Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lesson Plan: Wegener's Puzzling Evidence

Title: Wegener's Puzzling Evidence 
Grade/Subject: 8th Grade Science


·      Students will be able to create Alfred Wegener's super continent by coloring, cutting out, and gluing the land masses together.
·      Students will be able to write a paragraph stating Wegener's hypothesis and evidence to support his hypothesis.


·     S8.C.2.1.2 Explain how energy is transferred from one place to another through convection, conduction, or radiation.
·     S8.D.1.1.2 Describe natural processes that change Earth’s surface.
·     CC.1.5.8.A: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions, on grade level topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

Anticipatory Set: (Approximately first 5 minutes of class) 

Students were taught the following information in the previous class.  They previously read Chapter 1, Section 3: Drifting Continents from their text Inside Earth: Prentice Hall Science Explorer.

Students will do a think-pair-share reviewing the following information.  Briefly answer the questions as a class after the think-pair-share:
·      What was Wegener's hypothesis?
      Continental Drift: All continents were once joined together in a single land mass and have drifted apart
·      What was Wegener's evidence for his hypothesis?
      Land features (mountain ranges lined up), fossils, and evidence of climate change
·       What was the major issue with his hypothesis?
      Wegener could not provide a satisfactory explanation for the force that pushes and pulls the continents.

During the whole class discussion, check for understanding by having students put a thumbs up or thumbs down to show if they agree or disagree after somebody answers the question.


Students will receive the worksheet “Wegener's Puzzling Evidence.”  They will also receive a continent sheet.  Introduce and go over the assignment:
·      Students will label the name of each land mass on the continent sheet.  They may use an atlas to help them for this portion.
·      They will color the key on the “Wegener's Puzzling Evidence” sheet, based on the colors that the key indicates.  Based on the key, they will color the fossil areas on the continent sheet. 
·      Students will cut out each land mass from the continent sheet. Alfred Wegener's evidence of continental drift is shown by the cutouts.  Students will reconstruct Pangaea.  They will create the super continent that Wegener hypothesized. 
·      Once the students have put the continents together like a puzzle to create the super continent, they will glue it onto a separate, long piece of paper.  Students will title the page “Wegener's Super Continent.”
·      Students will write an 8-10 sentence paragraph based on what they learned.  They must state Wegener's hypothesis and give three types of evidence that he used.  Students must cite examples of each form of evidence.  Students will use critical thinking, giving their opinion on the topic.  They must answer if they agree with Wegener or not, and mention if he gave enough convincing evidence or not.

Students will work on the assignment during class independently.  Teacher will walk around and assist students as needed.  Assignment will be completed at home and due in two days.

After assignment is turned in: students will share their “Wegener's Super Continent” posters to a small group.  They will discuss how they were able to put the super continent together and what they looked for, and the steps they took. 


Level 2 students will receive a more detailed handout.  They also will not have a specific required number of sentences for the paragraph.  They will be graded on quality not quantity.


Ask for the relationship between the think-pair-share questions and the questions for writing a paragraph.  Student should be able to notice that the questions were fairly similar.

Exit slip: “What can you conclude about hypotheses in general?  Think about Wegener.  Write 2-3 sentences.”


·      Colored pencils
·      Long paper
·      Glue
·      Scissors
·      Atlas
·       Wegener's Puzzling Evidence Handouts
·      Rubric for paragraph (see assessment section)
·      Textbook: Inside Earth: Prentice Hall Science Explorer


Students will hand in their final cutout and paragraph.  Students will be scored using a rubric:

Wegener's Puzzling Evidence Handout Activity:
·      Correctly colored (2 pts)
·      Neatly cut and pasted into correct position (2 pts)
·      Correct formation of a super continent and labeled: (2 pts)

Writing Activity
·      State Wegener's Hypothesis: (3 pts)
·      Give 3 types of evidence Wegener used, citing one example of each type (6 pts)
State opinion on the topic (Do you agree with Wegener?  Does he have enough convincing evidence? (3 pts)


·      Pangaea Power Point Slide for Anticipatory Set

Reflection on Planning

This lesson was co-planned.  The goal of this lesson is for students to use a form of discovery learning.  They will be required to read the directions carefully and follow the instructions.  Students will receive little assistance at first, giving them time to figure out the puzzle on their own.  They will not be told if they are correct or incorrect while working in class.  The goal is to make their learning meaningful by letting them discover on their own and use their own resources.  In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire would describe this assignment as the problem-posing method.  In this form of teaching, students use critical thinking, which is what this assignment contains.  It is the opposite of the banking method, which is straight up lecturing.

The paragraph portion of the lesson ensures literacy.  Students will write about what they have read in their textbook, and also write about what they discover.  They also must add their opinion on the topic in written form. 

Speaking is also a part of literacy.  By talking to their peers, they are engaging in literacy.  In Opening Minds, Peter Johnson discusses a classroom with dialogue, which shows that there are multiple interpretations and perspectives (52).  Johnson discusses the importance of dialogue in a classroom, and I tried to incorporate that style of teaching through the think-pair-share.

To establish a positive learning environment, I wanted to incorporate discussion.  Using the think-pair-share, I want to get as many students involved and speaking as possible.  I also want students to know that they can use their peers to discuss the process for putting together Wegener's puzzle.

Reflection on Instruction

Overall, I felt that my lesson on Wegener's continental drift ran smoothly.  Students worked in a think-pair-share and independently worked on their project.  One purpose of the assignment was for the teachers to give little direction about right and wrong answers so that the students could figure out Wegner's puzzle on their own.  Because of this, they used their peers to work through the assignment.

I think the think-pair-share during my anticipatory set went very well.  I wrote the questions on the whiteboard and paired the students with a partner sitting near them.  They discussed three questions, defining Wegener's hypothesis, providing evidence for the hypothesis, and stated if they believe in the hypothesis or not.  While observing the groups, I noticed that they were all on track and discussed the topics.  They were engaged and interested in what their peers had to say.  I haven't observed students in groups during this class, so I think this was a nice change of pace for them.

After the think-pair-share, I checked for understanding by having students answer the questions as a class.  I made the students give a thumbs up if they agreed with their peers responses. Students generally agreed on the answers.  This showed that they understood the questions, which served as a review for them.  This showed that learning occurred.

Another way that showed me that the students were learning was through their continental drift projects.  By observing, I noticed that the students were able to piece together the puzzle with little assistance.  They used their resources, but they were able to figure it out in a way that used discovery learning.  My assessment was not finished, as the students didn't finish the project, but I could tell they were off to a good start.  When they finish the assignment, I will be able to see if they understood Wegener and his concepts. 

A goal for future teaching is to incorporate more wait time.  This includes giving students more collaborative activities.  Also, when proposing a question, it is important to give every student time to think rather than choosing the first person to raise their hand.  Students think at different rates, so I need to be respectful of that and give each student enough time.

I would also like to incorporate more literacy, have a literacy objective, and support the literacy that is naturally occurring in the lesson.  There was a lot of literacy happening without it being identified as literacy. In the future, I want to make that literacy aware to the students so that they know the importance of their activities.  I was pressed for time so wasn't able to add as much literacy as I would have liked in this lesson, but in the future I would like to have literacy beyond a writing assignment or think-pair-share.

Lastly, I would like to improve closure.  I had to take out the exit slip due to time constraints.  In the future, I want to wrap up the lesson in a way that students can take something away from the lesson.  I also need to tie that closure back to the main objectives.

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