I love teaching about the cell cycle. It is fascinating!
I know you’re probably thinking, “You say you love every unit.”
But it’s true, cells are my favorite area of Biology to teach, and learning about how they cycle through interphase and mitosis is fascinating!
I love it so much that I am providing you with free cycle resources to use with your students. You will get two of my favorite resources: Doodle Notes and Google Slides Activities.
And I’m going to share exactly how to use them, alongside other activities, to deliver a brilliant cell cycle lesson!
Be ready for that “aha” moment because the lightbulbs are going to be shining bright.
1 – Cell cycle Google Slides activities
I love using interactive Google Slides activities in my classroom, especially during the cell cycle unit.
- If you are new to using Google Slides activities, read my beginners guide to using Google Slides.
- If you are already familiar with using Google Slides, check out my 8 fun ideas for Google Slides activities.
Download the free set of Cell Cycle Google Slides Activities first, and then follow along with me.
The screenshot above shows the first activity – it lets students try and figure out the stages of the cell cycle on their own.
Encourage them to reeeeally look at each picture of the cell, and figure out how it is different from the other cells.
You will be SHOCKED by how many of them get it right!
Then you can either give students some instruction, or let them continue working through the slides independently.
A YouTube video (see the next section of this blog post!) would fit perfectly at this point.
In the next activity, students describe each stage of the cell cycle.
I have chunked the information so that only one or two stages of the cell cycle are covered on each slide. Less overwhelm for students = a win.
Students will also summarize the stages of the cell cycle in a diagram. There is a link for them to research the G0 phase, which some cells enter.
Then I like to “stretch and challenge” with a discussion about what happens when the cell cycle is disrupted.
Now, this will touch on cancer as a result of uncontrolled cell division. So it is important to be aware of our students who have had loved ones affected by cancer.
There is a reading passage and images of uncontrolled cell growth. Then students will complete a fill-in-the-blank activity, and consider why chemotherapy treatments for cancer can affect hair growth.
They are pretty proud of themselves when they figure it out, and it helps students understand the importance of regulation of the cell cycle.
You can use Google Slides activities at any point in the lesson. I like to use it as a main activity, after in-class instruction, but they would also work as a last minute sub plan or review activity if students have already had in-class instruction.
Make sure you grab this awesome Cell Cycle Google Slides freebie!
2 – Use YouTube videos about the cell cycle
One of my favorite ways to supplement in-class instruction is to have students watch YouTube videos about the content.
Since YouTube is such a large platform, there are a large variety of YouTube videos to reach every student.
Some of my favorite YouTube videos about the cell cycle are:
- The Cell Cycle and Cancer by The Amoeba Sisters
- The Cell Cycle Phases by Khan Academy
- Mitosis: Splitting Up is Hard by Crash Course Biology
Like many activities, you can use these in a variety of ways.
You can use one of the above videos or any other video as an introduction to the unit. Have students watch the YouTube video before the unit begins and have them write down what they learned or found interesting in the video. A KWL chart would also work great.
For my cell cycle unit, I will sometimes do a jigsaw activity about the different stages.
This is when students work in small groups, with each person learning about a different stage of the cell cycle, before they come back together and take it in turns to teach each other. I direct them to YouTube for the information.
YouTube videos are also great reviews. Whether it is for the cell cycle unit test or an end of course exam, YouTube videos provide an overview of the material in a condensed format.
Do I even need to mention the lack of attention span of our students?! I choose shorter YouTube videos so students remain engaged.
3 – Cell cycle Doodle Notes
Oh my gosh… we’re back again!
Any Backstreet Boys fans here?!
We all know where I’m going with this – I love Doodle Notes.
And it’s not just me – I hear time and time again from teachers that their students LOVE using Doodle Notes. This is why I am including a free set for the cell cycle when you sign up for my newsletter.
If you have never used Doodle Notes, then I have got a blog post that takes you through how to use these with your students: 3 Easy Ways to Use Doodle Notes in the Classroom
This set of Doodle Notes includes detailed drawings of the cell cycle. Students will need to label and describe the important events that take place in each.
Not only are these Doodle Notes all-inclusive, but they are meant for differentiation, as well.
There are four sets of Doodle Notes included.
- A version with fill-in-the-blank notes under each cell cycle stage.
- A version with blank space under each cell cycle so students can write whatever they would like.
- Color versions of both
- Plus a completed example!
Did I also mention that I personally draw the Doodle Notes?
Yes, that’s right. So, that means all of my Doodle Notes are age appropriate, with pictures that have the right amount of details for our students.
These Doodle Notes can be used for anything.
Need sub plans? Doodle Notes
Need a small group collaborative activity? Doodle Notes
Need a review activity before the test? Doodle Notes
The possibilities are endless and the best part is your students will enjoy completing them! My Doodle Notes allow students to express their creativity.
I challenge you to grab this cell cycle freebie and see just how well they work in your classroom.
Trust me – you won’t regret it!
4 – Have students create their own videos
Lastly, a beneficial activity I have used in my own classroom includes students making their own videos.
They love it!
Sometimes, there will be a little more structure, but other times I will let students have creative freedom. It truly depends on the students I have each year.
For this assignment, I usually do it at the end of the unit. It proves to be a great review of the cell cycle.
One type of video I assign is to make cell cycle stop motion videos. There are multiple ways to do this and I leave the execution up to the students.
Stop motion videos
Some students like to do it their own way and others will download an app on their phone to make the process easier. I try to let students explore their options and provide guidance when it is needed.
I provide students with the stop motion video supplies. Some of the most popular that I keep on hand include:
- Pipe cleaners
The students always surprise me with their creativity.
Creating a stop motion video is great because it shows that the students truly understand what is going on at each stage in the cell cycle. This is apparent when they manipulate their materials to form each stage.
Not only do students have to demonstrate their knowledge, but this activity also provides a great collaboration activity.
I will say that the discussions I hear during this activity are some of the best all year.
In addition to stop motion videos, some students will use the art tools, such as clay and pipe cleaners, to create a regular type of video.
In these videos, students will still build the stages of the cell cycle, but will include a voiceover to verbally say what is happening in each stage.
Some of my students like this type of video because they feel they learn it better when they are writing their script and then repeating what they wrote.
By allowing students to choose, it gives them some autonomy over their work.
When the videos are made, I will have students post their videos in our learning management system. Students will then need to watch their classmates’ videos about the cell cycle and comment what they loved about their video and an area that maybe needed a little more explanation.
All in all, making cell cycle videos will help your students review the information and help them retain everything they learned about the cell cycle.
5 – Finish with a cell cycle Quiz
Finish up by giving students a short quiz to check for progress.
I always include a Google Forms Quiz in my lessons so I can quickly and easily check what students have understood.
This literally takes 5 minutes as there are 5 multiple choice questions in this Google Forms Quiz.
And guess what – it is self-grading!
(Told you it was easy!)
Simply assign to students and check their grades immediately after submission.
Your Cell Cycle Lesson = DONE
And that’s it, your cell cycle lesson is done!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the different ways to teach the cell cycle. It’s important to note that not everything is one size fits all.
Many students will need a combination of these methods (and more) to fully grasp the concept of the cell cycle.
Let me know how you found these activities, and if you have any more you like to use!
Before we part ways, make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter so you can get your cell cycle freebies today.
I hope you have a wonderful day,