Unit Overview

Lesson Overview

In Mosa Mack’s Rock Cycle unit, students are led through a progression of three inquiry lessons that focus on the properties of igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks and the forces responsible for creating them. Forces include heat, pressure, cooling, weathering and erosion.

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    Solve: Vocabulary Mind Map + Treasure Hunt Mystery

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    Make: Journey through the Rock Cycle

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    Make Extension: Use evidence from rock strata to organize Earth’s history

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    Engineer: Engineer a solution to protect a monument from weathering and erosion

  • Next Generation Science Standards
    Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation. [Clarification Statement: Examples of variables to test could include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water, amount of vegetation, speed of wind, relative rate of deposition, cycles of freezing and thawing of water, cycles of heating and cooling, and volume of water flow.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single form of weathering or erosion.]
    Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features. [Clarification Statement: Maps can include topographic maps of Earth’s land and ocean floor, as well as maps of the locations of mountains, continental boundaries, volcanoes, and earthquakes.]
    Develop a model to describe the cycling of Earth's materials and the flow of energy that drives this process. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on the processes of melting, crystallization, weathering, deformation, and sedimentation, which act together to form minerals and rocks through the cycling of Earth’s materials.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the identification and naming of minerals.]
  • Inquiry Scale

    • Each lesson in the unit has an Inquiry Scale that provides directions on how to implement the lesson at the level that works best for you and your students.
    • “Level 1” is the most teacher-driven, and recommended for students in 4th-5th grades. “Level 4” is the most student-driven, and recommended for students in 7th-8th grades.
    • For differentiation within the same grade or class, use different inquiry levels for different groups of students who may require additional support or an extra challenge.
  • Common Misconceptions
    • Students may think that rocks can only move through the rock cycle in one direction. Emphasize that each type of rock can become any other type of rock depending on the forces that act on it. Even an igneous rock can remelt and become another type of igneous rock.
    • Students may assume that weathering and erosion are the same force. Emphasize to students that weathering is the breaking down of rock while erosion is the process of transporting the broken-down sediments.
    • Students may initially believe that all rocks are the same. Emphasize that there are different types of rocks that have different properties.
    • Students may believe that all rocks of the same type are identical. Emphasize that even within rock types, rocks can look different. This is a result of the circumstances led to their formation.
  • Vocabulary
      • Igneous Rock
      • Sedimentary Rock
      • Metamorphic Rock
      • Sediment
      • Erosion
      • Weathering
  • Content Expert
    • Eric Pyle, PhD
      Professor, Department of Geology & Environmental Science James Madison University
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