Frequently Asked Questions

What is available?
High quality peer-reviewed K-12 science lesson plans spanning all grades and virtually all subjects are freely available to registered users (and registration is free).  All lessons use a 5E learning cycle and feature sheltered instruction operation protocol.  This means that lessons conform to best practices for contemporary science instruction, and they include content that not only facilitates inclusive learning by a diverse student population, but also provides aspects of instruction that generate interest for all students.
How to Search?
All lessons are searchable based on keywords, teaching standards, grade level, subject, instructional components, and other criteria through our site search engine.  Guest users can search lessons and read titles and synopsis for each lesson.  Many lessons are rated by users to help you decide which are the best.  Registered users (registration is free) can download any lesson (packaged in a convenient folder) they find interesting, which contains all the necessary materials and instructions to carry out the lesson.
How to Use Lesson Plans?
All lessons can be downloaded into a folder, which contains all of the materials and instructions needed to run the lesson.  Simply press the “download” button next to the lesson in which you are interested.  Once you download a lesson, it is yours to use as you see fit.  You can modify the lesson as needed to fit your class and teaching style.  We always welcome comments and ratings of the lessons, in order to help improve future offerings.
How to Write and Submit Lessons?
We welcome and encourage new lesson plan submissions.  We have instituted an innovative peer review mechanism to ensure the quality of all lessons published on our site; this process is virtually identical to that used for publication of scientific research articles.  A detailed author’s guidelines is available that provides all of the necessary steps to formulate a lesson, enter it into the website, and get it published.  Published lessons can be listed on a resume or curriculum vitae as a “peer-reviewed” publication.  Publishing your lesson plan ideas is a great way to demonstrate your innovativeness and initiative in the support of K-12 education.

A primary function of the DISCUS program is the development and dissemination of science lesson plans. Registered users can freely search, download, use, and adapt lesson plans which are already published on this site. Use the search or browse feature on the home page to find lessons. Use the Advanced Search feature to search based on grade level, teaching strategy, subject, author, or any other field. All lesson plans conform to a 5E (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate) learning cycle model and incorporate sheltered instruction approaches to reach students having multiple learning intelligence and/or limited English proficiency (LEP) . By involving a wide variety of teaching strategies (e.g., graphics, audiovisual, creative/artistic, hands-on, kinesthetic, and group activities), these lessons will be effective for communicating science subject matter to the broadest cross-section of students possible. Importantly, all lesson plans explicitly describe or contain all of the materials necessary for them to be performed, including detailed teacher’s instructions.

Representing a new paradigm in sheltered instruction of science, all users registered as educators can contribute to the DISCUS program by designing, publishing, and sharing their own original lesson plan ideas. You can even collaborate with other teachers to co-author lesson plans. All submissions are anonymously peer-reviewed to insure the highest quality of materials. The addition of peer-reviewed publications to your CV or resume can set you apart from the crowd if you are seeking employment or promotion. In order to help you through the lesson plan design and submission process, we have created a comprehensive step-by-step Author’s Instructions. This document also provides details of the 5E model and descriptions of the various sheltered instruction teaching strategies you should incorporate into your own DISCUS lessons.

We hope you will take the opportunity to use the lessons we have available, but also contribute your own ideas. We welcome your inquiries and suggestions at any time along the process by email at Additionally, you can grade each of the lessons in the system in order to indicate which ones are your favorites. If you are a teacher or educator, register now to gain access to all that DISCUS has to offer.

For more information, additional sources of lesson plans and ideas, and various other programs of interest, visit our Useful Links page.

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