Puzzling together the timeline of the Earth...

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SWBAT create and piece together the major eras of the Earth's transition from beginning to present day.

Big Idea

Understanding the huge idea of how long it has taken the Earth to reach it's present state is enormous. This lesson begins to attempt to open this concept up for students and create a timeline to document those changes.

Setting the Stage

5 minutes

This lesson comes at the end of the school year and almost at the end of the unit on Earth's Past history.  It directly relates to the the history of planet Earth and the events that shaped it, and the length of time it takes to view those changes (ESS1-1).  Along with this, is also the Cross Cutting Concept of Stability and Change...the rate at which things can change...rapidly or slowly.  

Timelines can be difficult and easy to tackle all at the same time.  If the subject chosen is a small and refined sequence of events, it can very difficult to pinpoint and tack down the events that make the changes.  However, if the changes are drastic and very subtle, this creates a somewhat easier timeline to view and see.  

One obstacle that can present a problem, however, is the fact that some timelines really require a very long time to observe.  With the changes the Earth has gone through in so many ways, this is most likely the largest scale of a time line possible to demonstrate for students.  Because of the enormity of the task, recreating it is impossible! 

For this reason, I chose to utilize a website that has done the most beautiful job outlining the sequence of events for older children.  Because is was the best one I could find, I chose to use it and explain the language to the children in terms that made more sense for them.  


5 minutes

I am prepared with my power point on the screen. I ask the children to look and be prepared to do some scientific digging.  I explain that today when we dig into our lesson, it is really going to require us to be scientific researchers.  

The first slide is the title slide, but also implies what the topic of conversation will be about.  All of my lessons begin this way and the children are very accustomed to my teaching style by this point of the school year. 

I ask them to ponder this question for a moment and formulate their own private thoughts about the question.  After about two minutes, I move to slide two...the real question of the lesson (SP1).

I clarify for the children that we are going to really dig into the idea of exactly when the dinosaurs roamed the planet.  I remind them about the lesson previously about theories, and explain that it is important that they remember the discussions we had about theories and reconstructing ideas based on evidence. Reminding them that this is what scientists do when they need to use evidence to create an explanation to a phenomenon to explain a scientific idea. According to the new evidence statements that have just been released, this is something a Second Grade student should be able to articulate by the end of the school year.  


20 minutes

I explain that this is a big idea and one that is going to be a bit challenging for us to tackle alone.  I have decided that we are going to do it all together and we are going to use the internet to help us. Slide three of the power point has a hyperlink (I have included it here because the resource is a PDF and cannot be accessed) embedded for ease of teaching.  

I click on the link and the internet opens instantly.  I explain to the children that it may take us some time to explore this website, but I think we will get a good idea of what went on during the beginning of Earth's formation.  

We spend the next twenty minutes slowly and carefully exploring the site. I am careful to only go at a pace that the children can absorb the information. I do not want to leave anything out, but I also do not want to move too quickly through the slide and the information; making sure that I do not leave anything out.  

The site itself is interactive in that it has drop downs and moving graphics with lots of text.  The text is higher level, the site is not written for Second Graders.  However, I do believe with explanations that are simple, they are able to grasp much of the information.  



10 minutes

When we reach the end of the website, I ask the children how they feel about the level of the information we have just worked our way through?  I anticipate, I will have a mixed bag of answers.  

I ask this question so I can get a feel for the class and what they absorbed from the new information. 

I show the children a blank anchor chart (blank meaning....there is no writing at all and only stitches around the outside to block in any new learning that we add to the anchor chart).  I explain that all this new information really requires some organization.  I am hoping the children will be able to help me reconstruct some of the concepts.  

I use the dinosaur timeline cards to help do this. I have printed the cards, cut them out and laminated each of them.  I also numbered them in tiny numbers the children cannot see.  I numbered each title heading card and put corresponding numbers on the smaller cards to help me remember which cards will support each other with information.  This was my check and balance system for myself to keep things flowing smoothly.  This information can be heady stuff, even for adults.  I do not want to confuse the children if I cannot remember where everything should go as well!! 

I show the children the four heading cards and ask them if they can remember which one came first in our investigating.  I want to see if they can remember before reverting back to check our work on the website.  We attempt to put all four in order and then check to verify our work before taping it all down.  I ask the children to get out their journals and find an open page in our unit section that corresponds with this unit. I tell them they will need to write the 

After this, I put each individual small card on the document camera and ask for the children's input as to it's placement.  Each time, the children give me their opinion, we check our work on the website.  I do this more in the interest of time than anything else.  As well as, it is the end of the school year and typical students struggle to keep their attention when it is the end of the school year and there is beautiful weather outside. In order to keep their attention following along, I move quickly.  




20 minutes

I brought the children the last page of the document with the anchor chart cards.  I make multiple copies and bring one to each child.  I explain that I would like for them to cut them out and create their own timeline in their journals (SP2). 

I allow them to work in any method that works for them, as long as they are organizing their information in a similar grouping as the anchor chart.  

I walk and circulate throughout the classroom while the children are working.  I am listening to their conversation and observing their work. 


15 minutes

As the children complete their timelines, I am looking to see if the organization they had chosen to use was clean and clear.  I know that organizing one's thinking is important as a scientist and a timeline is a good place to begin this.  

I want to see if the children simply copy the timeline we created as a class or come up with any new and interesting variations.  I am prepared to accept either option.  If the children choose to create a version that was different than the class chart, I ask the child to explain their rationale for choosing that method.