33 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT graph the tides in a region over a multi-day period SWBAT explain the factors which influence tides on the Earth and draw or identify the positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun given specific tidal conditions

Big Idea

Students create a graph of tidal ranges in New York City to explore how tides change as a result of the Moon's gravity

Lesson Introduction

An action-packed lesson where we talk tides, tides, and tides! This lesson has a lot of information (I had to squeeze in a lot in this lesson, as we were coming up on the end of the year, and I needed to make sure I had time to fit everything in). We talk about what tides are, how they form, the positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun that lead to specific tidal formations, and most importantly, we make tidal graphs based on data from tidal ranges in NYC. A lot going on (and if you have shorter classes than 60 minutes, you might want to cut some things), but a fun lesson! Beyond technology for viewing a brief video, there are no special materials needed for this lesson. 

[Note: For embedded comments, checks for understanding (CFUs), and key additional information on transitions and key parts of the lesson not necessarily included in the below narrative, please go to the comments in the following document: 8.13 - Tides (Whole Lesson w/comments). Additionally, if you would like all of the resources together in a PDF document, that can be accessed as a complete resource here: 8.13 - Tides (Part I)[PDF]8.13 - Tides (Part II)[PDF], & 8.13 - Tides (Part III)[PDF]. Finally, students may need their Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] for parts of the lesson (a document used widely in the New York State Earth Science Regents course) as well.]

Do Now

10 minutes

Students come in silently and complete the (attached) Do Now. In this case, the Do Now is a review of material and some "hot standards" from earlier units in addition to some needed review on material from the current unit on Meteorology. After time expires (anywhere from 2-4 minutes depending on the type of Do Now and number of questions), we collectively go over the responses (usually involving a series of cold calls and/or volunteers), before I call on a student and ask them to read the objective out loud to start the lesson.

As a general note, the Do Now serves a few purposes:

  1. It serves as a general review of the previous day's material;
  2. It is a re-activation of student knowledge to get them back into "student mode" and get them thinking about science after transitioning from another content area or alternate class;
  3. As a strategy for reviewing material students have struggled with (for example, using this as a focused review for material that they have struggled with on unit assessments or recent quizzes); and,

It is an efficient and established routine for entering the classroom that is repeated each day with fidelity (I never let students enter the classroom talking. While it may seem potentially severe to have students enter silently each day, this is both a school wide expectation and a key component of my classroom. In many respects, I find that students readily enjoy the focus that starting with a quiet classrooms brings each day).

Video & Notes

20 minutes

As noted in the Lesson Introduction, this is information that would probably be presented over two days or so (and feel free to do that if it suits you or your class better). But due to time constraints, I had to push it into one day, so we started with the Video & Notes resource, which starts with the (embedded) Youtube video: 

The video, which is a time-lapse, shows a very large tidal range in Canada. As the video is playing, I have students write down their observations on what they think is causing this phenomenon. After taking a few responses and introducing tides as movement of the height of water via gravitational attraction from celestial objects, we jump directly into the text. We read the text together as a class (which is only about 2 paragraphs, so it goes quickly; also check the inserted comments in the Word document in the Lesson Introduction section above, as it has key information on annotations and checks for understanding to ask during the reading) before, on the second page of the Video & Notes resource, we draw out the astronomical positions of the Earth, Moon, and Sun to diagram when both neap and spring tides occur. 


20 minutes

After introducing tides, I wanted to present some real-world data to students (and have them do their usual graph at least once a unit, and felt that since the Regents so often asks about tidal ranges graphically, I would have the students create their own to better recognize ones that they would see in the future). To be frank, the GraphGraph Analysis, and Graph Data are much less intimidating then they look. In fact, the graph has all the axes and intervals already labelled, so all students really have to do is graph the information on the Graph Data page. 

I start this lesson section out by introducing this as real data from Battery Park in New York City. Every hour, they're given the water level height (in meters) for a period of 2.5 days. Their task is to carefully graph that data on the Graph provided, and then answer the associated Graph Analysis questions following the graph (I pass out rulers to assist in this process). In terms of student habits, before they start graphing, I encourage them to use extra caution since there are so many points. Additionally, I make sure that they know that Mid on the Graph correlates to midnight (or 00:00:00) on the Graph Data, while N correlates to noon (or 12:00:00). This may be hard to see online, but I also leave an intentional blank page after the Graph Data and before the Graph page so that students don't have to flip back and forth 48 times to record the data. They can tear off the Graph page and have them both side-by-side. It also may help if you have a document camera to post the Graph Data page so that students also don't have to flip back and forth. I give all my students either option and let them decide. After they're finished (and I let them work at their own pace), I encourage them to independently start the Graph Analysis questions. 


10 minutes

The Practice section in this lesson is, like the vast majority of questions found in all of my classwork and homework, is 100% Regents-based. All of the questions come from prior Regents examinations. Likewise, as I try to generally do with all of my lessons, the questions are mostly organized to get increasingly more difficult and increase in complexity, which is why the harder questions tend to come toward the end. 

In terms of student work habits, I tend to sometimes make this decision in the moment, and as a response of what I know about the students and how they're processing the material on, but I'll either ask them to work independently, in partners, or (sometimes) give them the option. Usually, before starting practice, we tend to go over some steps for self-help ("What should you do if you're stuck?"), and I might reference a previously used multiple-choice or free response strategy in order to build their skills while simultaneously learning content (as an example - one popular one we always use - "If you aren't sure what the right answer is, see if you can eliminate some wrong answer choices"). I tend to circulate for compliance and then hone in on specific students while they're doing this. 

After about 10 minutes, we go over their responses. Students who finish early are encouraged to work on the exit ticket (resource below) and double-check their responses. We use a combination of strategies (active voting, cold calling, popsicle sticks, volunteers) to go over the responses, where students correct their work and ask any clarifying questions. 

Exit Ticket & Closing

5 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I have students complete the daily Exit Ticket. For the sake of time, I have students grade them communally, with a key emphasis on particular questions and items that hit on the key ideas of the lesson (Note: This usually manifests as students self-grading, or having students do a "trade and grade" with their table partners). After students grade their exit tickets, they usually pass them in (so that I can analyze them) and track their exit ticket scores on a unit Exit Ticket Tracker. 

After students take a few seconds to track their scores, we usually wrap up in a similar way. I give students time to pack up their belongings, and I end the class at the objective, which is posted on the whiteboard, and ask students two questions:

  • Do you feel that you mastered the objective for the day?
  • Can you reiterate one thing you learned about (in this case, tidal ranges and types of tides, etc.)?

Once I take 2-3 individual responses (sometimes I'll ask for a binary "thumbs up/thumbs down" or something similar), I have students leave once the bell rings.