You Be The Chemist Essential Elements
Essential Elements is a professional development workshop created by the Chemical Educational Foundation® as part of its You Be The Chemist ® (YBTC) initiatives. Essential Elements is designed to provide K–8 educators—our “essential elements” in education—with methods for teaching chemistry concepts through hands-on learning and real-world connections.
Essential Elements is based on the 5E constructivist learning cycle approach to teaching. This cycle allows students to build their own understanding of new concepts from both old ideas and their own experiences. Each of part of the cycle describes a phase of learning. Those phases are engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate.
During an Essential Elements workshop, the instructor will lead educators through a full 5E learning cycle utilizing a lesson from the YBTC Activity Guides. Following the lesson, educators will have an opportunity to discuss the lesson further and ask questions. The workshop will then proceed with additional lessons from the Activity Guides. These lessons will be presented in a short form, allowing educators to perform the experiments and discuss how they can use the full 5E learning cycle for those lessons. Individual lessons will be selected by the instructor. The number of additional short-form lessons will depend on the time allotted for the workshop.
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Phases of the 5E Learning Cycle
ENGAGE: Initiate the learning cycle by capturing students’ interest and encouraging their active involvement in the lesson through short activities or interactive discussions. During this phase, educators will assess the students’ prior knowledge and guide them toward meeting the learning objectives of the lesson at hand.
EXPLORE: Involve students in the lesson by performing an activity or experiment. The educator will provide the necessary materials for the activity/experiment and guide the students using an inquiry process. Students should be encouraged to ask questions, make hypotheses, and test their hypotheses. This process will help solidify concepts, identify misconceptions, and provide an enriched learning experience.
EXPLAIN: Facilitate a discussion about the activity/experiment and the results to identify what students have learned. Students will be able to communicate their own ideas with their peers and with their educator. The educator can use these discussions to formally introduce a concept and guide students toward a deeper understanding of that concept.
ELABORATE: Challenge students to connect this new concept to other ideas or activities. Students will understand how one concept relates to another and how to apply the concept to what goes on in the world around them.
EVALUATE: Assess students’ understanding of the concept and activity. The evaluation phase can take place throughout the learning cycle to help students meet the objectives of the lesson.