The Rock Cycle: Where do Metamorphic Rocks Fit?

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SWBAT ask and answer questions to understand key details about metamorphic rocks and their place in the rock cycle.

Big Idea

Rocks have a cycle too!


7 minutes

Context and Overview

With the shift to the CCSS students are expected to build strong content knowledge and second graders in our district need to understand rocks. In putting together this lesson, I thought about how to make it interactive. Students will use to two sources to gather information about metamorphic rocks. One is a video and another a diagram. Students are expected to know how text features, major or minor, play a specific role in providing meaning. Students need to be savvy about locating them and deciphering them.

Before analyzing the diagram, students will be able to spend time communicating with each other about what they learned in the video. In pair sharing, I am giving my students the opportunity to practice academic language.

I like to connect the four modalities: listening, speaking, reading, and writing as much as possible. Therefore, students will get the opportunity to integrate their learning as they reflect in writing.

Opening Activity:

After sharing the objective with the students on the rug, I brainstorm with them about volcanoes. To prompt their thinking and listening, I ask them to ask their classmates, "WhatDoYouKnowAboutTheRockCycle?"

After I give them time to share with one another, I call on a few to share their knowledge of the rock cycle. I transcribe their responses on the circle map. I record their responses to make public their knowledge, and, at the end of the lesson, I will refer back to the circle map and add to it. In this way, the students get to witness how their knowledge expands.

Video: Metamorphic Rocks

20 minutes

Integrating technology is one way I expose my students to different sources of information to build content knowledge and meet the rigorous demands of the CCSS. There are different websites for students, and my students really like this one. The value of videos is tremendous. The students get to hear a different voice. They are entertained with images and sounds as they learn.

I make this task interactive by creating a metamorphic rock template with text dependent questions. How did I create them? I watched the video. This is crucial. One needs to make sure we are showing appropriate videos for students and plan for the appropriate support. The text dependent questions support my students hone in on key pieces of information that is being provided by the video about metamorphic rocks. Without it, I feel my students would be lost and confused.

I have the students read the questions before they answer them. It helps them to listen for the answer. It reinforces reading too. Then, while we watch, I pause every few moments to give them time to take notes. Here are some examples of their notes:




I have taught my students how to take notes. My students know that they need to write words, phrases, and/or add pictures, but no complete sentences. They use this information to write later on.

Sometimes I pause to point information that helps them understand informational text better: captions

At the end of the video, I give my students time to write and explain three key words. These words let me know how they are internalizing the information.

Here is the link and the video:

[Please note, this video talks about all three rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. The metamorphic information starts at 4:28.]


5 minutes

The CCSS emphasizes speaking and listening in various settings and for different purposes. My students now sit around the room and share their notes about metamorphic rocks with each other. In this way, I am reinforcing the academic language they will be using in their writing later. This aids their comprehension.

To get them started on this task, I gather the students on the rug and explain their task.

I choose who is going to partner up with who. I call their names and they take a seat somewhere in the room of their choosing. Sometimes, I let them choose their partners, sometimes I choose for them. I make sure to create both heterogeneous and homogenous groups. Students need both experiences depending on the task.

Also, before they go off with their partners to share, I make sure I give them the question they will be asking of each other. I remind them of how they will need to be sitting: facing one another, knee to knee if they are sitting on the carpet, they need to make sure they make eye contact all the time.

Analyzing A Diagram of the Rock Cycle

20 minutes

This is a very short video (embedded below), and I am glad to have found it because it allowed me to focus on the text feature: diagram. Students need to be exposed to different types of diagrams but also understand that the main purpose of a diagram is to explain how something works.

I engage the students in an oral discussion about the diagram with the following questions:

1. What do we call this text feature?

2. What do you notice about the text feature?

3. What is the diagram explaining?

4. Why do you think the author chose to represent this information visually like this?

I keep the discussion to these four questions because I don't want to have a prolonged discussion and these questions get at the heart of what I want the students to know.

Then, I ask the students to draw the diagram. I leave the visual of the rock cycle up on the white board for them to reference. Instead of giving them a ditto for this task, I feel having them draw is a more powerful way for them to internalize the the rock cycle.

I remind them that they need to label their diagram. I explain what the word mean and its importance. Here a couple of examples:



Independent Writing

15 minutes

Now students are integrating their knowledge about metamorphic rocks from both sources in their writing. How do I make this an open-ended writing activity? 

The students can choose what information they want to write about and I am always curious as to what their focus will be.

In a mini-lesson, I taught my students how to take the information they collect to write a brief paragraph. In this writing task, they are to use time order words and integrate the academic vocabulary of the topic.

As they write, I offer support. Some students need help getting started. Others need encouragement finding their pencil, while others need support with spelling.

When students finish, I take the time to read their work and I give them specific and brief oral feedback. For example, I would say, "I liked how you use the word transformed in your sentence."

Students blossom with praise and taking the time to notice a specific detail goes farther than saying phrases such as, "that was great or fantastic." These words can be used but they need to be combined with specific details. Here are some examples of their writing:





Whole Group Sharing

10 minutes

I provide my students with another opportunity to communicate. During their writing time, I made sure to take mental notes of who was meeting the task. It these students who I ask to share. I strongly believe in modeling pieces of work that are meeting the objective. Also, I feel I am letting the students know that there are many teachers in the room and they are included in the learning and teaching process.

During this sharing time in the whole group, speakers practice their speaking skills and the audience practices their listening skills.

Before sharing, I wanted the students to reflect on what we have learned as a group, so we added information about the rock cyle to the circle map we created earlier.

Then, a few students got to share their work.




When students share, the speakers are given feedback. I use this system:

Two stars: Two different students tell them what specifically they liked about their work.

A wish: Another student tells them what they wish for them to improve in their writing.

This system helps to keep the conversation respectful.