Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: Living Systems

In this post you will find several resources for teaching the 5th grade unit on living systems. Teaching this unit can be challenging because there is a lot of material to cover, and there are several important vocabulary words that are essential for students' understanding of the content. The following links to and ideas for instruction, literature, websites, foldables, and assessments should prove beneficial in teaching the living systems unit.

Virginia Standards of Learning 5.5. The student will investigate and understand that organisms are made of one or more cells and have distinguishing characteristics that play a vital role in the organism's ability to survive and thrive in its environment. Key concepts include
a) basic cell structures and functions;
b) kingdoms of living things
c) vascular and nonvascular plants; and
d) vertebrates and invertebrates

Background from Curriculum Framework
  • Living things are made of cells.
  • Cells carry out all life processes.
  • New cells come from existing cells.
  • Cells are too small to be seen with the eye alone.
  • Plant cells tend to be rectangular, while animal cells tend to be spherical or irregular.
  • Living things can be categorized into kingdoms: monerans, protists, fungi, plants, and animals.
  • Plants can either be vascular (having special tissues to transport food and water) or nonvascular (not having tissues to transport food and water. Most plants are vascular
  • Animals can be categorized as vertebrates (having backbones) or invertebrates (not having backbones)
Important Unit Vocabulary
-cell wall: located outside the cell membrane; provides structure and protection for the cell
-chloroplasts: food producers
-cilia: contribute to movement within the cell
-cytoplasm: fluid that fills the cell
-invertebrates: animals that do not have backbones
-lysosomes: vessel that holds enzymes and helps digest things
-multicellular: many cells
-nonvascular: plants that do not have special tissues to move nutrients
-plastids: storage for important chemical compounds
-unicellular: one cell
-vacuole: stores nutrients
-vascular: plants that have special tissues to move nutrients
-vertebrates: animals that do have backbones

Instructional Plan

Day 1: What is a cell?
Objectives: Students will...
  • be able to describe the essential functions of a cell.
This class period will begin with a discussion about cells. The teacher will ask the students what they already know about cells, or what they think cells are and do. As students tell what they know about cells, the teacher will write these ideas on the board. Following the class discussion, the teacher will then go into instruction, and provide each student with notes that mirror the teacher's instruction. After the teacher has presented the content, students will be given time to write their own definition for a cell and illustrate the cell's main functions. At the very end of class, the teacher will present students with a cell project. Each student will have to construct a 3D representation of a cell using any materials that they choose.

Day 2: Plant & animal cell
Objectives: Students will...
  • be able to compare and contrast plant and animal cells with the use of a venn diagram
The class will begin with the students and teachers asking the students to recap what they learned the previous day about the cells functions. The teacher will then state how the functions a cell can perform are related to the cell's structure. The teacher will develop the lesson further by presenting key vocabulary to students and describing the structure of both plant and animal cells. Towards the end of class, the students and teacher will collectively fill out a venn diagram of plant and animal cells.

Day 3: Plant & animal cell similarities and differences
Objectives: Students will...
  • develop further understanding of cells through observation and brainstorming
At the beginning of class, the teacher will ask a few students to briefly summarize the material that had been covered the previous day. For the next 20 minutes of class, the teacher will have the students color and label pictures of a plant cell and an animal cell. For the last 10 minutes of class, the teacher will present several cell images to the students, and the students will have to individually determine whether the cell is plant or animal. The teacher will collect these answers for assessment. For homework, or as a part of the lesson, the teacher can instruct students to create this shutter fold venn diagram to compare and contrast plant and animal cells.

Day 4: Organism characteristics and classification
Objectives: Students will...
  • be able to identify characteristics of organisms
  • describe the process of grouping organisms based upon their characteristics
This lesson will begin with a Biology Video. This will introduce students to the instruction for the day, getting students thinking about characteristics of all living things. The students will then be instructed to brainstorm other characteristics the living things have. The teacher will then introduce the five kingdoms of living things. It may be able to show the class this Study Jams Video about the five kingdoms. The teacher will spend time talking about each kingdom starting with monerans.

5: Organism characteristics and classification
Objectives: Students will...
  • be able to group organisms into kingdoms based upon their characteristics.
This class will begin with a quick summary of the previous day's instruction. The teacher will then cover the remaining kingdoms that were not covered the previous day. The teacher will demonstrate to the students how to create a foldable that will allow the students to group organisms into kingdoms based upon their characteristics. The foldable booklet contains a pocket for each kingdom so that students can cut organisms out and categorize them, placing them in the appropriate pocket.

Day 6: Vascular vs. nonvascular plants

Objectives: Students will...
  • be able to describe the differences of vascular and nonvascular plants and categorize plants according to those characteristics.
On day six of the unit, students will learn the difference between vascular and nonvascular plants. The teacher should present the material to students and allow for plenty of examples of both categories. This categorization game may be a beneficial way to close the day's lesson.

Day 7: Vertebrates and invertebrates
Objectives: Students will...
  • be able to describe the differences of vertebrates and invertebrates and categorize animals according to those characteristics
This class period will begin with a very short video about vertebrates and invertebrates. As with vascular and nonvascular plants, teachers should provide the students with many examples of vertebrates and invertebrates, and many opportunities for categorization. The 2-flap foldable can also be used for vascular and nonvascualr classification.

Day 8: Group exploration of websites and literature

Collaborate with your school librarian to allow students to research websites and books on the content. This may include a trip to the library for books and computer use, or having your librarian bring you a cart of books on the content that students will be able to explore. The teacher could also have students complete this Cells and Living Things WebQuest.

Day 9: Presentation of cell projects

Have each student present their cell model to the class.

Day 10: Review

Divide the class up into groups of three or four students for a trivia game of the unit content.

Foldable Resources

Literature Connections

Animal Cells and Life Processes by Barbara Ann Somerville. 2010. 48p. Heinemann Raintree, (9781432938772). Gr. 3-6. This book explores the features of the animal cell.

Animals of the World. 2003. DK Children Publishing, (9780789496034). Gr. 3-6. Covering all of the primary animal groups, this well-illustrated book fun facts and loads of information on the animal kingdom.

Cell Wars by Fran Balkwill. Illus. by MIC Rolph. 1990. 30p. Carolrhoda Books, (9780876146378). Gr. 2-6. This book explores how the body is made up of cells and the purpose the cells serve. It particularly addresses how cells fight off diseases in the human body.

I Know How My Cells Make Me Grow
by Kate Rowan. 2000. 32p. Walker Childrens Paperbacks, (9780744572346). Gr. 3-6. This picture book is about a boy who learns from his mother that he is made up of cells, and these cells are contributing to his growth.

Plant and Animal Cells: Understanding the Differences Between Plant and Animal Cells by Judy Yablonski. 2005. 48p. Rosen Publishing Group, (9781404203242). Gr. 3-6. This book tackles both plant and animal cells. The book includes information and comparisons of both types of cells.

Plant Cells: The Building Blocks of Plants by Darlene Stille, Illus. by Eric Hoffman. 2006. 48p. Compass Point Books, (9780756517649). Gr. 5-8. This book specifically explores the building blocks of plant cells.

The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom by Mielo So. Illus. by the author. 2006. 112p. Knopf Books for Young Readers, (9780679870586). Gr. 3-7. This collection of poems about the animal kingdom is arranged intro five zoological classifications.

The Diversity of Life: From Single Cells to Multicellular Organisms by Robert Snedden. 2007. 48p. Heinemann Raintree, (9781432900380). Gr. 3-7. This book explores how everything around us is made up of cells. This book also takes a look at classification of species.

Sponges, Jellyfish, and Other Simple Animals by Daniel Gilpin. Illus. by Steve Parker. 2006. 48p. Compass Point Books, (9780756516147). Gr. 3-6. This book covers Animal Kingdoms classification for many simple animals.

What Is the Animal Kingdom? by Bobbie Kalman. 1997. 32p. Crabtree Publishing Company, (9780865058897). Gr 1-5. The great text and illustrations of this book provide a great introduction to the Animal Kingdom.

Additional Web Resources

Classifying Critters
This classification game allows participants to group and pair animals based upon their characteristics.

Interactive Cell Animation
This website provides a great visual of both plant and animal cells. Students can separately look the both cells to learn more about the cell's structures and functions.

The Kingdoms of Life
Here, students can explore more about the animal kingdom. They can watch an approximately 3 minute video on the animal kingdom and classification, learn a song, and test themselves on their knowledge.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Cells
This game includes all questions related to cell properties, structure, and functions.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire: 5 Kingdoms of life
This games includes questions related to the five kingdoms of life and classification.

Assessment Resources

Cell Quiz

Cells and Microbes Quiz

Kingdoms of Life Categorization

Living Systems Quiz

Plant Quiz: Vascular vs. Nonvascular

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