Day Two of Seth Gets All Shook Up!

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SWBAT develop a model to describe how the geosphere interacts with at least one other Earth System.

Big Idea

What are the processes that occur at plate boundaries that cause the geosphere to interact with all of the other spheres on Earth? Students engage in a data rich activity over the course of 3 lessons to answer this question.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Two of a Three Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of Seth Gets All Shook Up!

On Day One of this investigation, students worked in expert groups of volcanologists, geologists, geochronologists, and seismologists to analyze  map data to develop a classification system of Earth's tectonic plates.  On this Day Two, students jigsaw into tectonic plate groups and refine the classification system based on their specific plate. Finally on Day Three, students make a claim supported by evidence about the specific scientific classification of one of the plate boundaries of their assigned plate.

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students begin the work that will lead them to explore the Disciplinary Core Idea of Earth's Systems:  Earth Materials and Systems -  that 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 atmosphere to determine patterns of weather.  (5-ESS2-1); The Roles of Water in Earth's Surface Processes:  Nearly all of Earth's available water is in the ocean.  Most fresh water is in glaciers or underground:  only a tiny fraction is in streams, lakes, wetlands, and the atmosphere.  (5-ESS2-2)  and the Crosscutting Concept of Systems and System Models  - A system can be described in terms of its components and their interactions (5-ESS2-1), and Scale, Proportion, and Quantity - Standard units are used to describe and measure physical quantities such as weight and volume (5-ESS2-2)

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 6 is 770 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 5 minutes.

Preparation time for first time construction of the maps is approximately 20 minutes.

Materials Needed:

One set of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems Word Wall Cards - Lesson 7

One paper copy for each student of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems Word Wall Cards - Lesson 7

One copy for every 4 students (black and white) 8 1/2" x 11" of Plate Boundary Map

Maps from Day One:  One each of the following Color Data Maps 24" x 36":  Seismology; Volcanology; Seafloor Age; Topography/Bathymetry (I copy these on a flash drive and take them to a copy center to be copied to the appropriate size, and then laminate them.  They are not consumables so they can be kept for future use).Day One

Materials Needed:

For the next 3 lessons, I will be using a wonderful FREE resource produced by Dr. Dale S. Sawyer from Rice University - Discovering Plate Boundaries.  This amazing resource has been used in programs for gifted education, and I happen to think that all students should have access to it.  As the author states, these concepts are "the foundation of Earth Science understanding" and because they affect so many people where they live - it is the perfect activity to be addressed in a unit dealing with the interactions between Earth's Systems.  Amazingly, it is offered for at no charge online.  It is the best way I know of to take something as difficult to understand as plate tectonics, and make it meaningful for students.  Although the history of Earth is not addressed in the NGSS until middle school, this basic introduction is appropriate at this grade level.  The focus of these lessons will be on analyzing data, and building an argument from evidence.

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems - Lab Scenario Sheet - Lesson 6

Discovering Plate Tectonics - Teacher's Guides I and II

One each of the following Color Data Maps 24" x 36":  Seismology; Volcanology; Seafloor Age; Topography/Bathymetry (I copy these on a flash drive and take them to a copy center to be copied to the appropriate size, and then laminate them.  They are not consumables so they can be kept for future use).

One copy for each student (black and white) of Student Instructions

Two copies per student (black and white) 11" x 17" of Plate Boundary Map

One copy for every 4 students (black and white) 8 1/2" x 11" of Plate Boundary Map

One set of Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems Map Questions - Lesson 6

Group Assignment Slips

Focus & Motivation

5 minutes

My students are highly motivated today!  They have been waiting all day for Science.  I do want to remind them of where we are going with this, so I quickly share the learning objective and success criteria so we can get started.

Learning Objective & Success Criteria

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

Learning Objective:  I can develop a model to describe how the geosphere interacts with at least one other Earth System.

Language Objective:  I can construct grade appropriate oral claims and support them with reasoning and evidence  [ELP.4-5.4]

Success Criteria:  I can complete my model (map) and include additional information to indicate interaction of the geosphere with one or more spheres.

Guided Exploration

45 minutes

Introduce the Activity

Note:  I had to familiarize myself with both of the Teacher's Guides (I and II) before teaching the lesson, as well as the specific maps and what they represent.  Place the maps in 4 different areas of the room so that groups of students can work with them.  A short synopsis is listed here:  

Seismology Map:  This map shows earthquake locations and depths.  Each earthquake is indicated by a dot, and the color of the dot indicates the depth:  Red = shallow earthquakes - 0=33 km; Yellow or Orange = intermediate earthquakes - 33-70 km; Green = deep earthquakes - 70-300 km; and Blue = ultra deep earthquakes - 300-700 km.

Volcanology Map:  This map shows the location of recent volcanoes or thermal features on Earth.  The dots represent volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, etc.

Geochronolgy Map-Seafloor Age:  This map shows the age of the oceanic crust underneat the world's oceans.  (The map actually highlights divergent plate boundaries).  There is a scale bar, with red being the newest crust, and blue being the oldest crust - with color variants in between.

Geography Map - Topography and Bathymetry:  This map shows the elevation of land surface and the depth of the oceans.  

I give each student a new Plate Boundary Map.  Then, I tell my students to get into the 5 Plate Groups I have assigned them into (North American Plate, Pacific Plate, African Plate, South American Plate, Cocos/Nazca/Caribbean Plates).  Each plate group will contain one member from each of the map groups yesterday, 

I give my students the following directions.  I refer to them as "Signposts" because I have them posted on the board:


1.  Each person is to make a presentation to their group about the data they observed yesterday, and how their group classified the Types.  Make sure you point out the most important feature on your map.  Your group may move to the map as each person presents.  Remember, there may be other groups there, so you will need to present in a soft voice.

2.  After each person has presented, discuss the different classification schemes and note how they are similar.

3.  Then look specifically at the classification schemes on your specific plate boundary.

4.  Decide on a new classification scheme for your plate.  You will name these Type A, Type B, and so on.

5.  List these types on the back of your Plate Boundary Map with a specific colored pencil, and provide a description for this type.  What are the characteristics that define this type?

6.  Color the boundary on the Plate Boundary Map with that color.

7.  If the boundary is not symmetric, invent a way to show that - this is important information!

8.  Choose one person to be your spokesperson to present your information to the class tomorrow.  Your team will need to work together to prepare the 8 1/2 x 11 Plate Boundary Map with your classification system so it can be used for the presentation.

I have these "Signposts" listed on the whiteboard.  This is a complex task, I know my students will need these step by step directions.

Experts Present

Groups have a bit more confidence today.  After yesterday's activity - they have a bit better idea of what they are doing.  Students quickly move to presenting to their peers.  I move in between them listening in, and ensuring that they are presenting the information each group needs to be successful.

I had expected that my students would only give cursory information, and that I would need to prompt them to explain.  I had also expected that I would need to "nudge" other students to ask them questions. Much to my surprise - that didn't happen.  These kids acted like the experts that they were!  If you would have seen the test data at the beginning of the year that identified some of my students as "low achieving," you certainly could not have identified them by their performance today.  Listen in as one student analyzes data between maps and fields a question from another student in this Video Clip 1.

 The very best part about this is that as each student presents, their peers are listening - really listening!  I am not asking my students to take notes.  This focus of this activity is about analyzing the data - I don't want them to get lost in writing things down on paper.  

Develop New Classification Schemes

After students have had an opportunity to present, I take a moment to review the next step in the process.  I tell my students, "Now you will work together to combine what you have learned to develop a classification scheme that applies to the boundaries on your specific plate.  Remember that today you will use the labels, Type A, Type B, and so on.

This process goes more smoothly today.  Students have a better idea of how to accomplish the task after yesterday.  They work together in their groups and we have a number of "Ah Ha" moments when students begin to realize some commonalities between the different plate boundaries.  

I love it when I go to a team and I ask a question of one member - and they don't have the answer because they are not the expert in that area.  They have to rely on their team member.  That very thing happens in this Video Clip 2.  This is a bend in the road in our classroom - a turning point in our year.  My students now see each other in a different way. This type of a learning experience is not dependent upon "the smart kid" in the group.  Now they have to truly depend on each other.  Every single person in the group is a valued contributor.  Surely, we have come a long way since last September!

Students come up with clearly differentiated classification schemes.  It makes this teacher proud!

There are lots of groans and complaints when it is time to put things away.  I explain that there are some vocabulary words that they will need for tomorrow - and I have one other item that I would like us to attend to before we finish for the day.  

Vocabulary Instruction

10 minutes

Consistent with the 5E Model for Science Instruction, I have provided a hands-on opportunity before introducing vocabulary. Introduce Vocabulary

Introduce Vocabulary

I present the words from the Plaid Pete Is Modeling Earth's Systems Word Wall Cards - Lesson 7 using the following instructional routine:

  1. Say the word to students.
  2. Ask students to repeat the word at least 5 times.  For example, I will say, "Say it to the window.  Say it to my hand.  Say it to the door.  Say it to the ceiling."
  3. I say the word in context.  For example, I will say, " The position the plants were placed in was one of the controlled variables in the video."  
  4. I will then randomly call on a student to use the word in a sentence, giving successive prompts to assist them, if needed.

Science Notebooks

I use the following routine to have students write these words into their Science Notebooks:

After introducing the words, I demonstrate for students how to make a three column table with rows for each of the eight vocabulary words.  I model for them in my own Science Notebook how to write the word in the first box, a non-linguistic (e.g. picture) representation of the word in the second box, and work with the class to generate an example sentence for the first word in the third box. Students cut out their copies of the cards and place in the envelope, which they glue on the page behind their table.  They will finish sentences for the remaining seven words either for homework, or for seat-work later.  A completed notebook will look like this Example.

As students are working, I place a sticky note on each of their desks.  I ask them to come to the meeting area with it, a clipboard and a pencil.  I want to provide some closure to today's lesson and set the stage for tomorrow.

Reflection & Closure

5 minutes

Check In

My students come to the meeting area, brimming with excitement about their day's work.  I say, "Hmm, maybe Seth had a point - this is definitely rigorous work - but it appears that you all seem to really be enjoying it!"  I hear lots of agreement.  I check to see that all of my teams have finished their Plate Boundary Maps for our presentation tomorrow.  I also want to make sure that they know where we are going with this so I ask, "What is the learning objective we are working on?"

I call on a student (who has to peak at the board) and correctly reads:  "I can develop a model to describe how the geosphere interacts with at least one other Earth System."

Burning Questions

I tell my students, "We are spending quite a bit of time learning about plate boundaries, and tomorrow - we will wrap up this work.  And it has been important work!  What you are discovering is the tremendous power that is contained within the planet that we live on.  I want you to be thinking about all of those red areas on the Geochronology Map - the areas that indicate newer oceanic crust.  I also want you to be thinking about all of those volcanoes and earthquakes along those plate boundaries - the ones you found on the Seismology Map and the Volcanology Map.  Think about the impacts those had, not just on the geosphere, but on the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the biosphere, as well.  Think about the tremendous amount of energy that is transferred each time there is some type of geological event.  I know it is hard to hold all of this in your head - I admit it is just a bit overwhelming.  You must though - have one burning question that you would like to have answered tomorrow when we wrap up this investigation.  I am hoping it is a burning question that will answer for you how what you are learning about the geosphere, impacts one or more of the other spheres.  I would like you to think for a moment, and then write your burning question on this sticky note.  I will collect them and make a chart with our class burning questions."  And before I have even finished my sentence - they are writing away.

My students have been paying attention - and they ask some great questions: