Day Three of Joey's Plant Lab

10 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


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

Big Idea

What is the function of plant structures? How do they work together to provide for the needs of a plant? Students investigate the xylem in celery, and then use a close reading strategy to do further research and construct models of plant structures.

Setting Up the Investigation

Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Word Wall Cards Lesson 10This is Day Three of a Four Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of Joey's Plant Lab, and here for Day Two 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 day two, students further refined their understanding of plants by examining plant structures, and were introduced to the process of photosynthesis.

On this third day, students will research and create models of plant structures that are vital for the photosynthetic process so that on day four, they will be able 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.  Finally, at the end of this unit, they will be able to construct and use a model to describe the transfer of matter and energy through ecosystems.   These lessons will serve as a foundation for their understanding that plants are the basis of every food web on Earth.

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

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 10 minutes.

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Xylem and Phloem Get Things Moving from

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

One set of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Word Wall Cards Lesson 10

One paper copy for each student of Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Word Wall Cards Lesson 10

1 stalk of celery per team (freshly cut end of each stalk)

food coloring 

cotton swab

Day Two

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student ofPlaid 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

10 minutes

Review Learning Objectives & Success Criteria

I review the Learning Objectives and Success Criteria that were introduced 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.

Construct "After Treatment" Models from Lab C

As is always the case when my students have begun an investigation the day before, they race into the room and run straight to the carnations that they placed into the graduated cylinders full of blue water yesterday.  I am waiting just inside the door with the camera.  This Video Clip of the little girl with her mouth agape will be one I treasure for the rest of my career.  Her little face expresses the wonder and joy that students experience when they engage in hands-on inquiry.  It just doesn't get any better than this!

I tell students to get out their Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters In Ecosystems Plant Lab Booklet, and send each team leader to retrieve the carnation from yesterday.  I tell students, "Now that it has been 24 hours later, you can construct the "After Treatment" Models on page 4."  I remind them to use colored pencils, as appropriate.  I also instruct them to work together in their teams to answer the two questions at the bottom of the page. This is an example of one Student's Science Notebook.

Share Out Responses to Questions

Students have some interesting reasons for why they believe the flower turned blue.  I tell my students, "I am also thinking that this has something to do with the flower's structures.  I have an activity that might give us a bit more information."

Guided Exploration

10 minutes

Examine Celery Stalks

I give each team a stalk of celery.  I have them place a drop of food coloring at the end of each stalk and distribute with the cotton swab.  I ask students what they notice.  I call on a student who responds, "The food color is making dots on the end of the celery."

I tell students, "What you are seeing is something called xylem.  These are part of special plant structures called, vascular systems.  Today, we will be reading about these special systems in plants.  These are systems that most terrestrial, or land plants, have for transporting or moving materials, such as food and water, throughout the plant.  You can think of these vascular or transport systems as "plant highways."  This will help you to understand how the flower in the carnation turned blue.  You have learned how energy is transferred from the sun to plants through photosynthesis, and now this information will help you to understand how plants acquire their material for growth.  This is important because plants are the foundation of every ecosystem on Earth."

I tell my students that we will be reading some informational text using our close reading strategy, but before we begin, I have some vocabulary to share with them.

Vocabulary Instruction

10 minutes

Consistent with the 5E Model for Science Instruction, I will usually provide a hands-on opportunity before introducing vocabulary.  However, in this particular instance students will need these words in order to adequately benefit from this lesson.

Introduce Vocabulary

instructional routine

I present the words from the Plaid Pete Discovers What Matters in Ecosystems - Word Wall Cards Lesson 10 using the following instructional routine:

  1. Say the word to students.
  2. Ask students to repeat the word at least 5 times.  For example, I will say, "Say it to the window.  Say it to my hand.  Say it to the door.  Say it to the ceiling."
  3. I say the word in context.  For example, I will say, " The position the plants were placed in was one of the controlled variables in the video."  
  4. I will then randomly call on a student to use the word in a sentence, giving successive prompts to assist them, if needed.

Science Notebooks

I use the following routine to have students write these words into their Science Notebooks:

After introducing the words, I demonstrate for students how to make a three column table with rows for each of the eight vocabulary words.  I model for them in my own Science Notebook how to write the word in the first box, a non-linguistic (e.g. picture) representation of the word in the second box, and work with the class to generate an example sentence for the first word in the third box. Students cut out their copies of the cards and place in the envelope, which they glue on the page behind their table.  They will finish sentences for the remaining seven words either for homework, or for seat-work later.  A completed notebook will look like this Example.


15 minutes

Introduce Task

I pass out the Xylem and Phloem Get Things Moving Comprehension Sheet from  I tell my students to get out their highlighters and pencils. I display the chart that I used to teach our close reading strategy in Lesson  4, and review it with students:

Close Reading Strategy For Complex Text

  1. Read the text through once quietly to yourself to get a general idea of the information presented.
  2. "Chunk" the text one paragraph at a time.
  3. Identify important words and define them.  Look for context clues.
  4. Write the "gist" or summarize the main ideas of the paragraph in the margins.

Close Reading of Informational Text

First Paragraph

I review for students the importance of gist statements.  I have students follow the first step, and quietly read the text to themselves.  Then, I read the first paragraph.  I tell my students to highlight the term "vascular plants" in the first paragraph.  I have them turn and talk in their teams to find the context clue that gives a definition of that term, and highlight it.  I use the Numbered Heads Together strategy (note to self - insert instructional video clip here) to call on a team to share their response.  They correctly state, "having organized systems for transporting materials around to the various parts of the plant."  I tell my students, "This first paragraph has a specific purpose.  This purpose gives you the "gist" of what this paragraph is about.  Turn and talk in your teams and see if you can identify it.  I call on a student and the correct response is given:  "This paragraph tells the different parts of a plant and what they are for."  I assist them in rephrasing this "gist" statement to use formal English language and we write:  Plants have specific structures, and these structures have functions that help the plant survive.

Second Paragraph

I read aloud the second paragraph, then have my students turn and talk in their teams to determine the "gist" of the paragraph.  I call on a student who responds, "Plants have two kinds of tissue:  Xylem that carries water upward, and Phloem that carries sugar or food."  We write this "gist" statement directly on the text.

Third Paragraph

I read aloud the third paragraph, then have my students turn and talk in their teams to determine the "gist" of this paragraph.  I call on a student who responds, "Transpiration keeps water moving through the plant by pulling water up through the roots so it transpires off of the leaves and into the air."  We write this "gist" statement in the text.  I ask my students, "Why is water so important to plants?"  It takes a bit of prompting, but a student responds, "It is one of the things they need for photosynthesis - so they can make their food."  Bingo!  Somebody was paying attention.

We quickly review the steps to this strategy.  We will need to use this several more times, and then I will need to provide ample guided practice with my students before they are able to use it independently.  However, once they are able to do so - it will become a powerful strategy to help them understand complex, content area text.


Team Activity

20 minutes

Complete Questions on Xylem and Phloem Get Moving Sheet

I ask my students to work together in their teams to answer the questions on the right side of the sheet  I want them to work together so that they are discussing and talking about these ideas.  

Complete Models of Plant Structures on Page 7 of Lab Booklet

I have my students use the sheet they just completed, as well as previous information in their Lab Booklet, to complete the graphic organizer on Page 7.  I ask them to make a bulleted list of the functions of the structures and tissues, and to use colored pencils in the construction of the models/diagrams

As students work, I move between my teams, asking probing questions when students need redirection and providing assistance as needed.

Reflection & Closure

5 minutes

I tell my students that tomorrow, we will be looking to see what has happened with our hydroponic systems.  We will also be pulling together all of the information we have learned in Joey's Plant Lab, to understand this most important biotic factor in ecosystems.  Some students will need additional time to complete their models, and they will come in tomorrow morning and begin this for their "Do Now" activity.