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Inquiry-based Learning in a Biology Classroom

Subject Biology
Level: Year 3
Topic Photosynthesis
Macro-concept Systems
Enduring Understanding Factors can affect the rate of photosynthesis.
Essential Questions
  1. What are the factors that affect the rate of photosynthesis?
  2. Why would there be factors that limit the rate of photosynthesis?
Curricular or Pedagogical Focus / Lens Critical Thinking, Concept-Based Instruction

Prior Knowledge

Students should have acquire the following knowledge in their primary school education:

  • Plants “make food” by photosynthesis.
  • During photosynthesis, plants take in CO2 and release O2.
  • Photosynthesis requires light.

Knowledge and Skills

This inquiry-based learning is a series of four lessons, comprising of two theory and two practical lessons. The lesson plan encompasses the following skill sets:

Subject-specific skills include:

  • Drawing conclusion(s) from the interpretation of experimental data or observations and underlying principles
  • Making predictions based on their data and conclusion

21st CC skills include:

  • Critical and Inventive thinking
  • Communication, Collaboration and Information skills

At the end of the four lessons, students will acquire the following knowledge:

  • Effect of changes in carbon dioxide concentration, temperature and light intensity on the rate of photosynthesis.
  • Concept of limiting factors on the rate of photosynthesis.

Lesson Activities

Lesson 1

Students are grouped by mixed abilities (differentiation). Students will first perform a Hydrilla experiment by following the procedures provided. They will then collect data and represent them in a table/graph format. Based on the experimental outcome and data, students will have to come out with three “Yes/No” questions that they wish to ask the teacher.

Lesson 2

Teacher will begin the lesson by addressing the “Yes/No” questions and explaining what a hypothesis is. The lesson begins with a recap of the last lesson and the groups will start to ask their Yes/No questions. Students will record the responses in the Google doc provided.

In addition to the responses that the students obtain from the questioning, they are provided with a Graphic Organiser [Concept-based learning]. In this Graphic Organiser, students will be questioned on their explanation for their experimental observation. They will need to link their explanation to their observations to develop a testable hypothesis, which they will need to input into a Google doc.

Each group will then feedback on the next group’s hypothesis in a round-robin fashion, making reference to the features of a sound hypothesis. With the feedback, groups will rewrite and amend their hypotheses. Different groups may show the same or different hypotheses and students are instructed to make a generalisation pertaining to the different factors that will lead back to the Enduring Understanding (EU).

With the hypotheses, groups will be instructed to predict the outcome if the hypothesis is true. Teacher will first question the students to let them come up with some features of writing a good experimental protocol. A comprehensive set of guidelines is then provided to guide the groups in planning and writing an experimental protocol to test the group’s hypothesis. Using the list of materials that will be provided for the next practical, groups will input their experimental procedures into the Google doc.

Teachers will then comment and feedback on the Google doc to correct any mistakes prior to next lesson.

Lesson 3

Using the teachers’ feedback on the Google docs, students will redefine their hypotheses and procedures. They will then conduct the experiment, collate the data in a table/graph and compare their observations to their findings in the first practical. Students will come up with a preliminary conclusion as to what happen during photosynthesis that cause bubbles to form, as well as what factors can affect the rate of photosynthesis.

Lesson 4

Teacher will provide the reading materials for the students. In their groups, students will make use of the reading materials and rewrite their conclusions. They should be able to deduce what happen during photosynthesis to cause bubble formation.

Posted by: Dr Lim Ai Khim

Science Department

Raffles Girls’ School


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