How to Use the 5Es in Remote Math Instruction
This year, my math team has been experimenting with a teaching model that was developed in 1987 by a team working on the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. The model is called the 5Es, and its name comes from the five elements of effective teaching (BSCS). The pattern of problem-solving used by scientists and mathematicians to tackle real-life problems is paralleled by the 5Es, which are engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. Scientists and mathematicians engage with the materials, explore possibilities through experimentation, explain and elaborate on their observations, and evaluate their newly discovered information.
According to BSCS, instructors are able to implement the 5Es at a variety of levels of planning, including a programme that spans an entire school year, a unit, or even within individual sessions. Rather of beginning their education with an explanation from the teacher, students have the opportunity to develop their own knowledge of a new idea through the engage and explore phases when using this method of instruction. This is one of the advantages of using this method.
The 5E instructional paradigm was originally established for the purpose of teaching science; however, it is also effective in the teaching of mathematics since it allows teachers to design units that provide relevant sense-making opportunities for their pupils.
My school district kicked out the new academic year with online education delivered primarily in asynchronous formats. It was decided to construct grade-level teams in order to distribute the task of planning among the 11 elementary schools in the division in an effort to improve both equity and collaboration across the entire division. It was a struggle for all of the teams, not just the ones comprised of science professors, to follow the 5E format that we had prepared. The following is a description of how we applied the 5 Es to a math lesson that lasted for two weeks and was for fifth graders and focused on prime and composite numbers.
During this stage of the lesson, instructors will present students with a question, an item, or a circumstance that will focus their attention and assist them in activating prior knowledge. This may be a number discussion relating to a task that the students are going to do, or it could be an opportunity for the kids to observe and think about something.
Example of the 5E Framework built using Legos 1 provided courtesy of Tracy Proffitt
Students in the fifth grade who were just starting a new unit on prime and composite numbers reported what they noticed about a picture of Lego figurines.
In the beginning of our prime and composite work, we had a picture of 17 Lego figures. We gave our kids the task of recording on Google Jamboard any observations and questions they had. At this point, we encouraged and were willing to consider any answer, regardless of whether or not it involved mathematics. Because this was the theme of the lectures from the week before, several pupils brought attention to the fact that there was an odd number of figures.
During this period, students really delve into an activity. When it comes time to convey a new idea or ability to the students, one of the goals of the phase known as “explore” is to provide them with a shared experience that they and the teachers may draw on.
When kids were learning arithmetic in a traditional classroom setting, the teacher would step back and let the students explore a rich assignment using manipulatives or other models. In the fifth grade, students are generally tasked with building arrays that contain varying amounts of objects as part of an investigation into prime and composite numbers. For the purpose of distance education, we attempted to imitate the physically manipulating of objects by using clipart that students could move around on a Google Slides presentation by dragging and dropping.
It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that this is the section of the lesson or the module in which the instructor discusses the idea or the skill. However, the BSCS places an emphasis on the fact that it is the students who are expected to describe what it is that they have seen or learned, while the instructor provides help in the form of formal language when required.
The third day of our subject on prime and composite numbers had the students explaining what they had learned through the use of an online divisibility tool by posting their explanations on Flipgrid. In this iteration of the 5E educational approach, students and teachers have found Flipgrid to be a very useful resource. After that, teachers could make video remarks to correct students’ mistakes and serve as a model for using exact mathematical language with their pupils.
Students are provided with the opportunity to broaden their thinking and apply their growing knowledge to different scenarios during the complex section of the lesson. In a situation where students interact face to face, this presents an opportunity for students to work through misconceptions, which typically takes the form of collaborative work. Our instructors have made it possible for students to collaborate both synchronously and asynchronously through the use of Zoom and Desmos while the students are engaged in remote learning.
Our department heads urged the teachers in their divisions to make the most of this portion of the lesson plan by utilising it to extend the learning for students who are prepared for a higher level of difficulty and to provide support for pupils who have not yet mastered the idea. The team that I work with in the fifth grade devised a quick formative assessment, and then used the findings of that assessment to assign differentiated work using Google Classroom. Some of the students put their new knowledge to use by labelling prime and composite numbers in a selection of intriguing photographs as well as in photographs that they had taken themselves.
In order to combine their skills in deductive reasoning and problem solving with their understanding of prime and composite numbers, some of the students performed an Open Middle issue using Google Slides. Mekenzie Schmitt, who is now in her first year of teaching fifth grade, made the observation that the formative assessment that took place on Friday looked to be a solid indication of where students needed to be. The typical level of participation was exceeded in this activity that was differentiated. Almost all of the students were successful in completing the work that had been set to them, including the students who were “already had it” and sometimes checked out of class and the students who were “not there yet” and sometimes froze up.
In the final part of the process, both students and teachers evaluate the learning of the students. While formative evaluation is something that ought to take place all the way through each phase, summative assessment is something that is added here at the very conclusion of the unit.
During the engage portion of the lesson, one of the ways that our teachers engaged the kids to evaluate their own learning was by having them go back to what they had noticed and puzzled about the image of the Lego figures. The pupils were encouraged to notice and marvel once more, but this time they were instructed to try to apply the new vocabulary they had acquired.
Example 2 of the 5E Framework built with Legos, courtesy of Tracy Proffitt
Near the end of the unit, the students in fifth grade presented a demonstration of their grasp of prime and composite numbers.
Notes were left by students similar to the ones seen in the image that can be seen above. These notes demonstrate that students’ degrees of comprehension are now quite varied. When compared to a fundamental question such as “Is 17 prime or composite?,” the advantage of asking an open-ended question is that it allows for the discovery of a much greater number of misconceptions.
It is challenging to educate people during a pandemic. Even though our team worked together to produce strategies that were well thought out and focused on the needs of the kids, there were still some students who had difficulty understanding the prime and composite unit.
My colleague Kaitlin Bost, who is in her second year of teaching, and I discussed the effectiveness of the lessons that we had developed as a group. She highlighted students who did not log in to complete assignments, some who went right to the activity without reading any guidelines, and kids who lacked experience or comfort with productive struggle. She also said that some students did not read the directions before beginning the task.
However, Bost is not going to give up. Through the use of Zoom, she conducts one-on-one conversations with pupils in order to guide them through the productive struggle. She is rejoicing in her pupils’ achievements while also considering ways to revise their work so that they include all of the necessary instructions.
Whether you use the 5Es or another student-centered instructional model in your remote math instruction, couple high expectations for students with appropriate support, and celebrate students’ mathematical sense-making at every opportunity.