Engaging Strategies for Teaching Evolution and Natural Selection – 5E Model

Teaching evolution and natural selection isn’t just about delivering facts – it’s about sparking students’ curiosity, making them wonder, and getting them excited to understand how life’s diversity comes to be. The idea that all living organisms share a common ancestry, branching out into diverse forms over millions of years, sparks a sense of unity amid diversity among students and nature. I’m thrilled to share my experiences and strategies for turning the sometimes tricky topic of natural selection into a fun and engaging adventure for my students.

I love using the 5E model in science. Especially when teaching evolution and natural selection! Its emphasis on engagement, exploration, explanation, elaboration, and evaluation creates a dynamic and student-centered learning experience that is well-suited for the complexities of scientific concepts, including evolution.

Engage with a Fun Natural Selection Video

In the 5E instructional model, “Engage” is the first phase that aims to capture students’ interest, stimulate their curiosity, and assess their prior knowledge on the topic before diving into the main lesson. The goal is to make the learning experience relevant, meaningful, and intriguing. Videos can be incredibly helpful during the Engage phase of the 5E model. They provide a visual and auditory stimulus that can captivate students’ attention, introducing the topic in an engaging and dynamic way.

I love the Amoeba Sisters! My students do too! They engage students with their fun animations and make learning enjoyable. This video handout to go with their Natural Selection video is perfect for standard high school students. It includes an anticipation hook to get students thinking before watching the video, multiple choice questions in sequence of the video, a practice activity, and an extension activity. A perfect introduction to use when teaching evolution and natural selection!

Explore with Peppered Moths

In the 5E instructional model, “Explore” is the phase where students actively participate in hands-on activities, experiments, or simulations. The goal is to allow students to investigate and experiment with the concepts introduced in the Engage phase, fostering a deeper understanding through direct exploration.

A peppered moth simulation can be highly beneficial during this phase when teaching evolution and natural selection. In this simulation, students can act as predators and observe the impact of environmental changes on the population of peppered moths. hey can draw connections between the simulation and real-life examples of natural selection, deepening their understanding of the evolutionary process.

Below are two ways to incorporation peppered moths into your evolution by natural selection unit plan. One is an online simulation – perfect for absent students or when you need to take a break from direct teaching. The other is a super-fun hands-on activity where students read about peppered moths and design moths to camouflage in your classroom.

Explain and clear up misconceptions with aN Evolution presentation , notes, and Kahoot!

In the 5E instructional model, the “Explain” phase is where teachers provide explicit explanations, information, and clarification to help students develop a conceptual understanding of the topic. This phase builds upon the students’ engagement and exploration experiences. This PowerPoint package makes teaching evolution and natural selection a breeze! No-prep (or prior knowledge) on your part!

This Evolution and Natural Selection PowerPoint includes with fill-in-the-blank student notes, comprehension questions, and a Kahoot game, and is an excellent tools for teachers to deliver the content. By combining these elements, you create a comprehensive and interactive learning experience that accommodates various learning styles. The PowerPoint, fill-in-the-blank notes, comprehension questions, and Kahoot game work together to ensure that students not only receive information but also have opportunities to actively engage with, question, and reinforce their understanding of evolution and natural selection.

Who Wants to Live a million years? Elaborate With a Natural Selection Game

In the 5E instructional model, the “Elaborate” phase is where students extend and apply their understanding of the concepts learned during the previous phases. This phase encourages students to go beyond basic comprehension and apply their knowledge in new and meaningful ways.

Bringing the concepts of evolution and natural selection into the real world, I’ve found that the “Who Wants to Live a Million Years” game is a fantastic tool for this phase. This engaging game takes students beyond the basics, challenging them to apply their understanding in simulated scenarios. As they navigate through decisions impacting the survival and adaptation of virtual organisms, students not only apply their knowledge but also hone critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The game’s hands-on nature reinforces their comprehension of evolutionary principles in an interactive and memorable way. Below you will find a natural selection and evolution webquest that incorporates this natural selection game into a well-rounded lesson that students’ love!

Move beyond the long multiple-choice tests

The “Evaluate” phase involves assessing students’ understanding and mastery of the concepts introduced throughout the learning process. This phase helps teachers gauge the effectiveness of the instructional strategies and identify areas where additional support or clarification may be needed.

Graphic organizers or concept maps can be powerful alternatives to traditional paper and pencil tests during this phase. Rather than relying solely on rote memorization, graphic organizers require students to apply their knowledge by organizing information in a meaningful way. This approach encourages a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Graphic organizers also cater to diverse learning styles. Students who may struggle with traditional written tests might excel in visually organizing their thoughts, making this assessment method more inclusive and reflective of individual learning preferences.

If you feel like your students ready to move on to mutations, biochemical evidence of evolution, or have a few kids ready to go above and beyond the typical high school evolution standards, you may want to check out this mutations reading comprehension or biochemical evidence of evolution webquest.