Scaffolding biology class using the class cell-fie: cells and their processes
Teaching the cell in biology: I had begun to realize that it seemed as though I spent a lot of time and energy teaching my kids all about cells, only to have them forget at least half of what they learned by the time we approached cell division, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, etc.
Though all of biology depends on one magical cell (and I told my kids that
10 100 times from the first day of biology to the last), it was still difficult for many of them to keep this in mind.
Then comes the saying “out of sight, and out mind”- I decided I wasn’t going to let that pesky little cell out of their sight! I had an idea, and it ended up being a good one (don’t you love when that happens?!)
I devoted a portion of my classroom wall to our class cell-fie because it became a staple in our units. It started off simple at first as we learned each new component or organelle, we’d tack it onto the wall. In its first days your class cell-fie will be VERY basic since it grows with your students’ knowledge.
The Cell-fie grows with your students.
Please don’t judge; I used Christmas tree tinsel as the membrane at the beginning stages because i the actual plasma membrane came later…
Now that we’ve covered cell transport, we have a proper membrane!
AS YOUR STUDENTS LEARN MORE, YOU CAN ADD MORE ITEMS TO THE CELL. NOTICE THE MITOCHONDRIon NOW HAS THE THE 3 MAIN STEPS OF CELL RESPIRATION. YOU CAN USE A CELL PHONE TEMPLATE TO HIGHLIGHT WHAT YOU ARE CURRENTLY LEARNING ABOUT.
This is YOUR class cell-fie. You can be as crafty as you want, and use whichever supplies you desire.
During our cell division unit, we had chromosomes instead of a nucleus, and the centrioles appeared in our animal cell. While learning protein synthesis, we had a whole lotta mRNA and amino acids. When working through cell respiration, we had ATP molecules.
You can make the cell-fie model as big or as small as you’d like depending on how much space you have. You can use an old bulletin board with thumbtacks, a whiteboard with magnets, or a felt board with velcro.
My biggest tip is to have students place the items themselves to see how they do and discuss. Have the class work with each other to determine where your next piece will go… If you build your class cell-fie as a bellringer activity a couple times each unit as your class learns and the cell-fie grows, you will not ever look back!
Teaching plant cells? A ziplock bag for the central vacuole, some green cellophane for the cell wall for the win! You might be more ambitious than me and even have a separate cell-fie for plant cells!
Love this idea but don’t know where to start? The template I use above is available for purchase! The template comes with all the organelles and related processes- even the cell membrane 😉
“Creative, fun and innovative! Great to have a large visual resource in class to add complexity to throughout the year ” – Lainey B.