Rolling Down the River - Part 1

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SWBAT identify and define parts of a river and associated landforms.

Big Idea

Students apply their webquest research to define river and landform vocabulary to prepare for a river map they will make in the next lesson.

NGSS Connections and Class Preparation

30 minutes

The 'Rolling Down a River Part 1 and 2' lessons help to develop the students' schema of a river system and associated landforms, which I will tap into as they begin to learn about weathering and erosion.

NGSS Standards

ESS2 C - Develop a model to represent the shapes and kinds of land and bodies of water in an area

Students make individual maps to represent a river and the associated landforms. Students are introduced to contour lines to help them illustrate mountains and hills.

Science Practices - Appendix F

- Developing and Using Models  (SP 2)

Students create a 'river map' to show the features of a river and adjacent land forms. They learn about contour lines to help show scale.

Cross-cutting Concepts - Appendix G

- Systems and System Models  (XC 4)

Students discuss the parts of a river to learn about a river system and the adjacent landforms.

Lesson Preparation

Image Sort with Term:

Prepare the interactive board or print images and the titles below for an image sort.

1. headwaters and canyon

2. tributary and hills

3. meandering and flood plains

4. oxbow lake and river

5. lake with river on each side (inlet and outlet)

6. mouth and delta

Prepare vocabulary cards for the terms above.

Cue video: Why Do Rivers Curve?

blue print template, (fold into 6 sections to help students block out the different sections of the river.

Here are other resources for river lessons.


Question for the Day

10 minutes

The kiddos meet me on the rug to discuss the question of the day. This norm helps to standardize transitions which allows for a better use of time.

Question for the Day: What is the difference between a lake and a river?

We read the question together and then I directs the students to turn and talk with their neighbor.

I listen to conversations to hear if students refer to their observations they made about lakes and rivers when they did their webquest in a previous lesson. 

I call on volunteers to share their neighbor's answer with the class and write responses on the board. 

Asking students to share their neighbor's answer promotes active listening and encourages listeners to summarize what they heard. 

"Today we are going to look at different parts of a river and learn how a river and fresh water lake are connected. Before we start floating down the river, I want to show you this short video on river features. This will help you do the image sort activity that we will do next."

Before sorting images and matching images to terms, I show students this short video to help build their schema for the river features that we will be looking at 'Rollin down the River Part 1 and 2.

River Features and Landform Image Sort

15 minutes

Sorting river images and matching them with the correct term.

- headwaters and canyon

- tributary and hills

- meandering and flood plains

- oxbow lake and river

- lake with river on each side (inlet and outlet)

I kept the river and associated landforms together, to build the students schema on how landforms and river systems affect each other.

On the interactive board images are on one page. Two terms  are on the opposing page. Students can see the images and terms.

First students discuss with each other how they would sort the images and which images belong with which terms. Then I pull names and have them move the images under the correct term.

After all the images have been moved, if I see that there is an image under the incorrect heading, I tell the class that an image is misplaced. Then students figure out which image needs to be moved.

The sort helps to build vocabulary with peer to peer discussions and associated images. It also supports my visual and kinesthetic learners since they are manipulating the images.

The delta images are on their own page. Students are directed to explain what they see happening the images.

"Today we are going to zoom in on the features of a river and the surrounding landforms. I have some of the river and land form terms and their images on the smart board. You will get a chance to match similar images with the term."

"Look closely at the images, I have 3-4 images for each label. So first look at how you could sort the images and then you will match your sort with the label. Discuss with a neighbor which images you would put together."

After students sort the meandering and oxbow lake images, I show the short video that explains why lakes meander and the cause for oxbow lakes.

Adding to the KLEWS chart

After students have matched the images and labels, the new terms are added to the KLEWS chart.

I want my kiddos to interact with KLEWS chart, so they can begin to see this as a reference for their learning while working in this unit. One student made the connection between the deltas and our the anchor question on the KLEWS chart!

After the terms are posted on the KLEWS chart, I direct students to meander to their desk like a river on flood plain.

The kiddos had fun with acting out the word meandering, and it is a word I know they will remember!


Lakes and Rivers Blue Print

30 minutes

Contour Lines

I want to expose students to contour lines so that I can reinforce the idea that rivers need a slope in order to flow and the contour lines on maps help to show slope.

"We have looked at a LOT of terms today, but there is one more I want to make sure we know, because only a river does this... flows to the ocean. River water starts in the mountains and flows to the ocean."

Raise your hand if you have an idea where the head waters or source of a river could be? Right, in the mountains, to show mountains on flat paper, cartographers, map makers, may use contour lines."

I project an image with mountain and contour lines drawn and explain the contour lines. Under the document camera I draw contour to show a mountain.  I call on volunteers to point to the top of the mountain and the base, to check for understanding. I point out how lines closer together show that the land is steep. I call on volunteers to show where water could flow.

Overview of the Project

"Next week teams will make the different parts of the river that you learned about today and put it together to make one GIANT RIVER MAP that will be hung in the office or library."

It is motivating for students to know that their work will be viewed and accessed by other in their school community. It adds value to their research and work.

"Today each of you will make a rive blue print. Next week you will become an expert for one part of the river. 

"You will make a river sketch with me as we go through the terms. After the river is sketched and labeled, you will have a chance to add color details.

As each section is discussed, I model how they can draw their 'river blue print' and write in the labels that I want them to have. 

Section 1 - Headwaters and Canyon

"So if I wanted to show that the headwaters of the river started in the mountains, I could use contour lines, like this," I draw contour lines on my example.

"Then I can show the start of the river in this canyon. The water from the sides of the mountain will flow down into the canyon here." I draw the contour lines and the headwaters on my blue print.

Section 2 - Tributary and Foothill

"The river flows out of the mountains, into the foothills. What can I draw to show the foothills? Right contour lines, will there be as many lines as when I made the mountains? Why not?" Where 2 hills connect is where the tributary will flow then it meets ups with the river."  I model how to draw the contour lines and the river.

Section 3 - Lake with Inlet and Outlet

To guide students to consider how lakes and rivers may be linked, I introduce the term basin. After checking that students understand this term I ask them what would a river make if it filled a basin, "Right a lake! A river flowed into the basin, or water flowed down the hill filling in the basin. Then when the water over flows the basin, it creates a river.

"Do you think there could be a basin between the foothills where we could have a lake?" I pencil in more contour lines to show where the basin could be. "What feeds into the lake? (river) This is called? (inlet). What leaves a fresh water lake? (river) and this is called the? (outlet).

I use questions to encourage student engagement and to help students access information.

Section 4 - Meandering  and Flood Plain

"After the river leaves the foothills, it moves into the flood plains.  I am moving my hand across the paper to show where the river is now. How will the river look in this section? straight or curvy?

Section 5 - Oxbow Lake

"Sometimes the river gets so curvy, the curves meet up and create an ox-bow lake. The oxbow lake is a curve of the rive that got cut off. What will be close to this type of lake? Right the river.

Section 6 - Mouth and Delta

"Finally the rivers runs into the ocean, fresh water meeting up with salt water. You have seen image on your webquest that show rivers make a landform called a delta at the mouth of the river. What do you remember it looking like? If you are working on this section, remember to draw in the delta.




Looking at Our River Maps

5 minutes

A couple of minutes before science is over, I direct students to hold up their River Blue Print. "Wow! Look at all the new learning you have on your map! Use the time remaining to check with your neighbor that you have all your labels and to color in the parts of your river."

I walk around the room to check that the river parts have been labeled and to admire the students' work.

"Next week you will use your map to help create part of a GIANT river map, that will be hung in the office. So please put your River Blue Print in your science folder, so that you have it to look at next week. Good work everyone!"

When I collect their river maps I will be checking that all river and land features are correctly labeled.