The Fossil Mind Map Unfolds

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SWBAT develop an organized mind map of facts they have learned about fossils from reading and visual content.

Big Idea

After students watch a short clip and read an article about fossils, students organize their new understanding by creating a mind map through an app.

Growing Our Fact Knowledge

10 minutes

I gathered my students on the floor with their notebooks. I told them that we would watch a short video clip and they needed to note anything they never knew before on the right side of a new page of their notebook. On the left, they would have time to sketch after the movie.

I presented Bill Nye Fossils Episode and ran it to 3:40. Students took notes about things they didn't know. We will use the rest of this movie in later lessons. It's great!

I stopped the film and students shared what they didn't know. They talked about how they didn't know that plants can be fossils and that all fossils are not extinct. They shared that they didn't know that rhinos were found in the United States and that those bones are now rock.

I gave them a few moments to sketch a few ideas on the left side of their notebook before we moved to the next section of our lessons.

Another Source

30 minutes

After my students finished up their notebooks, I used the Smart Board to show them an online reading resource that they would use to gather more information about fossils. I explained that I wanted them to read the entire source, but to glean out only information about fossils within this text. I explained that sometimes when we research, the text we read has more information than we need. However, if there was information that helped them understand the whole idea behind the messages that rock give us about the changing earth, that should be noted. I showed them Rocks and the Rock Cycle and scrolled through the pages. I explained how the text should be read in columns, one side and then the other. On an iPad, this seems strange to some of my students and they want to continue downward, skipping the text on the right.

To review science text reading strategies, I asked: What do we look for when we are reading informational text?

We listed on the whiteboard:




Bold Words

Any colored bubble features, lists or maps.

I scrolled through the headings and explained how each section had information that would help their understanding of fossils as they are part of the rock cycle. However, the focus should be mainly on the section about the Grand Canyon and how the layers talk to us about the earth.

I baited their interest with this section of the lesson and then had them return to their desks. When everyone was settled, I told them that anything they never knew before about fossils needed to be jotted in their notes below the movie notes. When they were completed, I would give them instructions about the next step as they would develop their mind maps. They began to read and I roved the classroom watching the process.


The Mind Map Continues

20 minutes

As students finished, they approached my desk and I approved notes. I made sure that they were including important main ideas from the text supported with details. They kept listing in their notebooks. If they were finished, I told them to sketch any ideas they had gleaned from their reading on the left side of their notebooks. This helped the others catch up before we graduated to completing the mind map.

When all were finished, I gathered them back on the floor in front of the Smart Board. I brought up my iPad app Simple Mind using Apple TV. The students could see how I had started my mind map. Their maps came up from yesterday's lesson, Starting a Mind Map. I reviewed how their Mind map starter should look. Then we built upon it, also developing a branch that included "Things I still want to know about fossils..."

As soon as students felt comfortable with working with their mind maps, they were sent back to their desks and began completing it using their notes.

This mind map will serve as a study guide for the future.

Homework and Closure

10 minutes

We worked in class for about 10 to 15 minutes and then I needed to wrap it up. Everyone took their mind maps home to work on as homework. I asked them what they liked about this and they said that it made note taking a whole lot more fun!

I told my students that in the future, they will be so skilled at taking notes that the mind map can be created as the source of their note taking right from the start. I asked them if they wanted to share anything before we stopped our science time.

One student said that they wanted us to know that they never knew that rocks told stories about the land and that he wanted to know more about the Grand Canyon.