History of Earth: Part 1: Direct Instruction

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Students will be able to collaboratively work with other students to improve their notes from the movie resource.

Big Idea

Climate change has been around a long time - but that doesn't mean it's good!

Teachers' Lounge

Purpose of Lesson:

 The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the final project, watch some more of the film, and give students a chance to edit their notes in a structured collaborative process.


Major Strategies to Watch for:

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

2.  Speed Dating discussion- In this strategy, students get the chance to interact with several new partners and exchange note ideas in a fast paced structured discussion.

Ready. Set. Engage

5 minutes

Learning Goal:  Understand how changes in the atmosphere can lead to dramatic climate change.

Opening Question: What do you already know about current climate change in our world?

Students record their opening question on their learning goal sheet and are ready to start class 3 min after the bell has rung.  I reward students who get started early with ROCK STAR SCIENTIST tickets.  

Today's question is going to lead to bigger discussions later on in the class, the unit, and the next unit.  For now, I simply ask the students the questions and allow them to share out some of their answers.

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


5 minutes

For the hook today, I show the kids a look at The Evolution of Life on Earth timeline and use this as a bridge to connect students to our final project.  Earlier in the unit the class completed a mini-unit on geologic timelines.  Some of my students had seen the video from that unit but some had not and it is an entertaining video to start the class. 

This video is so fast paced, I simply ask the students to watch and enjoy.  At the end of the video, I ask them what they noticed about the timeline that seems important.  We talk about our answers.  I try to always talk to the students about videos that we watch in class because it allows them to make personal connections and allows me to make smooth transitions to the next section.


5 minutes

The purpose of the lesson today is to introduce the final project, which is a detailed timeline showing events from the history of the earth.

 The first thing I want to do in this section is go back to some prior knowledge from out Geologic Timeline mini-unit.  I do this be getting out the geologic timeline anchor chart and reminding students of what we have learned before.

Then I want to bring some relevance to the note taking we are doing by explaining the way we will be using the notes in the next project.  In this video, I am explaining to students why detailed notes are important and how they will be used.  

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Guided Movie Activity

20 minutes

I continue to show The Story of Earth 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. 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. 

Today I show from 21:00 to 35:48 of the film "The Story of Earth."  The video today gives information on:

- Climate change 

- Snowball earth

I think one of the most interesting and relevant sections of the video today shows how a series of events can lead to drastic and long lasting climate change.  This is easily applicable to what is happening today and shows the students that while climate change might be a natural process, it is not necessarily a positive change!

*The TIP Chart is formatted so that you can add content, rows, and columns.

Collaborative Practice

20 minutes

The purpose of Collaborative Practice is to insure students gain information from peers that they might have missed on their own.

Once I have introduced the final project of this bundle, the students are now more motivated and in some cases worried to make sure that they have the right information from the film.  No matter how often I stop the movie and explain certain parts to the students, some students are still missing a lot of information.  This upcoming "speed dating" strategy gives the students a chance to work with another student in a structure conversation to beef up their notes.  

In order to do this activity you want to have the desks/tables facing each other in roughly two circles, an inside one and an outside one.  The students at the inside table rotate clock wise in the circle after each discussion, while the students in the outside circle stay put. 

Before I start the discussion, I ask each student to get out their notes and I go over the protocol for the discussion.

1) Students place their notes together on the table.

2) The inside person gets to ask a question or make a clarification.

3) The outside person gets to ask a question or make a clarification.

Usually, I find that each round should last about 1:30 min. This pace is fast enough to keep kids on track while still being slow enough for them to have a real discussion.

At the end of the round the inside circle moves and the discussions begin again.  Depending on time and interest, I might do 3 or 4 rounds.  Structure and procedures are critical to success in using this strategy. I explore this topic in more depth in my reflection.

At the end of the activity, I ask the students if they learned anything about note taking.  Students share out their noticings.  

Independent Practice

7 minutes

The purpose of this section is to spread out the production time of the final product and make sure that students are staying caught up.

I like to start production of this timeline well in advance of the due date because I've found that there is inertia working against you when entering a new project.  If students begin with some of it completed, they are more likely to finish the project.

Today, we are simply putting together the booklets and drawing the lines on each page.  To produce this booklet you need to cut regular paper in half lengthwise. The students will need one cover page and nine content pages.  I like the students to have a colored cover page and white content pages.  They put the colored page on top and staple the booklet on the left hand edge.

For this project, I'm choosing to do this "old school style" rather than digitally.  My reasons are purely practical, we are doing this project during testing and I'm not allowed to check out computers.  However, I also like doing it on paper.  You save time turning on and off the computers, students can easily trade papers with another person, and I can collect and store all the papers and peruse them to check on progress.  

A few years ago I had the students do this project on powerpoint and that was different but had it's own advantages.  The bottom line is, it doesn't really matter what the project looks like as long as the students are diving into the content.

The students then put their names on the cover with the title, The History of Earth: A Timeline.  Then I have them draw a line across all of the content pages about 1/3 of the way down the page.  

This amount of production generally takes all the time I have at this point.  I collect the booklets to prevent loss.


3 minutes

Closing Statement: Today we learned about climate change in Earth's past and started making our timelines.

Closing Question:  What events so far would be important enough for you to put on your timeline?

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.