Photosynthesis: Follow up

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Students will be able understand the main idea of photosynthesis.

Big Idea

Food for plants!

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Purpose of Lesson:

 The purpose of this lesson is to emphasize with students that photosynthesis makes food for plants.  Many students hold on to the misconception that photosynthesis makes energy.  It is a really good idea to make certain before cellular respiration that students have a strong foundation in photosynthesis.  


Major Strategies to Watch for:

1) Independent- I pull a small group and work on a scaffolded reading.

2) Collaborative- The students clarify the text together. 


3 minutes

Learning Goal:  Understand the main idea of photosynthesis.

Opening Question:  What does photosynthesis do? 

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung.  I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets.   


5 minutes

The purpose of this section is to introduce the learning of the day and hook the kids' attention.  

Today, I start the hook by going back to the photosynthesis equation.  

Together we identify the reactants, products, and practice understanding the atomic and molecular symbols.  

I ask the students to look at the equation and identify what the purpose of photosynthesis is.  We brainstorm some ideas and then set that as the purpose for learning.  


10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to let students independently read and learn about photosynthesis from a  text.

For this purpose I use a Free Online Textbook by cK-12.  I love this site because it allows you to make your own online textbooks and the kids can access the readings and highlight and annotate them online!  This is a great saver of paper...if you have access to computers!  This cK-12 Photosynthesis article also contains visually interesting pictures and a video as well as an animation!

This is a screencast showing how to use the animation tools on cK-12.

Before my students get started on reading the text, I pull a small group of kids that are going to need some help.  This scaffolded reading instruction will allow them to participate in an equal fashion with the other students in the collaborative reading.  More information about scaffolded and collaborative reading can be found in my Literacy Framework.  

For all students, I review our annotating system.

  • Circle vocabulary words or words that are difficult.
  • Underline the main idea.
  • Put exclamation points by interesting ideas. (if students are online I have them actually make a note stating why this is interesting to them)
  • Put a question mark by something that is confusing. (if students are online, I have them make a note asking a question.)

Most students will do this work independently.  Some students will do the work with me in a scaffolded group.  


15 minutes

The purpose of this section is for students to read and clarify their take-away together.  Before we do that I model our "read to others routine" and make sure that  students will be able to work together to clarify a piece of reading.  For the focus lesson, I share the process with the students.

1.  Get a partner. (My students are already grouped in heterogeneous reading partners)

2.  One person reads a small section.  The other person listens politely and attentively.  I use this anchor chart when we read to others to encourage students to be polite, attentive listeners. 

3.  When the reader is finished, the listener provides clarification to the reading.  He/she states what they think it was mostly about.  I use this poster of the word CLARIFY with a magnifying glass to show students that clarify means to look closely and find meaning. 

4.  The reader agrees or disagrees.  

5.  Both partners write down their version of the clarification UNDER the reading section.  

Once the students understand the process I ask if anyone wants to help me model this to the class.  I let the student decide if they are going to model reading out loud or clarifying.  Then we go through the process in front of the class.  I always make sure to really emphasize the writing process of this reading because that is the part students most often "forget".

Once the students have seen the model they are ready to go.  Even the readers that struggle with difficult texts will be able to contribute because they read with me earlier.


10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to re-emphasize the purpose of photosynthesis by showing students a ClassZone animation.  I especially like this animation of photosynthesis because it shows how the molecules are broken apart and then put back together.  I display the animation on the screen and go through it asking questions like,

  • What is happening on the screen?
  • What molecules do you see here?
  • What part of photosynthesis is this?

This animation is very flexible because it can take a small or large amount of time.  In one class I did the animation as the closure because we were running out of time.  In another class we were able to spend five minutes on it.

Independent Assessment

5 minutes

The purpose of this section is to assess students on the basic ideas of photosynthesis.  This data will be useful in the days to come when students are transferring and applying information.  I use clickers to get immediate results.  Similar effects could be had by using Poll Anywhere, or you can just use paper and pencil.  This quiz is only four questions because it is meant as a quick piece of formative data.  


2 minutes

Closing Statement: "Today we looked at the main idea about photosynthesis which is that photosynthesis makes food for plants.  Tomorrow we will do an experiment where we will see how the amount of light determines the amount of products."

Closing Question: "What do you think the BIG idea about photosynthesis is? What would you tweet about photosynthesis?"

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.