Slow and Rapid Changes

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SWBAT identify that some changes in the earth are due to slow processes, such as erosion, and some changes are due to rapid processes, such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

Big Idea

In this lesson, students complete an online scavenger hunt to learn about slow and rapid changes on the earth.


5 minutes

I begin this lesson by briefly reviewing the information presented in the two previous lessons about fossils.  Then I play this short video clip of Jack Horner, a paleontologist who grew up in Montana.  This video is a great way for my students to realize we live in a state in which many dinosaur fossils have been found, and it also serves a great way for students to make connections between science and the real world.  Students are able to hear and see someone from Montana speak about science and it's importance. 

The video can be accessed here:

Explore, Explain, and Elaborate

40 minutes

Next, I distribute the slow and rapid changes internet search sheet ( rapid slow changes computer search) that students will work on for this lesson.

Students spend about 30 minutes working independently to answer the questions on the research sheet.  As students work I circulate around the room and offer assistance as necessary.  After 30 minutes, students partner talk with their table mates to check and compare answers or ask about questions about specific questions. 

According to the Common Core State Standards, students who are college and career ready use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Students employ technology thoughtfully to enhance their reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language use. They tailor their searches online to acquire useful information efficiently, and they integrate what they learn using technology with what they learn offline. They are familiar with the strengths and limitations of various technological tools and mediums and can select and use those best suited to their communication goals.

This internet activity is a great way to allow fourth grade students practice gathering and analyzing information gained online. 

Students use this website to find information about slow changes or  

They use this website for information about rapid changes or

Note: I did not create these webpages and some of the links do not work. 



10 minutes

In order to assess whether or not each student understands the difference between slow and rapid earth changes, I use a free technology program called plickers.  Plickers is a polling software that allows me to instantly see how my students answered a question.  If you have used clickers in your classroom, it is similar to a clicker system. 

Each of my students has a plicker card (there are 60 unique cards on the site) My students use this card all year long.  Each card looks different and each card has a number that my student is identified by.  For example the first student on my class roster is student number 1, thus I give him plicker card number 1.  The plicker software then shows me which students answered correctly or incorrectly by using a graph. 

In order to use the slideshow as a formative assessment, I type each question into my plicker account and identify the correct answers prior to this lesson. This allows me quickly see which students are understanding the material.  

This is blog that also talk about and shows students using plickers.