As a Biology teacher, one of the things that I deem critical for students to leave my class knowing is the structural components (and their functions) of a eukaryotic cell. Eukaryotic cells are cells that have a nucleus and membrane bound organelles. These can be contrasted to prokaryotic cells (such as a bacteria) which have no nucleus or membrane bound organelles.
In my classroom, I have two activities to achieve this goal. Prior to the first activity, the students have read the material from the text on eukaryotic cells so that they have a general idea of the material. First of all, we draw a plant cell and an animal cell, label the structures, and make a chart which lists the functions of the structures. If we have time, I allow them to color their cells with colored pencils. Once they know what the structure looks like and what job it performs we can move on to cementing that knowledge in their heads.
Next, the students are given a fun writing assignment to do. They are to write an analogy that compares the parts of either an animal cell or a plant cell, to some other thing. You will be shocked at the imaginative things they are able to come up with!
We make a chart on the board using a city as an example. After completing the city chart as a class, they make up their own chart for their own analogy. Once completed, they have me scan their chart to make sure it’s accurate and they make up a story using their analogy. When they have completed this assignment, they are able to remember the structures of a cell and their functions much more easily.
Here is a partial example of an analogy chart using parts of an animal cell:
nucleus = city hall
cell membrane = city limits
mitochondria = electrical plant
endoplasmic reticulum = streets
Golgi body = post office or UPS store
lysosome = sewer plant
ribosomes = meat markets/butcher shops
chromosomes = city planners
Once the chart is completed and I look it over, the students compose a story that makes it clear what each part does. They are then graded on content. Nearly every student comes away from this assignment able to pass the test on the structure and function of eukaryotic cell parts! This is much more entertaining to the student than just sitting and memorizing a chart, and it’s also fun to go around the room and let them share their analogies with the class!