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Decomposers | Activity 4.2

Activity 4.2: Explaining How Fungi Move and Function: Cellular Respiration (40 min)

Students use the Explanations Tool to explain what happens when fungi move and function.

Materials You Provide

Resources Provided


Print one copy of the 4.2 Explanations Tool for Fungi Cellular Respiration for each student. Return students’ completed versions of the 3.3 Evidence-Based Arguments Tool for Bread Molding for review. Prepare a computer and a projector to display the PPT. In this activity, your students will need to use the Three Questions Explanation Checklist on the back of the Three Questions Handout. Be sure to have this available to students, and see the notes in the Modifications at the end of the Activity for ideas about how to use it.


1. Use the instructional model to show students where they are in the course of the unit.


During the class, circulate while students are comparing their explanations. Listen to see if they are able to explain cellular respiration at both the macroscopic and atomic-molecular scales. Use 4.2 Grading the Explanations Tools for Fungi Cellular Respiration to grade student responses. This worksheet has “grading” in the title (instead of “assessing”) because at this point, students can be held accountable for correct answers. If students are still struggling with these concepts, you may want to revisit parts of the activity they are finding difficult. Use the Grading the Matter and Energy in Decomposers Graphic Organizer to grade the graphic organizer.


  • Make sure students understand that the chemical energy in glucose (not glucose itself) is converted to heat energy.
  • Make sure that students discuss and understand all three columns of the Three Questions 11 x 17 Poster or Handout. They play a central role in all Carbon TIME units.


The Three Questions Explanation Checklist on the back of the Three Questions Handout can be used to scaffold students’ explanations in many ways.

  • Students refer to the checklist as they are constructing their explanations.
  • Students use the checklist as they are sharing and revising their explanations with a partner.
  • Students use the checklist to critique and revise their final explanations.
  • Students use the checklist to critique the example explanations for each unit.
  • Students use the checklist to create and/or evaluate a whole-class consensus explanation.

We recommend using this checklist with a gradual release. As students improve in their ability to write their own explanations, they may rely on the checklist less.

Extending the Learning

  • Time-lapse videos from Cornell Plant Pathology contains time lapse movies of fungi, molds, bacteria, slime molds and insects of interest to plant pathologists: We recommend the bagel or strawberries for this discussion, but you may want to return to other decomposers later in the unit.
  • YouTube videos might be useful for showing different decomposers:

  • Bacteria Growth Videos: (35 seconds) (7 seconds)

  • General Decomposition video: (1 minute 30 seconds)