Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Earth & Space Science: Session 5

Lesson and Curriculum

Dawson classroomLesson at a Glance:
Scholastic Science Place: Hands - On Science Series Scholastic, Inc.
Grade: K-6
Topic: Systems and Interactions

Duke worked with Debbie’s fifth graders on landforms. He started the lesson by leading the class in a brainstorming exercise identifying different types of landforms and how they might form. Then, with the students in pairs, Duke asked them to think about what kind of forces could produce a particular type of landform — mountains. After sharing their thoughts with the class, the students were able to start on the day’s activity.

The activity Duke prepared used Playdoh® and wax paper to simulate the collision between two tectonic plates. The students, again in pairs, made model continents by pressing different colors of dough into thin sheets, and then stacking the sheets into two multi-layered Playdoh® continents. After placing them on waxed paper, the students set the two slabs on a collision course. Upon impact, the slabs behaved like the pieces of continental crust they were fashioned after, bending and folding into a sort of Playdoh® mountain.

Duke was impressed with the students’ enthusiasm. “I heard some really good discussions going on in different groups and I think one of the strengths of the activities was that a lot of groups tried different things — one group had thick layers, and another had thin ones, so they all saw slightly different results.” For Duke, the goal of the lesson was to convey to the students that the Earth is a dynamic, constantly changing system, and he felt the activity was a success.

Duke closed the activity with a discussion about how accurate the model was. “Any subject where you use a model to explain something,” Duke said before the lesson, “there’s a huge risk that the kids are going to develop a misconception based on some part of the model that’s not totally accurate. ”

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