Angiosperms (Flowering Plants) and Pollination

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SWBAT identify structures of a flower that are responsible for reproduction.

Big Idea

Students will distinguish between self-pollination or cross-pollination and describe advantages and disadvantages about each one.

Lesson Overview

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Unit Focus  

The Ecosystems and Interactions unit focuses on students recognizing the interrelationship between organisms and their ecosystems.  It engages students in understanding that all organisms go through predictable life cycles, observed characteristics of plants and animals can be fully inherited or they can be affected by the climate or environment, and structures in animals and plants that are responsible for food production, support, water transport, reproduction, growth, and protection. In addition, students develop an understanding that inherited characteristics may change over time as adaptations to changes in the environment enable organisms to survive, and describe changes in the environment that have caused some plants and animals to die or move to new locations. Students learn how organisms obtain energy with each other plants and animals dependence upon one another, and plants use of the sun' energy to produce sugars which later get transferred with-in a food chain from producers to consumers to decomposers.

Lesson Synopsis

In this lesson, Flowering Plants and Pollination, students explore the process of pollination. First, I engage them with a replica of how pollen sticks to pollinators. Then, I have them examine real flowers and locate structures that are responsible for reproducing and making a seed. Once they identify these parts, I engage them in a whole class explanation of how the pollination process happens. They sequence the information and illustrate each stage of the process.  After developing an understanding of the process, students are assigned an independent reading task about two types of pollinations: self-pollination and cross pollination.  When they finish reading about each one, they create a foldable where they write a description about each one. Following their written description, I have them write an evidence based opinion about the advantage and disadvantage about each one. I use their foldable as a formative assessment.

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson will address and support future lessons on the following NGSS Standard(s): 

5-LS1-1. Support an argument that plants get the materials they need for growth chiefly from air and water.

5-LS2-1. Develop a model to describe the movement of matter among plants, animals, decomposers, and the environment

5-PS3-1. Use models to describe that energy in animals’ food (used for body repair, growth, motion, and to maintain body warmth) was once energy from the sun.  

Why Do I Teach this Lesson and Address This Standard?

I teach the Flowering Plants and Pollination lesson because many of my students have very limited background in science since the elementary school's within my district do not formally teach science prior to my students entering the 5th grade (the middle school); therefore, they have not been exposed to earlier grade level NGSS standards or other previous state standards pertaining to animals, plants, and ecosystems.  I find it important to expose my students to parts of these earlier standards in order for them to truly develop a thorough understanding of how matter moves among organisms and developing models to describe how animals' food was once energy from the sun in future lessons. Students take part in inquiry based investigations and apply their evidence to explain outcomes and phenomenons. Providing my students the opportunity to practice this type of  learning will help to facilitate their scientific thinking for future investigations in any lesson.

Scientific & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following Scientific and Engineering Practices.

2.) Developing and Using Models: Students construct a diagram that illustrates the structuctures and functions of a flower. They use this diagram to sequence the process of pollination and distinguish between self pollination and cross pollination.

Crosscutting Concepts

The Flowering Plants and Pollination  lesson will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include:

6.) Structure and Function: Students develop and use a model to describe the process of pollination and explain its importance for the reproducing new plants.


Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

LS1.A- Structure and Function

LS1.C-Organization for matter and Energy Flow in Organisms

LS2.A- Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems


Importance of Modeling to Develop Student

Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This sets up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during an activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirecting.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.


15 minutes

Sparking Curiosity

Before students enter the room, I have containers (in the shape of a flower) in the center of the table. Inside each bag are cheetos. Students are only placing their hand/fingers inside the container. They should not look.

As students enter, I instruct them not to peak inside the container (flower) until directions are given to them. When instructed, students place their hand in the container only, without looking.  I ask them to take a few seconds to feel the item. After the few seconds, I ask them to take their hand out of the container, but not to wipe it on anything. I say: "Observe your fingers. What do you notice?"  Students note the powdery substance sticking to their fingers.  Then I say: "your hand is covered in a substance that you got from the flower. What do you think this substance represents?"

pollen simulation

While students think, I hand them a napkin.  I say: "Ok, while we figure how this substance relates to flowers, wipe your fingers on the napkin, but keep your napkin in front of you."  I want them to keep the napkin so as we examine parts of a flower and how pollination takes place, they can understand how pollen sticks they can relate to this substance as the pollen.

Examining the Parts of the Flower

I direct students attention to the board where I have a diagram that illustrates the parts of the flower.  

parts of a flower


I hand out a blank diagram of a flower and tell them to label it as I identify each part. I explain to the class that flowers have male and female parts.  The male part is known as the stamen, and it is made up of the filament and anther.  I share with them that the anther holds the pollen, which is a grainy substance similar to the substance on their fingers. I move on and name the female part, the pistil. I explain that the pistil (carpel) is made up of many parts that include the stigma, style, and ovary. As I describe each part and structure, I ask the students to write these details under the structure name.

Once the parts of the flower are defined, I ask students to think about the parts of the flower and where the pollen will get moved to in order for a seed to be made. I listen to ideas.


15 minutes

Setting the Goal 

To set the purpose for the remainder of the lesson, I ask a student to read the standards board aloud: "Today we will examine parts of a flower to understand their functions and importance for reproducing."  I add on, stating: "The orange powdery substance now on your napkin is an ingredient in the process of (angiosperms) flowering plants reproducing to make seeds. This substance is known as pollen."

Investigating Flowers

Before handing out flowers to each group, I pass out a data table to each student and have them paste it in their interactive notebook.  Then I hand out a variety flowers to each group and instruct the students to carefully examine and identify the parts of the flower. I tell them to use their diagram to find the parts of the stamen and pistil.  As they are investigating, they are noting their observations in their data table by (upload student sample) by answering questions about them:

     1.)  Measure your flower in centimeters.  What is its width?

     2.)  Describe the shape of the petals?

     3.)  What is the color of the petals?

     4.)  Name the parts of the flower you can see? 

These questions guide them through noticing specific parts and recognizing that not all flowers are the same. In addition, these questions prepare them to identify features of the flower that attract pollinators—size, shape, color, and smell.  I tell them the last column will be filled in after reading about two type of pollination later in the lesson.

I am circulating the room, monitoring and checking in with groups. I stop and ask them to identify and point to different parts.

I have them use real flowers so they can observe and notice each part so as I explain the process of pollination.


15 minutes

Defining Pollination

At this point, I write the term pollination on the board and ask students to find the pistil and stamen parts of their flower and say, "let's talk about how these parts work together to reproduce and make a seed through the process of pollination."  I continue, by writing the definition.  Pollination: When pollen is transferred from the anther to the stigma.

The Pollination Process

I have them look at their napkin (pollen) again and I explain, "The substance that stuck to your fingers earlier, is key to the reproduction process. This is resembling the pollen which is needed for pollination to happen. Let's think back to the start of class.  I asked you to place your hand in the flower (container) and the powdery substance, we are noting as pollen, stuck to you.  In this case, you acted as a pollinator.  A pollinator is an animal that transfers pollen from the anther of a flower to the stigma of the flower. In order for this to happen, flowers use their color, shape, and smell to lure pollinators in."

With that said, I direct them to the board to view a one minute video clip on how pollinators do this. I selected this video for my students to to see pollinators in action. It gives them a real sense of how pollinators are attracted to color, shape, and smell.

Sequencing the Process of Pollination

As I explain, I draw a diagram to reflect what I am saying to them and ask them to illustrate it in their notebook. This helps them visualize the process as I explain each step.

First, I explain that pollen, which is stored in the anther, is transferred to the stigma of the pistil.  Next, the pollen falls down the style and into the ovary. Then, it unites with the egg in the ovary, known as fertilization, and a seed is made.

 pollination sequenced 


 pollination sequence



15 minutes

Distinguishing Self-Pollination and Cross-Pollination

At this point, I describe our next task. "You are reading independently about two different types of pollination. One is called self-pollination and the other is cross-pollination.  When you finish reading, you are to define in your own words, each one." I remind them to use key words from their flower diagram created at the start of the lesson.  I have them use their diagram so they incorporate academic language in their descriptions.

I model how to create a foldable for our next task and have them to create one. I ask them to set it aside until they finish their independent reading first.  

Once I finish reviewing the directions, I hand out a short summary (online) about the two kinds of pollination, self-pollination and cross pollination.  I explain their goal is to find out the differences between each one and write information about each one in the foldable. When they complete their explanations, I ask them to then write the advantage and disadvantage for each one.  Then I have them go back to their data table and add in what type of pollination takes place with the flower sample they examined.

As they are working on the task, I walk around monitoring student work. I check in with some students to make sure they are understanding what they are reading.

I observed that students struggled with the advantages and disadvantages of each type of pollination. It is not mentioned directly in the reading. Inference based thinking on some things is a struggle at times for my students. I decided to create a slide highlight them, however, I do not have them identified as either an advantage or disadvantage. I compiled it this way so my students would still be engaged in higher order thinking skills. 

I ask the students to finish the assignment for homework and I collect it the next day.