Landform Experts Research

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SWBAT navigate websites to research an assigned landform.

Big Idea

We can find definitions, characteristics and examples of different types of landforms by researching.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

Click on the link below see hear a 1 minute activity description and preview the resources.

The children will be divided into "expert" groups to collect information about an assigned landform using QR codes to help them locate an appropriate website to aide in their research.  They will locate the definition, characteristics and examples of their landform.

NGSS/ Common Core Connections

In the NGSS the children need to be able to develop a model to represent the shapes and kind of land and bodies of water in an area.  This will be one of the building blocks to aid in that goal.  In addition, the children will be obtaining scientific information about landforms by using media.  They will be expanding their knowledge of the use of media features, such as electronic menus and icons, to find the needed information.  As part of the Common Core writing standards, the children will be participating in shared research.  They will also be gathering information from provided sources to answer a question.


  • The children will work in groups to research a topic.  Possible topics are coasts, mountains, hills, plains, coast, valley, lake, rivers, desert, canyon, volcano, peninsula, or island.  Here is list of landforms from Wikipedia if you would like more topics.
  • one ipad per team of 2-3
  • Landform Research student paper--1 per student
  • Landform Research QR code sheet--1 per team
  • Landform expert groups teacher planner--1 for yourself; Here is a blank version, if you prefer to fill in the landforms you would like to cover. The second page has an example of how I filled it out for my class.

Advanced Teacher Prep

You need to install 2 FREE apps:

    1. Weebly
    2. QR Code Reader

  You will also need to fill out the planning sheet showing the group member assignments.  I combined higher achieving students with lower achieving students.  You will also have to decide which landforms you want your children to research and write those names on slips of paper.  Then fold the paper slips and put them in a proverbial "hat."





5 minutes

Back in the fall, we researched about pollinators using expert groups (see lesson link).  So to start this lesson, I try to make the connection of the two lessons to the children.  The children learned a lot from the earlier lesson, but were still pretty green.  Now that months have passed, I want to revisit this concept, but add another dimension to the task--creating a audio/visual presentation (in the next lesson).

Remember when you researched about pollinators and then presented to the class?  We are going to be doing that same thing today, but using a different topic.  We are going to be researching about landforms.  Each team will creating a presentation using a super fun app.  They you will all present your landform to the rest of the class so we can all learn about it.  

If you have not done expert groups before, click here for an explanation. Each person works with a small team to do research.  Then the teams present their research to the class, thus becoming experts in that area, while teaching the class.

The first step in doing this is to divide our class into teams.  I have already made the teams that you will be working with.  Each team will get one landform to research.  You will be researching together, but each of you will be writing your ideas down on this information collection sheet.  You will need to make sure you write down as much information as you can, since you will be creating and presenting your information to the rest of the class.

Then I announce each team to the class.  I chose to pick the teams myself since I wanted to make sure that I had paired an academically strong student with one who needs extra support.  Also, I have some children in my room who need special placement because of disciplinary issues.  





35 minutes

Once the children have moved to be with their team, I give each student a Landform Research student paper.  Even though the students work together as a team to find the information, I still have each one write on their own paper.  I have found that if I have them work on just one paper, that some of the students take over and others sit back and let the other person do all of the work.  

I have many different landform types written on strips of paper in this basket. Each team will get to pick out a landform type.  The landform type that you pick out will be the landform that you will be researching.

I have the students choose a landform from the basket.

You will be recording your information on the Landform Research paper.  The first thing you need to do is to write the type of the landform that you will be researching in the middle box. Then you will be researching with your team's help to find the information needed for each of the boxes.  

In the upper left-hand box you need to write the definition of the word.  Then in the next box you need to write characteristics, or things that make your landform unique.  Then in the bottom left you will write examples of this landform, such as a proper name or a location.  Then in the last box you can write any extra information that you have found.

Let's go through an example together so you can see how this is done.

I go to this website to model so I can model how to conduct the research.  I created this website since I had difficulty finding a website that was easily accessible for second grade students.  As part of the science practices, the children need to know how to navigate websites to find information.  So I make sure to have the children look at the terms at the top of the webpage.   If they click on those labels, it will take you to a webpage that has a definition, characteristics, tells how it was formed, has fun facts and examples.  

On the right-hand side, there is an "examples" section.  I make sure to show them if they click on the blue words, it will show them a photo of the specific landform. When they click on the blue words, it takes you to a new page, so I demonstrate how to get back on the original page.  I also make sure they know that they might have to also click on the "more" section to see islands and peninsulas.  We work together to fill out the research paper. Click here to see my example.

Next I move on to show them how they will conducting their research using the QR codes.  I love using the QR codes since the codes direct them to appropriate websites that I have chosen in advance.   Click here to see how we have used QR codes in a previous lesson.   Utilizing technology in the classroom is very beneficial.  Click here to see more information.

To do this research, you will be using QR codes.  We have used them once before, when we were learning about forms of water.  Who remembers how to use them?

On the Landform Research sheet you will see 3 QR codes.  You use each of these codes to take you to different websites. You need to place the ipad over the QR code until it registers.  Then it will automatically take you to a website.  On the worksheet, under the code I have written a general title of what is on the website.  After you have used a QR code, circle it.  This helps you remember which website you have already visited.  Each website contains lots of valuable and helpful information.  Make sure to visit each one.  Are there any questions?

The children are pumped to get started on their research.  QR codes make things interesting for them!  They go on ahead and get right down to work. The children are obtaining scientific information about landforms by using media.  They are expanding their knowledge of the use of media features, such as electronic menus and icons, to find the needed information.  See this video clip to see a team working together.   


5 minutes

As the class is working I walk around checking in with each group and answering any questions that they have.  I check to see if they have completely filled out the information.  If they have not, I lead them in the right direction.  Here are some student examples for coasts, volcanoes and valleys.

I quickly wrap up the lesson by reviewing about the process that they have gone through and asking a few questions.  

You have worked in teams to accomplish a task.  Tomorrow we are going to be creating a super fun presentation so you experts can present your landforms to the class.  But before we end our lesson, I have some questions to ask.

  • What did you accomplish?  
  • What information were you able to find about your landform?  
  • Do you think you have enough information to do a short presentation on?   
  • Was it easier to work as a team?  Why?
  • Do you feel like an expert on your topic?

We discuss their answers.  I cannot wait until tomorrow to see them create their presentations by using Yakits!