Exploring Minerals

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SWBAT ask and answer questions about key details in informational texts and other media.

Big Idea

Today students continue with hands on, cross-curricular learning. They dive into information about how minerals make up rocks.


15 minutes

Context and Overview

Weather permitting, I will start with the students outside. Today, we continue our topic of Earth Sciences and learn about minerals. I will continue to involve my students in asking and answering questions about rocks. One question we ask and answer is: How are rocks used? To start answering this question, I am asking my students to briefly observe their playground. I will have them share before going back to our room and spend time writing about their observations. 

The Common Core State Standards expects students to be exposed to informational texts in different ways. The expectation is for students to use informational text appropriately and efficiently. Today, we continue with exploring minerals by asking questions about them.

To meet this goal, I will be showing my students a short video on what are minerals? During the video, I will be pausing at particular points to give the students time to take notes. They will use a template I have created with questions about minerals?

Following this, each student will receive an informational sheet on particular minerals. They will choose one of the minerals to investigate. They will spend time reading about it and then filling out a template that I have designed for the study of minerals. This template will be displayed on the concept/question board.

Students will be given time to share their learning with their peers. 

In the end, we will gather on the rug and debrief our learning.

Rock Walk

Since our language arts time is after recess, I will sit with my students on a bench and ask them to look around their playground and outside: observingourplayground. I will ask them, how are rocks used? I will have a few of them share. I will ask them to remember what they observed because once upstairs they will be writing briefly in their journal about how rocks are used. In having them observe their playground with this context in mind is to build their awareness of their world.

If you have time to do this kind of activity, I suggest you do it because it makes students that much more engaged in the lesson to come. However, it would be fine to also just show students some pictures that you have found that show different ways rocks are used in a community and achieve a similar effect in less time.

Quick Write: How are rocks used?

10 minutes

Once back in the room, I ask students to spend time writing in their journal about HowWeUseRocks. I am doing this because I want to create awareness in my students on how we gather information about rocks from different sources. One student stated the SidewalkhasaTypeofRock. Another student observed StatuesAreMadeOutofRock. While another student clearly states, I know how rocks are used.

Here are a couple of more journal entries:

Brainstorm: What Are Minerals?

5 minutes

I like to ask my students about their prior knowledge about topics we are learning about. In this way, I am assessing and validating their prior knowledge. It gives me an indication of their conceptual understanding. Working with English Language Learners, it a good idea to give them many opportunities to practice with academic language.

I ask my students what they know about minerals. First they will pair share with each other: PairSharingWhatAreMinerals, and then I will transcribe their responses on a chart: WhatAreMinerals.


Questions About Minerals

10 minutes

Next, I would like to know what questions students still have about minerals: QuestionsAboutMinerals. I have them pair share again and then I transcribe their responses on a chart. I start the chart by writing the first question: what are minerals? (I don't want them asking this question; I want them asking other, more specific ones).

Now that we are done listing the questions, I am providing them with a strategy by which to evaluate their questions. I ask if there there any questions that repeat. I am creating awareness of the type of questions they are asking. And, more importantly, I am making think about the quality of their questions: EvaulatingQuestions.

Then, I ask the students to choose two questions from the list and add them to their journals. Later on, I will give them an opportunity to choose one to investigate further: ChoosingTwoQuestions.

Video: Rocks and Minerals

15 minutes

I am showing them a video on minerals today to build their content knowledge. As students watch this VideoAboutMinerals they are WatchingWithaPurpose. This purpose is to take notes on the template: All About Minerals, I have provided for them. The notes they are taking are to be written with words, phrases, and illustrations. Here are some examples of their notes:

Here is the video from youtube:

This video can be used for both the rock lesson and this lesson. For this lesson, the mineral information starts at the 4:34 time. But, I let my students watch the first part without interruption because it is be a good review. 

Researching Minerals

15 minutes

I gather students on the rug and explain that now they will be conducting research. Students will receive a page of informational text about minerals (see reflection in this section for the book where I got the pages). Students need exposure to different types of informational text so that they become comfortable with any text that comes across their way. They will choose one of the minerals. They will read about their mineral and then write their findings in a template I have designed for this task: Researching Minerals.

The template include three categories. They are to write 2-3 details about what they observe from the photos and what they read from the text. The last category asks them to write about they get from both the photos and the text. Here are some of their finished templates: ImResearchingWulfente and ReadingAboutMinerals.

The last box asks them to write about what surprised them about their mineral. In asking this question, I am asking them to synthesize what they are researching.

As students work, I will walk around and give them support. Some students will need support with the words they are reading. Some students will want to be listened to as to what they are discovering. One students was amazed that gold can be found in different shapes. While another student found out the nickname for their mineral. Others will need help with how to start organizing their information on the template. Others will need support with staying on task.

After students finish their work, we will add our work to our concept question board. This board displays our work and shows how this work is growing and and evolving. It is fun to come and read and discover what are minerals! Other work is there to model GoodUseofTextandPhotos, in their research.