In this unit we have been learning about fossils and how they help us understand the organisms and the environment that existed long ago. I wanted my students to get a sense of how fossils form in different layers. The essential questions were " How do fossils communicate what happened in the past?" and " How are fossils discovered?". I told my students that they would be modeling the creation of fossils and that was enough to get their undivided attention!
I created a PowerPoint, The clues are in the layers, in order help my students follow along in the lesson as well as a way to incorporate the use of multimedia in the lesson. It gave me the opportunity to touch upon different learning styles and have the students interact on different levels with the content.
I created Fossils Day 1, Create a fossil , because I find that when my students have a guide to follow during their investigations they are more focused on the task and can better make connections to the real world. The students created different layers of earth using sand and then embedded different "fossils" in each layer. I have them add a little "watered down" white glue to each layer of sand because the first time I tried this investigation I noticed that the layers needed some kind of binding agent because their was not much of a challenge for the students to excavate the fossils the following day. The sand simply broke away. Adding the watered down white glue to the sand better simulated the excavation process. This short video, How to make the glue mixture for the binding agent shows you how to make your own.The fossils they created in the paper cups during this lesson, will be used in tomorrow's lesson when they trade their work for another team's and excavate the fossils. These pictures show how the students packed down the sand and glue layers then added watered down glue before adding more sand.
To me, the final discussion is the most crucial part of a lesson. I created Create a Fossil Focus Page , to give my students the opportunity to think-pair-share and really digest what had been done. By discussing what occurred during this lesson, I can clarify any points that my students are still confused over, as well as provide an opportunity to share what they have learned in small group and whole class.