Day Two of Joey's Plant Lab

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SWBAT explain how plants acquire their material for growth; describe basic plant structures; and explain how matter cycles through ecosystems.

Big Idea

What are basic plant structures? How do they help a plant survive and grow? Students set up investigations that will help them explore the "plant highways" of xylem and phloem, and the stoma in leaves.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Two of a Four Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of Joey's Plant Lab.

On Day One of this investigation, students engaged in a guided exploration where they constructed a hydroponic system, and set up a treatment to investigate the effects of sunlight on plant growth.

On this second day, students will further refine their understanding of plants by examining plant structures, and are introduced to the process of photosynthesis.   This will lead to Day Three of Joey's Plant Lab, where students will research and create models of plant structures that are vital for the photosynthetic process.  Finally, on day four they will consolidate all they have learned to explain that plants acquire their material for growth chiefly from air and water, and that the energy released from food was once energy from the sun.

In this investigation, students continue the work that will lead them to understand the Disciplinary Core Idea of From Molecules to Organisms:  Structures and Processes -  that plants acquire their material for growth chiefly from air and water (5-LS1-1); the Disciplinary Core Idea of Ecosystems:  Interactions, Energy, and Dynamics -  that matter cycles between the air and soil, and among plants, animals, and microbes as these organisms live and die.  Organisms obtain gases, and water, from the environment, and release waste matter (gas, liquid, or solid) back into the environment. (5-LS2-1) and the Crosscutting Concept of Energy and Matter  - Matter is transported into, out of, and within systems (5-LS1-1).

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 8 is 890 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 15 minutes.

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Plant Lab Booklet - Lessons 8-11 from Day One)

2 White Carnations - per team

2 graduated cylinders - per team

Blue Food Coloring

1 Small Tub

1 Broad Flat Green Leaf - per team

Clear Nail Polish

Cellophane Tape (e.g. packing type tape - not scotch tape)

1 Microscope Slide per team

1 Microscope per team

 Day One

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems - Lab Scenario Lesson 8

One copy for each student of

Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Plant Lab Booklet - Lessons 8-11

One Empty 2 Liter plastic soda bottle per team (pre-cut in two- right around the middle)

One mixing bowl per team

One measuring cup per team

One old cotton sock (or any cotton material) per team

Miracle Grow Perlite (recommended brand as it already contains nutrients)

Miracle Grow Sphagnum Peat Moss (recommended brand as it already contains nutrients)

Cling wrap

Lettuce Seeds

One green leafy plant per team

One piece of black construction paper per team


Focus & Motivation

5 minutes

Review Learning Objectives & Success Criteria

I review the Learning Objectives and Success Criteria that were presented on Day One:

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

I share the learning objective and success criteria that students will be working on throughout this series of investigations:  

Learning Objective:  I can explain how plants acquire their material for growth; I can explain and describe basic plant structures; I can explain how matter cycles through ecosystems.

Language Objective:  I can use formal English to ask questions and answer questions.  [ELP.4-5.7]

Success Criteria:  I can correctly complete models that demonstrate my understanding of the 3 learning objectives.

Review Comments & Questions Chart

I tell my students, "As you can see from your lab book, we have two more labs on plants to complete today.  Before we begin, I would like to review the comments and questions we posed at the end of our lab yesterday."  I read through the items we listed on our chart

I share that at the end of today's investigation, I would like to go back and revisit our chart, noticing if we have answered any of these questions, or if we have additional questions or comments to add to our list.

I instruct my students to turn to page 4 of their Plant Lab Booklet and get ready to begin.

Guided Exploration

25 minutes

Lab C:  Construct Models of Flowers Before Treatment & Apply Treatment

I read the directions with students, ensuring they understand each step.  They work in their teams to create a job list for this Lab.  They signal me when they are ready, and I verify that all team members agree to the list.  When this is done, I give the go ahead for teams to gather their materials from the back table to begin the lab.  

Students follow the procedure for the lab.  I have to explain the importance of cutting the stems for the flower in the tub of water while the stem is immersed below the surface.  They place the flowers in the graduated cylinders, one filled with 40 mL of water with 30 drops of blue food coloring, and the other with 40 mL of plain water.  Then, they begin to construct their models in the "before treatment" section of their lab booklets.  I circulate among my teams, checking to see that they are correctly and accurately constructing their models.

I make sure that all of my teams are at least done putting their treatment and control flowers into the graduated cylinders, and then I move them out of harm's way onto a back counter.  Some students will need additional time to finish constructing their models, as they are becoming quite detailed.  I don't complain!

Lab D:  Construct Models of Leaf Structures

I read the directions with students, ensuring that they understand each step.  Then I display these directions from the Plants for Kids website.  It gives great visuals for students so they know what a leaf rubbing should look like.  I have a few students that were a bit heavy handed with the pastels, and we had to compare them to the pictures on the website so they could see that they needed to rub more lightly.  They are able to create rubbings that allow them to see the veins of the leaves so that they can create a model in their lab booklets.

While some students are working on creating the rubbings for their team, other students are working at the back table with me to create the patch for the stomata, by first painting the underside of the leaf with clear fingernail polish; and then after the polish has dried, lifting the stomata with clear packing tape.  I assist them in transferring the piece of tape to a slide.  Students then use microscopes to look at these structures, and construct models in their lab booklets.  Students rotate through the microscope station that is assigned to their team, while their teammates work on constructing the models in their lab booklets.

Clean Up

I tell my students, "Wow - we have collected a lot of information in "Joey's Plant Lab" - so it isn't surprising that it is going to take us another two class periods to make sense of it all.  Let's get our areas cleaned up and then I have some information that will help us begin to pull this together"


25 minutes

Introduce Video

My students are now accustomed to viewing the information packed videos from Scholastic.  I tell them, "We are going to watch another video from Scholastic, that will give us some information about plants."   I tell them to listen carefully, as there is an activity they will need to complete when the video is finished.

I play the Scholastic Study Jams:  Photosynthesis Video.  When the video is finished, I ask my students to turn to page 6 in their Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Plant Lab Booklets and complete the cloze sentences from the video, using the words from the word box.  I have students do this in their teams.  This is brand new information, and I want them to socially construct meaning as I know it will be more likely to "stick", particularly with my English Language Learners.  When all teams have completed this activity, we go over it as a class.  I use the Numbered Heads Together Strategy to call on students.  In this strategy, each student in the team has a number.  I pull a stick from a cup and call on a team.  The student with that number must respond - there is no "opt-out".  If they don't know the answer - they ask their teammates.

I tell my students, "It looks like we may have learned some things here that might help us answer some of those questions we have.  This information may have sparked some new questions as well.  Let's head over to the meeting area and revisit our Comments & Questions chart."

Reflection & Closure

10 minutes

Revise Comments & Questions Chart

My students have arrived back at the meeting area.  We go through the Questions side of our T chart, looking for questions that have now been answered with this additional information.  We have been able to answer questions about what perlite is (volcanic glass, actually!), how the plants get water from the sock, and how long it will take the lettuce to grow.   Now we have new questions such as; What are the stoma for?  Will the flower turn blue?  If it does turn blue, how does that happen?  I have been asking my students to write their questions on Post-It Notes.  Although it wasn't my intention initially, it has provided a great opportunity for teaching writing across the curriculum with some of my ELL students (see the reflection).  

I am particularly focusing on my ELL students for this segment of the lesson, because that is the language objective I have built in for them during this series of investigations.  I am using the same routine I established yesterday to scaffold their responses:

  • I will ask a specific student to listen carefully to another student's (appropriately worded) question and repeat it.
  • An English Language Learner will use non-standard English to ask a question.  I will rephrase the question in formal English and ask them to repeat it for me as I write it on the chart.
  • I will emphasize that we are working to use "formal English Language structure" in all of our writing now, and I will ask pairs to work together to word questions using formal English Language structure.  I will model a question using non-standard English first, and have them work in pairs to reword the question and then call on pairs to share out, and then I will write the formally worded question on the chart.


I tell my students, "This has been another action packed day in Joey's Plant Lab.  Tomorrow - we will collect additional information so that on Day 4 we can pull it all together.  When you come in tomorrow for your "Do Now" activity, I have a Plaid Pete Is Perplexed Lesson Check-Up for you to complete."