K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

Important Announcement about Online Courses and LEARN NC.

Important Message about LEARN NC

LEARN NC is evaluating its role in the current online education environment as it relates directly to the mission of UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education (UNC-CH SOE). We plan to look at our ability to facilitate the transmission of the best research coming out of UNC-CH SOE and other campus partners to support classroom teachers across North Carolina. We will begin by evaluating our existing faculty and student involvement with various NC public schools to determine what might be useful to share with you.

Don’t worry! The lesson plans, articles, and textbooks you use and love aren’t going away. They are simply being moved into the new LEARN NC Digital Archive. While we are moving away from a focus on publishing, we know it’s important that educators have access to these kinds of resources. These resources will be preserved on our website for the foreseeable future. That said, we’re directing our resources into our newest efforts, so we won’t be adding to the archive or updating its contents. This means that as the North Carolina Standard Course of Study changes in the future, we won’t be re-aligning resources. Our full-text and tag searches should make it possible for you to find exactly what you need, regardless of standards alignment.

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The learning cycle is a model of instruction based on scientific inquiry. This model encourages students to develop their own understanding of a scientific concept, explore and deepen that understanding, and then apply the concept to new situations.

Diagram of the learning cycle: exploration, concept development, and concept application


In the first phase, students work on their own or in small groups to explore scientific phenomena, manipulate materials, and attempt to solve problems. The teacher acts as facilitator, posing questions and providing assistance as needed. Students have the opportunity to develop their own hypotheses and to test them through a hands-on experiment or observation.

Concept development

In the second phase of the learning cycle, the teacher leads the students through the introduction and development of the scientific concepts central to the lesson. The students may begin by sharing their observations and ideas from the exploration phase. The teacher may then use written or audio-visual materials to develop the concept and introduce relevant vocabulary.

Concept application

The teacher now poses a new problem or situation for the students to solve based on their initial exploration and on the concepts they refined in the second phase. As in the first phase, the students work individually or in small groups while the teacher acts as facilitator. The learning cycle may then begin again, as these hands-on activities become the starting point for the exploration and development of a related concept.