CarbonTIME Plants Unit

Contributor
Christa Haverly, Sarah Bodbyl, Christie Morrison Thomas, Kirsten Edwards, Hannah K. Miller, Charles W. (Andy) Anderson, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University BSCS
Type Category
Instructional Materials Assessment Materials
Types
Unit
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

 

Plants is one of six units in the Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy (Carbon TIME) curriculum, which was developed through an NSF-funded research collaboration focused on learning progressions to support environmental literacy.  These units were developed for middle and high school students. The units are designed in three groups; each group increases in scale from the previous one. Students should first complete the foundational unit, Systems & Scale (http://carbontime.bscs.org/systems-and-scale),  which uses the process of combustion to build basic concepts of matter, energy, and organic compounds at the atomic-molecular scale.  The Plants unit is one of three units at the organism level, and it is intended that students complete one or more of these three units.  These units are intended to be followed by one or both units at the systems level.  Each organism scale unit focuses on three questions: (1) Where are molecules moving? (2) How are atoms in molecules being rearranged into different molecules? and (3) What is happening to energy?  In the Plants unit, students investigate two phenomena related to plant growth: (1) the change in mass during plant growth over time and (2) gas exchange during plant growth in light and dark conditions.  The highly guided sequence of six lessons in the unit helps students identify patterns from their observations, develop a model for plant growth, and then apply that model to explain the growth of radishes and other plants.  This model includes photosynthesis, biosynthesis, and cellular respiration.  The unit includes the option for a simpler growth protocol that requires a two-week growth period or a more advanced protocol that requires a four-week period.  Extensive supporting infomation is provided within each lesson and on the reources page (http://carbontime.bscs.org/resources). The assessment site (http://ibis.colostate.edu/MSP/CTIME/Index.php) includes pre/posttests for each unit and for the overall curriculum.  The overview provided here (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/unit_synopses.pdf) provides a helpful orientation to this complex resource.

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • High School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access with user action - The right to view and/or download material without financial barriers but users are required to register or experience some other low-barrier to use.

Performance Expectations

HS-LS1-7 Use a model to illustrate that cellular respiration is a chemical process whereby the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and the bonds in new compounds are formed resulting in a net transfer of energy.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the conceptual understanding of the inputs and outputs of the process of cellular respiration

Assessment Boundary: Assessment should not include identification of the steps or specific processes involved in cellular respiration.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Following the introduction and investigation of plant growth in lessons 1 through 3, cellular respiration is directly addressed in lesson 4 of the Plants unit. Students use physical molecular models and the overall chemical equation to represent the transformation of matter and energy during cellular respiration. In lesson 6, students use what they have learned to explain the role of cellular respiration in the growth and functioning of radishes and other plants.

HS-LS1-6 Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence for how carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen from sugar molecules may combine with other elements to form amino acids and/or other large carbon-based molecules.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on using evidence from models and simulations to support explanations.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the details of the specific chemical reactions or identification of macromolecules.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Following the introduction and investigation of plant growth in lessons 1 through 3, biosynthesis is directly addressed in lesson 5 of the Plants unit. Students use an explanation tool (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/plants/worksheets_assessments/5.5_Explanations_Tool_for_Potato_Biosynthesis.pdf) to explain the role of biosynthesis in plant growth. Students use physical molecular models, with added twist ties, to represent the transformation of matter and energy during biosynthesis and growth. Students develop initial explanations in Activity 5.3 and then revise their explanations in Activity 5.5. Teachers can use the explanation tool and class discussion to support students in developing and refining their final explanations. In lesson 6, students use what they have learned to explain the role of biosynthesis in the growth of radishes and other plants.

HS-LS1-5 Use a model to illustrate how photosynthesis transforms light energy into stored chemical energy.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on illustrating inputs and outputs of matter and the transfer and transformation of energy in photosynthesis by plants and other photosynthesizing organisms. Examples of models could include diagrams, chemical equations, and conceptual models

Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include specific biochemical steps.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In lesson 4, students use molecular models, with twist ties to represent energy, to develop their understanding of the matter and energy transfers that occur during photosynthesis. Students then use the model of photosynthesis to explain why plants appear to release carbon dioxide in the dark but absorb carbon dioxide in the light. Teachers can emphasize the role of energy in photosynthesis by referring back to the energy question and its associated rule, “energy lasts forever,” and asking students to explain how this rule applies to photosynthesis.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
During lesson 3, students engage in an argumentation protocol to interpret the class results from the plant growth investigations. Teachers can use the Evidence-Based Arguments Tool (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/plants/worksheets_assessments/3.3_Evidence_Based_Arguments_Tool_for_Plants_in_the_Light_and_Dark.pdf) and supporting protocol to guide students as they develop and refine arguments as individuals, pairs, and whole class. Argumentation is also supported by the discourse routine, which calls for students to generate multiple possible claims before converging on a consensus claim based on evidence and scientific principles.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students use various models throughout the unit to predict and illustrate the flow of matter and energy between systems within plants. Because students will be using teacher-provided models, rather than developing their own, teachers will need to take special care to ensure that students are developing a meaningful understanding of these models, ranging from chemical equations to conceptual models of metabolic processes. The discourse routine, talk and writing goals, and assessment tips throughout the unit can all help teachers monitor student understanding of the models they are using.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Overall, students work to develop an explanation for what is happening as plants grow and function both under light and dark conditions. To help them develop the concepts needed for the final explanation, students are guided to develop highly scaffolded explanations of photosynthesis, cellular respiration, and biosynthesis in radish plants. In the final lesson of the unit, students move from the specific explanation of the radishes to a general explanation of plant growth and functioning. Student explanations are based on results of the plant growth investigations, models and explanations used throughout the unit, and information provided through teacher presentations. The discourse routine embedded within the unit provides regular opportunities for students to receive feedback from other students and the teacher as they develop their explanations. Explanations are grounded in the laws of conservation of matter and energy.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
In lesson 4, students use molecular models to represent the transformations of matter and energy during cellular respiration. The energy released during cellular respiration is related to plant functioning. Students then incorporate these concepts into an explanation of respiration in plants. It will be very important for teachers to use the embedded formative assessments and discourse routine to monitor and support student learning as they develop these complex and abstract ideas.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Lesson 5 focuses on biosynthesis and allows student to develop understanding of this disciplinary core idea. In this lesson, students trace the chemical changes that occur as small organic molecules are combined and used in growth processes. Students use models to represent biosynthesis, then incorporate these models and information provided by the teacher into an explanation of how plants grow. It will be very important for teachers to monitor and support student learning as they develop these complex and abstract ideas.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students develop and use this core idea throughout the Plants unit and finally apply it to explain growth and metabolism in radishes and other plants. The idea is reinforced as students regularly refer back to the three guiding questions about matter movement, matter change, and energy change.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The “Zooming into Plants, Animals, and Decomposers” activity in Lesson 2 builds on the Powers of Ten Tool presented in the Systems and Scale unit to set a foundation for students’ thinking on the macroscopic, microscopic, and atomic-molecular scales. Throughout the rest of the unit, students work across these levels to model and explain how metabolic reactions within the cell are connected to processes at the cellular and organismal levels. Most lessons in the unit include explicit prompts, such as connecting questions or graphic organizers, that guide students to think across different scales. Even when these prompts are not provided, teachers can use targeted questioning to guide students’ thinking. Scale is also incorporated into the three questions that guide this unit.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The three guiding questions and supporting resources focus students’ thinking on this detail of the energy and matter crosscutting concept. In particular, the rule that “Energy can be transformed, but not created or destroyed” makes this detail explicit throughout the unit. Students’ ability to recite this axiom, though, does not always translate into an ability to apply this concept productively. Thus, the authors suggest that teachers use targeted questions (e.g., What forms of energy are involved? What transformations occur? Does your claim match the rules for the energy question? Why or why not? How is your claim based on the evidence you collected?) to monitor students’ understand.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The Plants unit, like each of the Carbon TIME organism level units, focuses students’ thinking on three questions as they work to explain the phenomenon of mealworms eating potatoes: (1) Where are molecules moving? (2) How are atoms in molecules being rearranged into different molecules? and (3) What is happening to energy? These three questions are accompanied by supporting questions, rules to follow, and evidence that can be observed (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/plants/posters_spreadsheets/Three_Questions_11_x_17_Poster.pdf). Together, these guiding questions focus students on analyzing the flows of matter and energy between systems. Students are prompted throughout the unit to revisit these questions, and the questions ultimately provide a framework for students’ final explanations.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The Carbon TIME units are explicitly designed for the NGSS, and the authors provide a unit-level map linking all units to specific performance expectations (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/ngss_mapping.pdf). Teachers can check the NGSS alignment of specific lessons by clicking on the lesson title within a particular unit. Each unit follows a well-developed, research-based instructional model (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/Carbon_TIME_Instructional_Model_8.11.16.pdf) that leads students to investigate, model, and explain phenomena related to the transformation of matter and energy in various carbon-transforming processes. Students engage in nearly all the science and engineering practices, and they repeatedly apply the crosscutting concepts of energy and matter and scale, proportion, and quantity. The Plants unit focuses on two anchoring phenomena related to plant growth, and the unit brings in other supporting phenomena to help students develop and use specific elements of the three dimensions. Some content is delivered through direct instruction supported by discssion, but this information is provided within the context of students developing explanations for phenomena. The instructional model mentioned above provides coherence within the unit, and the full collection of Carbon TIME units were developed in a coherent fashion, as described in the FAQ file (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/Which_Units_Should_I_Teach_FAQ_1.19.16.pdf).

  • Instructional Supports: The anchoring phenomena are made authentic through first-hand student investigations. Carbon TIME units are built around a discourse routine (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/Carbon_TIME_Discourse_Routine.pdf) that allows students to express and refine their ideas based on evidence and feedback. Each lesson includes specific talk and writing goals for students, with teacher talk strategies to support these goals. The accuracy and appropriateness of information in this unit is supported by the fact that the Carbon TIME units are based on learning progression research. Information about the learning progression (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/abt201577402_Feature_Article_Parker_.pdf) and grade-appropriate content simplifications (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/Carbon_TIME_Simplifications.pdf) are provided in supporting materials. Each unit includes three instructional pathways that call for explanations and performances below, on, or above grade level for high school students (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/Turtles_07.05.16-1.pdf). Each lesson also includes suggestions for extending student learning. Student thinking is highly scaffolded early in each unit, and then this scaffolding is gradually removed as the unit concludes and students construct their own explanations.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Process tools used throughout the units, such as the predictions tool for ant investigations (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/plants/worksheets_assessments/3.1_GL_Predictions_Tool_for_Plant_Investigations.pdf), scaffold student thinking and provide direct evidence of three dimensional learning. Keys for these tools and assessment guidance are provided for each lesson, allowing the teacher to use these as embedded formative assessments to guide student learning. Assessment items were developed to be accessible to all levels of students, and the pre/post assessments were validated (http://media.bscs.org/carbontime/files/CarbonTIMEAssessmentValidation.pdf) with a sample of students that was diverse in terms of geography, grade level, and academic level. However, potential cultural bias of assessments is not addressed in supporting materials. All pre/post tests include assessment guidelines.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: The unit is not technology based, but the pre/post unit assessments can be administered online. Probeware with carbon dioxide sensors could also be used along with, or in place of, bromothymol blue to detect carbon dioxide production and absorption.