Day 2- Making Food Through Photosynthesis-A Recipe for Plants

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SWBAT recognize the importance of the sun's energy in photosynthesis and explain its role in the photosynthesis process.

Big Idea

Students will construct a model that illustrates the process of photosynthesis.

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 organisms have observable characteristics that are fully inherited and can be affected by the climate and/or environment. Students distinguish structures that define classes of animals and plants, and develop an understanding that all organisms go through predictable life cycles. They learn that organisms depend upon one another for growth and development and discover that plants use the sun's energy to produce food for themselves. They observe how the sun's energy is transferred within a food chain from producers to consumers to decomposers.

Lesson Synopsis

In this lesson, Day 2 -Making Food Through Photosynthesis-A Recipe for Plants, students work as a team to create a model to illustrate the process of photosynthesis. They apply their understanding of photosynthesis by creating a visual representation of the process. The lesson wraps up with a homework assignment where students write out the process of photosynthesis in the form of a recipe.  This is collected the next day and used 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 Day 2-Making Food Through Photosynthesis-A Recipe for Plants 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 model illustrating the process of photosynthesis. They use this model to explain what happens during photosynthesis. 

6.) Constructing an Explanation: Students will write and summarize the process of photosynthesis in the form of a recipe.  Their explanation must show the relationship between the ingredients in order photosynthesis to take place.  They include evidence from the activities in the lesson. 

Crosscutting Concepts

The Day 2-Making Food Through Photosynthesis-A Recipe for Plants 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 photosynthesis and explain its importance for the functions of living of organisms.

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.


5 minutes

To re-engage students today, I ask them to open their interactive notebook to the sequenced steps in the photosynthesis process they created yesterday.

sequenced photosynthesis  photosynthesis sequenced

I ask them to identify the ingredients within their illustration necessary for the photosynthesis process to take place. I ask volunteers to share them aloud and I write them on the board: water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight. I continue and ask." when these combine, what is the result?" A student shares "it make oxygen and sugar." 

After noting the process, I share with students they are creating a photosynthesis model with their group. 


45 minutes

Preparing to Create Photosynthesis Pictures/Models/Diagrams

Before I have students begin, I explain to them that the model they create is open to their imagination but must include all the necessary components of the photosynthesis process. I continue and ask, "What are some ideas for how you can model the photosynthesis process?"  I hear from several students and note ideas on the board: a poster, a comic strip, a drawing with arrows, a cartoon, a mathematical expression, just symbols. I tell them these are a few ideas and if they think of another idea to run it by me so I can make sure it fits the task given to them.  

Creating and Designing Photosynthesis Pictures/Models/Diagrams 

With that said, I point out to students the materials I have available if they would like to use them: construction paper, crayons/markers, yarn, string, cotton, packaging foam.  Then I hand out scrap paper and have them brainstorm ideas and check in with me before starting. Once they get the ok, they begin.

As students are working, I circulate the room checking in with students about their model. I ask them to walk me through what they have so far. I do this because it is a good way for students to orally share the process and gives me a chance to clarify any misconceptions or inaccuracies they may have about the photosynthesis process.

Once models are done, I have each group present their models to the class. They share how they represented the photosynthesis process. 


5 minutes

At the end of class, I hand out a homework assignment. In this assignment, they write a recipe for making food for plants.  They summarize the process in the form of a recipe on a recipe card template

The next day I collect the recipe and use it as a formative assessment.