Lesson planning in science

Teaching science can be challenging. When it works, of course, it is also incredibly rewarding for both students and teachers alike.

Science teachers are teachers of language, maths, literacy, practical skills, health and safety and scientific knowledge. They must also remedy deeply held misconceptions while asking students to think about an abstract world they cannot see. Successful science lessons, then, require careful planning to prevent learning from becoming a cognitive mess.

Epiba: helping you plan your science lessons

To help, science lessons can be broken down into a series of episodes to make the planning (and hopefully) learning process a little easier. However, by doing this, we need to be careful that the overall narrative of the lesson, and wider curriculum, doesn’t get reduced to a series of do nows, retrieval tasks and plenaries.

There are many ways to approach this but I hope the framework below is a useful 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 sense of the science they are learning. Remember, start with what you want students to learn and then plan the activities to best teach that content. (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 to teach science lessons and takes you through how to use it in the classroom. It draws on a range of supporting research to help explain why specific teaching approaches may work (or may not work) in your classroom so that the model can be adapted and refined.

Planning whole-class practical lessons

See the 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?