Activity 1.1: Decomposers Unit Pretest (20 min)


1. Describe the unit pretest.

Explain the purpose of the unit pretest to students:

  • It will help you as a teacher understand how students think about what happens when things decay.
  • It will help them think about what they know and what questions they have.


Use the 1.1 Decomposers Unit Pretest to assess students' understanding of digestion, biosynthesis, and cellular respiration in terms of learning progression levels. You should not give your students grades on the pretest or expect your students to know the correct answers. The document 1.1 Assessing the Decomposers Unit Pretest has assessment guidelines, and identifies correct responses and explaining how students’ responses reveal their learning progression levels.

  • Be sure that students are comfortable with the technology that they are using and provide assistance when necessary.
  • If classroom in includes English Language Learners or have other special needs and considerations, you may want to read questions aloud and discuss meaning of questions.
Extending the Learning

Target Student Performance

Students ask and record specific questions about changes in matter and energy in response to the unit driving question: What happens when bread molds?

Resources You Provide

Resources Provided

Resources Provided


Prepare your computer for showing the PPT as well as a time-lapse video of decomposition of various materials: Print one copy of the 1.2 Expressing Ideas and Questions Tool for Bread Molding, Big Idea Probe: Leaf Pack Experiment (optional), and 1.2 Decomposers Storyline Reading for each student.