Life in a Box (Day #3 of 3)

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SWBAT develop and use a model to illustrate the hierarchical organization of interacting organelles within a cell. (HS-LS1-2)

Big Idea

Life is like a box... It has a defined boundary, things can go into and out of it and the action happens inside of it!

Learner Goals

Note: I recommend that you first check out this resource in order to get the most out of this lesson!

In high school I took several drafting classes and, for a while, I had hoped to become an architect. With respect to planning instruction and teaching, I feel that I can still live out the detailed approach to building something intricate and complex even though the product is a lesson rather than a certain "built environment".

The lesson-planning document that I uploaded to this section is a comprehensive overview of how I approach lesson planning. This template includes the "Big Three" aspects of the NGSS standards: Disciplinary Core Ideas, Crosscutting Concepts, and Science Practices. Of course, there are many other worthy learning goals, skills, instructional strategies, and assessments that can be integrated into a class session. I don't feel compelled to check every box but, rather, use it as a guide to consider various options and tailor the lesson in light of these.

With regard to this particular lesson students will understand that the box can be a simple analogy for any and all cells. It has definite boundaries, things can go into and out of it and the interior space is where the action happens. Through completing this project, students will produce a cell model in which the similarities and differences among and between animal, plant, and bacterial cells are described. Additionally, students will describe the similarities and differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Lastly, they will match the basic functions of the major organelles.

I hope you get some value from my work! Please find the more intricate details of this lesson plan there.

Anticipatory Set ("Hook")

Please see Day #2 of 3...

Have students gather the graphic organizers that they previously completed (Day 1) as well as their colored cell diagrams (Day 2). Students will also need scissors, glue, tape, and the template for the box. This will need to be made to fit to the paper size chosen for the box and the the size of the graphic organizers and cell diagrams. My box dimensions are approximately four inches per side. I recommend that the template be enlarged to match the final box dimensions; as is, it shows the general layout of the box, where the gray regions are cut out and the box sides get folded to bring up the sides and the lid. Once again, refer students to the final version in the PPT.


Instructional Input/Student Activities

45 minutes

The construction of the boxes will take all class period for students to complete if they take the care to do so well (believe it or not). I set out a single template for each of my eight teams in order to reduce the inevitable bottleneck that occurs when resources are scarce. This way, each team of four students can share a template/pattern.

1. Using the (cross-shaped) box pattern (see dimensions), students will trace and cut a sheet of construction paper that will form the box itself.

2. Cut out each of the three cell types from the cell drawing handout and glue each to the construction paper template.

3. Cut out each graphic organizer (Venn diagrams and 4-column chart) from the cell drawing handout and glue each to template.

Closure: What did we learn? Where do we go from here?

10 minutes

With the cell model completed today, students will use the rubric to self-evaluate their performance by marking their perception of their scores (1-4 scale) for each category. If a rubric is indeed written well, the evaluation of the performance ought to be simple and straightforward. Before the model is submitted to me for final evaluation, this will serve as a final check to the student as I force them to interact with the rubric a last time. 

At this point, students ought to have walked a journey featuring these steps:

1. Learn pertinent knowledge of cell structure and function.

2. Apply critical thinking skills (e.g. compare and contrast) to the knowledge.

3. Engage the right side of the brain as they color-code visual representations of the cell.

4. Build a three-dimensional model of the cell that approximates real cells whose cell membranes form the exterior of the cell and visual representations of diverse cell types. Yes, they are simple boxes made of paper, glue, and tape with pretty colors but they also represent a diversity of cell types with an emphasis on their similarities. Furthermore, when stacked up, they take on the cool effect of tissue layers! (See sample 1 & 2)