Personification Poetry Of Cell Organelles (Day 1 of 2)

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SWBAT describe the structure and function of cell organelles through the creation of their personification poem.

Big Idea

The mitochondria might jump out of the textbook as your students will bring their organelle to life through their creative writing and mastery of the structure and function of the cell's inner-workings.

Lesson Introduction: Thinking Outside The Box

1 minutes

This video clip explains the need to review the structure and function of the cell organelles, so that students can progress in the curriculum in an effort to understand how each of the "parts" of the cell model work in cooperation to enable the successful working (homeostasis) of the "whole".  This lesson will serve as a final review of the introduction to cell biology before the students learn cellular activity and transport.

Poetry is an innovative strategy to encourage students to think outside of the box in an effort to review Biology curriculum in a whimsical, but scientific way!

Hook - The Power of Poetry

3 minutes

Students will watch the video clip of Robert Frost reading his poem, "The Road Less Traveled".  At the conclusion of the video, the class will discuss the potential impact of poetry on the audience.  

Topics of conversation may include: 

  • Imagery
  • Passion
  • Creativity
  • Freedom of expression
  • Emotional release
  • Theme
  • Inspiration
  • Education/awareness

Independent Practice - Process of Personification Poetry

25 minutes

Students will use their Lecture Notes provided in the previous lesson to review the function of the cell organelles.  Students will use the Class Sign-Up Sheet to reserve their desired cell organelle topic for this activity. Students are provided the freedom to select their own topic to increase their interested and involvement in this project.  Once the students have reserved their organelle topic, they will review the Cell Organelle Personification Poem Handout.

This activity will enable students to bring their cell organelle to life through the process of personification.  Students will use the following as a guideline as they incorporate poetry across curriculum and support the ELA Common Core standards of writing for the students.

  1. First Stanza - Describe the physical features of the cell organelle. Brainstorm the physical features of the organelle and focus on what makes the organelle unique or special to the cell.  Keep in mind you are personifying the organelle, so make it sound like its own living being!
  2. Second Stanza - Highlight the role of the organelle in the cell's daily function.  What is the organelle's responsibility in the cell?  How does the organelle complete this function? Is the organelle a hard worker or a slacker - remember, bring the organelle to life!
  3. Third Stanza - Create a character/personality of the cell's organelle.  If the cell was a person what would his or her attitude be and why?  How would the organelle handle daily their daily routine?  What is the organelle's outlook on life in the cell?
  4. Fourth Stanza - Share what your organelle would say in a conversation with you. What is the organelle's message to the world?  What is the organelle's favorite saying? Find your organelle's voice and share it through your poem

Student Sample of Personification Poem- Brainstorming Sheet - This document exemplifies the student's brainstorming process as they gather the scientific facts, as well as the creative writing mechanisms they will incorporate into their personification poem.

Image - Student Brainstorming - The students really got into the process of bringing their organelle to life!

Image - Creating the Rough Draft - Students were encouraged to create rough drafts that were edited through the collaborative feedback process described in the next section.

Guided Practice - Cell Critique and Collaboration

20 minutes

Once students have had 25 minutes to create their rough draft of their personification poem, they will get in their lab groups of four students each. Accommodations to the peer editing session will be made for groups that do not have 4 students present for this lesson.  Students will sit in clusters/circles so they are easily able to pass papers between group members.  

To begin, students will pass their original creation to the student that is sitting to their left.  To reduce confusion, papers will always be passed to the left throughout the remainder of this activity.

Students will take turns reading each other's creative writing using the following format:

First Peer Edit: Each student will read the poem from the lens of a Biology teacher.  Students will look to identify areas of strength where the author correctly describes the organelle's appearance or role in the cell by marking the line with a star.  The peer editor will also mark statements that are not scientifically sound with a question mark and a number  so the author knows to go and review the content.  Students will write a note at the bottom of the paper that explains the question mark and why the content needs to be corrected or clarified to be more scientifically accurate.  

Example of Peer Edit Notes:

  •  ?#1 - please review the structure of the golgi apparatus in Stanza 1 to describe the picture of the cell from the textbook.
  • ?#2 - please review the role of the golgi apparatus in Stanza 2 so it more closely describes the lecture notes that were given in class.

After two to three minutes the students will pass their partners' poems one student to the left so all group members have new poems to review, making sure they do not have their own paper.

Second Peer Edit: Each student will read the poem from the lens of an English teacher.  Students will look to identify areas of strength where the author uses personification, imagery, and other literary skills by marking the statement with a star.  The peer editor will also mark statements that are not grammatically correct  or do not meet the standard of poetic excellence with a question mark so the author knows to go and review the content.

Example of Peer Edit Notes:

  • ?#3 - please review the imagery in stanza 3 to make the statement more life-like to the audience.
  • ?#4 - please review the punctuation in stanza 4 so that the line reads more easily.


Third Peer Edit: Each student will read the poem from the lens of fellow Biology student.  Students will look to identify areas of strength where the author captivates the audience and brings the organelle to life by marking the statement with a star.  The peer editor will also mark statements that do not support the personification objective with a question mark so the author knows to go and review the content.

For example:

  • ?#5 - please update the statement in stanza 1 to catch the reader's attention.
  • ?#6 - please alter the line stanza 4 so that reader gets a sense of who the organelle is.

Student groups will rotate one more time and the original author should receive their paper back again!

Wrapping Up the Peer Edit Session: Students will get a chance to conference with their group members and ask for clarification regarding the feedback on their creative writing pieces.  Authors can make quick notes on their papers and will have time to revise and rewrite their personification poems as homework. 

Student Sample of Personification Poem with Peer Editing  - This document demonstrates the peer edits that were made in the small groups to suggest improvements based on the accuracy of science information in the poem, as well as necessary grammar edits.

Video Artifact From Peer Editing Session:

Sample of Student Work #1: Personification Cell - Final Draft - It was incredible to see the dramatic change that occurred from the rough draft poem that is above to the final draft that the student submitted for assessment.  The dramatic change proves the peer editing session was helpful and improved the quality work that was accomplished by the students.

Sample of Student Work #2 Amazing Art Colliding With Science: - This artifact demonstrates the potential of our students who struggle with science, but come alive when art and creative writing are incorporated into the curriculum.  This student has been quiet and non-participatory most of the semester but jumped out of her shell to shine in this activity!


Close - Time for Teacher Poetry

7 minutes

As a final activity for today's lesson, I read students' Organelle Personification Poems while the students attempt to identify the organelle that is being described.  Students will record their responses on the handout that has the written poem for each organelle already typed. Students will review their responses with their neighbor and the teacher will review any descriptions that posed a problem for the students.

At the conclusion of the lesson, the teacher announces that the students will read their Personification Poems in a Cafe-like Poetry Reading in the next lesson . . . stay tuned as the literary masterpieces are unveiled!

Students are encouraged to take their group's constructive feedback to heart and make improvements to the final drafts of their creative writing creations before tomorrow's lesson. Students will also have an opportunity to view the Assessment Rubric to ensure all students understand the performance expectations of this activity.