Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Cite evidence that supports the theory of plate tectonics.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of a text.
- Determine the meaning of unknown academic and domain-specific words in a text.
- Construct a written response that makes the main point clear, includes relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
- Integrate multiple sources of information to address a single writing prompt.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
Students should have a basic knowledge of the layers of the Earth and their characteristics including the extremely hot solid inner core, the extremely hot liquid outer core, the mantle, the solid crust, and the lithosphere made up of the upper mantle and crust, which also make up the tectonic plates.
- The original CPALMS tutorial, , may be used to review Earth's layers.
- This 6-minute video made by MIT students gives a detailed review on the layers of the Earth, including an explanation on how we know this information even though we have never been to the middle of the Earth.
Students should have a basic knowledge of the different plate boundaries: Convergent with subduction, convergent with uplift, divergent and transform.
Students need to be aware that theories are supported by collaboration and collection of much scientific evidence.
- This 5-minute Ted-Ed video provides a clear comparison of a theory and a law.
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in "Earth's Tectonic Plates Won't Slide Forever" include the title, subtitle, a heading, images, and captions.
- Based on the provided writing rubric, students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and include relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. What role does heat play in plate tectonics?
- Heating and cooling, or the removal of heat, of the Earth's mantle and inner layers is what actually causes the tectonic plates to move. However, too much or too little heat can cause the plates to stop moving altogether.
2. How do scientists use simulations to describe the past movements and predict future movements of tectonic plates?
- Simulations have shown that billions of years ago the tectonic plates did not move because the interior of the Earth was too hot and too liquid. This liquid could not move the plates. Simulations also showed that continued cooling, or removal of heat, will result in the mantle changing to a solid state and the plates ceasing to move.
3. How has Earth's tectonic plates' movement changed over time?
- At the beginning, 4.5 billion years ago, Earth's crust did not move at all. It did not begin moving until it had cooled for about 400 million years. For the next 2 billion years the plates moved and stopped. It took billions of years before the movement became continuous.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by playing the animation. (This animation is very short, but it is on a continuous loop.)
2. After the animation, instruct students to discuss with a shoulder partner what they observed.
3. Then, ask students to share out what they discussed.
- Students will most likely share that heat is being released as the mantle moves up, that the crust is moving apart. In other areas the crust is being pushed down and appears to be melting.
4. While showing the animation again, draw the students' attention to the convection (circular movement) of the mantle and how it moves the surface of the Earth.
5. Ask students to discuss and make a prediction to the following What would happen if...? questions:
- What would happen if the mantle became hotter?
- What would happen if the mantle cooled down?
6. Have students write their answers down on a sheet of paper or in a notebook/journal.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the "Earth's Tectonic Plates Won't Slide Forever."
- Have students number the paragraphs. This will help them with the note-taking guide and with class discussion.
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text feature of the article to help them learn and locate information.
- Title: "Earth's Tectonic Plates Won't Slide Forever"
- Subtitle: In a few billion years they'll grind to a halt
- Headings: Tectonics on Earth and Beyond
- Direct them to examine the image with a caption and the caption beneath the video
4. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in small groups. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words. Make sure to provide students with access to a dictionary.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting their completed note-taking guides, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers should use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion of students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Students often believe that the plates move a lot more than they do. Tectonic plates only move 2.5 centimeters in one year, not feet or miles.
- Students often think of the tectonic plates as being only about 1000 feet thick, when they are actually miles thick.
- In addition, students often do not realize that there are plates at the bottom of the ocean. It is often helpful to imagine what the Earth would look like if all the oceans and freshwater evaporated.
- Students should also be reminded that rock can be in a solid or liquid form.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting their answers to the completed text dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers should use the sample answer key provided with the text-dependent questions to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing prompt for the summative assessment, be sure to review their responses to the other text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
2.Before assigning the students the writing prompt, have them view the following video: (00:03:57). While viewing the video, have students focus on the evidence provided that support the theory of plate tectonics. Students should record evidence supporting Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift. Their notes should include:
- Africa and South America appeared to fit together and then drifted apart.
- Fossils of mesosaurs were found in both Brazil and South Africa. The animal could not have swum that far. It was too small.
- A desert in South Africa had glacial scars.
- Coal deposits found on arctic islands (when coal is known to form tropical forests)
Students will use the article, evidence from the video, and observations from the simulation shown in the teaching phase in their written response for the summative assessment.
3. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss the organization of the sample response; identify the overall point of the paper (and how it connects back to the writing prompt); identify the main idea in each body paragraph; discuss the use of specific evidence from the text, video, and/or simulation; discuss the accurate and specific use of domain-specific vocabulary.
4. Teachers might have students use the writing rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a four.
5. To close out the lesson:
The teacher can ask the students, "Now that you have learned about the theory of plate tectonics, what have you learned about theories in general?"
- Theories must be supported by many pieces of evidence that can be from observation and/or computer models.
- Theories must be supported by other scientists.
- Theories can be added to or changed as new information is discovered. This can be due to the result of new technology such as computer programs.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They should refer back to the text, the video, and the simulation as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
3. Review the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
The prompt: Many years ago, Alfred Wegener proposed the idea of continental drift, which was the precursor to the theory of plate tectonics. Scientists at the time did not support his ideas. Since Wegener's initial proposal, a lot more evidence has been discovered to support his claim. As a geology student, your assignment is to write an argument using evidence to support Wegener's claim and the theory of plate tectonics.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students’ written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson.