Reflection: Rigor Earthquakes (Day 1/2) - Section 3: Earthquake Video & Introduction


Since this is the second time I’m teaching this content, I’ve often had the space and cognitive energy to think more about instructional rigor in my classroom. When I first taught this course, I spent so much mental energy creating and planning materials – as many teachers know, this is exhausting and very time-consuming, so I did feel that some of my lessons could fall flat in terms of instructional rigor.

But now that I’m teaching this course again, I’ve been able to modify and change some of the aligned activities and do subtle things to make them more cognitively demanding, in addition to focusing on some extra-science skills that all kids need. For example, in the above explanation, I have students pick the 3-5 most important facts from the video, and after the video, I have them go back to talk about their facts with a partner, ultimately deciding on the “most important” fact. While I previously had just had students take down “notes” from the video, the selection of facts does a few things that push the instructional rigor a bit more in the classroom.

First, it forces students to interact more. This year, I have a particular focus on collaborative, laboratory, and social skills – basically, how well do you work together? Giving students multiple opportunities to collaborate and then reflect on their collaboration is a key step for their future success in the sciences and academia – most great work is done collaboratively, and learning how to really do that in high school is better than learning on the fly later. 

I also feel that the inherent part of “selecting” facts and “discussing” their facts forces them to think about what’s important, why it’s important, and then defend that choice to someone else (or the class). As opposed to the passive role of “copying” notes, it more actively involves their brains in differentiating important from non-important information, and allows them to evaluate their own scientific thinking. 

  Adding Rigor To Lesson Activities
  Rigor: Adding Rigor To Lesson Activities
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Earthquakes (Day 1/2)

Unit 2: The Dynamic Earth
Lesson 6 of 16

Objective: SWBAT define an earthquake and use the Mercalli Scale to determine the approximate epicenter of an earthquake

Big Idea: Students will take on their first natural disaster in this lesson. This lesson introduces students to the phenomenon of earthquakes as the creation of seismic waves caused by friction along plate boundaries and faults.

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