Writing lesson plans took up a sizable amount of my time. I was discouraged in college to use pre-written lessons that were published online or in a book. It was derided, but frankly, I would have benefited from using lesson plans that other teachers have written. Of course, regardless of whether you have written the plan yourself or found it online, you must differentiate your instruction for your class and when you find resources online, it would behoove you to take it and make it your own. Make tweaks and changes so that it fits your classroom, your teaching style, and your class’s learning styles.
Teachers Pay Teachers is a great site where you can pay your colleagues around the country to use their lesson plans, units, assessments, and so on. I definitely recommend using the site for your lesson planning needs, because not only does it save you time, it supports other teachers with unique ideas! However, as teachers, we are always spending our money on school supplies and materials for lessons.
Starting this week, I will be releasing a lesson plan once a month which will be 100% free for you to use and modify to suit your classroom needs. As I live and have taught in North Carolina, I will be using the North Carolina Essential Standards for Science, Social Studies, Health, and Technology. I’m certain anyone not living in North Carolina can take the framework of my lesson plans and change the standards to match your state’s standards. I will also be using the Common Core State Standards and the Partnership for 21st Century Learning Framework.
Before We Begin…
As we are expected to teach children many, many things throughout the school year, I have found that it is best to try to get the most bang out of your buck when you are teaching all subjects. I work to find ways to integrate literacy and mathematics standards into science, social studies, and other subject lessons.
Science: 3.L.2.1: Remember the function of the following structures as it relates to the survival of plants in their environments:
- Roots- absorb nutrients
- Stems- provide support
- Leaves- synthesize food
- Flowers- attract pollinators and produce seeds for reproduction
Common Core ELA: R.I. Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
21st Century Student Outcomes:
Communication and Collaboration: Communicate Clearly: Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and non-verbal communication skills.
Information, Communications and Technology Literacy: Apply technology effectively: Use technology as a tool to research information.
Science: I will be able to define root, stem, leaf, and flower. I will be able to describe what they do and explain it in my own words.
ELA: After reading about the structure of plants and looking at diagrams, I will be able to create my own diagram showing the parts of a plant and write a paragraph explaining the structure of a plant and how each part functions in relation to the others.
21st Century Skills: I will be able to write about the structure of plants and explain each part of a plant. I will be able to use technology to research and study plants.
- Smart Board, Projector, Television, or any other means of displaying large images that everyone can see clearly
- At least five different photos of a plant (digital):
- Showing the entire plant
- Showing the root
- Showing the leaves
- Showing the stem
- Showing the flowers
- One physical photo of a plant
- Chart Paper and stand
- Markers: Green, red, brown
- Blank index cards
- 4-5 Informational Texts on plants, focusing on their structure (passages from a site such as “ReadWorks” are also okay) These texts should be varied by reading level as much as possible to meet the needs of your class.
- Subscription to Discovery Education with a plant lesson built for your class to use OR a custom search engine through Google that you build and fill with sites for your kids to do activities and read and watch videos about plants.
- 2-4 Computers, Chromebooks, or tablets for the technology station
- Science notebooks for each student
Hook (2 minutes): Using a smart board, projector, or television, display images of different kinds of plants and their different parts.
Say: Have you ever wondered about how plants grow and what each part of a plant does? Does anyone know what the flower part of a plant does? (To engage the class, ask one or two students to describe what the flower does.) What about the stem? The root? Today in our stations, we are going to learn about four important parts of a plant: the root, stem, leaf, and flower.
Each student will go to one of four stations, as assigned by you before the lesson begins. They will switch stations every 15 minutes. Here are the workstations:
Station 1: Mini-Lesson with the Teacher (15 Minutes): In this station, your group will be learning directly from you about the parts of plants.
- Show the group an image of a whole plant and tape it to the upper left or right corner of a piece of chart paper. Ask your group to open their notebooks and title the page “Parts of a plant.”
- Ask them to draw what you draw as you draw a diagram of a tree.
I’m not an art teacher. Sorry that my drawing isn’t that great.
- Ask the group to create their own diagram for a different kind of plant — one that they choose. They will do this in their notebooks.
- Before switching groups, use the index cards to cover up the definitions and labels of the parts of the plant.
Completed Diagram with the parts labeled and defined.
Station 2: Reading Station (15 Minutes)
In this station, you will provide a small basket of books and passages on plants. They should be informational texts which have diagrams, vocabulary words, illustrations, and asides. The group will be expected to quietly read with a partner from one of the texts and write down key points about plants in their science journals, such as “Photosynthesis is how plants make their own food” and “The stem of the plant allows water and nutrients to flow up into the rest of the plant to feed it.”
Station 3: Technology Station (15 minutes)
You will need either a subscription to Discovery Education (hopefully your school will have one for you to use!) or a little extra prep time before class to do some research. If you have a Discovery Education or similar educational site subscription, you can create lessons from materials they have with questions and activities.
If you don’t have a subscription to one of the above sites, you can use Google to create a search engine with only sites that you pick out for your class to use! Neat, huh? Here is an example that I made for a fourth-grade research project about notable historical figures, such as Andrew Jackson, Susan B. Anthony, Blackbeard the Pirate, etc. Do note that if you are creating a custom search engine for your class, you will need to point out to them that the links and results between the lines are sponsored links that they shouldn’t click on. Google has sponsored links that show up, even on custom search engines.
This is what my custom search engine looks like when I’ve typed in the keyword “Susan B. Anthony.” Note the sponsored sites at the top.
Station 4: Writing Station (15 minutes)
Using a step by step diagram you give them, this group will write a paragraph describing the order in which parts of a plant grow.
Assessment: Completed on an index card or half sheet of paper and turned in for you to grade later.
- Why is it important for plants to have flowers?
- Example answer: Plants need flowers so bees will come pollinate them and help them make seeds.
- Can a plant grow on a chunk of concrete? Why or why not?
- Example answer: No, because concrete doesn’t have nutrients or water in it. The soil is where plants get water and nutrients to live through their roots.
- What do plants need to survive? How do they get these things?
- Example answer: Plants need water, sunlight, and soil to live. Plants get water through their roots in the soil and use their leaves to turn sunlight into food.
- Have a at least one reading material in every student’s independent reading level.
- Make sure to pair up students that have middle-to-high academic performance with students who have low-to-middle academic performance so that they can help each other access the reading material in books, handouts, and on the computer.
- If possible, arrange for special technology to be provided for students with physical disabilities, such as
- Sturdier iPad cases
- Grips to help them hold the iPad
- Access to an iPad or small computer that the student can use to keep a digital science notebook, fit with voice-to-text capabilities
- For students with intellectual disabilities, provide some of the following supports:
- Engaging content on their level
- A buddy who helps them take notes
- Helping that student’s group use color coding for their notes.
- For students with mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression:
- If they are anxious in social settings, make sure you assign at least one person that that student feels safe around.
- Small groups will help anxious students be more willing to take chances and participate in the mini-lesson.
- For students who are academically gifted:
- Provide more challenging reading material
- Give them a mentoring role in their group to support students who are struggling.
- Ask them to compare and contrast plants and animals as part of the final assessment for the day.
Should you want to spend a little more time on this topic and delve deeper with your class, you could turn this into a rudimentary research project.
Using what you have learned regarding the structure of plants, each of you will study a plant with a small group and at the end of the week, you will teach the class about the plant.
Details you should be ready to teach your classmates:
- What kind of plant it is
- Where you can find it
- How big is it
- What the stem is called
- Does this plant give off a fruit? If so, how
- Why is this plant important to the ecosystem?
You should also be ready to show the class images of your plant in a Powerpoint presentation.
- Technology (computer, laptop, iPad, tablet, etc.) to create the Powerpoint or Google slides presentation.
- Books on the different plants that you want them to research
List of Possible Plants to Research:
Note: You will assign each group a plant to research.
- Oak Tree
- Blackberry Bush
- Tomato plant
- Potato plant
10 points- The Powerpoint is complete and covers all the required information. It includes images showing the plant.
5 points- The Powerpoint is incomplete and covers some of the required information. It may have images of the plant.
0 Points- The Powerpoint is incomplete and covers very little or none of the required details.
10 points- The information that the group presented was correct.
5 points- The information that the group presented was mostly correct.
0 points- The information was incorrect.
Each student will rate the other members of their group on their participation in the activity.
+1 – (Name) participated most of the time and helped us make a good presentation.
+0 – (Name) participated some of the time, but not much. They kind of helped us make a good presentation.
-1 – (Name) did not participate most of or all of the time. They did not help make our presentation a success.
Each student will receive points based on the sum of the student’s ratings from their peers.
Positive ratings will receive 10 points.
Ratings that balance out at 0 will receive 5 points.
Ratings that are negative will receive 0 points.
The total possible points for the assignment would be 30.
If you have any suggestions for improvement or you would like to share experiences you’ve had with this lesson plan, please feel free to share in the comments! You are also welcome to share lessons that you’ve used to cover the same science standard (or it’s non-NC counterpart).