Introduction to Minerals

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SWBAT define a mineral, identify properties of minerals, and differentiate between rocks and minerals

Big Idea

This lesson serves as an introductory view into the world of minerals, specifically focusing around the idea of what a mineral is and how they're classified

Lesson Introduction

[Note: For embedded CFUs, information on transitions, content delivery, and important directions, please reference the attached Word document and look at embedded comments for additional information]

This lesson is an information-rich and content-heavy lesson that involves a slew of different activities. First, students dive right in to exploring the Earth Science Reference Tables (ESRTs), which are going to be incredibly important for them throughout the year. Next, we go into some note-taking and evaluation of some mineral/non-mineral samples in testing out a definition of minerals, and then we get into elements as the chemical ingredients of mineral composition. Students also answer a few Regents-based practice questions before finishing up with a daily exit ticket. 

Do Now & Objective(s)

10 minutes

Students come in silently and complete the (attached) Do Now. As noted in the previous lesson, I start the Do Now the same each day, which focuses all of my students to begin re-activating that science content from the previous class. Additionally, I usually have a student read the objective at the beginning of the lesson to appropriately frame what we're trying to do. Usually (feel free to reference the 'Closing' section), we come back to that objective with some summative questions at the end of the lesson to determine if we actually learned what we were supposed to.

Once all students are in the room, they're usually given about 2-4 minutes (depending on the length and complexity of the problems) to work on it. After time is expired, we collectively go over the responses (usually involving a series of cold calls and volunteers) and then I ask someone to read the objective for the day before beginning the lesson. 

[Note: Students also receive their copy of the Earth Science Reference Tables (ESRT) during this time]. 

Introduction to the ESRT

10 minutes

In this section, students are given some "explore time" to flip through their reference tables. This is a document, as indicated in the handout, that students will utilize and need generally every single day in class, and students' familiarity with it is an essential component for their success on the Regents exam.

I want to give them some time to flip through the pages and see if they can begin to spot anything that's familiar, anything that strikes their interest, or just anything that they're curious about. I don't want them to be unnecessarily distracted when the lesson starts, so I wanted to build some lesson time in to give them the opportunity to explore this super important resource!

After they're given a few minutes to look over the document independently and write out their observations, I ask for 1-2 volunteers to share their insights and thoughts on what they found. 

Mineral Properties

20 minutes

In this section, we begin the first part of direct instruction. I use a simple PowerPoint (attached) and have students take notes using the (attached) Cornell notes template. For additional guidance, refer to the embedded comments in the Word document attached below, but the basic premise of the notes involve me sharing the fundamental mineral properties, followed by the definition of what a mineral is. We go over the criteria - that minerals are inorganic, solids, and have a definite crystal structure. I have students fill in the notes with me in the initial section, I present them with a few examples (these are not on the PowerPoint, but are usually on poster or chart paper pasted around the room). The examples are the following: Gold (is a mineral), coal (not a mineral due to its organic origin), ice (is a mineral), and opal (not a mineral - non-crystalling structure). I usually ask partners to turn and talk for 20-30 seconds for each example. 

After taking down some basic information on mineral properties, students are introduced to the idea (they have previously learned this in former science classes) of elements as essential building blocks. I then have them collectively (usually in pairs) think through a challenge question for 1-2 minutes (attached on the resource) before then giving them the opportunity to explore their ESRTs. They'll go to the very back page (page 16 in the ESRT) to answer the boxed questions on the attached handout before we move into some practice.

Independent Practice

10 minutes

They'll get some time to work individually and independently on the initial practice section. In this lesson, the practice is purposefully left a bit shorter to allow for some teacher-led time on rolling out the expectations for what practicing looks like and "how" student should engage with the content during this time (please see the REFLECTION for more information here). 

Exit Ticket & Closing

10 minutes

Students take the exit ticket (a multiple question daily assessment) for the day (activity is usually timed) before we go over it together as a class. The exit ticket, due to the many assembled years of Regents questions, consists entirely of former Regents questions. While this is efficient for me as the teacher, it also allows students to grapple with the material at a level of difficulty matching what they'll see on the actual course assessment at the end of the year. We also use exit tickets as grades in class, but also to diagnose student needs by figuring out where, as a class (or sometimes as individuals) where there are misconceptions. Then, those are usually remediated in future lessons by addressing the content directly, attacking it in homework or future Do Nows, or even reteaching the content at some point in the future.

After we go over the exit ticket together and before students are dismissed, one or two students are called on to summarize the learning for the day ("What did you learn today?" or "Tell me about what makes a mineral...")