Photosynthesis Lesson Plans That Rock


Creating photosynthesis lesson plans can be both frustrating and exhausting for teachers.  Most students have come into my high school biology classes with very little background knowledge about plant structures and functions.   In addition, photosynthesis can be difficult because this is one of the first times students are learning a biological process through a series of steps.  Here are five tips that I hope you find useful when designing your photosynthesis lesson plans

Create photosynthsis lesson plans that front-load the vocabulary

Teaching biology can often feel like teaching a foreign language with so many new vocabulary words embedded into the curriculum.  Students can find it intimidating trying to pronounce many of the photosynthesis vocabulary words, much less explain their meaning.  A simple solution to this issue is to introduce the relevant photosynthesis vocabulary words at the start of the unit when developing your photosynthesis lesson plans.  In my biology classes I would frequently give a photosynthesis vocabulary worksheet as a bell ringer activity on the first day of the unit. It allowed students to begin researching the meaning of the words before we even began discussing them in class.

Add Images To Your Photosynthesis Lesson Plans


Adding images to your photosynthesis lesson plans is a great way to help your students understand the content.

A picture can help tell a story.  And using pictures when presenting the content is so helpful in your students connecting to your photosynthesis lesson plans.  I try to imbed as many relevant images as possible in my photosynthesis lecture notes.  This really helps students connect the key vocabulary terms to the process of photosynthesis.  The reality is that the process of photosynthesis is occurring at the cellular level and students aren’t able to watch it occur.  Images bring the process to life and boost student understanding.

Solidify Understanding With A Photosynthesis Activity

It doesn’t matter how well you present your photosynthesis lesson plans if your students don’t understand them.  Adding photosynthesis  activities into your unit plan is a great way to help your students build a deeper understanding of the topic.  Labs and worksheets are great activities for helping students understand the concepts being taught.  Websites that link concepts to current events are also a great way to help students make connections.


Photosynthesis task cards are a great way to check for understanding.

Unfortunately, I see too many teachers who go directly to a quizzes and tests without checking for understanding to determine if any of the material needs to be reviewed..  Photosynthesis task cards are a great way to check for understanding and can be used in several different ways.  They can be used as a class walk-around, parter activity, and even as a review game to help figure out which topics students have learned and which still need further discussion.

Combine Photosynthesis And Cellular Respiration

Teaching photosynthesis and cellular respiration together under the umbrella of “cell energetics” has helped my students make connections between these topics.  This is especially true when teaching the equations for photosynthesis and cell respiration.  Personally, I like to teach  ATP, followed by photosynthesis, and finally cover cell respiration.  It has helped my students link the concepts and solidify the information.  It is also a great time to review the chloroplast and mitochondria as key cell organelles.


Creating photosynthesis lesson plans that rock is all about making a difficult topic easy for students to understand.  Hopefully these tips will help lower any frustration while making photosynthesis a topic you look forward to teaching every year.