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Elements of a Lesson Plan

I. Lesson Foundation

Lesson Title: Theory of Continental Drift and Plate Tectonics

Grade Level: Middle School, Grade 8

Subject Area(s)/Subject Content Explanation: Earth Science

Standard(s): MS-ESS2-3. Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and rocks,
continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of the past plate motions.

Essential Questions: Does the Earth move?

Supportive questions: What evidence is there to support if the Earth moves? What is the
Continental Drift Theory?

Instructional Objectives and Performance Expectations: This standard would have to be

covered through multiple class periods. This lesson will cover part one of the series.

Part one performance expectations:

 Students will analyze and interpret the fossil types on different continents, and the
shape of the continents to provide evidence of the past plate motions.
 At the end of the lesson students will be able to demonstrate that they understand
the Earth does move and the evidence that supports this conclusion
 Students will understand how important evidence is to scientific findings.

Formative Assessment: :

 The students will be assessed on their prior knowledge.

 I will walk around and see how students are fitting together Pangea in their groups
to check for understanding.
 Students will be asked questions about what they observed after the small group
activity concludes.
 Students will be asked probing questions during the lesson to evaluate their level of

Summative Assessment:

 Students will demonstrate mastery of the material by writing a short summary

about what they have learned.
 A short quiz will be administered at the end of class, which asks the essential
II. Lesson Body

Lesson Introduction: The lesson is initiated by asking students if they have ever heard of
the continental drift theory to activate prior knowledge. Pangea will be briefly introduced. Then the
students are broken into groups. Each group is handed two sets of cut out continents. One set of cut
out continents is blank and the other is labeled with fossil evidence and additional information. First,
I will instruct students to try to build the blank model of Pangea the best that they can. After a few
minutes the students will be prompted to assemble the model with additional information included
on the continents. I then will ask the students to talk amongst their groups and make some
observations about the two models they just assembled.

Teaching Procedures:

Step one: Inquire about the students’ prior knowledge on the continental drift theory and
engage students in Pangea model/puzzle building activity. I will walk around and observe
how students are doing.

Step two: Ask students about the observations they have made about the two models and
write them down on the board for formative assessment.

Step three: Ask students if they think evidence is important to support scientific findings.
Ask students if they think that the Earth moves and why.

Step four: Introduce the theory of plate tectonics and continental drift by showing a brief
video. I will display a video to engage students and inform them about the motion of plate
tectonics and the history of past movement.

Step five: I will use a PowerPoint presentation to go over the Continental Drift Theory in
more depth and highlight the importance of evidence to support Alfred Wegner’s findings.

Step six: I will ask students if what they have learned in the video and presentation relates
to the activity they did in the beginning of class and why.

Step seven: The students will be prompted to write a short summary about what they have
learned and turn it in.

Step Eight: Students will take a brief quiz on what they have learned in today’s class and
then the answers will be discussed after it is handed in for summative assessment.

Step Nine: To conclude the class I will inform students that scientific knowledge is tentative
and in light of new evidence, things can change.

Must include:

*Description of Methods(s) Used to Present Subject Matter-

 I will ask students what their prior knowledge is about the continental drift
theory (If they have any) and introduce Pangea.
 The students will be broken up into small groups to work on an activity to map
ancient land (Pangea) to make clear how the Earths plates have moved great
distances since the time the supercontinent existed. This will give students a
chance to analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and
continental shapes, to provide evidence of the past plate motions. The students
will make observations in their small group activity. This will be used as an
introductory activity to get students thinking.
 I will engage students in a whole group discussion to talk about the observations
they made during the activity. I will ask them if the model of Pangea with more
evidence placed on the continent was easier to put together. I will ask the
students if they think the information on the continents was important for the
correct assemblage of the continents. I will also ask them the essential question
for formative assessment: Does the Earth move?
 Then I will display a video to differentiate the lesson and give students a visual
representation of what was previously discussed. This video will introduce plate
tectonics and large-scale system interactions. This video partially covers the MS-
ESS2-3 standard.
 I will go into more detail about the continental drift theory using PowerPoint as
a form of multimedia presentation. The importance of fossil evidence and the fit
of the continents will be highlighted in the presentation to also cover the MS-
ESS2-3 standard. This will make clear how Earth’s plates have moved great
distances, collided, and spread apart.
 Students will then be prompted individually write a summary of what they have
learned as a type of summative assessment.
 A quiz will be distributed around the end of the class as a form of summative

*Guided Practice-

 Key discussion questions will be promted: Does the Earth move? What evidence
is there to support if the Earth does/Does not move? What is Pangea?
 Modeling of supercontinent Pangea will be done to provoke the thought of
ancient plate motions. This will simulate thought and provoke inquiry.
*Independent Practice-

 Students have the opportunity to make independent observations about

Pangea. The class will write down reflections about what they have learned.

Closure: After the students take the short quiz, we will go over the answers. On the quiz, the
essential questions of the lesson will be asked. The importance of scientific evidence will
concluded the lesson.

Lesson Essentials

Differentiated Learning Activities:

 Videos are used to differentiate the lesson for the visual learner.
 The kinesthetic activity of building Pangea is used to give the class hands on
 Group work is incorporated to help students who could potentially struggle with
the material learn from their peers. Vygotsky’s Zone of proximal development.
 A reflection is written for those who better express their knowledge verbally.
 A quiz is included for students who prefer the traditional style of assessment.
 If a student does not work well in groups due to a disability or learning
preference they can watch an informative video on the subject to supplement
them with the content covered through the group activities.

Instructional Resources, Materials and Technology:

 Cut out continents for Pangea activity

 Paper to write reflections on
 Quiz for assessment.
 A computer for the video and PowerPoint presentation.
 Dry erase board/chalk board

III. Post-lesson Reflection: Submit Next Class Meeting

Reflection on Teaching Presentation/Peer-Feedback:

Analysis of Teaching: