Glaciers Create Big Changes-- Let's Write About It!

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SWBAT write an explanation of how glaciers change the land.

Big Idea

Glaciers are massive and change the land slowly. Let's be a scientist by using our observational notes to write about these changes.

Teacher Notes

Activity Description

In a previous lesson, the children learned what a glacier is, how it is formed and how it changed the shape of the land.  They used a glacial ice cube and clay to model this process.  As they were modeling, the children observed, drew a diagram, and took notes.  

In this lesson, they will use those notes to help them write an procedural text of how a glacier changes the shape of the land.

NGSS/Common Core Connections

In the NGSS, the children are expected to use information from several sources to provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.  In order to do this, they need to have a basic knowledge of how events shape the land.  In this lesson, they will be using their observational notes to help them write about the movement of glaciers and how they shape the land.

Also as a science practice and part of the NGSS, the children are expected to understand and develop models.  In this lesson the children will be using a previous hands-on modeling process to help them explain how glaciers play a role in shaping the land.  As part of the science practices, the children are communicating information and also constructing explanations.



5 minutes

I try to get the children's interested by beginning with a question that has them recall the information that we learned about the formation of glaciers from yesterday's lesson.  Sharing their knowledge orally as a whole class helps them remember what we have done and gets them interested in what we are about to do.

We have learned that scientists share their ideas.  We call this communicating ideas.  Yesterday we learned how glaciers can help shape the land.  How does this happen?  

Organizing Ideas

15 minutes

Next I have my students pull out their notes from yesterday (see student sample from the previous lesson).  They will use these notes and the diagram to both help jog their memory of the task and also to use some of the language that they have written down.

So I have the children lay their note sheet right next to them and then put their new blank explanation organizer sheet in front of them.  So they should have the two papers in front of them.  I want them to be able to pull the ideas from their own notes to help them fill out the explanation organizer.  Using this explanation organizer helps the children get their ideas in sequential order since it has time-order words to help them.  It also helps keep their ideas on track to write a procedural text on how glaciers shape the land.  

I continue with my directions.

I would like you to write an explanatory paragraph that tells how a glacier shapes the land.  To help you do this you need to use your notes from yesterday.  Take a look at your notes and reread what you have written.  Look at your diagram to help you. 

As part of the Common Core, the children are expected to write an explanatory text which has an introduction, uses facts and definition to make a point and then have a conclusive sentence.  Writing an explanation of how glaciers help change the land will be practice of that goal.

On the organizer, you will see the words first, next and finally.  These are time-order words that help someone who is reading your work to understand the sequence in which things happened.  It helps make things clearer for the reader and it also will help you to keep things in order when you are writing.

I would like you to turn to your turn and talk partner and discuss how glaciers change the land by using these words--first, next and finally.

Having the children vocalize what they are going to write before they write helps them to formulate their ideas so they can write them down with ease.  It helps the reluctant writer to be able to focus their ideas and get them started in the right direction.

After the children have practiced using the words first, next and finally with their partner, they go on ahead and write their ideas on the organizer.

I walk around to monitor the children's learning.  I ask my children how this organizer helps them.  They all feel like using it is really beneficial.  As an example, this very reluctant writer explains how using the words help him since he knows that one idea goes in each box. The girl in this video explains how the organizer helps her keep things in sequence.  Click to see student student sample A and student sample B.




15 minutes

Next I have the children write their explanatory paragraphs on  this final copy paper.  

Now I would like you to use your ideas you have written down to write your final paragraph from.  You should use the time-order words as part of your paragraph, such as first, next and last.  This will help the reader understand what you have written.

When you write a paragraph, you need to remember some things.  What do good writers do to write paragraphs correctly?

Here is a list that we come up with:

    • start each sentence with a capital
    • end with proper punctuation
    • reread to make sure it makes sense
    • indent the first sentence
    • start with a topic sentence
    • end with a conclusion
    • use time-order words
    • spell correctly

I love when I can connect what we are learning in science to the writing standards.  The kids are involved in the learning and are very connected to this writing project.  It motivates them to write more clearly since this is what they have been learning about.  It also builds a common connection between the two disciplines.

Click to see an average student's paper.  This boy did a wonderful job incorporating all of the things we have learned about glaciers to write three pages.  

Sharing and Communicating Ideas

15 minutes

Since my writers have many diverse entry points, it takes some much longer than others.  So when children have finished their writing, they can begin on drawing and coloring their pictures.  Some children need some extra time to finish up on their work, and do so at another time.  

When all have finished, we take turns sharing their work.  The children take turns up at my special stool with our lab coat on.  The lab coat we use is an old adult lab coat that has been cut down to child size.  As an alternative, you could use a man's shirt with the sleeves cut and rolled to fit a child.