Subject(s): Science, English Language Arts
Grade Level(s): 9, 10
Computer for Presenter, Computers for Students, Internet Connection, LCD Projector, Overhead Projector, Speakers/Headphones
Resource supports reading in content area:Yes
Keywords: plate tectonics, plate tectonic boundaries, sea floor spreading, magnetic field, geomagnetic reversal, mid-ocean ridge, NSF, National Science Foundation, text complexity
Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Explain how the National Science Foundation is using technology to study features of the Earth.
- Explain the concept of geomagnetic reversal and how it provides evidence of plate tectonics.
- Explain how scientists can act in varying capacities to support a project.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes a main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
- General familiarity with plate tectonics will greatly aid students in understanding the content of this article.
- Students should have an understanding of the layers of the earth and how convection currents cause the movement within the earth.
- If students understand what the Earth's magnetic field is, it will be easier for them to understand some of the science content in this article.
In regards to literacy skills:
- 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 able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes 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. Often students will remember to use transitions at the start of the body paragraphs or conclusion paragraph, but will forget to use them in the midst of paragraphs to connect ideas or to make the content within each paragraph flow.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- What is the National Science Foundation? What is its purpose?
- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering.
- What is the Earth's magnetic field?
- The magnetic field that surrounds the Earth is created by convection currents in the outer core. The circular movement of liquid metal creates a strong magnetic field. This field is extremely important for life on Earth because it keeps some dangerous electromagnetic rays from reaching the surface of the planet.
- What is sea-floor spreading?
- In the center of the ocean is a divergent tectonic plate boundary. As the plates move apart here, magma reaches the surface and cools. This creates new ocean floor. As new ocean floor is created, the older ocean floor is pushed outwards until it reaches the continental crust (land). At this point, the old ocean floor is subducted in deep-ocean trenches.
- How can data collected now help us understand processes that occurred in the past?
- The concept of uniformitarianism tells us that processes that occurred in the past occur in much the same way today. This allows us to infer what has happened over Earth's history. By studying geological features of Earth, we can get a glimpse into the past.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
- Open the attached PowerPoint file. Show the first slide, an image of the ship Sikuliaq, on the screen.
- Have the students look at the ship and write down 5 observations. Then, have them share with a partner what they saw. Finally, lead the class in a whole group discussion about the photo. Make sure that you include the following in your discussion:
- The article refers to the Sikuliaq as a "research vessel." The photo is intended to help the students understand that the Sikuliaq is a ship.
- There are many antennae and other things on the ship that the crew can use to gather information.
- Next, have the students look at the second slide in the PowerPoint that shows the process of seafloor spreading.
- Have students work with a partner to analyze the picture. Have them brainstorm why the oceanic crust moves outwards.
- After a few minutes, discuss it as a class. Help the class understand that in the middle of the picture is a volcano due to the divergent boundary. The new crust that is created pushes the older crust outwards.
- Move on to slides 3 and 4 that illustrate the magnetic field. Show first how the field may be observed near where seafloor spreading occurs, then relate to the final image which shows what the earth's normal (current) magnetic field looks like compared to what might have happened during a reversal period.
- Students have misconceptions about earth activities, not really understanding the changes occur over time. Some may think no changes occur, while others may think changes occur quickly. Neither is correct. Scientists look for evidence of changes; some processes are slower like mountain building, but others can occur quickly, like volcanic eruptions.
- Additionally another misconception students may have is that rocks always exist in a solid form. Rocks can be softer based on the pressure and temperature within the layers of earth. The main concept of this lesson is based on the fact that when the rocks cooled and hardened, the magnetic field was set and can be evaluated in the present.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
- Provide each student with a copy of the article "Geomagnetic Reversal: Understanding Ancient Flips and Flops in Earth's Polarity."
- Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
- Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- 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.
- If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following tips to help them:
- Geomagnetic Reversal (Paragraph 2): change in a planet's magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged. Encourage students to use context clues. In this case, the clues are contained in paragraph 1 when it states, "The North Pole was suddenly the South Pole." Paragraph 3 then states, "This geomagnetic reversal…"
- Magnetometer (Paragraph 3): an instrument used for measuring magnetic forces, especially the earth's magnetism. This term requires students to infer the meaning based upon what is contained in the same sentence as the term. It states, "They will unlock more of our planet's geomagnetic history that has been captured in our Earth's crust there."
- Geomagnetic Field (Paragraph 4): the magnetic force field that surrounds the Earth. This term may confuse students a bit because they are accustomed to using the term "Magnetic Field." The text also only hints as to the meaning of this. Additional assistance may be required for students to fully comprehend.
- Dynamic (Paragraph 4): characterized by constant change. The context clue for this term is in the same sentence where it states, "It is a very dynamic property that can change from milliseconds to millions of years."
- Anomaly (Paragraph 6): something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected. This term requires students to infer the meaning based upon the clues contained in paragraph 6. The paragraph discusses the fact that scientists believed that no reversal had occurred during the Jurassic Period. They later found out that it most likely changed many times, which deviates from the norm.
- Autonomous (Paragraph 9): acting independently. There are few context clues for this term. You should encourage students to look at the prefix, auto-. This combined with the characterization of the AUV doing something should be enough for most students to determine the meaning.
- Seafloor Spreading (Paragraph 10): the formation of new areas of oceanic crust, which occurs through the upwelling of magma at mid-ocean ridges and its subsequent outward movement on either side. The term itself helps students determine the meaning. This, coupled with the information in paragraph 10 should allow most students to figure out the meaning.
- Archivist (Paragraph 11): a person who maintains and is in charge of archives. The context clues for this term are located primarily in paragraph 15 where the duties of the archivist are spelled out.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
- 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.
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 understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key 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?
- Before students complete the writing prompt:
- Be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
- Go back to the supplied images if necessary to address and reinforce the concepts and to remove the misconceptions students may still have.
- After students' written responses have been reviewed and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response and discuss some of the following:
- How the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.
- How the author used paragraph 3 to show how the evidence collected by the NSF scientists can be used to support the theory of seafloor spreading.
- How the author addresses doubters of the theory and goes on to show how additional evidence would help convince these people.
- How the concluding sentences support the main point. Brainstorm with students additional ideas about how to wrap up the piece.
- As one final option, teachers might want students to use the 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 4.
- 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 must refer back to the text as they construct their response.
- Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
- Go over 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: In the article, the author discusses the research being conducted by the scientists near Alaska. Based upon the information they are collecting and the information contained in the article, explain how the theory of seafloor spreading relates to the research into earth's magnetic reversals. How will the understanding of magnetic reversal support evidence of seafloor spreading? Use evidence from the text to support your explanation.
- 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 where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Accommodations & Recommendations
The text's grade band recommendation reflects the shifts inherent in the standards and is based on a text complexity analysis of a quantitative measure, qualitative rubric, and reader and task considerations.
Source and Access Information
Name of Author/Source: Stephen Kirsche
District/Organization of Contributor(s): St. Johns
Access Privileges: Public
* Please note that examples of resources are not intended as complete curriculum.