Middle School: Tree Mass

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The California NGSS Early Implementers Initiative, developed by the K-12 Alliance at WestEd with close collaborative input from the CA State Board of Education and the California Department of Education is a fast-start demonstration program that builds district capacity to fully implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as a core subject in the elementary grades (K-5) and as the SBE’s preferred integrated model in grades 6-8.

Rating: Example of High Quality NGSS Design if Improved

Science Discipline: Life Science

Length: Unit

In grade 7 Tree Mass unit, students deepen their understanding of how energy flows and matter cycles through living systems, building from their learning in grades 3-5. The anchor phenomenon for the unit is a time-lapse animated video of a seedling growing into a tree.  This phenomenon leads students to ask, “Where does it come from?” and students develop an initial model to explain how plants transform matter from the surrounding environment to create new plant material. Students consider historical investigations, as well as planning and conducting their own, to collect and interpret evidence to strengthen their models. Students also investigate molecular processes that occur when cells photosynthesize and respire, shifting the scale of their developing models. In the final lesson, students revise their models to explain how a seedling gathers matter through chemical reactions to grow into a large Oak Tree.

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