Activity Overview

Discussion storyboards are a great way to get your students talking about their ideas in science! They allow students to critique and evaluate different viewpoints in a respectful and cooperative manner. This activity can be used at the start of the topic to identify what students already know about the topic, what questions they have and dispel any misconceptions students may have. The discussion storyboard can be downloaded as a Power Point presentation, printed or displayed digitally and serve as a visual guide that students can refer to as they progress through the unit.

Students Can Collaborate!

Teachers may wish for students to work together on the discussion storyboard which is possible with Storyboard That's Real Time Collaboration feature! With Real Time Collaboration, students can work on the same storyboard at the same time which is perfect for this lesson! As teachers know, collaborating on assignments allows students to think on a deeper level while increasing their communication and problem-solving skills. Collaboration can also help cut down on the time it takes to complete a storyboard. While there is no set limit to the number of users who can work on a storyboard at once, we recommend five users or fewer for optimal performance. All of our assignments default to individual. To make this lesson collaborative, teachers must enable collaboration for the assignment within the "Edit Assignment" tab.

Getting Started

Teachers can begin by showing students the example discussion storyboard and ask them to look at the problem presented in the first cell. The following cells show four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them. Students should think about whom they think is the most correct and be prepared to explain why that person is correct. In the collaborative storyboard, students can find a character within the Creator that looks like themselves, add it to a cell along with their name in the bottom text box and their argument in the speech bubble.

Post Activity Discussion

After students have created their storyboard, they can further discuss their ideas. This discussion can be carried out in a range of different formats. Students could discuss in pairs, small groups, or even in a teacher-led, entire class setting. It is important to agree on a list of discussion rules with students before they start so everybody gets a chance to participate. Students will also be able to practice adapting their speech to a formal debating context and can demonstrate their grasp of formal English.

More Ideas!

Here are some other ideas to use these discussion storyboards in your lessons.

  1. Students add another cell on the end of the example you’ve given them to explain whom they think is correct and why.
  2. Students create a storyboard to describe why a student is incorrect, and then "teach" the concept.
  3. Students create their own discussion storyboards to share with peers on the current topic.

Note that the template in this assignment is blank. After clicking "Copy Activity", add your desired problem and solutions to match the needs of your students.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

After previewing the example discussion storyboard that shows four students who all have an idea about the problem in front of them, you will create your own discussion storyboard with your peers.

Student Instructions:

  1. Find a character in the Creator to represent you. You can choose a character that looks like you or any character you wish!
  2. Drag the character down to one of the cells. Edit the colors and pose.
  3. Add your name in the text box below.
  4. Add your idea to the speech bubble. You may wish to include additional text and images to explain your opinion and why you believe it is correct.
  5. Remember to work on your cell only and do not disturb your classmates' work.
  6. Be prepared to present and discuss your opinion further after the storyboard is finished!

Lesson Plan Reference

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/7/1] Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 7 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/7/2] Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/7/3] Delineate a speaker's argument and specific claims, evaluating the soundness of the reasoning and the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/7/4] Present claims and findings, emphasizing salient points in a focused, coherent manner with pertinent descriptions, facts, details, and examples; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/7/5] Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.
  • [ELA-Literacy/SL/7/6] Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grade 7 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Discussion Storyboard
Read the discussion storyboard showing the students looking at a problem. Add a cell to the end of the storyboard and describe who you think is correct and why.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Who do you think is correct?
You have selected a person you believe to be correct and explained why.
You have selected the person you believe to be correct.
You have not selected a person you believe to be correct.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

How to Incorporate Basic Cells Discussion into the Curriculum


Linking Discussion with Core Curriculum

Start by identifying where in your existing science curriculum the topic of cells naturally fits. This could be in a unit on biology, human anatomy, or plant sciences. Introduce the basic concepts of cells, their types, and functions as part of your regular teaching. Ensure that this foundational knowledge is clear, as it will form the basis for the forthcoming discussions.


Introducing Ethical and Real-world Connections

After the basic concepts are established, introduce topics that connect cell biology to real-world and ethical issues. This could include discussions on genetic engineering, stem cell research, or the impact of viruses at the cellular level. Present these topics in a way that sparks curiosity and open-ended questions, encouraging students to think about how cell biology applies to life and society.


Organizing Structured Discussions

Organize structured discussion sessions where students can share their thoughts on these topics. These discussions should be guided but open-ended, allowing students to explore various viewpoints. Encourage students to use critical thinking and to respect differing opinions. You could structure these as classroom debates, small group discussions, or even as written reflection exercises.


Assessing and Reflecting

Conclude the unit with an assessment that includes a reflective component. This could be in the form of a written essay, a project presentation, or a portfolio that includes students’ participation in discussions. Assess not just their understanding of cell biology, but also their ability to connect scientific concepts to broader societal and ethical issues. Provide feedback that encourages further exploration and continuous learning.

Frequently Asked Questions about Basic Cells Discussion

What is the Difference Between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Cells?

Prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells represent the two primary categories of cells, differing fundamentally in their structure and complexity. Prokaryotic cells, found in organisms like bacteria, are generally smaller and simpler. They lack a defined nucleus; instead, their genetic material floats freely within the cell. Prokaryotic cells also do not have membrane-bound organelles, such as mitochondria or endoplasmic reticulum. In contrast, eukaryotic cells, which make up plants, animals, fungi, and protists, are larger and more complex. They possess a distinct nucleus, where the genetic material is enclosed within a nuclear membrane. Furthermore, eukaryotic cells contain various membrane-bound organelles, each with specialized functions, allowing for more intricate and diverse processes within the cell. This fundamental distinction between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells underlies the vast diversity of life forms and their biological complexities.

Why Are Mitochondria Referred to as the Powerhouse of the Cell?

Mitochondria are often described as the "powerhouse" of the cell due to their crucial role in producing energy. They are responsible for generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the cell's main energy currency, through a process known as cellular respiration. During this process, mitochondria convert nutrients, primarily glucose and oxygen, into ATP, which provides the energy required for various cellular activities and functions. This energy production is vital for cell survival and function, making mitochondria essential for nearly all eukaryotic cells. The efficiency and necessity of mitochondria in energy generation are why they are metaphorically described as the cell's powerhouse, emphasizing their importance in sustaining life at the cellular level.

What are Stem Cells and Why are They Important?

Stem cells are unique types of cells with the remarkable ability to develop into different cell types in the body and to self-renew, producing more stem cells. They are classified into two main types: embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells. Embryonic stem cells, derived from early-stage embryos, are pluripotent, meaning they have the potential to develop into any cell type in the body. Adult stem cells, found in various tissues, typically have a more limited differentiation potential but play critical roles in the body's maintenance and repair. Stem cells are extremely important in medical research and potential therapies due to their regenerative capabilities. They offer promising prospects in treating a range of diseases and conditions, from repairing damaged tissues in spinal cord injuries to replacing cells lost in diseases like Parkinson's. The ability of stem cells to transform into various cell types and their potential in regenerative medicine make them a significant focus of biomedical research.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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