Grade level:


Approximate Lesson Duration:

Unit/Lesson New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS):

Scientific Practices:

2. Developing and using models

4. Analyzing and interpreting data

8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Cross Cutting Concepts:

1. Patterns. Observed patterns of forms and events guide organization and classification, and they prompt questions about relationships and the factors that influence them.

6. Structure and function. The way in which an object or living thing is shaped and its substructure determine many of its properties and functions.

Core Idea LS1: From Molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
HS-LS1.A: Structure and Function

Scientific Investigations Use a Variety of Methods

HS-LS1.3 Scientific inquiry is characterized by logical thinking, precision, open-mindedness, and objectivity.


Brief Summary of Cultural Competencies Related to the Unit/Lesson:

LGBTQ+ rights and concepts are currently at the forefront of both social and political discussions, and yet less than 1 in 5 students seem to be taught with any positive LGBTQ+ representation in any form in pedagogy (Kosciw, Greytak, Palmer, & Boesen, 2013).  In fact, in 28 states it is still legal for employers to discriminate against someone for their sexual or gender identity (Human Rights Campaign, 2018).  Therefore, there is a real need to integrate positive representation into our curricula.

The goal of this lesson is to incorporate positive LGBTQ+ language to make the classroom a more inclusive environment.  The lesson uses the teaching of the structural components of the cell membrane to teach and reinforce appropriate language, while addressing and redefining outdated attitudes or assumptions about sex, gender, and expression (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center, n.d.)


Human Rights Campaign (2018).  Retrieved from

Kosciw, J., Greytak, E., Palmer, N., Boesen, M. (2013). GLSEN’s 2013 National School Climate Survey. Retrieved from 

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Equity Center. (n.d.) Good Practices: Inclusive Language.  University of Maryland.  Retrieved from

Lesson Overview:

Essential Question(s)
  • How does structure relate to function?
  • How can we use data to draw conclusions?
  • What do effective problem solvers do when they get stuck?
  • What is the value of inclusivity?
Enduring Understanding(s)

Scientists use information to collect data, analyze and interpret evidence, and solve problems to develop accurate conclusions.

Potential Misconceptions

Using outdated or hurtful language means we are not being inclusive.  As students work through the parts of the POGIL, the teacher will periodically stop at specific points to go over answers to help scaffold learning and knowledge.  This will also aid in addressing misunderstandings and appropriate vocabulary between concepts of sex, gender and the need for inclusive language.

Learning plan, experiences, intstruction and learning activities:

What is Expected?
  • List the intentional learning objectives on the board.

The teacher will…

Run off photocopies of prepared activity.  They should walk around the room and help address misunderstandings.  As prepared, the activity suggests that teachers do the activities in sections (parts 1-5) and address parts and answers to help with this.

Students will be able to:

  • work in small collaborative groups and use the concept on the POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning) activity
  • use problem solving skills and collaborations to work through concepts and vocabulary.
  • use inquiry and 2D models to discover molecular and cellular structures to link structure to function in a variety of ways (i.e. spatial, verbal, logical, & social)
  • use logical thinking and open-mindedness to draw accurate and socially appropriate conclusions.

Today we will be working on… Learning about cell membranes while exploring inclusive language

What is expected?
How will we hook (Introduce this to) the students?
  • Activate thinking
  • Consider the language you will use to introduce the lesson (See example in the table)

Link to Engagement

Hook/Do Now: What is a lipid?  Where do you get them from? Why are these important in the human body?  Have students answer these questions in their notebooks (2 min.)

Think-pair-share: Share your answer with the person sitting next to you.  Are there similarities?  Are there differences?  (2 min.)

  • You are really beginning to understand the idea that lipids are acquired by eating.  They have many different roles in the human body.  Today, we’re going to dig deeper with a new focus.  This focus will be about the structure of specific lipids, and how they relate to function.  We will link this knowledge to inclusive LGBTQ + language. 
  • Goal of the lesson:  The created activity will focus on learning about lipids and cell membrane structure, while incorporating inclusive LGBTQ + language into the lesson.
What equipment, resources, or materials are needed?

You will need to copy the Learning About Cell Membranes Through Inclusive Language POGIL packet (included below).

How will we rethink or revise our thinking throughout the lesson?
  • What learning is confirmed?
  • What misconceptions are uncovered?
  • What is your new thinking?

Students are learning about structure and function through inquiry-based questions.  They will link images with structure and interpret function.  As students work through the parts of the POGIL, the teacher will periodically stop at specific points to go over answers to help scaffold learning and knowledge.  This will also aid in addressing misunderstandings of concepts and appropriate vocabulary. Students use logical problem solving and collaboration to reflect on structure and function and apply this skill to any other concept.

Learning is confirmed when questions are answered on the POGIL and revisions are made.  In this way, students are getting feedback to their answers and misconceptions to learn in a positive manner.

The assumption that everyone is cisgender can manifest itself in the form of misgendering (The Trevor Project, 2019). This can occur when a person is referred to by the incorrect pronouns or other gendered terms.  This is why including pronouns when introducing oneself is the first step toward respecting people’s gender identity and working against cisnormativity (The Trevor Project, 2019).  By doing this you help to ensure a more welcoming space for people of all genders.


The Trevor Project.  (2019). Trans + gender identify.  Retrieved from

How will students self-evaluate and reflect on their learning?
  • Instant feedback is given as answers are gone over and discussed in class, part by part.
  • Collaborative group discussion and peer feedback is given in group work.
  • Problem solving takes place while strengthening social interactions and socially inclusive language, and justification is given.
How will we tailor learning to varied needs, interests, and learning styles?
  • The learning is taking place in groups.  Each group member could have a role if needed, and groups can be hand-picked by the teacher to have groups with students with different skill sets.
  • Students work together to interpret 2D models and collaborate to come up with answers.
  • Spatial, verbal, logical, & social learning styles are incorporated into the lesson.


How will we organize the sequence of learning during the lesson?

Scaffold the Instruction


Teachers can hold up a model or show a model of a cell membrane, and the structure and function of this organelle will be further explored in the activity.  GIF link:

Guided Practice:

Students will work through parts 1-4 in the activity.

Independent Practice:

Students will work on understanding inclusive language.

Extension: There are other components and molecules that make up the phospholipid bilayer.  Research at least 3 more molecules. Describe their structures and functions in the cell membrane. Your lab group will create a 3D model of the phospholipid bilayer, including both saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids in the phospholipid, cholesterol, and your group’s 3 more molecules.


Check for understanding:

(Formative evidence such as conferencing, group Q/A, teacher observation, exit-slip, etc.)

A suggestion here would be the CAT (classroom assessment techniques):

Ask students at the end of the activity: with a Ticket-Out-The-Door:

    1. Name two molecules that require fatty acids in their structural make-up:
    2. Name two kinds of fatty acids:
    3. What is the difference between a trans-fatty acid and a cis-fatty acid:
    4. Why is working against cisnormativity important?

This will give the teacher time and feedback on need for re-teaching topics. (this is provided in the lesson plan).

Quiz/Test (optional):
(attach copy of assessment)


Performance Task/Project:
(attach rubric)
  • Goal: Your Group Task is to research and pick 3 more structural components/molecules that are found in the phospholipid bilayer.  Report their structure and function.  Build a 3D model of the phospholipid bilayer, including both saturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids in the phospholipid, cholesterol, and your group’s 3 more molecules.
  • Rubric is provided with attached documents.



Download Lesson Plan PDF: