New for 2016 – to see the older version with additional lesson details, please visit my post from last year.
Before starting the activity, I set the stage that they are a group of archeologists and have discovered an ancient tablet at an archeological dig site. Unfortunately, the tablet is broken and as they excavate, they only find a few pieces at a time. What does the ancient table say? Scientists all over the world try to decipher the ancient text…
Words to cut apart (pdf) – this year I removed the word “bone” to change it up a little
white paper cut into 1/4ths or small index cards
This year, I wanted to try something different for this lesson. Instead of seeing how close each group came to the original phrase that was on the “tablet”, I wanted each group to analyze the findings from the other groups to compare their findings and look for similarities and differences. This would be similar to a gallery walk (see video below) but without students explaining their posters, they would view posters at their own pace and choose any 3 posters to compare for each category.
Note – this lesson plan is a modification of the original lesson plan from The University of California Museum of Paleontology (link)
I have been getting a lot of requests for editing access to the Google Slides on my blog, so I wrote this tutorial on how to save and edit any of the Google Slides on my website. I can’t permit editing rights because it will change my copy of the slides and your edits will be visible to everyone that visits my blog.
This post highlights the eight Scientific and Engineering Practices and spotlights a few lessons related to each practice. I had this as eight separate posts but decided to consolidate for easier viewing.
For more details and examples about the Science and Engineering Practices, visit NSTA.
Tag: SEP8 – click for more lessons that cover this practice
print and cut apart the 8 cards for each part of the lesson
to set up the cards, use large 4×6 index cards and store in ziptop bags.
on one side of the index cards, glue on the nonsense letters
on the reverse side, glue on the fossil layers
laminate for durability
Replace the letters for each fossil layer, see my ppt for new random letters
spelling out the word “ORGANISM“ is way too easyfor students to figure out and they will not really have a chance to work on the activity with the depth of thinking and problem solving that you want them to do
be sure to stagger cards so that the order of the cards is not the same, otherwise they will flip over the cards and have the answer for part 2
This is a fantastic lesson and I have used it successfully with both 5th and 6th grade students. When introducing this lesson I use the analogy of a laundry hamper, or in most cases, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor in their bedroom. Today’s clothes would go on top of the pile, each day adding a layer of dirty clothes. The older clothes would be on the bottom of the pile, kind of like a timeline of what they wore this week. When that laundry is collected and moved to the laundry room, the layers would get disrupted. With rocks, the layers form on top of each other, and the older layers are on the bottom. We then brainstorm how those layers can be disrupted: earthquakes, tectonic plates moving, landslides, digging, etc…
For this activity, they have to figure out the pattern of how these layers are formed, and there are clues in each layer, they just need to know what to look for. For the nonsense letters, there is a pattern that connects all the layers together. Many will think it is alphabetical, but I tell them that it is not. Once they have worked on it a few minutes, I have them share their theories. Once each group has shared their theory, I give them the clue. And suddenly, the pattern is clear now that they know what to look for. Using the same strategy, they will then sequence the fossils on the reverse side of the index cards.
I created new templates to create your own vocab cut and paste worksheets. The files are located in the Google Drive Folder and were made using Google Draw.
To edit the template, you will need to select:
“File” then “Make a Copy”
Rename the copy
Make edits for your science unit
Google Drive Folder (link): I have all of my vocab sheets posted in one folder so they are easy to find and access. If I find or create any more vocab sheets, they will be included in this folder.
Below are some fun ways to incorporate vocabulary into your lesson plans:
Cut & Paste: Have students cut out the definitions and paste or tape them next to the correct word.
Flashcards: Students will cut out each vocab word and paste it to the front of an index card, then they will cut out and paste the correct definition on to the back of the index card.
Find Your Partner: Give half of the class a vocabulary word and the other half of the class a definition. They will look for their partner and record their answer. Have them come to you to pick up a new word and a new definition and find new partners.
Quiz, Quiz, Trade: Using the flashcards, give each student one vocab word. They will go around the room and quiz each other. After quizzing each other, they will trade flashcards and find a new partner.
Matching: Create a vocab set by laminating and cutting out the words and definitions. Place the words and definitions into a ziptop bag. Have each student or pair of students match the words with their definitions.
Go Fish: Using the matching set above you can play Go Fish. Deal out 3-5 cards per player (depending on the number of students and vocab words) and place the rest upside down in the center. Students will ask each other for a vocab word or a definition, if they don’t have it, they will say “Go Fish” and the student will pick a card from the pile. If they have a matching set, they will place it down. If not, they will add the card to their hand. The first person to place all their cards down wins.
Old Maid: Using the matching set above, you can remove one of the vocab words or definitions from the set. Students will deal out all the cards. Students will pick a card from the person to their right. If they have a matching set, they will set it down. The first person to place all their cards down, wins, the person left with the vocab word or definition without that doesn’t have a matching card is the “Old Maid”.
Dominoes: Using the matching set above, you can have 3-4 students shuffle the words and definitions and deal out to each student. Have one person start by placing a vocab word on the table. If the next person has the definition, have them place it on the table touching the vocab word. The next person will place a vocab word on the table touching the definition of the previous word, and so on until all the words and definitions are used. The first one to get rid of all their cards wins. If a students doesn’t have a definition or new vocab word to put down, they will skip their turn.
Stations: You can set up stations around the room with different vocabulary activities and students can rotate through the stations.
To make any of these games more challenging, you can combine 2 or 3 related sets of vocab into the mix. If you have any other fun ways to review vocabulary, please add to the comment section below.
Note: If you are having trouble seeing the handouts in ‘preview mode’ and it seems to be stuck in the loading phase, click on the boxed arrow (pop-out button) on the top right to open the pdf and view the rest of the pages.
print slides and place into plastic sleeves or laminate
For 2016-2017 I updated some of the stations to have more variety in the outcomes and introduce some higher level concepts for my 6th graders to lead into our unit on Plate Tectonics
Dice: 2-4 at each station
Tips for running the lesson:
Use this lesson after introducing the Rock Cycle to students.
Having 2-4 dice at each location allows multiple students to be at each station at the same time. In the past when I used the paper dice that come with the lesson, it took time for each student to write down the outcome from the dice. Having the outcomes on the station cards helps speed things up.
Set up stations around the room, depending on the number of students you have, you can make multiple stations for each one.
For example, for the Soil Station or the Earth’s Crust & Interior Station, you can have more than one of each to spread students out around the room. They get a lot of traffic.
If students get ‘stuck’ at a station, explain that they can be stuck in the Earth’s Interior for millions of years and their whole comic would be just that one station, but allow them to ‘roll out’ of a station if they are there for a 3rd time.
For example – A student will end up at the Soil Station and roll “Sediments Being Formed Remain Here” and write that on their handout. Then they will roll “Sediments Being Formed Remain Here” again, and write it down. If on the 3rd turn they roll “Rocks Break Down, Remain Here” have them roll again until they get something different. They may then get “Flooding Occurs, Go to River” and write that down and go to the River Station. They may end up back at the Soil Station on a later turn, but that is OK. They will visit some stations more than others.
Once students are done with their journey, check over their work and then have them start their comic strip. They might need some tips on how to draw certain geological processes.
I have used this lesson for many years and the students really enjoy making their comics and come away with a better understanding of how rocks change over time.
Google Slides 2016 (Public) – this presentation will outline what mining is, where it occurs, types of mines, what commodities are mined in the United States, and covers mining in New Jersey. Maps are from the CDC
What is mining? (pdf) – this is a guided handout that students will take notes on as we discuss mining
Sterling Hill Mining Museum – this has been an annual field trip for our school for around 30 years. Their mineral collection is amazing!
Videos: These are also available on Netflix – updated April 2018
This is one of my favorite activities from our minerals and mining unit. It takes about 1 whole class period to explain the activity, collect data, eat the cookie (& crumbs), and clean up. We discuss our results the next class and determine who made the most profit.
When determining the value of the chocolate ore, I have the students place their chocolate pieces close together in one area of the map. When they are done, I go around and circle the area of chocolate and give their chocolate a rating. They count the number of boxes their chocolate covers and enter it into their spreadsheet.
If there are crumbs attached to the chocolate, I call that ‘slag’ and it lowers the value of the chocolate ore. This leads to a great discussion afterwards when we compare the profits and talk about land use. Is it better to get out as much chocolate as you can, even if you get a lot of slag, or is it better to remove just the chocolate even though you will have less in the end? How is this similar to coal mining? Diamond mining?
I used Google Slides to create my science prompts and students accessed the slides via Google Drive to complete for homework. They kept a marble composition notebook and wrote the questions and answers into their notebooks and we discussed each one at the start of class.
Next year, I am going to try a different approach. Some students had difficulty keeping their notebook up to date. Using a pocket folder with prongs (like this one) I am going to print 4 prompts per page and photocopy them ahead of time, essentially making a workbook with about 100 prompts on 13 double sided pages. This will help keep students more organized and have access to the information for review easily. This is on my summer list of things to do 🙂
You can download the pdf file of the prompts (Science Prompts 2015-16 Public) I used this year with my 6th graders. Please keep in mind that many are from ScienceSpot.net and you can find her starters with answer keys sorted by category here and her Mystery Photos here – (the kids loved the mystery photo challenges!)
You can also use Activity Pages from BrainPOP.com (here is a free example) as starters or writing prompts. Almost every video has an activity page that you can download and use with your students.
Additional samples of science prompts available – see the images below: