Days 2-5 What do plants really need

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SWBAT observe and gather data from their investigation on determining what plants need to grow.

Big Idea

Students will observe and collect evidence from each investigation they set-up to support a claim about what materials plants need to grow.

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 

This lesson, Days 2-5 -What Do Plants Really Need lesson is spread over several days. During these days, students are making observations about each plant's growth relating to structures, height, and color. They  record this data on their data table in their interactive notebook. This continues for almost a week or until enough data has been collected to draw a conclusion to determine what plants need to grow. Each day students analyse their observations and reflect in their interactive notebook on what they observed that day.

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 

Scientific & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering practices:

2.) Developing and Using Models- Students use the plants they are growing to determine what affects a plant's growth. Each model has one variable removed, either no light, no water, no soil, or no air. They compare these models to a model that receives all ingredients; this is their control variable.

3.) Planning and Carrying Out Investigations- Students continue their investigation on determining what plants need to grow. They record observations on each plant.

4.) Analyzing and Interpreting Data- Students evaluate the the observations they made about all the plant models they have set up. They use their observations as evidence when the write daily reflections about the plant's growth to make comparisons between all the plants and start developing a sense of what plants need to grow, develop, and survive.

Crosscutting Concepts

The Days 2-5 What Do Plants Really Need lesson  lesson will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include:

2.) Cause and Effect- Students continue investigating the effects of plant's growth when one a material typically used in growth is removed. 

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

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.


45 minutes

Every two to three days, I have my students observe each plant in the investigation to note changes and/or any new growth that has occurred. This gives the seeds time to germinate and sprout. Each day I have a student from each group water their plants that receive water. I remind them of their one plant whose independent variable is not receiving water.

Observing and Recording Data 

I remind students they are using lab rats' roles to complete their observations and record data on their plants today. (These roles change each observation day.) The lab rats' director selects group members to retrieve their group's plants. Meanwhile, the materials manager, retrieves observation tools on a tray from the back supply table. When all materials are at their group, they begin their observations and data recording.  

Students record all of their observations on their data table, which they previously set up in their interactive notebook. They are observing each plant's structures, color, and height.  I tell them each time we make an observation, we are looking for new and/or changed structures on the plant, color appearances and changes, how tall the plant grows, and any other indications caused by the independent variable. I tell them to be attentive when they are observing and recording and explain it is important to pay attention to detail so the information / data can be as accurate as possible.  Having accurate data provides stronger evidence when it comes time to supporting an argument or claim they are making about plants needs for growth. 

The technician carefully monitors the measuring when it comes time to note the height of the plant's growth. The reporter shares their group's data with the class when we come together to discuss our findings.


15 minutes

Before leaving class on observation days, I have students write a brief reflection based on the observations they made that day.  I ask them to think about the changes and new appearances on the plant and compare it to the control plant.

I want them to make comparisons between all the plants to start developing a sense of what plants need to grow, develop, and survive.  These are collected and used a formative assessment.