Photosynthesis Steps In The Process Of Critical Thinking

Photosynthesis is one of the fundamental processes on our planet. It’s worth a moment’s reflection…

There would be no biology without photosynthesis by plants and algae. These amazing organisms are capable of capturing the energy of sunlight and fixing it in the form of potential chemical energy in organic compounds. They're literally capturing energy from outer space, and we're entirely dependent on them for every breath we take.

This collection of teaching resources, including full teachers' notes, a technical guide, Powerpoints and a photocopiable students' book, will help teachers take a new and refreshing look at photosynthesis. As well as practical ideas, this include a range of associated teaching resources designed to stimulate and enthuse pupils about the world of plants.

The resources have been written to help teachers deliver the topic in a variety of ways using a variety of teaching strategies. It includes a suggested teaching route but each resource section is separate and teachers can to pick and choose which activities they want to use.

The resources are aimed at pupils in the 11-14 age range (KS3).

We suggest you begin by download the 'teachers notes' from the link on the right.


Learning objectives and type of learning activity

Activity 1 -  When a plant gains mass, the atoms come from carbon dioxide in the air and water. (Thinking skills activity - group work)

Activity 2 - The main food made by plants is carbohydrates. (Individual writing task)

Activity 3 - Plants make a range of different carbohydrates. We make use of many carbohydrate plant products. (Presentation; discussion - creating thinking / formal talk)

Activity 4 - Carbohydrates can be found in a range of plant organs? (Class practical; Observing and recording)

Activity 5 - Carbon dioxide is one of the raw materials for photosynthesis. (Class practical; Prediction, observing, recording and analysing.)

Activity 6 - Carbon dioxide uptake varies at different times of day. (Interpretation)

Activity 7 - We can observe the change in carbon dioxide uptake with different environmental conditions. (Interpretation)

Activity 8 - The rate of oxygen release from a plant indicates photosynthetic rate. (Application of knowledge. Individual / small group discussion)

Activity 9 - The splitting of water using light energy has released oxygen which built up in the atmosphere. This has allowed higher life forms to evolve. (Practical demonstration using carbon dioxide probe. Prediction and interpretation.)

Activity 10 - Light energy is trapped by the green pigment in chloroplasts. (Class practical. Measuring and recording. Explaining and evaluating data.)

Activity 11 - Only areas of the plant with chloroplasts can make starch in photosynthesis. (Reading comprehension. Interpretating graphical data.)

Activity 12 - Review the whole process of photosynthesis. (Class practical. Use of microscope for observation.)

Tags: 11 -14 (KS3), 14 -16 (KS4), Photosynthesis, Practical, Activity

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, Making Food Through Photosynthesis-A Recipe for Plants , students explore the process of photosynthesis by putting on a play that describes the steps in the process.  I then guide students through sequencing the steps of photosynthesis in their interactive notebook and discuss the importance of the sun's energy in sustaining life on Earth. Finally, I engage the students in The Great Photosynthesis Race. This is a team assignment where students work to create a model to illustrate the photosynthesis process. They apply their understanding by following task cards and a self assessment checklist about their model. This is collected and used as a formative assessment on their understanding of photosynthesis.

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 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 how photosynthesis is happening in their model.

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 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

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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.

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