Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Analyze the steps taken by Georgia Tech scientists to form polypeptides from wet and dry cycles.
- Cite specific and relevant textual evidence to support analysis of a text.
- Determine the meaning of select academic and domain-specific words in a text.
- Determine the central ideas of a text.
- Construct a written argument that clearly establishes the claim, contains relevant textual evidence to support the claim, 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:
1. General knowledge of chemistry and chemical bonding is necessary to understand the informational text used in this lesson ("Finding the Origins of Life in a Drying Puddle"). Students should be knowledgeable about activation energy. Activation energy is the amount of energy required to start a chemical reaction. Students should have knowledge of the ways that biological organisms overcome the need for activation energy. Most living organisms use biological catalysts known as enzymes, which are often made of protein. In nonliving things, a catalyst can be as simple as heat.
- is a great review site that offers tutorials and resources on many basic chemistry topics.
- TedEd offers a great 5-minute video that discusses how to speed up chemical reactions.
- This 1-minute video titled "Activation Energy" gives a simple and straightforward explanation of activation energy.
- Crash Course Chemistry offers a 10-minute video that reviews all the types of bonds and why they form.
2. Basic knowledge on the theories of the origins of life is essential. Because it is hard to have limitless knowledge about something that occurred over three billion years ago, there are many hypotheses on how the first organic macromolecules were formed.
- If time permits, this is a great video by Neil DeGrasse Tyson about the origins of life. The video is 50 minutes and is only necessary if students have little to no background on the origins of life on Earth.
- Understanding Evolution is a GREAT website that teachers can trust to be up to date. Just search for any topic about the origins of life, and the site can provide information about it.
- This is a three-minute video by Georgia Tech that briefly discusses Stanley Miller’s 1950’s experiment that produced organic compounds from inorganic compounds.
In regards to literacy skills:
1. Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text, including use of context clues and dictionary skills.
2. Students should understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details.
- "Central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author's main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces.
- Key, or in other words, important, details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
3. Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the article "Finding the Origins of Life in a Drying Puddle" include: title, subtitle, headings, one photograph and caption.
4. Based on the rubric provided with the 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 that supports the main point(s).
5. 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 site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. How did life form over 3 billion years ago?
We can't be sure at this point, because we have limited information. However, we do know basic gases and chemicals that have been present from the beginning because they are often bonded with, and stored in, rock.
2. Peptides have been produced in the lab before. Why does this new method seem to be a plausible answer for the origins of polypeptides?
The wet-dry cycle is more likely because it is simple and fits with the environment. A long, complex set of chemical reactions is not needed. This method also leads to conservation of organic material and variation, which is essential for life.
3. Will it ever be easy to figure out what happened on prebiotic Earth? Why or why not?
No, because not everything is fossilized or found in rock. It doesn't mean we can't figure it out, it just means it is going to take a long time to figure it out.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by posing the following scenario to students. Think of your favorite food, food you like to eat at a restaurant or at friend's house. You don't know how to make the food yourself, so you ask for the recipe. The cook tells you the ingredients, but not how much of each ingredient to use. How long do you think it would take to replicate the recipe exactly?
- Students will make suggestions. Some students may mention the answers will vary on how much they know about cooking. For example, a student with no cooking experience may not realize salt is not a main ingredient. Allow students to share their ideas and ask them to explain how they came up with their answer.
2. Next, show the students the following titled "Origin of Life" (uploaded by YouTube user Documentary Galore).
3. Discuss the film with the students and let them share their thoughts. Pose the question: If the recipe contained 2 ingredients or 20 ingredients, would that change the amount of time required to figure out the recipe? Why or why not? As students share their answers, make sure to ask them to explain their reasoning.
- Students should be able to say that the more ingredients involved, the harder it will be to solve the problem.
4. End the discussion by informing students that they will be reading an article where scientists are trying to figure out the origins of life, even though they don't know the exact recipe.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "Finding the Origins of Life in a Drying Puddle." For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section. They can also number the sections. (Section 1 follows the subtitle, section 2- "Inspired by polyester," section 3- "Recycle and conserve").
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
o Title: Finding the Origins of Life in a Drying Puddle
o Subtitle: Researchers Find Wet and Dry Cycles Result in Important Chemical Processes
o Headings: Inspired by polyester, Recycle and conserve
o Caption: Located under the opening photograph
4. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. Students should work to determine the meaning of any words they list in column one. Students should have access to print or online dictionaries.The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
o For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. 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.
5. If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following definitions to help them:
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or 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.
2. Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. 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:
1. Students often believe that scientists should be able to figure out everything that happened on early Earth, but students have to remember that the Earth formed over 4 billion years ago, and it is hard to find a lot of evidence of chemicals from that long ago.
2. The biggest obstacle is to get students to try to understand how long 4.5 billion years is. This , "Evolution of Life on Earth," looks at how long life has been on Earth and compares it to a 24-hour day.
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?):
1. 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.
2. Teachers can use the sample answer key at the end of the text-dependent questions document to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. 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.
2. After students' written responses for the summative assessment 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 with an LCD projector and discuss:
- Have students identify the writer's claim (main point for the argument) in paragraph one.
- Ask students to identify use of textual evidence throughout the response that supports the claim.
- Have students identify accurate and effective use of domain-specific vocabulary (e.g., wet-dry cycle, polypeptides, prebiotic, activation energy, hydroxy acids, polyester, organic materials, diversity, amino acids).
3. To close out the lesson:
- "Be the Teacher": Ask the students as a group to write on one piece of paper three things that all students should have learned from the lesson. The teacher can ask groups to share with the class, or the teacher can just take them up to check for student understanding.
- "We are Going Where?": Ask the students to predict what tomorrow's lesson is going to be about. This would be a great way to close the lesson if the teacher is moving onto a lesson about the evolution of life, for example, a lesson on natural selection.
1. 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. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. 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: Occam's razor, a philosophy principle that is often applied to science, states that if there are two explanations for an occurrence, the simpler one is more likely to be true. According to Occam's razor, why would the wet-dry cycle be more likely to occur? Use evidence from the text to support your response.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."