In this three dimensional assessment bundle, students first carry out an investigation to provide evidence for the claim that all living things are made of cells and cells are the basic unit of life. Then, students develop a model to explain phenomenon based on their understanding of the parts of the cell and how they work together to support the function of the cell. Four assessment tasks are included to address MS-LS1-1 and MS-LS1-2, and an additional bonus assessment task related to the characteristics of living and non-living things has been included to use at your discretion.
This activity is part of the middle school unit Organization of Living Things: Body Invaders. That said, if the characteristics of living things, cell theory, and/or cell structure is a part of your class, you will find this resource valuable.
This activity bundle is part of a complete unit that builds towards these standards:
Conduct an investigation to provide evidence that living things are made of cells; either one cell or many different numbers and types of cells.
Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways the parts of cells contribute to the function.
Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.
5E Model Phase: Evaluate
>> Students will carry out an investigation to provide evidence to support the claims: all living things are made of cells and cells are the smallest unit that can be said to be alive.
>> Students will describe the role of engineering and technological improvements in allowing for advances in scientific understanding.
>> Students will evaluate evidence from their investigation to determine whether they have met the goals of the investigation.
>> Students will develop a model to explain a phenomenon.
>> Students will develop a model in which they identify the relevant components of the cell (i.e. cell membrane, cell wall, chloroplasts, nucleus) and describe the relationships between the components.
>> Students will use their model to provide a causal account of the phenomenon, explaining how the parts of the cell contribute to the overall function of the cell.
>> Students will use their model to describe the key differences between plant and animal cells.
>> I can carry out an investigation to support a claim.
>> I can identify how engineering has allowed for advances in science.
>> I can evaluate evidence from my investigation to determine whether I have accomplished my goal.
>> I can develop a model of a cell to explain a phenomenon.
>> I can develop a model of the cell that identifies the important and relevant parts.
>> I can use my model to explain why the phenomenon occurs.
>> I can explain how the parts of the cell help the cell function as a whole, working individually and together with other cellular structures.
>> I can use my model to illustrate key differences between plant and animal cells.
Science and Engineering Practices:
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Developing and Using Models
Structure and Function
Scale, Proportion, and Quantity
This assessment targets MS-LS1-1 and MS-LS1-2. For the first task, Cells As The Basic Unit Of Life, students should have a strong understanding of the concept that all living things are made of cells. They should be able to identify which sample slides represent cells under a microscope (whether in a lab setting or via the images provided) to provide evidence for this claim. Students should be familiar with the Science and Engineering Practice of Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, so that they are able to identify the purpose of an investigation, what data should be collected, and how that data can be used to support a claim.
For Parts 1 and 2 of the second task, Cell Structure and Function, students should have a strong understanding that cells have parts that perform specific functions in order to support the overall wellbeing of the cell. Students should understand the function of the cell wall, cell membrane, chloroplasts, mitochondria, and nucleus. They may also find an understanding of the plant cell’s large vacuole valuable, but this is not absolutely necessary. Students should be able to identify and explain the differences between plant and animal cells.
For Part 3 of the second task, Cell Structure and Function, students would benefit from an understanding of viruses and how they attack the body. This assessment is particularly relevant to the anchoring phenomenon in the complete unit, Organization of Living Things: Body Invaders. If you are not using the complete unit, you may choose not to assign Part 3 of the second task. It is NOT absolutely necessary to meet the performance expectations. It is simply a way to connect the assessment task to the anchoring phenomenon, as well as prepare students as they move into the second half of the unit storyline that investigates the relationship of cells to tissues, organs, organ systems, and the healthy function of the body as a whole (MS-LS1-3). Students return to the concepts explored thus far about cells and cellular structures to understand how viruses cause disease and how the body’s immune system works to prevent illness in the face of body invaders. Again, these additional activities are not included in this assessment task and are not necessary to carry out this assessment.
A BONUS assessment task has been provided that asks students to consider the characteristics of living things, the characteristics of viruses, and engage in argument from evidence to answer the question, Are Viruses Alive? This activity is part of another full resource Is It Alive?: A Closer Look At Viruses. I have included it here as an optional way to assess an understanding of the characteristics of living things, in case that is something you have focused on in your instruction. You can find additional resources in the iExploreScience store on TeachersPayTeachers or at the Science Teacher Tribe.
Teacher Guide (6 pages)
Student Activity Sheets (12 pages)
Student Activity Sheets - Differentiated Version (6 pages)
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