Cellular Respiration - Pre-Requisite

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Students will be able to remember and connect reactants and products to cellular respiration.

Big Idea

Cellular respiration produces energy from food.

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Purpose of Lesson:

The purpose of this lesson is to make sure that students have the ideas, vocabulary, and connections ready to be successful in the unit.

Major Strategies to Watch for:

Lightning Round- This fun, dynamic strategy pulls our prior knowledge and creates fluency with important terms.

Vocabulary Protocol- In this collaborative protocol, students build knowledge of a term in groups.

Concept Map- The creation of a shared concept map leads to connections being made with previous and future learning.

Ready. Set. Engage!

5 minutes

Learning Goal: Understand the ideas you will need to learn about cellular respiration.

Opening Question: What is a product?  What is a reactant?

I ask this question today to check student understanding from the previous mini-unit on photosynthesis. I expect students to find these questions easy and for 75%+ of my students to be proficient. I am very wrong!  Many of my students do not demonstrate a solid understanding of these words, so I'm going to work in more practice during this unit. 

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.   


10 minutes

The purpose of this section is to help students remember the information they learned about photosynthesis so that they can apply it to cellular respiration. To do this I use a strategy called "Lightning Round".  To prepare for this I put the terms or concepts I want the students to know on post its and put them in a box. Today's words are:

  • product
  • reactant
  • CO2
  • H20
  • C6H12O6
  • O2

I pull the word slips randomly from the box. This simple difference from listing them on the board creates excitement that might not be there otherwise!  After I draw, the students have 15 secs to discuss with their partner. Then I ring the bell and the students put their hands up to be called on. I can measure their engagement easily by looking at the number of hands that go up. I keep the pace brisk, calling on a student, getting the answer, and rewarding the student with a ROCK STAR SCIENTIST ticket. If the student gets the answer only partially right or wrong, I reward them with a ticket anyway (because that is about participation) but I also ask a followup question to another student.  Once we get the entirely right answer, I restate it for the class and then call on the original student again.  This is a formative check to make sure that the students are learning during this activity.  We continue until all the words are out of the box.  

Once the lightning round is done, I talk about why these terms are important to the students and how they connect to the learning we will be doing today. Sometimes, I use data from previous tests to show students where we are in learning these terms.

Important Prior Concepts

5 minutes

At this point in the lesson I want to review what the students learned in photosynthesis and help them understand that cellular respiration is the next step in the chain.

In the last unit my students made animotos of photosynthesis.  For this lesson, I pick some of the best and use them as a way to remind students of what they have learned. 

Animoto Example

Then we go back to the big idea of photosynthesis. On the board I make a chart that shows photosynthesis and cellular respiration. In the chart I prompt students to give answers as to what we should write about the big idea for each reaction.   Students copy this chart into their lab notebooks.  I ask the students to turn to their partners to answer these two questions;

1) What is similar about the two reactions?

2) What is different about the two reactions?

We will return to this idea again and again in our learning. 

Vocabulary Activity

10 minutes

Now that students are excited to learn about energy and cellular respiration and know what they are going to learn about, it is a perfect time to introduce some vocabulary words.  I use a multi-modality approach to introduce only about five to seven words, and do this in collaborative groups of four with each person having an assigned job.  

1- Word person- states what they already know about the word or what the word means to them.

2- Image person- States what they think about the picture and what it means to them.  

3- Definition person- Reads the definition and states what it means to them.

4- Sentence Person- Reads the sentence and states what it means to them.  

I project the presentation on the board or put individual copies at the desks.  

I use a timer and a bell. Each person gets 15 seconds for their role. In the beginning of the activity the students need to be trained on what to do and it helps to give them some sentence starters, such as, "This means..."  "When I hear this I think..."

After each person has rotated through their roles for the first word, I give the students 1-2 minutes of independent time to make their TIP charts (Term, Information, Picture) for that term. Then we move on as a class to the next term. Later in the year, when students are familiar with the process this can be released to them to manage their time. But in the beginning I manage the time to keep the class on track.

This work has meaning and purpose. Students keep these homemade glossaries in their folders and can use them on all the work we do in class including tests and quizzes. This is a great resource for them to use the rest of the year!

Below is a screenshot of the slide for ENERGY and a video of the student conversation. 


2 minutes

Closing Statement:  "Today we looked at the terms that you'll need to understand cellular respiration.  Tomorrow we will get into the equation."

Closing Question: "What is the purpose of cellular respiration?  How does that compare to 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.