Weathering and Erosion - Building Schema

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SWBAT explain the terms weathering and erosion.

Big Idea

Students are exposed to the concepts of weathering and erosion before flowing into experiments to reveal the nuances of these slow earth changes.

NGSS Connections and Class Preparation

30 minutes

NGSS Standards

ESS1 - Make observations from media to construct an evidence-based account that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly

Students watch a video to learn about weathering and erosion concepts. Then they research images to determine the type of weathering and/or erosion that is portrayed in the image. Students make observations about the image and connections to the brainpop video to help them write a caption to describe how the rocks have changed.

Science Practices

- Analyzing and Interpreting Data (SP 4)

Students look at images and read data to discuss and determine the weathering and/or erosion processes that are evident in the image. 

- Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions (SP 6)

Students make observations to construct an evidenced based account for a natural phenomena.

Cross-cutting Concepts - Appendix G

- Cause and Effect (XC 2)

Students learn that weathering and erosion have effects on the Earth's landforms.

- Stability and Change (XC 7)

Students learn that weathering and erosion can cause slow or rapid change.

Lesson Preparation

Cue Brainpop Jr. to 'Slow Land Changes' or select a book to introduce concepts of weathering and erosion.

Copy media worksheet to accompany the Brainpop video or book

Review sections: Laptop Image Search for Weathering Examples and Partner Share or Weathering and Erosion Sleuths and Sleuths to Panel Discussion to choose how you will proceed with the lesson after section: Introducing the Concepts: Weathering and Erosion

Lesson Preparation for Sections: Weathering and Erosion Sleuths and Sleuths to Panel Discussion

images and captions for weathering and erosion sleuths cut apart images with captions and glue picture and image to card stock and laminate. There will be 8 cards.

Copy sentence frames for sleuths  to be used with images

One image / table

One claim sentence frame / table

 Lesson Preparation for Sections: Laptop Image Search for Weathering Examples and Partner Share

Copy form for image search on weathering

one form / student

Reserve digital devices to search for images; 1 device / 2 students


One media worksheet / student


Information on weathering

Question for the Day

5 minutes

I start science with a question, usually written on the board. The 'question for the day' allows students time to consider today's topic before the lesson has officially begun. 

Students know when they return from lunch, we meet on the rug to read our 'science question for the day'. I have established this routine with the kiddos to keep transition time short and effective and redirect student's attention back to content while allowing time for focused peer interaction.

Question for the Day: Do Earth's landforms look the same today as it did millions of years ago? How is it the same or different?

Before students turn and share, we brainstorm different land forms which I write on the board.

"Be sure to check in with your partner about what he or she said, as I will ask you to repeat what your partner said."

I observe who is speaking, so that I can call on the partner to repeat the answer shared with him or her. This allows my students who are reluctant to share their own ideas a way to still contribute to the class discussion.

I call on students to share their neighbor's answer.

"Today you will learn about some of the process that can change Earth's landforms. Please return to your seat and take out a pencil."

If you choose to do the lesson: 'What do caves and oceans have in common' before this lesson, you may want to point out that the Brainpop video will make a connection with what they did in their lab in the lesson: What Do Caves and Oceans Have in Common.

Introducing the Concepts: Weathering and Erosion

25 minutes

I am using Brainpop Jr. to introduce the concepts of weathering and erosion, but there are some excellent books that could be used in place of the video.

I pass out the the 'Weathering and Erosion' worksheet that students will fill out as they watch the video. I pause the video after key parts are presented to allow time for students to take notes. 

On the worksheet, students define the terms, weathering and erosion, and write examples for each term, using the video as a reference.

After the video is over, students share their notes with their table partner. Then I signal to take a seat on the rug.  I use the KLEWS chart to help summarize the video. I review the column headings and ask what new observations, learning and vocabulary we can add to the chart.

"I can see that you all were watching the video carefully, because of the detailed information you were able to contribute to the KLEWS chart."

A couple of my students connected chemical weathering, copper turning green to their prior knowledge of the Statue of Liberty!

Did anyone recognize the part of the video that was like one of our labs? Right, when we observed what happened to the limestone when we poured water over the rock."

See my reflection in the lesson: 'What do caves and oceans have in common?' for thoughts on which lesson to do first, this one or 'What do cave and oceans have in common'

"Geologists and hydrologists study land formations and look for clues as to how the formations were made. They may look at what water features were/are close by or if it was windy to help them understand how that land formation was made. Also, geologists look for clues in the rock like is it soft like limestone or did it have copper in it."

"Today you are going to act like a geologist / hydrologist and look at different land formations and write your hypothesis on what weathering or erosion created the land formation based on the clues in the picture and caption. Please return to your desk and I will explain the directions."


And / Or: Laptop Image Search for Weathering Examples

30 minutes

This section implies that the students have the skill set to search images, copy and paste images onto a word document. Otherwise plan to provide more time to teach these computer skills.

When the video is over I direct students to turn back to the page where they wrote examples of weathering. As a class we review the examples of weathering.

"On Brainpop you saw cartoons of weathering examples, but as geologists and hydrologists it is important to be able to look at land forms and understand what types of weathering and/or erosion are happening."

"To help you become familiar with what the weathered land forms may look like, you will do an image search on the laptops to find specific weathering examples."

"You will work with your table partner to select, cut and paste 3 different examples of weathering images onto a word document."

"Then the images will be printed so that you can cut them out and write captions for them on your image search worksheet."

"You will need to decide with your table partner the 3 weathering examples you will want to do an image search for on the computer and the key words that will help you find a specific weathering example."

"Please discuss this with your partner now, while I pass out the laptops and the image search worksheet."

Before the lesson started I turned on computers to save time.

Students open a word document and begin their weathering image search. I walk around the room and check in with partners to ask their weathering images.

I encourage teams to be specific with their captions, for example it is not just the wind blowing against the rock, but the wind blowing sand against the rock.

If time remaining after computers are put away, students leave their images and captions of weathering examples on their desk and do a gallery walk to view the images that other students found.

As a group we discuss which weathering examples did they saw the most and least. Students turn in their Brainpop notes and weathering examples, which I review using a rubric based on NGSS standards.


And / Or: Weathering and Erosion Sleuths

15 minutes

This part of the lesson addresses NGSS Science Practices 6 - Constructing Explanations. I use the word 'hypothesis' with the students, but term used in the NGSS is 'claim'.

"An explanation includes a claim that relates how a variable or variables relate to another variable or a set of variables. A claim is often made in response to a question and in the process of answering the question, scientists often design investigations to generate data."

"Each table will have picture and question to answer. Scientists, you will collaborate with your table team to write your hypothesis to the question: What evidence of erosion or weathering do you see in the picture?"

Your team will write observations of the landforms and use this information as your evidence to support your claim for what type of erosion or weathering you see in the picture.

I model how to note observations and clues. "Let's collaborate with this image to write a hypothesis or claim. The questions your team is to answer are: 

What evidence of erosion or weathering do you see in the picture? What type of weathering or erosion is shown in the picture?  

Here is a picture of a rock with green streaks."

"My observations would be... Right that the rock has green streaks. The caption says that it rains a lot in this area. So what clues can I get from the caption? Right that it rains a lot."

"Let's look at our notes we took from the video to see if we can use some of our learning to help us write our hypothesis. Does anyone see anything we could use?"

I call on volunteers to share what they found on their Brainpop notes. "That was a big help. I think we are ready to write our hypothesis /claim. Let's look at the question one more time because I want to be sure we answer the question." I ask students to read the question out loud.

"Hmm my sentence could start like this, My clues are that some parts of the rock changed color and it rains a lot here. I think the rain caused the copper to change color. This is an example of rain weathering the rock to make it change color."

"Are you ready to be geologists and hydrologists to explain how these land formations were created?"

"After your table has written your hypothesis, tape your picture and hypothesis on the board and have a seat on the rug."

I have books on erosion and weathering on the rug for students to read while waiting for the other groups to finish.

I review team's claims  and check that they support their claim with evidence from the image and caption.

Sleuths to Panel Discussion

10 minutes

After each table has posted their image and hypothesis on the board, students view the images, read the captions. The table team reads their hypothesis and answer questions and listen to students' comments.

I congratulate everyone on their learning and participation for today and direct students to place their Brainpop notes in the "Best Work Today" basket. I will use the rubric based on NGSS standards to assess their work.

 If time I show this short fun video to review the concepts of weathering and erosion.