Shortly before school started my county announced we would begin in Plan C (with the hope of moving to Plan B when covid-19 numbers got under control). Soon after our county provided our daily schedule; they had allotted only 15 minutes a day for science! If you have taught 5th grade science in NC previously you know how science is an important subject since it’s tested at the end of the year. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I was going to teach science in just 15 short minutes 4 times a week. As I write this public schools have not been given a waiver for testing and it’s possible that we will be giving the EOG at the end of this year. I had to figure out a way to make the most of those 15 minutes a day!

Lesson Plans

I quickly decided that I was going to have to plan this all out very carefully to make the most out of every minute. Thankfully I have so many science lesson plans that I have created over the years that finding resources was not an issue. I would just have to figure out the best way to implement it. If you have used any of my lesson plans you know that I follow the 5E model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate).

Engage & Explore

Engage and explore involve students exploring a topic and hopefully getting hooked and want to learn more. I have students do this during their independent assignments for the week. This typically includes videos, articles, brain dumps, etc.


Explain is the direct teaching portion, where you clear up any misconceptions and fill in any gaps from when students explored the topic. During the 2nd week (during my live lessons) I use their digital notebook and we discuss what they learned last week during their independent work. During this time I get right to the teaching points and make sure students have the basics down. During this time students can also ask questions about things they were wondering when they were exploring the concept on their own

Elaborate & Evaluate

During the 3rd week students demonstrate their knowledge of what they learned by applying it while completing task cards, worksheets, creating models, exit tickets etc.

You are probably thinking, that all sounds great, but does that mean it takes you three times as long to teaching a single science concept during plan C then it would if we were in the classroom? NOPE! I’m still keeping up my usual pace. So how do I do it? I do it by having a fluid system in which what I am teaching live is not the same thing as what they are exploring that week, or what they are being evaluating on. Take a look at the table below that shows what concepts students would be working on during a 5 week period.

If we look at week 3 a little closely, you will see that students are touching on 3 different topics for the week. They are exploring the nervous, skeletal and muscular systems on their own. When they meet with me we are discussing and taking notes on the digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems (that’s what they explored in the previous week). Finally, they have some activities during their independent work time that they will complete to demonstrate what they learned over the previous 2 weeks about cells.

When I first thought of this plan it seemed like too much and I was so nervous that students were going to be so confused with all the information going in their heads; but the opposite was true! They enjoyed exploring on their own and brought great questions to our live lessons about what they had learned about! I was even able to incorporate the articles into reading to make the best use of EVERY minute! Below is copy of my lesson plans that I used in week 3 so you can see exactly what it looked like when I used it with my students.

Thankfully I have so many lesson plans I have made over the years that finding and creating resources was never an issue for me. When I’m in the classroom I am used to have 50 minutes a day to teach science. In Plan C I only have 90 minutes a week (live and independent) for the whole week! Since my time is shortened significantly i’m not able to squeeze in every activity from my lesson plans; but I am able to cover all topics and students are mastering the concepts! Fortunately, the plans I have created were already very digital friendly so I have only had to modify a few things to make this work in Plan C.

Teachers we are all in this together and I hope you have gotten some ideas of how to teach science during plan C. If you need some lesson plans to get you started, I have lesson plans for 4th and 5th grade (aligned to NC standards). These plans will not only help you get through Plan C but can be implemented when you are back in the classroom too!

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