Part 2- How Does Physicial Weathering Impact Earth's Surface?

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SWBAT explain how physical weathering slowly changes the Earth's surface.

Big Idea

Students will construct a scientific explanation that uses evidence from images to support their claim of which physical weathering factor caused the change in the Earth's surface.

Lesson Overview

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Unit Focus

The Earth's Changing Surface unit focuses on some processes that change Earth's surface slowly, over a long period of time, or abruptly. In order for students to develop an understanding that the surface is constantly changing, they take part in a variety of guided inquiries geared towards scaffolding this understanding.  In the first part of the unit, students explore the structure of the Earth and processes that cause changes to it. These lessons include earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, physical and chemical weathering, erosion and deposition. They need to develop an understanding of these processes and how they change the Earth's surface for the second part of the unit which focuses primarily on minerals, rocks, and the rock cycle. Students apply their understanding of these processes as they investigate the formation of rocks and the cycle of changes they go through in a lifetime.

Lesson Synopsis

Part 2 of How Does Physical Weathering Impact Earth's Surface lesson is a continuation of yesterday's lesson.  Yesterday students had opportunity to develop an understanding of how physical weathering affects rocks by conducting a simulation using a sugar cube as a rock and shaking motion to illustrate wind. Today, they continue this investigation by sharing claim/evidence statements based on their simulation outcome. One we share these statements, I guide the class in creating a weathering graphic organizer reference sheet by discussing our outcomes from yesterday's simulation and other factors that contribute to physical weathering. Later, students use these physical weathering factors on the graphic organizer as they examine several images. They apply their understanding of the factors that cause weathering by writing observations of the images. Then they write a scientific explanation that uses evidence from their observations and factors' descriptors on their graphic organizer. This explanation is collected and used as a formative assessment piece.

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson will address the following NGSS Standard(s): 

ESS2A Earth's Systems

Earth’s major systems are the geosphere (solid and molten rock, soil, and sediments), the hydrosphere (water and ice), the atmosphere (air), and the biosphere (living things, including humans). These systems interact in multiple ways to affect Earth’s surface materials and processes. The ocean supports a variety of ecosystems and organisms, shapes landforms, and influences climate. Winds and clouds in the atmosphere interact with the landforms to determine patterns of weather.

Why do I teach this lesson?

I address this standard in fifth grade because the elementary school's within my district do not formally teach science; therefore my students enter middle school (fifth grade) with a limited science background and I need to provide scaffolding activities to help them developing their scientific thinking for future lessons related to Earth's systems. In this lesson, students investigate how the geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere interact by simulating wind's effect on Earth's materials by using yesterday's observations of a sugar cube (rock) that has been shaken to identify and determine how wind causes rocks and land to be changed by a natural phenomena. While analyzing images, they provide evidence to explain changes that have occurred based on factors that create weathering to happen. By engaging students with activities to support this NGSS standard, I am providing with them experiences that will provide them a foundation to for later lessons involving minerals, rocks, soil, and plants.

Scientific & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering Practices. 

6.)  Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions: Students construct an explanation after observing the outcome of the sugar cube during the investigation.  They identify factors of weathering and apply these theories when analyzing images of rocks and land. Students construct a claim statement to explain the image and provide evidence to support this claim.

8.) Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information:  Using effects of weathering graphic organizer, students use their obtained information on physical weathering to write claim with evidence statements after analyzing photographs. Students write observations and claim and evidence statements on a graphic organizer in order to communicate inferences clearly and persuasively on the images they examined.

Crosscutting Concepts

Part 2 of How Does Physical Weathering Impact Earth's Surface lesson correlates to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include

2.) Cause and Effect:  Students make observations of a sugar cube that has been shaken to identify and determine how wind causes rocks and land to be changed by a natural phenomena. While analyzing images, they provide evidence to explain changes that have occurred based on factors that create weathering to happen.

7.) Stability and Change: Students observe various changes to land by examining images and discover these changes are based on the factors wind, water, temperature, and ice. And while these factors do make changes, the process occurs over a long period of time; therefore making rocks and land appear stable. However, these factors actually make subtle changes over a long period of time. 


Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

ESS2.A Earth Materials and Systems


Classroom Management Tips

Importance of Modeling to Develop

Student Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This will set up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during the activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirecting.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.




30 minutes

Picking up where we left off in yesterday’s lesson, I ask the reporter from each group to summarize their groups' observations of the sugar cube during physical weathering activity. I use the quick pick bucket to select a group to start sharing. We continue group shares until each group's reporter has been heard. I encourage students to make connections during shares by giving a thumbs up if they have similar information as the reporter.

After group shares, I hand out the weathering graphic organizer and tell the students that we are focusing on factors that lead to physical weathering and that chemical weathering details are part of our next lesson. I continue by displaying a power point on physical weathering to further explain the factors: wind, water, temperature, and plants, that contribute to physical weathering. This power point visually presents the factors that cause physical weathering. Students use the information and images to make connections as we discuss, explain, and record ideas on the graphic organizer. 

I begin by stating that many physical weathering factors decompose rocks at or near the earth’s surface. With each slide in the power point on physical weathering, I stop and ask students to connect their observations from the activity to each factor shown on the slide. With each image shown, I ask them to think of places in their own life where they have seen or experienced this particular type of weathering.



25 minutes

I direct students to physical weathering images displayed around the room. I explain that they are examining each image and need to determine which weathering factor contributed to the appearance of the rocks or land. Then, I instruct them to take a claim support weathering graphic organizer from the center of the table and explain they will be writing observations about each image on the graphic organizer.  This organizer is used consistently when we write claim and evidence statements. 

*I selected these images for students to examine because they illustrate real life rock changes that they can find in nature around our school, parks, homes, roads, and roads.  By providing students with relevant images, they are more likely to make connections outside of the classroom, applying gained knowledge to the real world.

I continue reviewing the graphic organizer and instruct students to use their vocabulary reference sheet to write a claim stating the factor they believe contributed to the change seen in the rock or land. They write a claim statement using the following sentence frame:  "I claim picture #____ (write what the image is, i.e. pot hole, tree growing in a rock, etc) was caused by... (select a physical weathering factor from the weathering graphic organizer.) Following the claim statement, I tell students each claim must be supported with evidence and tell them to use a sentence frame: "The evidence I have to support my claim is... (use information from the physical weathering factor from the weathering graphic organizer to help write an explanation to the claim.") 

As students are examining each photo and writing claim statements, I am walking around monitoring students.  I randomly stop and check in with a student from time to time. I am looking at student observations and descriptions on his or her graphic organizer. In addition, I am observing claim statements written and informally evaluate to see if written evidence accurately supports the claim. If it does not, I stop and ask guiding questions. With guiding questions, I anticipate struggling students will identify definitions to use as evidence for their claim statement. 

At the end of class, I ask students to return to their seats and to place their graphic organizer in the center of the table for collection. I collect it for a formative assessment.