In this lesson plan, students will analyze an intended to support reading in the content area. The article addresses the results of a new study that will help researchers identify which astronauts will develop vision problems in space. The text describes how Scott M. Smith from the Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division at NASA's Johnson Space Center has found a metabolic pathway that is directly related to the vision problems some astronauts encounter. This pathway, called the one carbon metabolism pathway, moves single atoms from one organic compound to another. Astronauts who develop vision problems have been found to have a different genetic variant, which changes the way the enzymes of this pathway work. This will also affect people on Earth, as the same enzymes are also used here and are linked to other medical problems. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Numerous options to extend the lesson are also included.
Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 11, 12
Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: enzymes, organic macromolecules, metabolism, metabolic pathway, mutations, protein synthesis, B vitamin, genetics, text complexity, lesson plan, vision, vision problems, space, space exploration, Mars exploration, astronaut
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Discuss the importance of novel research in science.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Determine the central idea(s) 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:
- General familiarity with metabolic pathways: offers a brief and simple animated overview of metabolic pathways.
- Solid knowledge of the structure and function of enzymes: students should have learned the basics of enzyme structure and function in their introductory Biology class. Students should understand the induced-fit model. This site not only includes an animation of enzyme function, it also includes a practice quiz. If the students are weak on enzyme knowledge, encourage them to use the following CPALMS tutorial: Enzymes are the Stuff of Life.
- General knowledge of the structure of the eye: this simple 3-minute video, called How the Eye Works, explains basic eye structure and the causes of vision problems.
- Basic knowledge on protein synthesis: this 3-minute video gives a simple review. If students need a more detailed review, CPALMS offers a protein synthesis tutorial: Protein Synthesis, Your Personal Protein Factory.
In regards to literacy:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- 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 details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
- 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).
- 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. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- Why is there a need for space travel?
There are multiple needs for space travel. One of course, is simply to learn and discover new things about the universe. Answers to questions on Earth could actually be found in space. At some point, unless humans modify their behavior, we will need additional places to live and other resources that are required to survive. Traveling to other planets or galaxies may provide us with answers to questions we don't even know we have!
- What is the need for conducting research on astronauts' vision?
When astronauts travel in space for long periods of time, there can be many side effects on the human body. One of those side effects is a change in vision. NASA wants to eventually take a person to Mars, which will require a very long travel time in space. Current research conducted by NASA will help predict possible health effects and hopefully find ways to prevent them.
- What role do enzymes plan in your metabolism?
Enzymes are biological catalysts, meaning they speed up chemical reactions in the body by lowering the activation energy. The production of enzymes is controlled by the genetic information stored in your DNA. Each chemical reaction has one or many enzymes that are specific only to that reaction. If you have a mutation in your DNA, in a gene that determines how an enzyme is built, the enzyme will be built incorrectly.
- What gives your cells the information on how to make or produce an enzyme?
Genes in your DNA, specifically the sequence of the nitrogenous bases in your DNA. If a mutation occurs that changes the sequence of nitrogenous bases, then it is very likely the product of that gene will be modified.
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 dangers do you think are associated with space travel?"
- Students are likely to suggest serious dangers like explosions, breaches in the shuttle/space station that cause loss of oxygen, fuel leaks, and other malfunctions. Some students may mention physical problems like weakening of muscles (a.k.a. "chicken legs") and motion sickness.
- Next, have the students watch the following video:
- Allow students to share comments and ask questions about the video. (Teachers: note that this video was made in 2014.)
- Then, ask students to write down whether or not they believe space travel is a very important aspect of science, and whether the amount of research should be limited, stopped, or increased. They should have reasons to support their decision. After approximately 10 minutes, have the students share their stance. A great way to allow students to share their answers would be to use the method of four corners.
- One corner is for those who believe space travel is vital and funding should be increased.
- Corner two is for those who believe support for space travel is important and funding should stay constant.
- Corner three is for those who believe space travel isn't as important as, for example, controlling the national debt, and funding should be reduced.
- Corner four is for those who believe space travel has no value, and funding should be stopped.
- Have each student pick a corner that best represents how they feel. Allow corners to discuss and share the reasons they came up with to support their stance.
- Finally, show students the first 2 minutes and 7 seconds of the following video: Astronaut Vision Problems - Possible Genetic Link. Allow students to ask questions or make comments. Discuss.
- End the discussion by informing students that they will be reading an article that addresses vision problems in astronauts and possible hypotheses on what is causing the vision problems.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a printed copy of the article "." For the class discussions that will follow, have students number each paragraph.
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Based on the needs and skills of students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- 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.
- If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, refer to the note-taking guide answer key.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guides, 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.
- Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
- For discussion of 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:
- Students may believe that since scientists at NASA found genetic differences between enzymes in the one carbon metabolic pathway, that they will be able to "fix" the astronauts' vision problems. Metabolic pathways are very complex, and while a genetic marker is identified, the actual cause of the variance in the enzymes has not been discovered.
- Students also should be reminded that metabolic pathways involve many enzymes just in one small step. To figure out which gene produces which enzyme and any mutations involved is tedious work and could take decades to figure out.
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 this sample answer key 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?
- 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 with anLCD projector and discuss the following:
- How the writer introduced the topic
- What the main point is (underline)
- How the writer used topic sentences to introduce and connect the paragraphs
- Where text evidence is used
- Where transition words/phrases are used
- How academic vocabulary from the text is used (underline)
- How the writer wrapped up the piece
- Teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
- Show students the remaining 4 minutes of the video:
- Ask students to brainstorm novel ideas for research conducted in space. After 10-15 minutes, have students share their ideas. Allow other students to comment and add to the ideas discussed. Emphasize how important novel research is, that major discoveries are often found by accident or coming in the back door.
- 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.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
- Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts:
Last week in class, you discovered how enzymes control chemical reactions and how each chemical reaction requires its own specific enzyme to work correctly. Today, a new student named Nora joined your class. During a class discussion about space exploration, Nora expressed the view that space research and travel is a waste of money because humans will never be able to live in space. Using evidence from the article, explain to her how new research in space has led to accidental discoveries about enzymes and their relationship to medical problems found here on Earth.
- 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 conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
For students struggling with the science content:
- (about 3 minutes in length) offers a great introduction to the effects caused by space travel on the human body. This could be shown before students read the text "One Carbon Metabolism on the Space Station."
For readers struggling with the note-taking guide:
- Teachers might want to fill in some answers in the organizer, leaving students to fill in the remaining blank boxes in between the provided answers.
For readers struggling with the text:
- The entire article is narrated by Sciencecast. Students might benefit from hearing it read out loud.
- It might benefit students to chunk the text. Have students independently read paragraphs 1 and 2, then have several strong readers read them aloud.
- Then, have students highlight the selected vocabulary for paragraphs one and two of the article. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the academic vocabulary words to get them started. The teacher can think aloud as he or she decides which vocabulary strategy or strategies to use to define a word, and think aloud while deciding which meaning from a dictionary entry with multiple meanings would be the best fit for how the word is used in the context of the article.
- Then, have students complete the note-taking guide. When students are ready, have them share out their answers and provide corrective verbal feedback as needed, allowing students to make corrections to their work.
For struggling writers:
- 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:
- Ideas on how to introduce the topic
- A place to write down their main point(s)
- Topic sentences (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)
- Students could research other health effects of space travel on the body and present their findings:
- Loss of muscle control.
- Decrease of body fluid
- Lack of gravity/disorientation
- Space radiation
- Fluid redistribution
- Sleep patterns
- Loss of taste
- Students could research the progress being made in preparing humans for travel to Mars, focusing on the obstacles that still need to be overcome.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones, Microsoft Office
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 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: Jennifer Heflick
District/Organization of Contributor(s): Brevard
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.