Lesson Plan

Paging Dr. You

Taking a look at cell membrane structures and membrane transport through problem based learning activity
Ken K.
Principal/head of school
Alburnett Junior/Senior High School
Alburnett, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science

Students will be able to...

•    Describe what passive and active transport are.

•    Examine the different types of passive transport and the differences between them.

•    Examine the different types of active transport and the differences between them.


Grades 9 – 12
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes


Place the this letter in Google Docs for the students to read 


Place the Case Report in Google Docs 


Allow students to use any presentation tool (a couple have been provided)

Student Instructions

1) Read this letter from a specialist at Chicago Children's Hospital.  You are taking on the role of a doctor who is the head of a poison control center

2) Read the Case Report mentioned in the letter. This will help guide you to develop your presentation to the family.

2 Explore

Circulate throughout the room probing for Know and Need to Know 



Student Instructions

In a mindmapping tool of your choice (Popplet is an option), start a new map with the center bubble labeled, "Little girl's death."  Then make two new bubbles from that center bubble--one labeled "Know" and the other one labeled "Need to Know."  Fill in what we know and what we need to know based on the information you have.

4) In a separate bubble, state what the problem is in this format: How can we ________________________ in such a way that _____________________.

3 Direct Instruction

Provide instruction on Membrane Structure:

  • The fluid mosaic model of the cell membrane and explain how the four macromolecules come together to form cell membranes.
  • Explain why cells have membranes.
  • Identify the specific parts of plasma membranes in a diagrams: carrier protein, channel protein, enzyme, transport proteins, carbohydrate, cholesterol, phospholipid, hydrophobic tails, hydrophilic heads, lipid bilayer, receptor protein
  • The functions of each part of the plasma membrane
  • Make connections between the parts to show how the molecules work together to make a cell membrane function.

Place this doc in Google Drive 


Student Instructions

While you're going through the activities, you need to fill out the note sheet below (click on the link), which is full of awesome, insightful, and inspiring questions that will help you with exactly what you need to know in order to make your presentation to the parents.  


4 Guided Practice

Free, Paid
Free, Free to try, Paid

Make sure the lists are turned in via Google Doc's


So you can learn how to solve problems by:

• analyzing given information to determine what you need to know

• doing research and collecting resources using technology

• stating the problem in clear language

• mapping out the problem to arrive at a solution

• proposing a logical solution to the problem based on evidence gathered during your research, and supporting that solution by citing evidence from your research

Place the Research Summary doc in Google Drive 


Student Instructions

 In pairs, research your "Need to Knows," adding bubbles and information to your mindmap as you find out information.  YOU MAY NOT HAVE HUGE PARAGRAPHS OF COPIED INFO IN BUBBLES.  Summarize the information, only putting 1-2 words per box, and 1-2 words per connector.

While you're doing your research, use diigo to create a public list of relevant sites that have what you need to know in them.  Then, turn in the link to your list in Google Doc's.  (You may also use something called Pearltrees if you'd like; instead of a list, you get lots of pretty bubbles on a tree-like structure.)

BE PREPARED TO REPORT BACK TO THE CLASS ON WHAT YOU FOUND OUT ABOUT YOUR "NEED TO KNOW."  This isn't a formal presentation--it's simply a report back to the group on what you found so we can all update our mindmaps.  

Begin to gather your thoughts for your presentation using the research summary doc provided in Google Drive 


5 Independent Practice

Place the 2nd letter in Google Drive for the students


Facilitate the discussions and make sure students are posting to the research summary sheet. This way all students can learn from each other. Emphasize this is what real doctors do. 

Student Instructions

THIS JUST IN....You have received another letter from the doctor at Chicago Children's Hospital.  Please read it, and then discuss how this will change your "Need to Know" list in your concept map.


After you discuss this as a team, then we will discuss what needs to be added to the Need to Know list for your class.  All teams will research the problems we add, creating a new diigo list or Pearltree for those topics.  Make sure you share these lists with each other in the group by emailing the links to each other.

While you are researching or when you are done researching, fill in the research summary for your period with what you found out about each question.

6 Final Performance Task

Place the Making Connections doc in Google Drive for your students


Place a copy of the Presentation Rubric for students 


Student Instructions

In order to help you make connections between the little girl's symptoms and what you have researched, we are going to do this activity, which I know you will all love and enjoy

Make sure to look over the Presentaton Rubric while putting together your presentation. 

In your mindmaps, map out your presentation to the parents.  Remember, it can only be 5 minutes long.  You first need to organize it by section (what will you talk about first, second, etc.) and then fill in the details about what you will say and discuss in each section.

Turn in the link to your mindmaps or embed them in Edmodo when you are told to do so.