Sedimentary Rocks

11 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT identify and describe how sedimentary rocks are formed and interpret the ‘Scheme for Sedimentary Rock Identification’ on the Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT]

Big Idea

Students will use scientific tables to determine the composition, method of formation, and other details about sedimentary rocks


[Note: For embedded comments, checks for understanding (CFUs), and key additional information on transitions and key parts of the lesson not necessarily included in the below narrative, please go to the comments in the following document: 1.9 - Sedimentary Rock Formation I (Whole Lesson w/comments). Additionally, if you would like all of the resources together in a PDF document, that can be accessed as a complete resource here: 1.9 - Sedimentary Rock Formation I (Whole Lesson)[PDF]. Finally, students may need their Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] for parts of the lesson (a document used widely in the New York State Earth Science Regents course) as well.]

This lesson is very similar to the previous lesson (1.8) in that it primarily revolves around information in the Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT]. Students internalize some basic facts about sedimentary rocks using the reference table, and then learn how to use the information in the reference table to glean necessary information. 

[Note: I included just the necessary page in the Earth Science Reference Tables that students need for today's lesson here: Sedimentary Rock Chart [ESRT]]

Do Now & Objective(s)

10 minutes

Students come in silently and complete the (attached) Do Now. After time expires (anywhere from 2-4 minutes depending on the type of Do Now and number of questions, although this one takes about 2 minutes), we collectively go over the responses (usually involving a series of cold calls and/or volunteers), before I call on a student and ask them to read the objective out loud to start the lesson.

As a general note, the Do Now serves a few purposes:

  1. It serves as a general review of the previous day's material;
  2. It is a re-activation of student knowledge to get them back into "student mode" and get them thinking about science after transitioning from another content area or alternate class;
  3. as a strategy for reviewing material students have struggled with (for example, using this as a focused review for material that they have struggled with on unit assessments or recent quizzes); and,
  4. It is an efficient and established routine for entering the classroom that is repeated each day with fidelity (I never let students enter the classroom talking. While it may seem potentially severe to have students enter silently each day, this is both a school wide expectation and a key component of my classroom. In many respects, I find that students readily enjoy the focus that starting with a quiet classrooms brings each day).

Chart Introduction

20 minutes

Immediately after reading the objective, students are given a reading passage for the Chart Introduction featuring important vocabulary that they'll need for success in navigating the Sedimentary Rock Chart on their ESRTs [Note: As in the Lesson Introduction section above, you can find just the page you need here: Sedimentary Rock Chart [ESRT]]. Similar to most reading passages, I use the "Control The Game" reading strategy and have students popcorn around the room, calling on students at random intervals to keep reading when a new name is called.

I'll occasionally stop to ask clarifying questions, emphasize a point, or hone in on a specific vocabulary word (again, see embedded comments in Word document in the 'Lesson Introduction' session above). After, they're given some time to work together to answer the questions on the bottom of Page 4 of the Chart Introduction resource. Usually, however, I also have some sedimentary rock samples (conglomerate, limestone, sandstone, etc) that I'll pass around the room to have students touch and feel, so they can get a visual understanding of the actual rocks. 


20 minutes

After passing around some rocks (i.e. the samples of limestone and conglomerate mentioned in the previous section) and quickly reviewing the information  on the bottom of page four (4), I give students some Practice time to give them some at bats in working with interpreting the information in the chart themselves. As with most of my Practice sections, I generally pull most of the these questions from former Regents exams. Likewise, as I try to generally do with all of my lessons, the questions are mostly organized to get increasingly more difficult and increase in complexity, which is why the harder questions tend to come toward the end. 

In terms of student work habits, I tend to sometimes make this decision in the moment, and as a response of what I know about the students and how they're processing the material on, but I'll either ask them to work independently, in partners, or give them the option. Usually, before starting practice, we tend to go over some steps for self-help ("What should you do if you're stuck?"), and I might reference a previously used multiple-choice or free response strategy in order to build their skills while simultaneously learning content (as an example - one popular one we always use - "If you aren't sure what the right answer is, see if you can eliminate some wrong answer choices"). I tend to circulate for compliance and then hone in on specific students while they're doing this. 

After about 10 minutes, we go over their responses. Students who finish early are encouraged to work on the exit ticket (resource below) and double-check their responses. We use a combination of strategies (active voting, cold calling, popsicle sticks, volunteers) to go over the responses, where students correct their work and ask any clarifying questions. 


Exit Ticket & Closing

10 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I have students complete the daily Exit Ticket. For the sake of time, I have students grade them communally, with a key emphasis on particular questions and items that hit on the key ideas of the lesson (Note: This usually manifests as students self-grading, or having students do a "trade and grade" with their table partners). After students grade their exit tickets, they usually pass them in (so that I can analyze them) and track their exit ticket scores on a unit Exit Ticket Tracker. 

After students take a few seconds to track their scores, we usually wrap up in a similar way. I give students time to pack up their belongings, and I end the class at the objective, which is posted on the whiteboard, and ask students two questions:

  1. Do you feel that you mastered the objective for the day?
  2. Can you reiterate one thing you learned about ____________ (in this case, questions that pertain to the identification or characteristics of sedimentary rocks [i.e. "What's clastic texture mean?"], etc.)