Lesson 20

Using StopMotion Video to Explore Protein Synthesis (Day 1 of 3)

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SWBAT explain the three phases of protein synthesis (transcription, RNA processing, and translation) and protein processing by creating videos to describe the process.

Big Idea

Keep your kids engaged in learning the complex process of protein synthesis using this StopMotion video creation activity!

Notes for the Teacher

This is a three day lesson series that allows students the opportunity to teach protein synthesis through an StopMotion video app on our school issued iPads.  This could also be done in a more tradition video format that students most likely have access on their personal devices.  

On Day 1, student groups brainstorm their video, choose materials, assign roles, and investigate the app.

Standards: SL.9-10.1SL.9-10.4SL.9-10.5RST.9-10.2RST.9-10.3RST.9-10.4HS-LS1-1HS-LS3-1SP1SP2SP8XC-P-HS-1XC-SF-HS-2XC-SC-HS-1

On Day 2, students work together to film their videos.

Standards: SL.9-10.1SL.9-10.1aSL.9-10.4SL.9-10.5RST.9-10.2RST.9-10.3RST.9-10.4HS-LS1-1HS-LS3-1SP1SP2SP8XC-P-HS-1XC-SF-HS-2XC-SC-HS-1

On Day 3, students view each other's videos and complete a peer evaluation for each other's work.

Standards: W.9-10.2fSL.9-10.1SL.9-10.4SL.9-10.5RST.9-10.2RST.9-10.3RST.9-10.4HS-LS1-1HS-LS3-1SP1SP2SP8XC-P-HS-1XC-SF-HS-2XC-SC-HS-1

Students are incredibly engaged throughout the process and often arrange to come in during lunch multiple times in order to create the video they envisioned in our brainstorming session.  They are proud to show their unique way of showing the process of protein synthesis and protein processing and are supportive of each other's approaches during the peer review and large group debrief.  Because this unit involves an abstract, multi-step, complicated process that students typically have never heard of before, I find that this video creation piece really helps to build upon the work we've done through video clips, drawings, and our simulation lab to ensure that every student understands the flow of genetic information and gene expression from start to finish.  

The Classroom Flow: Introducing Today's Activity

10 minutes

1.  Review board notes for students outlining the three major parts of protein synthesis (transcription, RNA processing, and translation) and protein processing. 

2.  Tell students that today they will be working with their lab group to create a StopMotion video to teach others about what they've learned.

3.  Pass out the StopMotion brainstorm document.  

4.  Review it out loud for students and ask for clarifying questions.  

  • Note: Students will most likely ask for more information about the assignment due date.  I have a due date ready for them but I also know that technology work often takes more time than originally planned.  I make sure to have time and technology access available outside of class hours and I often space out this project over the course of a week to ensure that all projects can be ready on the same due date so that we can view and discuss them together as a class.  Students may also ask about the turn in format.  This year, we are an official Google apps for Education site so I have students download their finished product to their school Google drives.  However in the past, I have simply graded the work on individual devices or during the class period students complete their peer review work.  

5.  Point out where to find materials and review the classroom technology check out system. 

  • Note:  See my computer sign out sheet to see how I deal with technology paperwork in a way that ensures that the bulk of time will be used with the devices rather than signing them out/in.  The key seems to be to assign devices by table.  Otherwise, students take their favorite number which makes it harder to easily and quickly keep track of devices and to return them in a timely manner.   

The Classroom Flow: Developing Plans for Group Protein Synthesis Videos

35 minutes

1.  Remind students that the expectation is that this will be a productive class session.  Review our studio session expectations board notes as a refresher.

2.  Allow students to move to their lab tables and begin their work as a team to discuss the prompts on the brainstorming document and write out their ideas.

3.  Observe and circulate between lab groups for the duration of the class session.  Before each group leaves the class at the end of the class period, be sure to have reviewed their brainstorming document and offered your suggestions or potential new ideas for their consideration.

Note:  I do not intervene during the first ten minutes of the brainstorming session.  For me, learning how to navigate group collaboration time and set individual and group goals and norms is important and I tend to enforce a rigid wait time policy for myself.  At that point, I check in with each group to hear/see how things are going.  I ask questions that might prompt more discussion among the group such as:

  • How are you going to….?
  • What do you think about using…?
  • What other ways could you show that…?
  • Who is going to be in charge of….?
  • Have you thought about trying….?
  • I'm thinking it might be a good idea to….


4. The goal is for every student group to have completed the brainstorm document in preparation for our video session tomorrow.  Check out this student work sample to see how this group is thinking about their project creation.  One strength of their plan is that they intend to work together on all aspects of the project and will do so during a Saturday session.  Because this is not always possible for some groups due to scheduling or other conflicts, I always announce and post when the classroom will be open for additional filming time.

5.  If you find that students finish up their brainstorm document before the session has ended and you have looked it over and found it to be a good effort towards a productive class session tomorrow, tell students that it would be helpful for them to begin to go over specific content/sequencing details for protein synthesis.  Remind them that the more they know, the more they will be able to bring to their filming sessions.  In general, however, students groups are quite focused on their brainstorming sheet.  Because I have materials out in the classroom for them to inspect, they often spend time there debating the merits of using pasta wheels vs. buttons and string vs. pipe cleaners and assigning individual team members to scout out additional potential materials from home to bring back to class for the next session.

The Classroom Flow: Prepping for Tomorrow's Work

5 minutes

1.  Collect devices and ask students to return any materials they were looking at for use the next day.

2.  If students have created specific materials they want to store for use tomorrow, I point out bins labeled by class period that they can use to store them overnight.  

3.  Remind students to be ready to film tomorrow! Write the following prompts on the board for them to consider as homework jobs for the group this evening:

Has your group...

Created your storyboards for tomorrow's filming activity?

Decided who will be responsible for which part of the video project?

Reviewed each part of protein synthesis and protein processing?  

4.  By the end of this lesson series, students will have created their own iStop Motion video project similar to the this student work sample video.

And now on to Day 2!