From Seed to Seed:
Plant Science for K-8 Educators


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A. Course Overview

The course content is divided into two parts: From Seed to Seed and Exploring Plant Topics. The first part follows the life cycle of a plant from seed to seed. Although this is not the order in which information is presented in traditional botany textbooks, there are three important reasons why we have chosen this approach:

    The stages of a plant's life cycle can be correlated with major events in the life of a human being. This connection can prove to be a valuable teaching tool as students draw parallels between themselves and the plants that they are studying. Throughout a plant science unit, teachers can help students make connections between different plant life stages and events in their own lives. Alternatively, students can be asked to draw their own connections at the end of the unit, enabling the teacher to assess what they have learned. Here is the order in which material is presented in this course and some possible connections to humans:

    By presenting material in the "seed to seed" format, you-and your students-are introduced to important processes in a plant's life cycle and the individual structures (plant parts) that are essential in these processes. For example, in the section on photosynthesis, you will be formally introduced to leaves for the first time. By learning all about leaves and then immediately learning how they play a role in the life of a plant, you-and your students-are more likely to retain the information.

    Last, but certainly not least, state and national science standards emphasize the importance of life cycles and students' understanding of them. We hope that the "seed to seed" format will make it easier for you to incorporate plants in your life cycles curriculum.

The first part of the course lays the foundation for you to learn about more complex and fascinating topics in plant biology. The second part of the course focuses on these topics, including:

It is your job to decide how much of the information is appropriate for your students. What should your students know about plants? In general, we recommend that teachers expose their students to the "big ideas" rather than specific details. Focusing on the big ideas allows students to gain a deeper understanding of a few concepts rather than a superficial understanding of a wide range of topics. In addition, as students progress through their school years, continually revisiting these same major concepts, they are able to make more sophisticated associations and expand their knowledge base.

What are the core life science concepts to which you should expose your students? The National Science Education Standards detail broad content standards for grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. In general, these standards suggest that K-4 students focus on observations of individual organisms, their needs and basic associations. By grades 5-8, students should, according to the standards, expand their scope to investigate patterns and relationships within larger ecosystems. Although the breadth of information that you cover in each concept area varies depending on the grade that you are teaching, the core life science concepts are consistent for all grades. Below, we provide a list of the core concepts recommended in the National Science Education Standards, a brief description of how they relate to plants, and where in the course they are addressed. By clicking on any of the course references in the Course Connections section, you will automatically be linked to the part of the course that addresses that core concept. For example, if you were to click on "Germination Requirements" you would be linked to a section of the course that addresses the basic needs of plants.

Core Life Science Concepts

In addition to the core botany content, there are four resources you can access to expand upon a subject. First, at the end of certain sections, we include relevant Web sites that have been targeted as useful teaching tools. Second, by clicking on the following icons as they appear in the course, you can locate 1) a related standards-based activity, 2) additional information on a topic, or 3) a relevant article from our Growing Ideas newsletter:

Link to a related classroom or garden activity that addresses several national standards (see Curriculum Activities section for additional information).

Find more details or interesting tidbits on a particular subject.


Pull up a relevant Growing Ideas newsletter article. These feature useful teaching tools, classroom stories, and expansion activities. For example, if you were to click on either of the Growing Ideas buttons on this page, you would access an article on linking plants to your classroom curriculum.

At the top of each page a menu of navigation buttons will help you maneuver around the course.

btn1_home.gif (1256 bytes)Returns you to the From Seed to Seed: Plant Science for K-8 Educators Home Page.

btn1_help.gif (1225 bytes) Returns you to this introductory section, which provides useful information about the course.

btn1_gloss.gif (1331 bytes) Defines each underlined term that we introduce in the course.

btn1_outline.gif (1274 bytes) A linked outline of the course. Click on any topic to visit that section of the course.


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