Lesson Plan

Cell Analogies

Students will compare the assigned parts of a cell to something they are connected to, deepening their understanding of the functions of the organelles of a cell.
Kristie O.
Classroom teacher
Winters Middle School
Winters, CA
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My Grades 6, 7, 8
My Subjects Science

Students will be able to identify the following parts of a cell and the specific function of each cell part: cell membrane, cell wall, nucleus, chloroplasts and the mitochondria.

MS-LS1-2.     Develop and use a model to describe the function of a cell as a whole and ways parts of cells contribute to the function.  [Clarification Statement:  Emphasis is on the cell functioning as a whole system and the primary role of identified parts of the cell, specifically the nucleus, chloroplasts, mitochondria, cell membrane, and cell wall.] [Assessment Boundary:  Assessment of organelle structure/function relationships is limited to the cell wall and cell membrane. Assessment of the function of the other organelles is limited to their relationship to the whole cell. Assessment does not include the biochemical function of cells or cell parts.]   

Grades 7
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Other — http://www.schooltube.com/video/309d4627a98ff28b8927/

Students read about the cell, its various parts and functions in their text book.  Then they watched this short video clip.

2 Direct Instruction

Activity: Drawing

Students then used a model of a city and labeled the parts of this city with the corresponding cell part as I described what the function of that organelle.  They recorded the function of each organelle on the back of the paper.

We watched a short video reviewing the cell.

3 Guided practice

Activity: Drawing

Next, I modeled and students copied as I drew and labeled a plant cell.  They volunteered the function of each organelle as we drew it.

Students then were assigned to draw an animal cell using their reading, plant drawing, city model and any notes, while I circulated and checked for a deeper understanding.

4 Independent Practice

Google Drive
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Students were encouraged to compare a cell to something in their everyday life.  They were reminded of the city example and were presented with an example comparing a car to a cell.  They were instructed to use Google draw and had the option of inserting pictures or drawing their own.  Then they explained why they thought the various parts were analagous.  Students had a variety of ideas including making comparisons to castles, prisons, planes and even a washing machine.

I tried to insert an example of student work but could not figure out how to insert a PDF and the image would not copy from word.  Here is an example of the text, but unfortunatelydoes not include the drawing.


The lid: The lid of a washing machine is similar to the cell membrane because it controls what comes in and out of the washing machine.


The motor: The motor represents the chloroplast. The motor takes energy from the power cord, like the cell does from the sun, and uses it as food for the motor to run.


The outside of washing machine: The outside of the washing machine is like the cell wall. It protects the clothing that are being washed, and protects it from the water flowing out.


The power cord: The power cord represents the mitochondria (The powerhouse) It converts food energy into usable energy.


The buttons: The buttons or controls on a washing machine is like the nucleus. It controls all activities of the washing machine, also known as the control center.


5 Wrap-up

Google Drive
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Students used the share feature and shared their work with me.  I was able to comment on their work so that the next time they opened the work they could make appropriate edits.  This activity has cemented the functions in their memory better than when I have covered the cell parts in other years.

** Some students chose to share their work with peers and had their peers comment on their work before I graded it.