Unit on developing a basic understanding of plants
The unit that I have chosen to teach my fifth grade class is about plants. The purpose of this unit is to introduce the students to them because they need to realize that not all plants are the same, need the same care, or come from the same environments around the world. Therefore, when these lessons are completed, they will have learned what the parts of a flowering plant are, the four items they need to survive, their life cycles, how they grow and how to care for them within the proper environment. Although this is only a part of the plant unit, I believe it is important for the students to first learn these fundamental principles. Then, they are better able to later learn about photosynthesis and the other aspects of plant life.
In order for my students to learn about plants, I have developed the following objectives:
The Student will be able to:
1.) Use a picture to name the five main parts of a flower and describe the function of each part. (Knowledge/Comprehension)
2.) In order of importance, list the four basic conditions that plants need for proper growth. (Knowledge/Evaluate)
3.) Using different seed packets, compare plants growing in contrasting environments. (Comprehension)
4.) Relate cell growth to cell division in green plants. (Application)
5.) Using a diagram, describe the life cycle of a flowering plant. (Comprehension)
6.) Using one of the varying class flowering plants, create a brochure for a nursery on plants and their care. (Synthesize)
For this objective, I have developed the following task analysis:
a.) Give the name of the plant that the brochure is about.
b.) In written detail describe the type of flowering plant. Also include a picture or drawing of it.
c.) Organize a set of written directions that describe proper plant care. Include the four basic conditions (water, food, air, and warmth) that plants need for proper growth. Also include details of how much sunlight and water the plant needs, as well as if there are certain types of soils that are essential for growth.
d.) Illustrate the brochure with an appropriate drawing on the five parts of a flower.
e.) Create a key that describes the function of each part of a flower
f.) Contains four other concepts or ideas that you want to include. Possibilities include time of year to plant, planting guidelines and procedures and relocation directions.
g.) Overall appearance is neat, organized and readable with proper spelling and grammar
To begin this unit, I would bring to the classroom a variety of flowers from different seed catalogs or possibly even live ones. In groups, the students could examine them and determine the different characteristics present in each. This would lead into a discussion on the proper vocabulary terms to describe the parts of a flower. I would then explain to them what the function of each part of the plant is. Students would then be given a worksheet where they would have to match up the parts of the flower to the proper vocabulary terms. When they have understood these concepts, I would have them point out on a real flower all the pertinent parts that we had just learned.
In order to have the students determine what the basic conditions are for a plant to grow, I would have them perform an experiment. The students would be required to
A.) place a few seeds in the refrigerator
B.) take a plant and put it in a dark room
C.) place a healthy grown plant in a plastic bag and seal it
D.) stop watering a plant
On a daily basis, the students would be required to write in their journals the observations they saw within each situation listed above. Did the seeds begin to grow? Did the adult plants continue to thrive? Why or why not? After about a week or two, the students would then have to come up with a list of what they felt was important for a plant to grow properly. We would then take those lists and as a group, determine which four things were the most important and which ones weren't.
Once the students have learned what the four components are for growing a plant properly, I would ask them what they thought would happen if they gave different types of plants all these things but in different quantities. Would that affect its growth? We would then lead into a discussion on different climates, minerals and types of soils that certain plants need, in addition to specific amounts of water, food, air and warmth. In groups, students would then be given different seeds in order to begin a class garden. On each packet of seeds there are specific directions on watering, amounts of sunlight, and food care. Each group would also be required to research their plant type in order to properly care for them. They would then be given a sheet to record their plants growth and the specific things they did to care for it (on a daily basis).
In order for the students to learn how all plants grow, I will have them look through a microscope to try and determine how many cells they see on a plant leaf. The students would then be able to realize that cells divide from one individual cell to two cells and so on. We would then begin a discussion on how the tips of roots and the tops of stems are the only parts of the plant where cell division takes place. Students would then perform an experiment that would help them to see how a plant grows taller. They would be required to record in their journals some type of evidence that supports their reasoning and thought process as to how and why plants only grow from the roots and stems (this would be based on the experiment's observations).
When the students are learning about the life cycles of flowering plants, I would have them brainstorm different ways in which they believe flowers are fertilized. I would write the list on the board and we would discuss which ones were relevant. I would then begin a discussion on the cycle of flowering plants, using correct vocabulary terms while also referring to a diagram that shows the cycle occurring over and over again. Students would then be required to complete a worksheet that would have them outline the process that occurs in a flowering plants life cycle.
Finally, in groups of about three, I would explain to the students that they are employees of an advertising agency that has just been hired to create a brochure for a nursery that sells different types of flowering plants. In this flier, they would need to include a written description of the flowering plant that they have chosen, as well as a drawing of it. They also need to include the four basic ingredients that are needed for proper plant growth, a drawing that lists the main parts of a flower and a key that can be used to better understand the illustration. The groups would also be able to decide what other factors they would like to include in the brochure. As in every published brochure, the overall appearance must be neat, organized and readable with proper spelling and grammar used. The brochure must also be written and illustrated so those customers from a wide variety of experiences will be able to understand the content either by the text or pictures.
To assess the students during this unit, I would use a variety of techniques. For the first lesson on the parts of a flower, I would observe the students while they were in their groups looking at a live flower and record my observations on a clipboard. I would use this informal assessment technique because it would allow me to determine which students were participating and which ones weren't. I would also talk to each group and ask questions to see if they were making the kinds of observations that were pertinent to this particular lesson. After this, I would begin a class discussion where students would raise their hands in order to offer the observations made from within their groups. Later, once the class discussion was completed on the proper vocabulary terms and their functions, I would give the students a worksheet that I would collect at the end of the day. When I have completed grading them, I would be able to decide if I needed to reteach this topic or not. I would then record their grades in order to incorporate them into their overall plant unit grade. Finally, I would have the students take their flowers that I had given them earlier and on them show me the different parts of that flower. This random sampling would once again help me to decide which students were understanding the concepts and which ones weren't.
The next assessment would take place once the students began to write in their journals about the different observations made on the seeds and plants that weren't in proper environments for growth. On a weekly basis, I would collect the journals and make sure that the students were making critical and thought provoking observations. I would also determine if they were noticing that air, warmth, water and food were all important factors and that the lack of them were prohibiting the plants from growing. I would also leave comments within their journals directing the students on what to look for and also offering suggestions where necessary. I would record their grades as either satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily keeping a record of their observations. The determining factors would include the amounts of sentences recorded, their accuracy and their content, as well as if they used their critical thinking skills to come to conclusions. Lastly, when the students were brainstorming a list of important factors in proper plant growth, I would observe which students seemed to relate their findings to what the class was determining to be correct. I would randomly call on students to defend their positions on why they felt their conditions were most important. This type of informal assessment would help me to keep students involved, as well as to see which students honestly understood the concepts involved.
During our next class discussion on they varying conditions needed depending on the plant, I would ask the students to predict what they thought would happen if I gave a cactus a large amount of water. Their answers, along with other well directed questions, would help me to determine which students were making the connections as to proper plant care in contrasting environments. If students said that they needed to keep watering a cactus on a weekly basis, I would know that they didn't understand the basic differences in plants. However, once I believed that the students understood this, I would have them get into groups where they would have to work as a team to grow a plant from a seed. While they were doing this, I would walk around and casually ask questions as to why they were or weren't doing something (example: why are you watering that plant once a week?). I could also then talk to students individually to see if the students who didn't understand something earlier finally grasped the concept. On a weekly basis, the students would also be required to hand in their worksheets so that I could make sure that they were making observations on their plant's growth, as well as recording the procedures they used to care for it. On this sheet, the students would be required to give themselves a grade as to how they believed they were caring for it (example: did they remember to water it or did someone have to remind them?). I would then take their grade as a group and factor in each individual's participation grade based on my observations during class. These new grades would be recorded in my book.
The next lesson involves having the students look through a microscope to determine cell growth. While the students were doing this, I would pay close attention to which ones were actually looking at the plant and which ones were fooling around. I would record on a checklist these observations so that I could include it in my grade book. From there, I would assess our class discussion on cell division as to which students were offering suggestions and comments, and which ones weren't. This would be done through random questioning and calling on students who have raised their hands. As always, from this type of informal assessment, I could determine if the things I wanted them to grasp were really being understood or not. Next, the students would be performing an experiment that would help them to see how a plant grows taller from within its roots and stems. I would collect their journals once the experiment was completed so that I could see from their written explanations, their thought process and reasoning skills (from the experiment they could see how growth occurs). From this, I could easily assess their basic content knowledge and comprehension as well as determine which concepts they did not grasp. I would grade this as I did the other journal entries. If they spent the time and wrote at least 6 to 8 sentences, used proper vocabulary terms, and made thought-provoking conclusions, they would receive a satisfactory grade.
To learn about the life cycles of flowering plants, the students would first be asked to brainstorm a list of possible ways that flowers were fertilized. For this, I would not assess anything because students might not know that this could occur from bees and different weather patterns (wind and rain). However, for homework, the students would be required to take the information on life cycles learned in class and complete a worksheet. The following day I would collect it and record which students did their homework and which ones didn't. I would then correct each paper and make comments on the sheets to help the students when they didn't get the correct answers.
The final assignment during this unit would be for the students to create a brochure for a greenhouse. I have developed a rubric (next page) for this performance based assessment so that the teacher can reliably and accurately grade each group's final product.
for a brochure on plants and their care
Level 5 Brilliant
**Gives the name of the type of flowering plant chosen **Describes the flower in written detail and with a drawing **Contains an organized set of written directions that describes proper plant care: includes the 4
basic conditions of water, food, air and warmth that a plant needs for growth; also lists details on the
amounts of sunlight, water, and type of soil that are essential **Includes detailed drawing of the 5
main parts of a flower **Contains a key that describes the function of each part of the flower
**4 additional concepts or ideas of any kind are included **Overall appearance: neat,
readable and organized **No errors in spelling or grammar
**Gives the name of the type of flowering plant chosen **Describes the flower in written
detail and with a drawing **Contains an organized set of written directions that describes
proper plant care: includes 3 basic conditions that a plant needs for growth; lists
the amounts of water and sunlight that are essential **Includes detailed drawing
of 3-4 main parts of a flower **Contains a key that describes the function
of each part of the flower **3 additional concepts or ideas of any kind are
included **Overall appearance is neat, readable and organized
**2-3 errors in spelling and grammar
**Gives the name of the flowering plant chosen **Describes the
flower either in written detail or within a drawing **Contains
directions that describe 2 basic conditions that a plant needs
for growth; lists how much sun and water the plant needs to
survive **Includes drawing of at least 2 main parts of
a flower **2 additional concepts
or ideas of any kind are included **Readable
**4-6 errors in spelling and grammar
**Gives the name of the flowering plant
chosen **Contains directions that
describe 1 condition that a plant
needs for growth **1 additional
concept or idea of any kind
**Print is unreadable
**7 or more spelling
Level 1 Below Average
This scale would be used to grade each groups final project or brochure once they had been given an adequate amount of class time to work on it. With roughly 25 students and about three students per group, I would have approximately eight final products to grade. Once collected on a specific due date, I would compare the students guide or product to that of the requirements listed in the rubric. Since the students had a copy of it beforehand, hopefully all the grades would range from a 3 to a 4. However, since some students do not follow the guidelines, I assume the grades will vary. I believe that since the rubric is detailed and concrete, with listing of what each level requires, my marks will be consistent and reliable throughout the grading process.
The scale would be used in order to judge the content and quality of the students work. They would need to incorporate all the things that we found to be important in a brochure to receive a 4. If the students do not, then the grade will reflect what they did or did not incorporate in their project. For instance, if the brochure didn't contain either a drawing or written description of the flower, then the highest grade they could receive was a 1. However, if the students went above and beyond the 4th level and included all kinds of additional information and drawings, they would be eligible for a 5. This additional level is undefined because it has to go beyond what we thought, as a class, was necessary in the brochure.
I believe that this type of performance based assessment is a natural means of assessing the children's knowledge. The details and amounts of information they need to include in the brochure, adequately cover the topics they learned in the unit. I believe that this type of a project also enables the students to feel less anxiety because they are not taking a test, yet are still being held accountable for what they have learned. Also, since the project is based on real life skills, the students could now take their finished product and bring it to a nursery for display. In school, they could also have a plant sale to raise money and give their brochures to the buyers of the plants. Either way, they would be able to see that the things they create are valuable and can actually be used.