In this lesson, students will analyze an informational text that describes how scientists employed use of scientific methods to discover what may lead to a new method to treat cancer. The article describes the preliminary research done in eliminating protein cell chaperones that bring copper into cancer cells. Depriving cancer cells of copper causes them to stop growing. Use of this informational text is designed to support reading in the content area. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, sample answers, and a writing rubric.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 11, 12
Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: informational text, scientific research, Nature of Science, cancer cells, scientific methods, cancer research, cancer treatment, text complexity
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Identify use of scientific methods in a real-world research scenario.
- Describe how scientists use scientific methods when conducting research.
- Cite specific and relevant textual evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use appropriate vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of selected academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Analyze and determine the author's purpose for providing an explanation in the final paragraphs of the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
- Good familiarity with cell cycle is necessary for understanding the text. Students need to understand that cancer cells have different properties than normal cells. Students also need an understanding of the processes that allow cells to receive/transport nutrients.
- Students will need to understand that copper is an essential element for life. Copper is used by the mitochondria, which is an organelle that transforms the energy of our food to energy our cells can use.
- Students will need an understanding of scientific methods and the various steps that may be used by scientists. One of the practice assignments will require students to correlate scientific methods with information provided in the article.
- Students should have a basic understanding of clinical trials and how they are used in medical research. Clinical trials are studies that involve human volunteers. The goal of these trials is to find new ways to treat, prevent, or cure disease. Clinical trials are necessary before a treatment can be made available to the general public.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. This includes use of dictionary skills.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text.
- Based on the writing rubric provided with this lesson, students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion or concluding statement that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Main investigation questions:
- How do observations made while testing proposed explanations provide new insight?
When scientists are testing other scientist's research, they are sometimes able to come across a new line of thinking or new insights. For example, the phrase two minds are better than one, fits how scientists work to a "T." When scientists collaborate and give each other feedback they are often able to come up with new insights and/or answers to other problems.
- Why is copper so significant in cancer research?
Copper is an essential nutrient for all cells. Most cells need only a very small amount of copper. Research has shown that copper is required in large amounts for cancer cell survival.
- Why was there a need to better understand the delivery systems of copper into cancer cells?
The copper delivery systems are "chaperone" proteins. If scientists can determine how to regulate these chaperones, they should be able to starve off cancer cells.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class, "What is cancer?"
If small whiteboards are available have the students write their individual answer on the board. Then after a few minutes the teacher can ask students to hold up their answers. This will allow the teacher to identify some misconceptions students might have about cancer before they read the article. If whiteboards are not available, the teacher could have students write down their answers on notebook paper and share out some of their responses. The teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback as needed.
Cancer is a type of uncontrolled cell growth. Typically, a normal cell stops dividing when the area it is growing in has become an appropriate density. Chemical signals will be sent from cells to let other cells know there is no need to divide. If the chemical signals are not working due to a genetic mutation or an environmental factor, the cells will keep growing uncontrollably, possibly leading to a tumor. Tumors that are malignant can eventually spread throughout the rest of the body.
- Show students the following animation of cancer behavior and progression. Click on the link to the video .
This video allows students to see what it looks like when cancer cells are dividing and how quickly they can reproduce. During the short animation it discusses the progression of cancer growth, including initial growth of mutant cells, development of a benign tumor, angiogenesis (recruitment of blood vessels), metastasis (spreading throughout the body) and malignancy (invade and destroy nearby tissues).
- Next ask the class, "What are some methods doctors use to treat and cure cancer?"
- Students are likely to suggest chemotherapy and radiation. Students may use their personal knowledge of cancer or information they have learned from the media.
- Students may be unclear about the difference between chemotherapy and radiation, so the teacher should clear up any misconceptions about these two terms. Chemotherapy is a treatment where patients are given a drug that works by targeting cells that divide rapidly. Rapid cell division is one of the hallmarks of malignant tumors and other cancers. The problem with this drug is that it doesn't just affect cancer cells. The drug affects other rapidly dividing cells like hair follicles. This is why chemotherapy patients often lose their hair because the drug damages cells in hair follicles. On the other hand, radiation uses high dose beams of radiation (electromagnetic waves) to damage and kill cancer cells. Common side effects to radiation are fatigue, skin irritation, and damage to normal cells surrounding the cancer.
- Also, teachers might note that radiation can cause cancer as well as treat it.
- Targeted therapy is significant because it would allow doctors to treat only cancer cells. Therefore, the main difference is that there wouldn’t be the side effects that we currently see in chemotherapy like hair loss, nausea and fatigue. Dr. Chuan He’s research (which is the subject of the article used in this lesson) is targeted therapy. A short synopsis of his research can be found at this site.
- Next, ask the class the question, "Does anyone know how these cancer treatments were developed?"
- Some students in the class may have ideas about how these treatments were developed. The teacher might share that during World War II, military personnel who were exposed to mustard gas were found to have toxic changes in their bone marrow cells. As the army began studying this compound, called nitrogen mustard, they found that the compound also worked against lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes). This was the first discovery of a drug useful for chemotherapy.
This video by Discovery News discusses what chemotherapy is and also mentions the historical aspects about the original chemotherapy drug being a derivative of mustard gas.
- Next, ask students, “Have any of you heard of experimental treatments for cancer? Do you think that these experimental treatments should be used? Why or why not?
- Students might pose some ideas about experimental treatments. The teacher should then introduce some of the more common methods used in medical research to develop new cures for cancer. First, scientists begin in the lab by researching the treatment in isolation, and then move on to testing the treatment on small animals. If these tests prove successful, the treatment is moved to Phase One; these are clinical trials where the treatment is tested at very small doses on a small number of human test subjects. If Phase I shows no adverse effects, the treatment will move through Phase II and III, where it is tested on more patients and at higher doses.
- End the discussion by informing students that they will be reading about developments in the preliminary scientific research that may lead to new methods to treat cancer.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the article "Starving the Beast." To begin, have students number each paragraph and each section. (Section 1 follows after the title, Section 2 follows the heading Building on Other Fundamental Research, and Section 3 follows the heading Cancer Cures Don't Happen Overnight.
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
- Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Starving the Beast
- Subtitle: New NSF-Funded Research Finds Way to Withhold Cancer Cells’ Favorite Food
- Headings: Building on Other Fundamental Research, and Cancer Cures Don’t Happen Overnight
- Captions: Located under the image beneath the title and subtitle
- Have students use the text coding guide (directions are provided at the beginning of the note taking guide) to help them label certain information as they read the text for the first time. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- After students conduct their initial reading of the text, they should work to define selected domain-specific and academic vocabulary.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words (for example, use of context clues, word parts, or a dictionary). For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words. Teachers should make print or online dictionaries available.
- Students can work to define the following (teachers can decrease the number of words, replace words, or add more words depending on the needs and skills of their students):
- Domain-specific vocabulary:
- hemoglobin: a protein found in red blood cells that carries oxygen, a vital molecule
- protein cell chaperones: a protein that transports substances in and out of the cell
- organic molecules: molecules that contain carbon and are found in living organisms
- clinical studies: studies or research that look for new ways to treat, cure or prevent disease
- cancer cells: cells that have uncontrolled cell growth
- chelators: a molecule that binds with other molecules and suppresses chemical activity
- anemia: a condition where a person doesn't have enough red blood cells. This is often due to a lack of iron in the diet. When red blood cells are low, the person will be tired and weak.
- metabolize:to process and use substances brought into a living organism
- Academic vocabulary:
- deprive: to keep from possessing something; to withhold it
- fundamental: an essential part of, a foundation or basis
- sustenance: something that is needed for survival or sustaining life (as used in the article, like a nutrient)
- manipulate: to handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance
- elucidation: to clarify or make clearer something that is hard to understand
- Students can then use the 2nd half of the note-taking guide to help them identify use of scientific methods Chuan He and his team implemented when conducting their research study. Students can fill in the graphic organizer individually or in pairs.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by having students share out their responses to what they text-coded in the article and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion. Students can also share out what they filled in on the graphic organizer and the teacher can provide corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their chart. A sample key for the chart is provided.
- For discussion on students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Based on the results of this study, the treatment will be successful in human cancer patients.
It would be helpful to remind students that this is only the preliminary research into this treatment. Many more steps (such as animal trials and human clinical trials) are necessary before this treatment could ever be used to treat human patients on a large scale.
- All cancers are the same.
Many times different cancers become grouped together in conversation and students may believe that all cancers are the same. Discuss with students that different cancers have different symptoms, tumors (or no tumors like lymphoma) and different treatments. The teacher can have students reference paragraph 15, which shows that kidney cancer does not result in a higher level of copper transport.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions answer key for some common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- Before students complete the writing prompt:
- Be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
- After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or withanLCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- Point out how in the sample, the first sentence directly answers the prompt by addressing how scientific methods are useful to scientists.
- Point out the last sentence of the introduction and how the writer narrowed his or her focus to address how scientific methods were useful to one scientist in particular, the one featured in the article. This sets up the focus for the rest of the written response.
- Have students examine the next two paragraphs and identify where the writer uses specific evidence from the text to emphasize the use of particular scientific methods that Chuan He employed during the research study. Have students identify any places where the writer mentions how a particular method was useful.
- In the final paragraph, point out how the writer provides some concluding statements for their piece and how this wraps up their points and connects back to the prompt.
- Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary, including experiment, conclusion, hypothesis, cell, copper, cancer.
- Exit Ticket: Ask students to respond to the following as an exit ticket: Describe how scientific methods can be used to solve an everyday problem. For example: Your lab partner earned an A on their last unit test and you earned a C. How can you use scientific methods to help you earn a higher grade?
- Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion or concluding statement. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
- 3. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address.
The prompt: How are scientific methods useful to scientists that conduct research in science-related fields? Cite specific evidence from the article to support your claim.
- Teachers will use the rubric to assess students’ written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting the Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice phase of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."
Accommodations & Recommendations
- For help with science concepts: As discussed earlier, chaperone proteins are a hard concept to understand. The following video gives a visual on how chaperone proteins work. Click to access the video.
- For struggling readers:
- Teachers might want to demonstrate how to text code the article by demonstrating text coding in the first section of the text.
- It might benefit students to break up the text into chunks. Have students independently read section one, then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
- Next, have students text code as the text is read aloud, and then have students share out examples of what they marked and why. The teacher can give feedback and students can then move on to the next section and repeat this process.
- When students begin to define the selected vocabulary words, the teacher may want to pick one or two domain-specific words and one or two academic words and model ways to determine the meaning of these words. Then students can continue on their own while the teacher monitors students and provides support as needed.
- Teachers may want to work more with vocabulary before students read the article. With the large number of domain-specific vocabulary in the article, teachers might want to work with students to make sure they understand the following words or terms:
- immune system
- For struggling writers:
Before students begin to work on their writing prompt, it would be helpful to have the students in pairs draw out what they think is occurring within the cells. If they can’t give a basic sketch of an molecule helping in another molecule, further discussion is required.
It might help struggling writers to provide them with an outline to help them structure their response. The outline might include places for them to record:
- Introduction paragraph:
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- A few specifics from the text they might want to use to support or explain the topic
- A place to write down their main point(s)
- Body paragraphs
- Topic sentence (the first sentence of each body paragraph that will reveal the point of the paragraph and will connect to the paper’s overall main point)
- Specific evidence from the text for support in each body paragraph
- Ideas for transition words
- Ideas for use of selected vocabulary
- Ideas on how to wrap up their piece and connect back to the main point(s).
- Looking back to the final paragraphs of the article, this section of the article discusses how scientists can be inspired to explore and create new ideas. The YouTube video “How Simple Ideas Lead to Scientific Discoveries” by TED-Ed is an inspirational talk describing unique ways that scientists imagine new ideas and experiments. It also connects well to having students think about and discuss various scientific methods. While watching the video, the teacher can pause at each of the two different stories (How to Measure the Circumference of the Earth and Speed of Light) and use some of the questions below for discussion.
- Click on the following to access the link:
STORY 1: Eratosthenes Measures the Circumference of the Earth
- What was the question? How big is the Earth?
- What was the initial research? He understood that the Earth was a sphere (due to previous experiments).
- What was the hypothesis? If I measure the shadow of two sticks and the distance between the two sticks I can determine the circumference of the Earth.
- What was the conclusion? That the Earth has a circumference of 25000 miles.
STORY 2: Fizeau Measures the Speed of Light
- What is the question? What is the speed of light?
- What was the initial research? Using Galileo’s experiment
- What was the hypothesis? If I use a toothed wheel to block the light at discreet intervals, the speed of light can be measured.
- What was the conclusion? Light traveled at a speed of 313,300,000 m/s.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials and resources featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the Florida Standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Melissa Stanke
District/Organization of Contributor(s): St. Johns
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.