Split Decision

How does one model a 5E lesson plan for each topic covered when teaching a split grade level?
— C., Illinois

Split classes can be very challenging, particularly if they have drastically different curricula. However, I believe you can manage better if your lessons use a three-dimensional approach. Instead of content topics, you can structure your 5E (Engage-Explore-Explain-Elaborate-Evaluate) lessons around a cross-cutting theme, a core idea, or a scientific practice common to all science curricula. What would differ in your class is what the students “Explore” about the common theme, idea or practice. I believe the core ideas in each subject area would be the easiest to focus on but it would be powerful to wrap a lesson around a science practice like engaging in arguments based on evidence.

Have the students from both grades share what they learned and ask questions that arose from their explorations. This flows nicely to the “Explanation” and “Elaboration” stages of a 5E lesson. Consider pairing students across the grades and incorporating some peer teaching and evaluation.

You can structure formative and summative evaluations around their understanding of the themes, core ideas, and practices by how they apply the knowledge of the topics from the lesson. You might be able to create tests that ask the same questions but would have slightly different answers depending on the exploration used in each grade level.

Please visit NGSS@NSTA (https://ngss.nsta.org/) for ideas, lessons, and workshops involving 3D learning.

Hope this helps!

Image credit: Kaspar Lunt via Pixabay

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