Cell Project - A Summative Assessment

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SWBAT create a model of a plant cell, describe each cell part, explain how cells function as "building blocks" of organisms, and summarize requirements for cells to live.

Big Idea

Learn by doing. Construct a model. Get creative with colored paper, glue, scissors, and colored pencils. See what students produce!

Make a Model

30 minutes

This Summative Assessment is a two (2) day lesson. I allow students time in class to create their model and one class period is not enough because not all students receive the same type or amount of support at home. As you develop your lessons and work with students and families, it is important to understand the culture of each family and the community. Understanding and taking this into consideration will be valuable to both you and the student.

The core idea of this Summative Assessment comes from the NGSS Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) MS-LS1-2: develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function. It's a good idea to make a model and it helps students to visualize abstract or microscopic concepts.

This lesson also focuses on NGSS Science and Engineering Practice # 1 Ask Questions and Define Problems and #2 Developing and Using models. SP#1 states that students should ask questions and draw conclusions from their models.  Students learn to ask questions about features of phenomena they observe and a conclusion they draw from their models. SP#2 states that models can be diagrams as well as physical replicas and models can bring certain features into focus while obscuring others. In science, models are used to represent a system (or parts of a system) under study. I want students to develop a model of a cell to describe unobservable mechanisms like the cell wall, nucleus, mitochondria, and chloroplast.

The Plant Cell Project Directions provide the details as well as a checklist for the project. Clear directions and a checklist are essential pieces to student success for a summative assessment. One strategy to differentiate the learning experience is to provide a Pattern for each plant cell part. Patterns provide a shape and sense of scale for the model. This is especially beneficial to Special Education and ELL students.

Using a graphic organizer like a triple Venn Diagram to respond to the Cell Project Questions is a way to guide students to organize their thinking in order to describe the function of the cell as a whole and ways that parts of cells contribute to its function. I assess student work using a rubric specifically designed for this project. A well designed rubric provides clear expectations for student work and clear expectations for grading.

Feedback & Reflection

10 minutes

Giving feedback can be tricky, especially with students, so I am cognizant to implement helpful strategies that create a safe, trusting environment. I constantly work to develop an environment of respect and rapport. Remember, to make feedback successful you need to:

  • Be positive
  • Be specific
  • Be immediate
  • Be factual

After I grade each project using the Rubric for the Plant Cell Project, I return the final rubric to each student and have them complete a reflection. I ask students to reflect on their own work on the project using a Student Reflection sheet. This is a processing phase for students where they think about the learning. Each question on this reflection sheet contains a Sentence Frame which will help students with the writing process. Sentence Frames are especially helpful for ELL and Special Education students.

On the Student Reflection I ask students "What did you learn from doing this project?"

Some insightful responses include:

  • I learned that a cell has many parts to support it.
  • I learned the differences between a plant and animal cell.
  • I learned that a cell has many parts and each part has a job to do.