various examples of how students worked together and applying the concepts, you give the audience a deeper emersion of how the design is implemented.

  12. Thank you so much for this resource.
    Got here from Cult of Pedagogy podcast.

    The videos are really helpful to understand the Es, and also got to know so many online tools that you mentioned in the videos.
    I quickly searched for Padlet and loved it right away.

    Also, as I was going through each video of five Es, I couldn’t help aligning the stages with Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle. Engage as Experience, Explore as Reflection, Explain at Theorization, and Elaborate/Evaluate as Implementation.

    Thank you Catlin 🙂

    (btw, I’m from Kathmandu, Nepal.)

    • Hi Umes,

      You’re welcome! I’m thrilled you found these resources for planning a lesson useful! I love the connection you made to Kolb’s Experimental Learning Cycle. I agree there is some definite similarities.

      Take care.

  13. My district has moved to distance learning and I would like to share this with my teachers through our shared Google Classroom and perhaps send out the links to the videos with this reference. Would that be OK?

  14. I loved and gained so much from this video. As a first year teacher I have been very stressed about how I will engage my students in the coming school year. I will definetelly be using these tips when creating my lessons. Thanks so much.

  15. Thank you, Catlin. This post was all I needed to make awesome contributions our schools online programme. The information from here is so much. You will definitely be referenced when sharing the document with my colleagues. Errm! Just so you know, I have attended your training twice in a row at Senegal and South Africa (AISA). You are awesome!

  16. I’m still left behind when establishing the connection between applying learning theories (such as PBL or TBL) and the instructional model you mentioned…? Help 😅

  17. This question might be far-fetched but I would like to know from the points-of-view of educators here, how many minutes is a good class time (synchronous) for learners who are 6-9 years of age.

    Ma’am Catlin, I will certainly use your videos during teacher training for conducting distance education! Thank you so much!

    • You are welcome, Kristen!

      I’ve heard that 15-20 minute sessions work well for younger kids if the time is structured and engaging. I encourage other elementary teachers to weigh in and share their experiences.


  18. Greetings,
    Thank you for this wonderful resource. I would like to share it with students who are in my Teaching with Technology Class. Would that be ok?

  19. Very straight forward, especially for a newbie like me! These videos have significantly lessen the anxiety. Thank you.

  20. Loved the resources mentioned it was the first time I was hearing about Padlet and Mentimeter.
    Would like to share the 5es resources with my teachers as we make the transition to virtual classes.

  21. Videos are very informative, this will certainly assist my colleagues and I as we navigate the online teaching. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Wow! Your videos have made the 5Es become so much easier for me. I am sure to use your tutorials in my school. Thanks so much.

  23. Very interesting presentation.Those are indeed great ideas to use when working with teenagers. Every school leader should ensure that each member of staff is indeed fully aware of these techniques. Anyway, staff development workshops will help to put things in perspective so that much more of this is practised within the schools.

  24. Could you please give me some direction on how to do this when reading a novel? I teach Learning Support English and a lot of the time we are reading something. I really like this model, and would like to implement it. But, I’m not sure how. I would appreciate any help you can give me!

  25. I am loving all of this and will share with my teachers. WHat if we plan for a hybrid model where 50% of a class at a given time are on campus while the other half are e learning? HOw do you leverage technology and at the same time leverage the face to face instruction?

  26. My middle school is implementing a model where students follow a regular six-period day and are in an online classroom with us from 8-2:15 every day. Is that a workable model??

    • Hi Terry,

      That is a long day! I just posted a blog about creating routines, playing with grouping strategies, and scheduling video conferencing time. I’d suggest building in offline practice and application time into those sessions so you and students are not “on” and staring at a screen for 6+ hours.

      I hope that blog is helpful!

      Take care.

  27. Hi Catlin,

    This is such a wonderful resource. Thank you so much. I was wondering if you would be willing to post a template of the exit card you were describing. I like those questions. I do exit cards as well but yours is way better!


  28. This is an complete and interesting way of explaining the 5E method of teaching. Thank you very much for this explanation. The challenge I faced at times is producing the open ended questions. The videos and tutorials were highly appreciated.

  29. Well! It is pretty interesting to note how the 5E model can be integrated in a virtual learning environment. Very informative presentations Catlin.
    Thank you.

  30. I love the ease with which you make designing online learning experiences seem simple and matter of fact. After week one of online training for the My School Online platform, my mind is mush. As a visual learner I was looking for concrete models to observe teachers in action and found your series of videos. I’m an elementary art teacher who deals with multiples, so need to keep it simple and essential. Hey another E word!! Using the 5 E’s instructional model will really help. It sounds like the same thing I heard all week, but never quite worded in a way that spoke to me. Maybe my mind is finally gelling back together and making sense of it all, but these 5 words did it for me. Thanks for pointing me in a good direction. Now, I just need to make it fit for me and my students. Good luck with your book and promoting this model that lets me take a deep breath in. And, let it out.

  31. I love this! My district used this article/collection of your videos as part of our training! I am so glad that I went through and watched the videos. I think I have decided what model to use for the year!!! (At least during these virtual times!) Thank you!!!

  32. Catlin, thank you for sharing your knowledge and the great examples. I can’t wait to tweak my lesson plan template to be explain what and how my students will be learning. I would like to share this with others teachers at my school.

    • You’re welcome, Diann! I’m glad you can use this approach with your students. Feel free to share it with anyone you think might find it useful.

      Take care.

  33. Wow! Your ideas are practical and extremely useful. I am studying e-learning in a masters course online with the Open University and this has provided the background I needed to apply the theory and actual teaching.

    We are so lucky to have your talent and generosity 🙂

      • Using the 5Es Instructional Model in our classes allow us as teachers to cater to the different learning styles of our students. This approach will ensure us as teachers to centre our lessons around diffentiated instructions for the various abilities of the students we educate.

  34. I loved how you seamlessly integrated the use of all these applications into the 5 E model. I need not watch any other videos!! I learn fast. Thank you.

  35. When it comes to teaching English as a Second Language to newcomers is important to keep a simple frame where students feel comfortable and empowered to learn a new and different language. A complex and difficult frame would make them feel afraid and insecure about being capable of learning English.

  36. Hi Catlin,

    I shared an article you posted on Tips for Designing an Online Learning Experience Using the 5 Es Instructional Model and wanted to give you credit but was not sure how to go about it. Thank you for the sharing. I have shared this with my teachers as they are always finding ways to design engaging lessons and activities to enhance student’s creativity and engagement in all lessons. Much appreciated.

  37. I’ve used 5Es at the University level for short science based lesson plans. I do not see this model being used at the elementary level in the public school. I do like this quick, but encompassing model.

  38. Hi Catlin,
    I am a JHS teacher. I learned a lot from your post.
    I would like to use your tips in designing an online experience lesson for the students in my presentation. If it’s okay with you.. Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Aeres,

      You are welcome to use this content in your training. I ask that you give credit to this as the source and let your teachers know where they can connect with me online via Twitter @Catlin_Tucker and this blog.

      Thank you for asking!


  39. I want to execute an online workshop based on 5E Model for Chinese student that they can’t speak in English. how can I engage them and make conversation with them? I decided to make offline videos with translator but what can I do for questioning and getting feedback?

    • Hi Fereshte,

      Will you be leading this workshop in their language? You could provide the directions verbally in your student’s language using video if you are concerned about them understanding the text. If you don’t speak your student’s language, that is a barrier to engaging them in questioning or providing feedback on their work. I wonder if pulling another student into the mix might work better, so they can engage with each other as they progress through the process.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *