History of Earth: Part 1: Pre-Requisite

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Students will be able to picture and describe earth as a dynamic planet rather than a static land.

Big Idea

Continents are pushed by a powerful force.

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Purpose of Lesson:

 The purpose of this lesson is to help students identify and define vocabulary terms using context clues and to paint the picture of a dynamic changing planet.


Major Strategies to Watch for:

1. TIP vocabulary charts- The Term- Information- Picture chart is perfect for movie watching because it emphasises getting information about a term rather then creating a strong definition.

2. Stop and Go film- Stopping the film often gives the students a chance to discuss, predict, take notes and identify important terms.

Ready. Set. Engage!

5 minutes

Learning Goal:  Discover the forces that can push continents.

Opening Question:  Draw a picture of the Earth showing the inside. What do you already know about Continental movement?

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class three minutes after the bell has rung.  I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Today, my goal for the class is for students to connect the heat from the Earth's core to continental movement.  Students share their drawings at the table and then use the drawings to generate questions about the inside of the Earth.

Follow the links to learn more about the beginning of class strategies and ROCK STAR scientist tickets


5 minutes

To start class today, I show funny videos about jargon to show students how vital vocabulary selection is to understanding.  

These two videos are both excellent for this purpose.  I usually only show about the first minute of each because I am simply trying to get students to understand the point.

As it is important to have a purpose in watching, before starting the videos I tell students we will be seeing two related videos and that there job is to try and figure out how the videos are related. 

 Technical Jargon Overload

Stuff Managers Say

After the videos I ask students what they thought they had in common and then I introduce the learning activity for the day which is recognizing vocabulary words in the film and getting information from context information.

Vocabulary Activity

10 minutes

Because this unit opens with jargon, I want to approach the vocabulary a little bit differently than normal.  For this unit, I am asking students to create a Movie Vocabulary page that they add to while watching the film.  (This is not a problem for students because of the many times I stop the movie to allow for conversation and note taking.) 

The Movie Vocabulary page looks exactly like our regular TIP chart*, the only difference is that it only contains vocabulary words from the film.  I start this activity by doing a focus lesson where I think back to yesterday's lesson, and the movie clip from The History of the Earth to choose the words that I think are the most important.  It is important for students to understand that a vocabulary word is not just a word that we don't know; it often critical words for our science content.  I list the words that I think are important and - this is important - why I picked them.  Then I play a short clip of the film that includes each word.  The students use the clip to fill in their TIP chart.  

The vocabulary words I select out from the first section of the film are:

- Gravity (2:46/ 5:10/ 6:17)

- Lava (4:16)

- Debris (5:50)

- Meteor (8:25)

- Molten (9:56)

- Crust (10:07)

Below is a screencast of the focus lesson and how I use the video clips to help students with their TIP charts.

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*The TIP chart in the resources is formatted so that you can edit it, to add rows, columns, content.

Movie Activity

20 minutes

We return to the National Geographic Movie, The Story of Earth, and again I show the movie in short 13-20 min sections.  I stop the film often to have students record notes on major events using a note catcher.  I also use notes that are already made for students with slow processing or writing difficulties. These modified notes make it possible for all students to complete the final project.  

Today I show from 13:11 to 21:00 of the The Story of Earth. This section of the film contains information on: 

- The formation of life

- Continental drift 

- The first super continent; Rodinia


Today as we watch the movie, not only do I stop to talk about content but I also stop to point out important vocabulary words.  Students record these vocabulary words in their TIP (Term-Information-Picture) charts. 


2 minutes

Closing Statement:  Today we saw the beginning of life and the movement of the continents in the film.  

Closing Question: Clearly, life is still on Earth so we know that continues.  Do the continents still move around?  What evidence do we have that continents are moving or not moving?

Closure depends greatly on timing and is not as easy to plan in advance as opening.  You can find more information about how I manage closure here.