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It's Challenging Being Green!

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Keywords: Technology through Science
Subject(s): Science, English/Language Arts, Photography, Information Skills, Animation, Writing, Podcasting, Technology, Video, Journalism
Grades 3 through 5
School: PS 44 Thomas Brown, Staten Island, NY
Planned By: Natalie Sberna
Original Author: Natalie Sberna, Staten Island
This unit challenges students to see plants as "real" organisms. Students usually study animals in general and human beings in particular and never really pay attention to our most important celestial partners. In this unit, they will delve into botany by planting a seed and watching it grow or die based on what they do to take care of it. Prior knowledge of human anatomy and physiology will be the entry point as students connect these two very different areas of biology. By the end of the unit, students will be able to defend plant conservation the way they could any other organism they study. Ultimately, students should have increased awareness of the lack of green spaces in urban areas and the need for more parks and gardens.

-the overall impact this unit can have in affecting the attitude of young urban students towards green environments/spaces
-the use of videos and movies that connect scientific concepts to real life
-the fostering of scientific inquiry and investigation into natural phenomena, and scientific writing
-the focus on plants as "real" organisms that don't just sit there
-the review of human body systems and life processes that maintain homeostasis in complex organisms

Objectives By the end of this unit, students should be able to:

Objective 1: understand and use new vocabulary: classify, stomata, photosynthesis, vascular tissue, xylem, phloem, phototropism, gravitropism, pollination, fruit, pollen, ovule, stamen, pistil

Objective 2: recall the parts of a plant and a flower and their functions

Objective 3: review the body systems and the life process of a human being

Objective 4: compare and contrast the structure and functions of a plant and human being

Objective 5: make and record observations using technology

Objective 6: conduct internet research

Objective 7: make a scrapbook using digital technology

Objective 8: accurately respond to test prep questions relating to plant homeostasis

Objective 9: make and use graphic organizers

Lesson 1: Title Plant Watch.

Project Objectives

.Objective 1: make and record observations

Objective 2: complete a KWL chart


Materials 1: soil

Materials 2: seeds

Materials 3: plastic cups or bowl for planting

Materials 4: copies of K-W-L chart


Procedure 1: Ask students how many of them have ever grown a plant? Based on their level of expertise and knowledge in science, they will now analyze the growth process of a seed and use their knowledge of human anatomy and physiology as a start to understanding homeostasis in plants.

Procedure 2: Direct students' attention to the materials on the lab table which they will use to pot their seed. Demonstrate how much soil to use and how to bury the seed about 1 inch. Ask them to think about why they need to do this. Let students plant their seed.

Procedure 3: Why do we plant the seed in soil? They should understand that the soil provides moisture and warmth for the seed to grow. Is this the only way that we can grow a plant? Hopefully someone knows that the seed could also be placed on moist paper and it would grow the same way. (Younger grades plant lima beans in cotton) Perhaps, a few volunteers would like to do this method so that the class could compare how well the plants grow using either method.

Procedure 4: Distribute the KWL handout and ask students to write down what they know about plants' processes. How do they grow? Do they need the same things as we do? Can they grow in the dark? Answers will vary. From the questions written down, strategically choose a few of the ones that will be answered during the unit. Amass all the others and have students do research on one question each night for extra credit. Note: At the end of each lesson, students should be given the chart so that they can document what they learned.

Procedure 5: Invite students to really think about what they know about plants and admit it if they know nothing or are completely misinformed. Assure them that this unit will show them how plants are just like us. So, they are going to plant watch for the next couple of weeks.

Homework #1: Write what we did in class today. Draw the setup and label all the materials used. Hypothesize about what you will see in the next two or three days.


Collect the KWL charts. The KWL chart information will determine what students know and don't know.

Lesson 2: Title If I were a Plant . . .

Project Objectives

Objective 1: understand and use new vocabulary: classify

Objective 2: classify plants using their visible and molecular structure


Materials 1: a few pictures of different kinds of plants including fruits, trees, grass, underwater plants, and plant-like organisms

Materials 2: diagram of plant classification

Materials 3: science dictionaries and/or textbooks of different reading levels


Procedure 1: Have a student recap what you did yesterday. Then ask what they thought would happen to the plant in the next few days (based on homework and class observations. Ask where they put the plants and how they plan to care for them.

Procedure 2: Let take about 5 minutes to write a paragraph of 5-7 sentences in response to the prompt: Scientist have just discovered a new organism floating in some pond water. It is green. How do they know whether it's a plant or animal?

Procedure 3: Show students a power point presentation of the various plants and as a group, they should write 5 things they all have in common and 2 that make them different. Answers will vary but they would most like write they are all green, or come from trees, or live outside most of the time, need sunlight to grow, and maybe they are made up of plant cells. Differences might be that they have different sizes, they are not all the same color, some of them you eat and not others, and some of them grow inside.

Procedure 4: On the smartboard, write the ones that they share out and then begin to probe more. For example, if someone mentioned cells, ask them to explain. Plants are made up of plant cells and they have organelles like chloroplasts and a cell wall that are different from animal cells. This provides a good opportunity to review cell structure and function.

Procedure 5: Once you've covered two similarities and two differences in-depth, explain that scientists do what they did to classify organisms. They have already classified many organisms and that has given us the evolutionary tree of life. Specifically, show them the plant family tree. If their textbooks have a section, they should look at information about classifying plants.

Procedure 6: What does it mean to classify? You should arrive at a definition that encompasses organizing and studying things. The notes can include: 1.What is classification? 2.How do we classify an organism?

Procedure 7: Give students their KWL chart to fill in. Collect for next lesson.

Homework #2.
Complete the statement: If I were a plant . . .


Students' KWL should indicate whether they understood classification or the structure of a plant.

3: Title No, Plants Don't have Bones or Muscles

Project Objectives

Objective 1: learn the parts of a plant and their function

Objective 2: take notes on information from the computer and the text


Materials 1: an actual plant or a large picture of a plant

Materials 2: projector with computer and internet connection

Materials 3: a computer for each group of students

Materials 4: student human-plant comparison handout


Procedure 1: Students should complete the question:

To classify means to a) organize b) study c) count d) destroy

Procedure 2: Show the video at
Students should take a few notes as they watch. At the end, they should have at least 5 pieces of information on their paper.

Procedure 3: Based on the video they saw, ask what are the general parts of a plant that we can use to identify them? Make a drawing that shows the general parts. What do you think each part does?

Procedure 4: Students should provide the information that goes in the class notes. The notes should be placed in the human-plant comparison handout section below.
Structure What gives human structure and support? What gives a plant structure and support in the open world?

Procedure 5: Have students update their KWL charts. Collect for next lesson.

Homework #3
For tomorrow, think about what makes humans so complex. Is it our size, how we live, the makeup of our bodies? Explain


The responses on the KWL chart should indicate whether students understood the structure of a plant.

Lesson 4 Title Plants Eat and Excrete, too

Project Objectives

Objective 1: understand and use new vocabulary: photosynthesis

Objective 2: review human nutrition and excretion

Objective 3: take notes on information covered in a video


Materials 1: projector with computer and internet connection

Materials 2: student human-plant comparison handout


Procedure 1: What do plants "eat"? What do they excrete? Allow students to share their thoughts on what plants eat and excrete. Allow students 5 minutes to respond to the questions.

Procedure 2: Explain that plants do not actually ingest food like we do so they do not eat. However, they take in certain things they need just like we do. What they take in allows them to feed themselves. What do they think allows plants to feed themselves? Every organism that consumes produces waste. What waste do plants produce?

Procedure 3: Students will watch video at http://www.videos.howstuffworks.com/hsw/11886-plants-photosynthesis-video.htm. Now, ask the questions again and see the answers.

Procedure 4: Have students fill in the information in the human-plants comparison handout section below.

Nutrition How do humans get food? What do plants actually do to get food?
Excretion What wastes do humans produce? What wastes do plants have and how do they get rid of it?

Procedure 5: So how is our survival linked to the nutrition and excretion of plants?

Homework #4
The following is an equation that shows the Carbon-Oxygen cycle. Fill in the missing information.

____________ + H2O make Food and __________


Homework will be used to determine student understanding of the process of photosynthesis.

I hope to inspire my students to be conscious and active members of their urban communities paying attention to issues such as overcrowding, revitalizing and increasing green spaces, reducing pollution and maintaining healthy lifestyles.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Description: Differentiating instruction. This site contains a lot of good information about any science topic. The great benefit here is that the language is simple enough that English Language Learners and low level readers can gain the same knowledge as higher performing students.
To make a Going Green I-movie and a Step by step video of planting a garden.
Links: "Link to biology4kids"
Materials: Integrating Technology, Early Composition, ESL, Elementary, Literacy, Reading, Ports and Hubs, Memory Cards, Batteries, Scientific, Digital Cameras, Flip Video, Mobile Labs, Speech and Language