Lesson planning in science

Nobody understands (other than science teachers!) why teaching science is so hard. When it works, of course, teaching science is incredibly rewarding.

Science lessons are complex. We are teachers of language, maths, literacy, practical skills, health and safety and scientific knowledge. We must also remedy deeply held misconceptions. Students are asked to think about the abstract world and suspend many of their logical beliefs. Successful science lessons therefore require careful planning to ensure learning does not result in a cognitive mess.

Epiba: helping you plan your science lessons

It is important that science lessons have a narrative. The lesson needs a story or context so the rationale for learning is meaningful and clear. If a lesson becomes a series of DO NOWs, worksheets and plenaries, students will be unable to see the bigger picture. When they get stuck they will be unable to find their way out.

There are many ways to plan a science lesson but the example below may be useful if you are looking for a starting point. You can then adapt this model as you see fit. Many of the ideas within EPIBA were born from fruitful discussions with Jill White.

Lesson planning for science: the EPIBA framework

Lesson planning for science lessons. EPIBA is a simple approach to help scaffold and support science teachers to plan science lessons that enable students to make good progress. Remember, start with what you want students to learn and then plan the activities. (PDF)

Download the blank science lesson planning pro forma. This blank pro forma uses the EPIBA approach summarised above. You can edit this document to produce your own science lesson plan (PDF).

Using research to plan science lessons

My book ‘Powerful ideas of science and how to teach them‘ introduces a slightly different model and takes you through how to use it in the classroom, drawing on supporting research to help you understand why specific teaching approaches may work in your classroom.

Planning whole-class practical lessons

See our page on whole-class practicals for further information on how to plan and manage great practical work.

  1. Planning lessons: the EPIBA approach
  2. Clearly defined lesson objectives
  3. The Do Now
  4. Activate prior knowledge
  5. Challenge your students
  6. Use a context
  7. Challenge all students appropriately 
  8. Use direct instruction to provide clear explanations
  9. Model abstract ideas in concrete ways
  10. Use questioning to probe understanding
  11. Check for understanding – give and get feedback
  12. Troubleshooting – why did it go wrong?