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Rocks and Their Properties: Day 6
Grade Level(s): 3–5
In this unit, entitled Rocks and Their Properties, students will engage in cooperative research projects in order to learn about the properties of the three basic rock types and the processes that form them. In order to ensure that students can express what they learned as accurately as possible, a variety of options will be available for communicating their new knowledge.This investigation of the properties of rocks should take 6–7 class periods. The UDL approach used in this unit provides the following:
- presentational options to make information accessible to all students
- varied strategies and techniques to reach all students
- motivational options to ensure that all students can be engaged
- flexible classroom management techniques that increase opportunities for all students
Lesson Description for Day
Today, students will take stock of what they learned from each group's research presentation by discussing and summarizing significant changes in their learning. Then, in order to encourage critical thinking and deeper analysis of the content, students will make generalizations about the forces involved in the rock formation process, and then will make predictions about how changes in those forces could impact the rock cycle.
Massachusetts State Standards for Science and Technology/Engineering, Strand 1: Earth and Space Science
- Massachusetts Science Standard 1.3: (Rocks and Their Properties) Identify three categories of rocks (metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary) based on how they are formed, and explain the natural and physical processes that create these rocks.
- Massachusetts Science 1.6: (Earth's History) Describe and give examples of ways in which the Earth's surface is built up and torn down by natural processes, including deposition of sediments, rock formation, erosion, and weathering.
- Students will describe the natural and physical processes that create metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary rocks.
- Students will successfully complete a cooperative research project that refines their basic understanding of rock formation processes.
- Students will apply their understanding of the processes that create sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic rocks to making predictions about how the rock cycle could be impacted by changes in the forces that contribute to rock formation.
- Students will be able to summarize significant learning from the group research presentations.
- Students will apply their understanding of rock formation processes to making generalizations about the forces that form them, and to making predictions how alterations in those forces could affect the rock cycle.
Encourage students to reflect on what they learned from each group's research presentation. Give students one of the following options: discuss their significant learnings with partners, write a brief summary, record a summary, or sketch and label a drawing.
Then, invite volunteers to provide summarizing statements related to rock formation processes. Ask students to keep this information in mind as the class works to apply what they learned to today's discussion.
Rock Formations are Part of an Endless Cycle of Nature
Refine student understanding of rock formation processes by sharing some basic information about the rock cycle. Read the following description aloud, share it as a handout, or invite a volunteer to read it to the class:
The Rock Cycle Some people believe that "once a rock, always that rock". But that is not always true. Rocks take different forms at different times. A long time ago our earth was very volcanic. As these volcanoes cooled and vast oceans swept over the earth, the cooled lava was broken or crushed into small pieces. These small pieces were cemented together to become sedimentary rocks. These rocks were buried and the heat and pressure changed them into metamorphic rocks. They might even have melted and become igneous rocks once more. As you can tell a rock may change many times and the rock you hold today may look entirely different to someone a long time from now.
Developing Generalizations that Support Transfer of Learning
Encourage students to get together with partners or a small group in for about 10 minutes, in order to discuss and respond to this question:
Based on what you learned about how rocks are formed, what forces of nature are involved in their development?Target responses include:
- Pressure—causes bits and pieces of sediment to join together into sedimentary rock—also results in the force and heat that create metamorphic and igneous rocks
- Heat—increased heat can change rock from one form to another—metamorphic rocks—decreased heat helps form igneous rocks (as lava cools)
- Gravity—causes sediment to sink to the bottom of bodies of water, where over time, they form sedimentary rocks
After students make generalizations about the major forces of nature that influence rock formation, ask them this question:
Suppose that Earth lacked forces such as gravity. Suppose that heating and cooling did not affect or change rock. Would the rock cycle continue? Do you think Earth's surface would be different? How? In a few paragraphs, predict what might occur if the rock cycle were not driven in the ways we know.* You may work with a partner or individually to complete your predictions.
For more information to inform your prediction, visit:
* from: Concepts and Challenges: Earth Science, Pearson Learning Group, Parsippany, NJ, 2003.
Wrap-up this series of lessons on rock formation by asking students to share their predictions. Discuss their contributions and help elaborate upon, and refine their thinking about the rock cycle.
Finally, to end the unit, ask students what especially sparked their curiosity. Also ask what they want to learn more about as a result of these activities, and what questions would they like to investigate further.
There is no formative assessment for this lesson.
There is no summative assessment for this lesson.