Cells: Protein Production Part 1

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Students will be able to recognize and sort the steps to protein production.

Big Idea

Industrial Cellular Revolution

Ready. Set. Engage

5 minutes

Learning Goal: Understand the process used to make a protein

Essential Question:  What do you think when you hear the word protein?

Students come in the room, get ready (get their stuff), get set (get settled in their seats), and engage in writing the learning goal and answering the essential question on the board.


5 minutes

After asking students what they think when they hear the word protein, I explain to them that proteins in the cells are actually very busy molecules.  I tell the students that proteins do almost all the jobs for our cells that allow them to function and preview the video for them by asking them to watch it and listen for jobs that proteins do.   


15 minutes

Today we explore, and write about, cells and the protein’s role within them, using a simplified visual representation. We also create a Structure/Function Table. I use the metaphor of a factory for this section so that students have a concrete analogy to assist them in understanding that protein production is a process that continually occurs in the cell.  

Today's work is entered into students' Lab Notebooks.  To speed this up, I cut out the pictures ahead of time and keep tape and a stapler on the desk in a little container.  This way adding a foldable or other resource into their notebook takes very little time.  

I couldn't find a simple enough picture for protein production so I made my own.  This is a common problem with this topic because most of the resources online are at the high school or college level. I find that it is much easier to go from a simple drawing and then transfer to a more complicated one than the other way around.  Students can easily become frustrated and withdrawn if the picture seems out of their league.  This picture looks fairly complicated but I added numbered text boxes so that together we can reach meaning.  

 The way I would teach this might sound like this video below.

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I know that this seems fast...but remember this is just the focus instruction.  The kids will get numerous chances over the next three days to engage with this information.  Today's purpose is for everyone to get notes that they can refer to later as they start to build meaning. 

Before we start to create the structure/function table, I ask students to turn to their partners and go through the steps of making a protein.  This allows them to start solidifying the information with the picture in front of them.  Then we start on the structure function chart.  When we are done it will look like this.


Guided Practice

7 minutes

For guided practice today, I use a THINK-PAIR- SHARE with random name pulling.  When I ask the students a question, they have a chance to use their notes and think pair share together.  Next, I pull a name stick and call on a random student.  As always, the student called on gets a ROCK STAR SCIENTIST ticket.

The questions I ask are:

1.  Where is the DNA kept?

2.  What is messenger RNA?

3.  How does the RNA get out of the nucleus?

4.  What reads the RNA and makes the protein?

5.  Where can protein synthesis happen?

6.  How do proteins travel around the cell?

7.  Where do proteins get packaged?

8.  What might be a job that proteins do when they are made?

Collaborative Practice

10 minutes

For collaborative practice today, students are given an envelope of steps and together they put them in the right order and explain their thinking. 

Once they have the steps in the right order they answer this question:

"How is a cell's process of making proteins like a factory?"

Independent Practice

7 minutes

It's time to do a quick check on student understanding. I use this short Production Production Quiz and SMART clickers so I immediately have access to student responses.  You could also use an online app like Doodle poll if you do not have access to clickers or, of course, give a hard copy.  I will use this quiz to give me data so that I know who to check in with immediately on the next day.   

Cell Model Assessment follow-up

2 minutes

I am giving my students a project to complete at home during this unit.  At the end of the unit we will display our projects in a cell museum.  You can find the rubric and assignment here.  

I like to check in with the students just briefly during class to remind them about the assignment and see where they are in it.  

1) Students chose to do a model or a poster.  I give students the option of a poster to support my free and reduced lunch students.  They can still make a fabulous poster that looks the same or better than anybody else's with no financial outlay.  Models can be made out of any material.

2) Students fill in the structure/function/picture/thinking chart.  This is where students actually show understanding of the structure and function of cell organelles.  Advanced students are encouraged to use metaphors as opposed to make a pure model, as this allows them to display more thinking.  For example, one might say, I chose a whiffle ball for the nucleus because it has holes in it and could hold things inside.  

As the cell models come in, I display them like a museum.  Students are allowed to look at everyone elses and are encouraged to have discussions and give feedback using the rubric.  Depending on time, students can vote on their favorites.  


3 minutes

For closure today, we go back to the ideas presented in the hook video and try to create meaning around why protein production is important.  This type of closure might look like the screencast below.