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Three Activities for Teaching Cell Cycles

written by: Krima Olive Molina • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 9/11/2012

Interphase, mitosis, cytokinesis--do these terms seem too complicated at first glance? Make your cell cycle unit lessons plans attention-grabbing and interesting by trying out these classroom instruction ideas.

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    Kagan's Traveling Star

    Spencer Kagan's Traveling Star classroom strategy involves groups having representatives (stars) visit other groups (galaxies) and sharing what they know to these "galaxies." After showing a short video about cell cycle and giving a short introduction on the process, do the following:

    1. Form five groups among your students. In creating the groups, evenly distribute your students according to their specialized intelligences. Each group is to be assigned a mission--to read and understand the cell cycle phase assigned to them. The readings are short and concise, and will be given by you beforehand.

    Group 1: Interphase

    Group 2: Prophase

    Group 3: Metaphase

    Group 4: Anaphase

    Group 5: Telophase

    2. Give each group ten minutes to read and understand the short phrase description.

    3. After ten minutes, tell the groups to select their stars (representatives). For the next ten minutes, these stars will go around the class to visit the other groups (galaxies) and talk about the phase they learned in their home galaxy. Each star has two minutes to stay in one galaxy, after which s/he should transfer to the next.

    4. When the stars are back in their own home galaxy, have each group write a summary of what they learned from the traveling stars that visited them.

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    Cell Challenge

    mitosis phases This activity follows the standard amazing race format involving a series of stations with challenges they have to accomplish. Again, divide the class into five groups after the short video and introduction on the process. These groups will race to accomplish the following tasks in five stations:

    Station 1: Assemble the given pieces to illustrate how a cell in the interphase stage looks like.

    Station 2: Assemble the given pieces to illustrate how a cell in the prophase stage looks like.

    Station 3: Assemble the given pieces to illustrate how a cell in the metaphase stage looks like.

    Station 4: Assemble the given pieces to illustrate how a cell in the anaphase stage looks like.

    Station 5: Assemble the given pieces to illustrate how a cell in the telophase stage looks like.

    There should be five sets of materials on each station for each of the five groups to work on.

    (Photo from:

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    Curriculum-Based Readers Theater

    Curriculum-Based Readers Theater (CBRT) is a classroom strategy that makes use of content in several subject areas, including Science, to deliver a Readers Theater performance. For this activity, prepare an informal, conversationally-toned written piece that introduces the cell cycle phases. Then, divide this piece into many parts to be read by different students/group of students. Distribute these scripts to the students and read the essay following the script. Do the reading three times before you finally leave the class on their own to devise actions, formations, and other gimmicks to hype up their performance. It has been observed and attested to by educators and researchers that CBRT enhances reading fluency, mastery of content, and development of memory.

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    You may opt to try out the activities in this cell cycle unit lesson plans introductory article or modify them based on the profiles of your students.