ALEX Learning Activity

Synthetic vs. Natural: What's the Best Choice?

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Holly Evans
System:Jefferson County
School:Rudd Middle School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2271
Synthetic vs. Natural: What's the Best Choice?
Digital Tool/Resource:
One-Third of Cancer Patients Use Alternative Medicine
Web Address – URL:

In this activity, students will investigate the effectiveness of a pharmaceutical medicine and its natural counterpart.  They will evaluate the pros and cons of each and make a recommendation about the best choice for the consumer.  Students present their research to the class and evaluate the research of their peers.

This activity was created as a result of the Alex Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
20 ) Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. [W.8.1]

a. Introduce claim(s), acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically. [W.8.1a]

b. Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant evidence, using accurate, credible sources and demonstrating an understanding of the topic or text. [W.8.1b]

c. Use words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and clarify the relationships among claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence. [W.8.1c]

d. Establish and maintain a formal style. [W.8.1d]

e. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented. [W.8.1e]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.8.20- Compose an argument to support a claim by stating a claim, providing facts or reasons supporting the claim, and providing an appropriate conclusion related to the stated argument.

English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
27 ) Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation. [W.8.8]

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 8
Physical Science
3 ) Construct explanations based on evidence from investigations to differentiate among compounds, mixtures, and solutions.

a. Collect and analyze information to illustrate how synthetic materials (e.g., medicine, food additives, alternative fuels, plastics) are derived from natural resources and how they impact society.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.8.3- Differentiate between compounds and mixtures.
SCI.AAS.8.3a- Recognize that synthetic materials are made from natural resources; identify a synthetic material and the natural resource from which it is derived.

Learning Objectives:

1.  Students will be able to explain how synthetic products are made from natural resources.

2.  Students will be able to evaluate the effects of synthetic and natural products with similar functions to determine the best consumer choice.

3.  Students will create and present a poster to express their evidence-based opinion.

4.  Students will write reviews of their classmates' opinions.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1.  Students will watch the video clip "One-Third of Cancer Patients Use Complementary or Alternative Medicine."

2.  Student groups draw cards for assigned synthetic/natural product pairs using the Product Cards.

3.  Using digital devices with internet access, students work in groups to research their product pairs by referring to their Research Guide.

4.  Student groups make a poster which shows the pros and cons of the natural and synthetic medicines in their assigned product pair and makes a recommendation about which remedy is the best choice.

5.  Student groups present their posters to the class.

6.  Students engage in a gallery walk with other groups' posters and write reviews using the Project Review Form.

Assessment Strategies:

Student posters and presentations are evaluated using a rubric.

The rubric assesses student posters, presentations, and written reviews of other projects.

Advanced Preparation:

Project cards will need to be printed and cut out ahead of time. The project cards can be laminated for longevity.

Student Project Review Forms will need to be printed out ahead of time.  An alternate method is to write the sentence stem on the board or chart paper and students can copy it onto their own paper as many times as needed.

Rubrics need to be printed and cut apart.

Students will need access to digital devices with internet access.

Variation Tips (optional):
Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: natural medicine, opposing viewpoint, presentation, synthetic medicine