More About Cell Membranes and Cell Unit Review

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SWBAT identify various elements and compounds that pass through the cell membrane and the method of transport for each item.

Big Idea

This lesson helps to emphasize the structure and function of the cell membrane as well as the processes of active and passive transport.


5 minutes

As the students enter the room, they take out their Chromebooks and navigate to the cells unit information document.  The students update the colors using our red, yellow, green color system.

This video from a previous unit explains the red, yellow, green process and is available for students to view online if they need a reminder of how to complete the activity.


5 minutes

As the students near the end of the red, yellow, green activity, I ask them to open a new tab on their Chromebook and to leave the unit information chart open so I can review it with them later.  I then have the students open the cell membrane review worksheet.  I review the activity guidelines with the students.  While I review the guidelines, I have the document open on the SMARTBoard, so I can direct students to certain elements of the activity and the website.

To begin this guideline review, I ask a student to read the first sentence, We are going to spend some time…. and then ask the students to close their eyes for a moment, and envision the cell membrane. I have found that using visual cues connects them to prior learning. Of course, this only works when I have kept that learning full of rich visual information - and with cells that is easy to do. After giving them some time to envision and think, I ask for volunteers to share what they remember about how items pass through cell membranes.

Once we have reviewed their ideas, I bring up the WGBH animation of the cell, and before beginning to make sense of homeostasis, I select the About button on the bottom of the interactive to do a quick misconception check by reminding students that while the items on the screen appear flat, they are actually three dimensional.  I ask for a volunteer to explain what that means, and the students are quick to point to a 3D cell model that we have used in previous lessons.  

From there we discuss the first question in which the students are asked to recall the scientific term for a stable environment.  I direct the students back to the information that we had added to their Cell organelles notes and we review the term homeostasis and the idea that the cell needs to be able to take in nutrients and expel wastes.  I then spend time reviewing how the website functions by selecting various items so the students can view them passing through the membrane.  I also explain how to complete the chart on the worksheet.


After answering any student questions, I ask the students to begin working on the activity individually.  As they complete the activity and discuss the review information with me, the students are working on SP2, MS-LS1-2 and CCC Structure and Function.


25 minutes

The students continue working on the membrane activity, and as they do, I ask them to write the definitions and information in their own words rather than copying the information word for word.  As is evidenced by the student work samples, some of the students had a better understanding of the information than other students.  For instance, in work sample 2, the student does a good job of describing the structures, but does not describe their functions. In work sample 1, the student describes the structure and its function.  In the second part of the assignment the student also makes note of how the specified item moves into/out of the cell and the name for the method of transport. 

This is one of a few interactives dealing with membranes that I use with the students.  Some of the students still have difficulty remembering the processes of active and passive transport, so the use of this activity provides them with another visual model of the process. 

While the students work, I move from group to group reviewing the cells unit information sheet with the students.  Many of the students have primarily green highlighted words, while others have a few yellow highlighted words.  I work with these students by reviewing the information they are unsure of.  As a part of this review, we discuss which section of flipped notes contains the information about the topic of concern.  We also discuss the online resources where they can access simulations and information in order to study it for the upcoming quiz.

This video provides an explanation of how I review the unit information sheets with the students.

Wrap up

5 minutes

I conclude the class period by providing the students with a brief review of the information that will be on an upcoming quiz.  During such reviews, I ask the students to look at the unit information sheet and discuss the items they think will be on the quiz.  The students determine that they will need to know the various organelles and their functions.  By doing this, I am activating the students' metacognition and helping them begin to think more critically about the ways in which they prepare for tests and quizzes.  This exercise also provides me with insight into the parts of the unit that the students have found most relevant and informing future practice on my part.

Because I consistently link previous units of study to current units of study, I regularly utilize essay questions asking students to discuss the connections between previous units and the unit being assessed.  As a result, I tell the students that they will also need to be able to answer essay questions on the quiz and be able to identify the relationship between chemistry and biology as they relate to cells and their functions.  I answer the students' additional questions, and I remind them about the lunch study session that will be held the day before the quiz.