Tending To Our "Poet" Trees

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SWBAT explain the organization of the periodic table, use correct terminology, and demonstrate their understanding through creative writing.

Big Idea

Students are given the opportunity to express their creativity by penning a poem exemplifying their understanding of the periodic table of elements. As a class, we will create a "Poet" Tree with our final products!

Lesson Introduction: Creative Writing In Biology

2 minutes

This video clip emphasizes the strategy of creative writing to build vocabulary in Biology.  This was the first time that I employed this strategy and was pleasantly surprised with the student participation and look forward to hearing about your experiences with creative writing in your classroom!  Since this was the first attempt at creative writing, the lesson was purposely left open-ended to encourage student creativity and expressions as they built their vocabulary for this lesson.

If you enjoy the opportunity to incorporate creative writing in your classroom, please try out this creative writing lesson with cell organelle personification poems!

Hook - Strong Roots Of Understanding

5 minutes

Students will complete the Masses of Atoms Worksheet as an anticipatory activity for today's lesson.  Students are encouraged to use their textbooks and the previous lesson's lecture notes as a guide to identify the term that correctly completes each statement.  Since the focus of today's lesson is vocabulary reinforcement, our opening activity is also centered around vocabulary development.

After 3 minutes, students will review the correct answers in a whole-group chorale response.


Independent Practice - Sowing The Seeds Of Our "Poet" Tree

20 minutes

Students will get out a sheet of paper and title it, "Sowing Seeds Of Our "Poet" Tree".  Each student will have the opportunity to create a poem that incorporates at least FIVE of the vocabulary words from the Lecture Notes from the pervious lesson or use a combination of vocabulary terms and names of the elements found on the periodic table.  Students are encouraged to think outside of the box and be as descriptive possible with their poetry creations!  To challenge you most gifted or motivated students you can have a class competition to determine which student can incorporate the most words in the correct context!

Students are reminded that their poems do not need to rhyme, but do need to provide enough supporting detail to demonstrate an understanding of the terms that are selected for their literary masterpieces.  

This lesson is the first time the students have had the opportunity to engage in a creative writing activity in Biology so the guidelines were purposely kept to a minimum.  The only requirement that was provided to the students was they must incorporate at least five vocabulary terms or elements from the periodic table, in the correct context, into their poem. Students appreciated the open nature of the assignment and were able to experience in Biology that is rarely felt.  In future creative writing assignments/projects there will be more formal expectations and assessment rubrics, but for the first attempt in "Biology" creative writing there were very few guidelines in an effort to spur on creativity!!!

With the implementation of the Common Core Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, it is imperative that students are provided the opportunity to write across the curriculum and be able to communicate what they are learning.  

Guided Practice - Cultivating Our "Poet" Trees

15 minutes

Students will have an opportunity to exchange papers with their partners to pair share their creation.  Partners will be looking for the following criteria:

  • Did your partner integrate at least five vocabulary terms or names of elements?  

1. atom    
2. nucleus   
3. electron   
4. isotope    
5. compound    
6. ionic bond   
7. ion  
8. molecule  
9. covalent bond  OR use the name of any elements from the periodic table     

  • Does your partner's writing sample demonstrate an understanding of the periodic table by using the vocabulary terms in the correct context?
  • Did your partner use correct spelling and grammar?

Students have 10 minutes to read, review, and conference to share their ideas for improvements with their neighbor.  Students will offer their suggested edits, but the author is reminded that they do not need to change their original work if they are satisfied with their creative writing project.  

Sample of Student Poem with Suggested Edits 

Students will then have 5 minutes to make any final adjustments to their final draft of their "Seed of "Poet" Tree creations.  Once students have completed their final drafts they will write their Biology Vocabulary Poem on the Sample Leaf Templates.

Here is a video of the classroom implementation of the peer editing strategy:


Student reflections on the lesson:



Sample of Student Work - Our "Poet" Trees Have Blossomed

10 minutes

Sample of Student Work #1: This artifact provides a visual of the final creative writing project.  

Sample of Student Work #2: This artifact demonstrates the student's  imagination as they incorporate their assigned vocabulary terms into their creative writing assignment.

Sample of Student Work #3: This artifact reveals the student's willingness to write across the curriculum and incorporate our current vocabulary terms into their project.

Our Final Class "Poet" Tree:  The students enjoyed posting their poems to our class "poet" tree for all to enjoy!


Close - Pollinating Our Understanding Of The Periodic Table

5 minutes

Students will use the periodic table in their textbook to select three elements to review.  Students will determine the following for each of their three samples:

  • The atomic number
  • The atomic mass
  • The number of protons/electrons
  • The number of neutrons
  • Predict which elements or group of elements it will react with chemically


Students are reminded that although today's lesson focused on creative writing, it was intended to reinforce our understanding/utilization of the periodic table in an effort to provide an introduction to the Biochemistry Unit.