This informational text resource is intended to support reading in the content area. In this lesson, students will analyze an informational textthat addresses innovative research to aid in the understanding of how the digestive system works. The text describes how the villi in the small intestine work with the contraction of the muscle wall to aid digestion and how a team of researchers are working together to create a 3-D model this process. The lesson plan includes a note-taking guide, text-dependent questions, a writing prompt, answer keys, and a writing rubric. Options to extend the lesson are also included.
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Describe the physiology and function of the human digestive tract and how a 3-D model can aid in understanding this system.
Identify both the successes of the researchers and the information they are using to develop their 3-D model.
Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
Construct a written argument that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
General familiarity with the digestive system would be beneficial to students. This site from the NIH titled "The Digestive System & How It Works" offers a comprehensive and simple overview of the digestive system.
In regards to literacy skills:
Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
Students should understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details.
"Central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author’s main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces.
Key, or in other words, important, details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in NSF's digestion article include: title, subtitle, headings, photographs, and captions.
Students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. Often students will remember to use transitions at the start of the body paragraphs or conclusion paragraph, but will forget to use them in the midst of paragraphs to connect ideas or to make the content within each paragraph flow. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Main investigation questions: While students are reading and answering questions about the article, please use the questions below to help guide students' thinking:
What are major organs of the digestive system?
The digestive system's major organs are the mouth, esophagus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gallbladder, large intestine, small intestine, rectum, and anus.
*This question is not fully covered in the article and should be covered through review of the background information described above in Prior Knowledge.
What is theroleofvilli in the digestive system?
Villi help move nutrients traveling along the digestive wall to help improve digestion.
What is the importance of the small intestine as a part of the digestive system?
The small intestine allows for nutrients to enter the blood stream.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class: "What is the importance of the digestive system?"
Students are likely to suggest that the digestive system is responsible breaking down food into nutrients, which the body uses for energy, growth, and cell repair.
This would be a good point at which to review the basic physiology/major organs of the digestive system. Please review the link referenced above in Prior Knowledge as a starting point.
Consider listing the major organs of the digestive system on a projector or board for the class to see.
Next, ask the class the question: "Which organ of the digestive system do you think is the most important, and why?"
Students will likely be thrown off by this question and they will try to come up with many ideas. Students with more prior knowledge of this topic may be able to support students who are lacking in prior knowledge.
The teacher should write down opinions and reasons that the students come up with or have the students (individually or in small groups) write down their opinions and reasons in a central location in order to compare their thoughts to allow for a group discussion.
This will help students review/understand the organs of the digestive system in a little more depth.
Next, ask students: "Of the opinions and reasons that we listed, which organ do you think is the most helpful in the digestion and circulation of nutrients?"
Student answers will vary.
End the discussion by informing students that we will be reading an article that addresses a group of researchers and their development of a 3-D model of the gastrointestinal tract to furtherunderstandhowvilli and muscle contraction work together to aid in digestion.
Hopefully, students will arrive at the conclusion that there is not one organ that is most important in the digestive system, but rather that all the major organs work together.
Teacher guidance may be necessary to help students reach the conclusion above as well as that the villi and small intestine have a special role in the digestion and circulation of nutrients.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
Provide each student with a copy of the article "Gut Reaction: Digestion Revealed in 3D." For the class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section. They can also number the sections. (Section 1 follows the subtitle and is an introduction to the digestive system, specifically the small intestine and villi within it; Section 2 has the heading "How villi aid digestion," and Section 3 has the heading "Muscle contraction is not enough."
Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
Title: Gut Reaction: Digestion Revealed in 3D
Subtitle: James Brausser and his multidisciplinary team image the dynamic mixing of fluids and nutrient exchange in the human digestive system.
Headings: How villi aid digestion, Muscle contraction is not enough
Captions: Located under the photograph
Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
If students struggle with determining the meanings of the selected academic vocabulary terms, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
Ensnare (Section 1, paragraph 1): point out context clues to students: in the previous sentence, the coral are "catching" plankton and other organisms. Ensnare means the same thing.
Conduit (Section 1, paragraph 2): remind students that the intestine is a long, narrow organ: like a "channel" for food.
Eddies (Section 1, paragraph 3): point out context clues to students: in the previous sentence, the fluid "swirls." Eddies means much the same thing.
Macro and Micro (Section 2, paragraph 4, 5/Section 3, paragraph 1): remind students that the way these words are paired up is a clue that they are opposites. What kind of things does a microscope allow you to see--big or small?
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. Going over how the response is structured, pointing out ways to open and close the piece, showing use of effective transitions, and pointing out places to incorporate the natural use of vocabulary can really help students grow in their own writing skills for future writing tasks. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or withanLCD projector and discuss some of the following:
Go over how this writer opened his or her piece of writing. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
Point out the use of some textual specifics in the introduction.
Point out how the writer made the main point clear and took a position on whether or not the 3-D model would be helpful and whether or not the text has provided ample evidence for this.
Point out how the body paragraphs tie back to the main point, how they address part of the writing prompt, and how they detail the information presented in the article.
Point out the writer's use of transitions to begin each paragraph after the first, as well as within each paragraph.
In paragraph three, point out how this paragraph supports the main point but suggests areas for improvement.
In the final paragraph, point out how the concluding sentences support the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
Throughout the sample response, have students identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary, including small intestine, villi, and gastrointestinal.
As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories in which they scored lower than a 4.
At the close of the lesson, teachers should collect from students an "exit ticket" on which they have listed the most interesting science content they learned in the lesson. Maybe the students' answers can be read aloud at the start of the next class.
Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. They should refer back to the text as they construct their response.
Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Do you think a 3-D model of the digestive system would be helpful to modern medicine? Using evidence from the text, assess whether or not you believe the article has provided ample evidence for the need of such research. Be sure to include specific details about the physiology of the digestive system and how they relate to the development of the 3-D model in your response.
Specific suggestions for conducting the Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing feedback to students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
This video titled "The Digestive System" (approximately 12 minutes in length) offers a great introduction to the digestive system for students who may benefit from receiving the information in this form. This could be shown before students read the article "Gut Reaction: Digestion Revealed in 3D." The video is energetic and comical in tone and students may enjoy viewing it.
For struggling readers:
Teachers might want to demonstrate how to code the text for at least one paragraph on the note-taking guide.
It might benefit students to chunk the text. Have students independently read section one, then have several strong readers read section one aloud.
Then, have students highlight the selected vocabulary for section one on the article. Work with students to model ways to define a few of the academic vocabulary words to get them started. The teacher can "think aloud" as he or she decides which vocabulary strategy or strategies to use to define a word, and think aloud while deciding which meaning from a dictionary entry with multiple meanings would be the best fit for how the word is used in the context of the article.
Then, have students complete the note-taking guide for the rest of section one. When students are ready, have them share out their answers and provide corrective verbal feedback as needed, allowing students to make corrections to their work. Then repeat this process for the other sections of the text if needed. Or, at least have students complete the graphic organizer for the next section and receive feedback on their work before they move on.
For struggling writers:
It might help to provide students with an outline to help them structure their response. The outline might include places for them to record:
Ideas on how to introduce the topic
A few specifics from the text they might want to use to support or explain the topic
A place to write down their main point(s)
Topic sentence (the first sentence of each body paragraph that will reveal the point of the paragraph and will connect to the paper’s overall main point)
Specific evidence from the text for support in each body paragraph
Ideas for transition words
Ideas for use of selected vocabulary
Ideas on how to wrap up their piece and connect back to the main point(s).
Students might research another organ system in the body. They could explain the advantages and disadvantages of representing that organ system in 2-D versus 3-D and how these models could be beneficial to modern medicine.
They could present their findings through different forms of media: a PowerPoint presentation, a homemade video, like a newscast, or even a piece of art.
Suggested Technology: Document Camera, Computer for Presenter, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Speakers/Headphones
For teachers who would like more support in understanding and implementing Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects into their science curriculum, please see the teacher tutorials and resources featured in the section of this lesson's CPALMS resource page labeled "Attached Resources."
Teachers might find that showing a model of digestive system would be helpful when implementing this lesson.
The grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the Florida Standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Diana Puett
District/Organization of Contributor(s): St. Johns
Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills within their science curriculum. This tutorial focuses on using specific textual evidence to support students' responses as they analyze science texts. The focus on literacy across content areas is designed to help students independently build knowledge in different disciplines through reading and writing.
Click "View Site" to open a full-screen version. This tutorial is designed to help secondary science teachers learn how to integrate literacy skills into their science curriculum. This tutorial will demonstrate a number of strategies teachers can impart to students to help them use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words within science texts. It will also help them teach students how to select the appropriate definition from reference materials. The focus on literacy across content areas is intended to help foster students' reading, writing, and thinking skills in multiple disciplines.
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