As a pre-assessment to our unit on Cells, Organelles, and Enzymes, I had the students work with a partner on observation charts posted around the room.
This chart then began with a CCD (Cognitive Content Dictionary) for the work Prokaryotic. For this, I used a twist on a typically CCD and I had the students use the Frayer Model to brainstorm what they believe the word means. Once they had a chance to brainstorm in their teams, each team was required to share one piece of knowledge they have. We then broke the word down into its root words ("pro" = before, "karyon" = kernel, nucleus) and were able to determine that a prokaryote is a cell before they had a nucleus. We also associated a hand gesture with this, just like a typical CCD word would. In this case, they held their hands, palms down, and squiggled their fingers and moved their hands back in forth to show DNA floating freely within a cell, due to no nucleus, which saying "no nucleus". You might think that in a high school setting students would find this a little ridiculous, and yes, several do, but the majority of the class participates, and I frequently see students referring back to the hand gestures to remember the words.
The CCD word is then used as a signal word to transition from one activity to the next, such as moving into and out of community time. The more the students are able to say and use the words, the better they remember and are thus on the road to higher levels of Blooms and Webbs Depth of Knowledge.
This particular chart began by defining what a cell was, using student's prior knowledge, and information they learned from the previous Characteristics of Living Things chart. I then split the paper into a T-Chart to organize our thoughts about Prokaryotic vs. Eukaryotic. I began with a simple diagram of a prokaryotic cell, color chunking particular structures that would remain color chunked through the year (such as the ribosomes are red, and when I teach Protein Synthesis, the ribosomes remain red). Throughout creating the chart, I would have the students reference back to the diagram and analyze it to deduce more information. Students were given 10/2's. For these I use specific sentence accountable talk frames to guide the student's thinking and discussions. The chart continued and the same thing was done for Eukaryote cells. Here, you may notice that the Golgi and ER and written in black. This is due to the fact that those are above our state standards, but I wanted to value the student's knowledge of those organelles by including them, and I did not have a color assigned to them due to their nature of not being included in the state standards. When finished, students returned to their seats to record the notes in their notebook.
The next day, students were asked to use the information in the chart to create a Venn Diagram of a Prokaryote vs Eukaryote with their team.this activity by having them thinking of something they know is alive and brainstorming characteristics that make that object alive. They then look at a variety of items such as a rock, plant, cut flower, cork, cell, pinecone, feather, etc. Once they have a good idea about characteristics, we create this chart together in community time. Usually during community time, students do not bring anything with them, they are only there to participate, however, this time I let them bring their activity paper with them so they have ideas to share. I then have them share with their neighbors some of their ideas so they are ready to share as a class. With this particular chart, they don't quite get to and understand those last three right away, so that's where I help them more in creating their notes. Students then go back to their desks and record the chart.