Roots and Stems-Structure and Function

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Student will be able to describe what they know about the structure and functions of roots and stems by writing in their science journal.

Big Idea

Students practice their writing skills using their science journal while exploring plant parts!


5 minutes

This lesson is a continuation of the previous two lessons:  Colorful Flowers Part I and Colorful Flowers Part II.

To begin the lesson, we review the parts of plants with Dr. Jean’s Plants song. Since this is set to "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", the students are able to jump right in and it really gets them moving.

After the song, we gather at the Smartboard.

Direct Instruction

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, I use my SMART Board.  If you have a SMART Board, the Roots and Stems notebook file can easily be downloaded and opened.  If you have a different type of interactive whiteboard, you can still use this lesson by opening the file in Smart Notebook Express.  Click here to download. There is also a pdf of the slides so you can recreate this part of the lesson:  PDF Slides of Roots and Stems Notebook File

You will note that I use the terms, structure and function with the students. I include this vocabulary to meet a NGSS cross-cutting concept.  Students will be exposed to this terminology.

I gather my students in front of the SMART Board. I have cards with each student's name on.  These cards are used for selecting who will come up to the Smartboard.

I open the first slide (SMART Board Slide 1) with the lesson objective written in "student friendly" terms.  There is a content objective and a language objective to help focus on vocabulary expansion for my English Learners (ELs) to be congruent with SIOP instructional techniques.  I read these objectives aloud for my students.

Content Objective

I can identify the roots and stem of a plant and tell what their function is.

Language Objective

I can tell a friend the function of roots and stems.

I then advance to Slide Two. 

Slide Two:  We know that a plant is made up of different parts or structures.  Each structure has a job to do.

Slide Three:  These are the roots of the plant. 

Slide Four:  Roots have many important jobs or functions.

  • They gather water and food for the plant from the soil.
  • They store food and nutrients.
  • They support the plant.
  • In some plants, the roots help the plant reproduce or make new plants.

Slide Five:  Once a seed has sprouted the roots go down into the soil to gather water and food for the plant. 

Slide Six:  The root stores nutrients for the plant.  We eat the roots of some plants because they are very rich in nutrients.  Can you name some?

Slide Seven:  Some plants reproduce with their roots.  Tulips are an example of plants that reproduce with their roots.  They reproduce by forming a bulb with their roots.

Slide Eight:  This is a stem. 

Slide Nine:   Here are some different stems.  The trunk of a tree is the stem of a tree. A vine is a special type of stem that needs support.

Slide Ten:  Stems have many important jobs or functions.

  • They support the leaves.
  • They bring water and nutrients to different parts of the plant. 
  • They bring food that the leaves produce to the different parts of the plant.

Slide Eleven: Think of a stem as a highway that everything a plant needs travels through.  Resources move up and down the stem of the plant.

Slide Twelve:  It is now Turn and Talk time. Turn and Talk offers my students the chance to use critical academic vocabulary while building English conversational skills. Every student has an assigned Turn and Talk partner. I have them hold their partner’s hand in the air, so I can see that everyone is partnered. I then pose the following questions: When we put our flowers in food coloring, what happened? Why did the flowers turn change color? Would we have gotten the same result if the roots were on the flower? 

This conversation makes a connection between the investigation that we completed in our previous lesson and the content that was just discussed. 

Independent Practice and Informal Assessment

15 minutes

For this portion of the lesson, you will need My Plant Journal included as a PDF with this lesson.  I distribute the book to the students and have them write their name on the front cover.  I say to the students, We are going to create a journal that shows all the things that we have learned about plants.  You will start out by labeling the different parts of the plants.  I incorporated this labeling page into the journal to reinforce the names of each structure.  This is especially important for my EL students, but all my students benefit from this reinforcement as they have limited exposure to knowledge about plants.

I then tell the students, You will be completing the roots and stem pages of the journal.  I want you to write down three facts about roots and three facts about stems. Don’t worry about getting book spelling, use your sound spelling. I am looking for what you have learned about the roots and stems. 

The students are identifying facts when completing this journal.  This supports the development of NGSS Science and Engineering Practice 7, Engaging in Argument from Evidence.  This is an important first step in a student's ability to identify facts to support arguments. 

The students begin working. I really encourage my students to just make an attempt at spelling words. I do not want their need to have the correct spelling holding them back from recording what they know about roots and stems. Click here for a work sample.  After the students have recorded their ideas, they share them with me. See video  I have them keep their journals for the lesson closing.


5 minutes

To bring the lesson to a close, I have the students partner up. They then share what they wrote in the journal with their partner. I like the students to have the opportunity to practice their academic language with a peer.  This is especially important for my ELL students.  The journal will also be a great addition to their reading boxes, allowing them to review the concepts after the unit is completed.  After the students have shared, I collect the journals so they can be used in the next lesson.