Combining visual representations with hands-on activities increases mastery levels. Have high school students create visual representations of cell organelles and relate each structure to its function. For example, a student could create a large, three-dimensional representation of a specific cell type by making a mobile with paper and string and encasing the mobile in plastic wrap to simulate the cell membrane. Alternatively, students can draw the cell with arrows to each organelle and a text box for the function for a two-dimensional art project.
A fundamental unit students cover in high school biology class is about the parts of cell, called organelles, and each part’s function. Most students do not find memorizing the information enjoyable and often forget it after they pass the test. Employing enjoyable activities to master and use the information ensures that students retain the knowledge more effectively and for a longer period of time.
Create games high school students can play in class to reinforce classroom instruction. This type of activity offers many options. Form teams and have a team member draw an organelle that the opposing team must identify with its function. Generate trivia questions that tell the function of an organelle and award points for the team member who identifies the correct answer. Produce a match game in which students match drawings of an organelle with the name and function. Create crossword or word search puzzles that allow students to fill in the name of the organelle according to a picture or verbal definition.
Learn and Teach
Break the high school class into small groups and assign one or more organelles to each group. The group researches the organelle, develops a handout and presentation for their assignment. After you verify the accuracy of the presentation material, allow the group to teach their assignment to class. Present plant organelles as one unit, animal organelles as another unit and human organelles as a third unit to help students connect the information to the correct biological group.
Through the Microscope
Provide the high school students with opportunities to visualize and experiment with organelles using a microscope. Allow students to make their own wet mounts and view them through the microscope lens. Provide various tissue samples for these activities, such as plant samples found on campus, human cells swabbed from inside the mouth or cells dissected from a preserved animal. Alternatively, use prepared slides. If your classroom does not have enough microscopes for each student, have groups of two to three students to share one. Also, you could project the image on an interactive whiteboard using a single microscope and a flex camera, if available.
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