As the students enter the room, they are each given a note card. Some of the note cards have the name of a cell organelle written on them while the other cards have various functions of the organelles written on them. The students are asked to form groups of at least two but up to six students based on the number of descriptors for the organelle. As the students develop groups, they are asked to also be able to locate the organelle in a model on a bulletin board.
After forming the groups, the students sit down and we review the cards together as a class. To review the cards, I ask the students to come up in organelle groups. The person with the card that has the name of the organelle on it needs to point to the organelle on the model while the students with descriptions read their descriptions aloud. For example, I ask the cell membrane group to come to the front of the room. The person with cell membrane written on his/her card points to the cell membrane and the other group members read their cards aloud. Sometimes students are unsure about which group they belong with, so we review those cards together as a class. This is an example of one group presentation during the organelle review.
After reviewing the various organelles and their functions, I tell the students we will be using an online game to further review the organelles and their functions as well as reviewing cellular respiration. The students take out their Chromebooks and go to Google Classroom to access the guidelines for the activity. I review the cell process review guidelines with the students and open the game. Using the SMARTBoard, I lead the students in playing the first round, to make sure they understand how to utilize the features.
The students work independently to move through the game and answer the questions on the cell process review. While the students work, I check in with them individually and ask them to tell me about each of the organelles and their functions. I begin our mini conferences by asking them which organelles they have added to their cell in the game they are playing. I ask them to explain the function of each of those organelles. These mini conferences provide me with the opportunity to check in on individual student understanding and to help students develop personal mnemonic devices for remembering information.
As I move around the room, I carry an animal cell model with me. This is the same model that was used during the initial unit discussion, which helps to build consistency for some of the students. As we move through the unit, I remind the students that not all cells look the same because the cells have different functions. For students to initially learn the organelles, we use the same basic animal cell model and as the students show signs of understanding the organelles, I use models and diagrams that look different to ensure transfer of knowledge.
The time the students spend in exploration of the game and the individual conferences I conduct help to meet NGSS SP2 - using models - as the students examine models online and the 3D models in the classroom. MS-LS1-2 and the cross cutting concept of structure and function are also addressed as we use the various models to examine how the structure of the organelles contributes to their function. For my students, this is most obvious in the phospholipid bilayer of the cell membrane. The use of models to represent systems, such as the cell, addresses the cross cutting concept of systems and system models.
As the class ends, I lead the students in a brief review of the game and the material it covered. I ask the students to discuss the types of movements they made with their cells and to discuss the materials they collected and organelles they created during the game. This serves as a review of the information from the lesson and provides me with a better understanding of the aspects about cells that the students are struggling with and the ones that they understand.
I also have the students describe whether or not they enjoyed the game and to explain why. As the students explain whether or not they enjoyed the game, it becomes clear which students understood the the functions of the organelles and which students did not.