I explain to the students that we will review cellular respiration, photosynthesis, and fermentation by completing a small group activity. I tell the students each group will receive a stack of note cards. Some of the note cards contain chemical formulas while other cards have words written on them. The first objective is to match the correct chemical formula to its name. From there, the students work together to use the cards to create the chemical equation for cellular respiration, then photosynthesis, and fermentation. This video of students working is an example of the types of language I expect to hear students using while conducting this activity. For example, the correct use of the terms products and reactants.
Once the students think they have the correct equation, I check it and tell them whether or not they can move onto the next equation. I purposely wait to return the students' notes until after they have completed this activity, as a way to see how well they can remember the equations. The equation for fermentation perplexes students at first, but then I remind them to think about the fermentation experiment we conducted in the lab a few days earlier. Having a concrete experience to refer back to helps the students remember the correct equation. This activity is versatile and can be easily modified, as is explained in the reflection.
This is the flipped notes video that the students view prior to this class meeting. The students also complete a notes review. Having the students complete the notes review helps to hold them accountable for viewing the video and serves as a means through which to ensure that they have the necessary elements written in their notes. The students turn in their notes prior to this class period, which provides me with an opportunity to review their misconceptions so I can address them as we review the notes together in class. Reading the students' summaries also helps me pinpoint the items the students feel are most important in the notes and allows me to redirect the focus of the learning as necessary.
I review the notes briefly with the students. I have the students lead the review by explaining the different organelles and their functions. I then focus most of our discussion on membranes, as the students have learned about organelles in previous classes and the lessons in multiple units of study require an understanding of how membranes function.
After reviewing the notes with the students, I explain that they will spend time exploring cell organelles. I have the students take out their Chromebooks and log in to classroom.google.com to access their cell organelles worksheet. For this activity, the students view a website and explore the content related to various cell organelles. Using the Learn.Genetics interactive Inside a Cell, the students view pictures of organelles and read descriptions of them. This website prevents students from using copy/paste features, so they must type the descriptions. Typing the descriptions in their own words also helps the students remember the definitions because they must process them at a deeper level. This activity addresses NGSS SP2 and MS-LS1-2 as students examine models of the cell, its organelles, and their functions.
The students are able to independently complete this assignment, which allows me to work with individuals on concepts they may be struggling with. In order for this to happen successfully, a classroom climate of respect and hard work must be established. The students in my classroom are also good about helping one another troubleshoot technology, which enables me to spend more time helping students understand key concepts.
One of the biggest issues students had with the notes review was mistaking vacuoles for lysosomes. I check in individually with the specific students that missed the question, make sure that they have written down the correct answer and that they understand the difference between the two.
Near the end of class, I have the students put their Chromebooks away and lead a brief review of the cell organelles. I ask the students to share information from their research and describe new organelle characteristics they learned while completing the online activity. For this discussion, I ask one student to share an organelle characteristic and then ask other students to add one characteristic at a time, until each characteristic of the organelle has been described. Students are also able to only answer once. Conducting the conversation this way helps to hold all of the students accountable.