Exploring Rocks and the Rock Cycle
Grade Level: 4
Timeframe: periods? 10 class periods
Number of hours? Minutes? 45 minutes each
Lesson Description or Explanation
The students will be able to identify and describe erosion and weathering processes as they affect the world around them. The students will be able to classify and describe different types of rocks in their environment.
Indiana Curricular Standards to be Uncovered
4.3.6 Recognize and describe that rock is composed of different combinations of minerals
4.3.7 Explain that smaller rocks come from the breakage and weathering of bedrock and larger rocks and that soil is made partly from weathered rock, partly from plant remains, and also contains many living organisms.
4.5.1 Write narratives that: Include ideas, observations, or memories of an event or experience; provide a context to allow the reader to imagine the world of the event or experience; use concrete sensory details.
4.5.1 Measure length to the nearest quarter inch, eighth inch, and millimeter.
1. Creativity and Innovation
Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology. Students:
c. use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues.
3. Research and Information Fluency
Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information. Students:
b. locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media.
A. Formative Assessment
After each lesson there is a small explanation activity which is an extension of what the students have learned about. This allows the teacher to see what information the students are retaining, and areas that require further support. The students will also be observed during their time exploring and discussing. The teacher can assess information being discussed as well as what the students are retaining from previous days’ exploration activities.
B. Summative Assessment
Students will choose to create a written report, a power point presentation, or an oral report or rap that demonstrates their knowledge of the three types of rocks and the rock cycle. For the final project the students will be evaluated using a rubric. Here is the link for this rubric.
https://oncourse.iu.edu/access/content/user/nbuitend/Rock Project Rubric.docx
Curricular Knowledge or Skills:
The students for whom this lesson is written have some knowledge of rocks. Most likely the students have seen them in the world around them, and they may have collected them for one reason or another. The prior knowledge possessed by the students about rocks is likely minimal. In the past they may have categorized them based on different characteristics visually or tactilely, but it is not likely that they have categorized them by official names. The students may have some knowledge of volcanoes, earthquakes, and other earth process which help shape rocks throughout the rock cycle, but it is unlikely that they have related these processes to the formation of rocks. The students would have some knowledge of other cycles, besides the rock cycle. Examples of cycles that they would have some knowledge of include the life cycle or the water cycle. This knowledge of a cycle will be built upon when they learn the rock cycle.
Students at this level are expected to have a basic knowledge of computers. They are expected to have used the internet to view websites, watched videos on the internet or have seen them played by others on the internet. Students should also have a basic knowledge of utilizing the mouse on the computer. The students should know how to use the mouse to navigate through a PowerPoint presentation on the computer. The skills of navigating a website and a PowerPoint presentation should be at an independent level, or at the level where students can do these things with minimal support. Although support will be available, the students should possess the skills of navigation independently to work smoothly with others. For students choosing to create a PowerPoint or a typed report as their end product, those students should have a basic knowledge of the respective programs and should be able to complete a project within those programs with limited peer or teacher support. As the students will be working with microscopes hooked up to the computer, scales, and voice recorders, it would also be helpful if the students had seen these pieces of technology used before. Although they do not need a working knowledge of these pieces of equipment, having an understanding of what they are used for will help the classroom lessons run more fluidly.
Igneous Rock websites:
http://www.videojug.com/film/geology-igneous-rocks http://www.cdli.ca/CITE/rocks_igneous.htm http://www.childrensmuseum.org/geomysteries/floatingrock/b3.html- http://www.rocksforkids.com/R&M/igneous.htm
Sedimentary Rock websites
Metamorphic Rock websites
http://www.uky.edu/AS/Geology/howell/goodies/elearning/module02swf.swf (interactive site)
Teacher Tube videos
http://www.teachertube.com/ (titles- Rock Cycle Experiment: Dr. Loopy and Rocks and Minerals Part 2 Blinding You with Science)
Digital Book Power Point Presentation (The Rock Cycle) Here is a link to
this Power Point Presentation https://oncourse.iu.edu/access/content/user/nbuitend/The Rock Cycle interactive book.pptx To use put into slide show mode and enjoy!
1. Interview and Engaging Phase (Science Talk …. 1 day)
As a whole class the students will generate a KWL chart, documenting the students’ prior knowledge of rocks and the rock cycle. The students will be asked to articulate their questions regarding rocks and the rock cycle.
Working in small groups, the students will be given several rocks to describe, analyze, and sort into categories. The categories will based on the students’ own methods of sorting and will look different from group to group. Students will be given magnifying glasses and microscopes connected to computers to more closely view the rocks if they choose. Students will be asked to articulate their process for categorizing the rocks and explain their strategy to the whole class. As a whole class students will add to the KWL chart.
To conclude students will be introduced to their individual pet rocks. Each student will get one which will help them throughout the rest of the time in small groups. These rocks will be explored along with the other rocks and will be a commonality in all the lessons tying them together and making them more fluid. To finish the first day of engagement the students will be asked to fill out a birth certificate for their pet rocks. They will be asked to name it, measure it with a ruler, as well as a digital scale, and record this information on their birth certificate.
2. Exploration Phase A (3 days)
Each day the class will first meet to discuss the stations of exploration (3 min). The students will then get into their small groups and work at the stations of exploration (25 min). After the exploration stations time is complete the students will have work time either in small groups or individually to work on their extension activities (10 min). To conclude, the group will again meet as a whole class to fill in new knowledge on the KWL chart created the first day (7 min).
Working in small groups the students will visit stations that will help them more closely explore the three types of rocks. They will choose as small groups in which order they would like to visit the stations, but will need to visit all three stations.
One exploration station will involve igneous rocks. The students will have the opportunity to explore these rocks, identify similarities and differences with them, note characteristics found in the rocks, and use non-fiction literature to research information about these rocks. The students will have access to predetermined websites, listed above, to aid them in their research as well. Students will then also view a digital book that takes a closer look at each type of rock. Students will learn how igneous rocks are formed, what they look like, and what they are made of. As they work the students will discuss their learning in narrative form, either by writing or using a voice recorder. They will be asked to create a narrative in which their pet rock goes back in time to when igneous rocks were formed. They will discuss facts they learned about igneous rocks in their story to support what they are writing.
Another exploration station will focus on sedimentary rock. These rocks will also be discovered, discussed, and talked about much in the same way that the igneous rocks were with hands-on opportunities, literature opportunities, online research opportunities, and the digital book. The students will have hands on experience with these rocks and make observations, notes, and do research about these rocks taking notes in verbally recorded or written form. Within this lesson students will learn how sedimentary rocks are formed, what they look like, and what they are made of. In extension to this activity students will be asked to again discuss their knowledge. The students’ pet rocks are mainly sedimentary rocks. Because of this the students will create the history of their pet rock at this point. They will discuss where their pet rock was born, how it was created, and what the journey for their pet rock might have been like. They will use information learned about to support their history. This piece will also be a possible method for assessment of information that is being retained.
The third station that will be explored is metamorphic rock. This type of rock will be explored in the same way as the other two. The students will have hands on experience with these rocks and make observations, notes, and do research through literature, the internet, and the digital book, about these rocks. In extension to this lesson the students will discuss what their pet rock might be like if it were to change. They will be able to draw and write about what they would like for their rock to become if it were to change. They will use the information they have learned to discuss the possibility of this, what would need to occur for this to happen, and give evidence from what they have learned to support the details of their story. This is also an excellent opportunity for assessment for this lesson.
Exploration Phase B (1 day)
The next exploration will be about weathering and erosion. In this section students will be involved in hands on exploration of erosion and weathering of a variety of materials. The students will look at how wind, water, physical breakdown, and possibly chemical breakdown affect rocks. This step will be done in stations. The students will rotate through these stations in small groups. They will visit all three stations in the 45 minute time period. The students will spend 12 minutes at each station. They will then have 9 minutes to work on their narratives, take notes, mark down observations, and discuss with peers what they observed. They will use this information later in their final products. The students will get to explore this process and use their knowledge of rocks to support what they are learning to progress in this stage of learning. The stations are as follows:
Station 1: Demonstration of wind and water erosion. The group will look at a “mountain” of sand. They will observe the measurement markers (popsicle sticks). The group will erode the mountain with “wind” (straws or a hair dryer). The students will discuss what happened with the mountain. Which parts “eroded” the quickest? Why is this? They will then erode the mountain with rain. The water will fall in the form of a watering can over the sand. Where do the “rivers” form? Which part of the mountain eroded quickest? Finally when leaves or grass are placed on the mountain how is erosion affected?
Station 2: Demonstration of water erosion and sediment build up. The group will look at a “stream”. The group will look at how sediment (small pieces of debris, rock, and soil is carried downstream and compiled at the bottom. What is being formed at the bottom of the stream? What does this flowing stream mean for the ground around it? What does the flowing water do to the land? When do bigger rocks move to the bottom of a stream? If the stream were to be dammed what would happen to it? The land around it?
Station 3: Demonstration of physical rock break-down. The group will look at how different rocks break down physically. They will use hammers to simulate feet, traffic, and other physical factors which can break rocks. They will discuss how some rocks are harder to break than others. How do such strong rocks become weak enough to break down? (discuss heat and pressure forming metamorphic rocks and also long time compression forming sedimentary) How can rocks become weaker when water and heat are introduced? This can also be explored by putting various rocks in water to see if they break down more quickly. (IF TIME) The group will also discuss glacier erosion. A piece of ice will slide down the trough displacing soil, sand, and small rocks. What happens when the glacier melts? What damage does the glacier do to the area it travels over?
Exploration Phase C (1 day)
The last day of exploration students will discover the various parts of the rock cycle and do some exploration as to how the rock cycle formed each type of rock. This will give the students the opportunity to put together what they have learned about the three different types of rocks, how and why they are different, and how erosion and weathering fit into the rock cycle. For this lesson the class will be split into two smaller groups. Each group will watch two videos from Teacher Tube (listed above). These short videos sum up what the students have been learning to this point and show vividly how the rock cycle works. The videos can be paused to create short discussions which are also assessment opportunities for the teacher. The groups will then participate in a rock cycle demonstration. The teacher will demonstrate, with help, how rocks move through the rock cycle process. The teacher and students will engage in dialogue throughout the demonstrations. This example will be a safe and vivid representation of the rock cycle in a much more realistic time span. The students will use the knowledge they have learned up to this point to support their conversation. (See Teacher Tube video for way to complete demonstration) After completing the demonstrations students will be given time to discuss what they saw and what they learned. They will be given time to work on their narratives and write down or record ideas for their projects.
4. Explanation Phase ( 2 days)
There are a variety of ways that the students will demonstrate their knowledge in this series of explorations. Each lesson includes a way for student to illuminate the knowledge they have gained. They are producing a product each lesson which encourages the students to take what they are learning and apply the information in a meaningful way that does more than simply recall facts. The students will have the opportunity to use a variety of strategies to do this as well. Some of the methods of explanation have been discussed above in the first three days of discovering types of rocks as well as briefly discussed in the lessons following. With each of these extensions the students will demonstrate what they have retained in a way that is meaningful to them and expresses their learning to their peers, teachers, and others.
On this day the students will have an opportunity for another explanation activity. They will be the re-sorting the rocks that they sorted on the first day of the study. This activity will give the students the opportunity to take the information that they have learned about rocks and demonstrate it. They will be able to discuss why they have chosen to place the rocks in the categories they did as well as what informed their decisions to place them there. This will be a definite indicator of what the students have retained from the rock lessons.
A summative assessment planned for the students will be to create a rap, oral presentation, Power Point presentation, or written report about rocks. The student will take all of the information that they have learned about rocks and put it together in a presentation. They will create the presentation to highlight what they know about rocks, the rock cycle, and about weathering and erosion. This will be a fun and meaningful thing that they can share with other classmates, teachers, parents, and friends to demonstrate what they learned.
The students will have two days to work on their final product. They can choose to work on these in partners or individually. The students will have two 45 minute class periods to work on these projects. Following these two work days they will present their products to the class for practice and to share their learning, then, the following day the students will present their products, knowledge, and ideas to other classrooms, teachers, and their families in a knowledge explanation day.
Presentation Day 1 (1 day)
Students will present their knowledge through their presentation of a Power Point presentation, written report, oral report, or rap to the class. This will be the primary time for the teacher to engage with students about their learning. This presentation will be set up in a gallery format where students will have the opportunity to walk around and learn what their classmates have done. Each student is likely to have similarities within their presentations, which can be great points of discussion; however, they are also likely to have different ideas and points of emphasis. These points will be much more likely to strike up meaningful conversation in which students may come to a deeper understanding of their learning.
Presentation Day 2 (1 day)
Students will repeat the gallery of learning from the previous day. This day, however, will be for other classrooms, teachers, staff, and administrators, and families to come and enjoy the learning the students have done. This time during the gallery walk the students will stay with their presentation to answer questions and present their knowledge. This situation will hopefully be less intimidating having had a day of practice, but if it is scary for some students, accommodations will be made (see below). This is a secondary opportunity for the teacher to assess what the students have learned. The teacher will also be able to see how students are able to interact with others about their learning. This will serve as a final wrap up of the learning the students did.
Granite and other Igneous Rocks by Chris and Helen Pellant
Rocks by Roy A Gallant
Rocks and Minerals by Caroline Bingham
Rocks and Minerals by Ruth Chasek
Sandstone and Other Sedimentary Rocks by Chris and Helen Pellant
Cool Rocks Creating Fun and Fascinating Collections by Tracy Kompelien
Rocks and Minerals by Mary Packard
Rocks, Gems, and Minerals by Trudi Strain Trueit
Rocks and Minerals by Tracy Staedter
Marble and Other Metamorphic Rocks by Chris and Helen Pellant
Large class KWL chart
Microscope hooked up to computer
Paper for extensions
Troughs for sand and soil
Rocks- various hardness and size
Straws or hair dryers
Popsicle sticks with centimeter markings
Computers with Power Point and word processing software
Digital voice recorders
Students who are learning English as a Second language will see many opportunities to differentiate instruction for themselves. First, in the stations students have the opportunity to work with others who may be able to translate ideas, or work with the students to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. They will also have the opportunity to engage with the knowledge of rocks at many levels, through pictures, videos, text, demonstrations, and different products of knowledge. These opportunities will help students find a way of learning which best suits their needs. Students who are learning English may choose to write and present a rap in their native language. The teacher can use translation software to translate a written version of the rap.
Students who need a challenge or extension can use the websites and literature resources to look more deeply at weathering and erosion and the rock cycle. They will be asked to demonstrate this deeper knowledge during the gallery walks. Another option for extension is to have the students provide support to their classmates in preparing their final presentations.
This study is differentiated in many ways. First, students are able to work in groups. This presents a great opportunity for students to learn about the topic from their peers while simultaneously engaging in the activity. They have the option of engaging in the work in many different ways. The needs of multiple intelligences are addressed. There is an opportunity for text engagement, visual engagement through videos and demonstrations, tactile/kinesthetic engagement through hands on demonstration and manipulation of the rocks, artistic engagement through drawings and creative products such as raps, interpersonal and intrapersonal engagements with materials through group work and independent work, analytical engagement through text and online research, and scientific engagement through natural rocks to be manipulated.
Secondly, the exploration stations are very open ended. They do not ask for an appropriate length or amount of product. They simply ask that the students engage with the extension activity in the way that is most appropriate to them. They are also afforded the opportunity to work either independently or in pairs/groups for each of the production opportunities.
Thirdly, the students have a variety of assessment opportunities. Students can choose the way which makes them most comfortable. The teacher can see how the students engage with the study daily through observation. This can be very helpful for students who struggle to retain knowledge over a long period of time. The students can also utilize a variety of assistive technology such as voice recorders to record their thoughts for later use. They can utilize the computer with a screen reader if they cannot read print in hard copy, or engage in learning through hands on demonstrations at each level.