Sunday, October 28, 2012

Five Step Lesson Plan: Earth Layers Example

Step 1: Question: What are the characteristics of  Earth's layers?
Post this question on the board. Have students tell their partners how excited they are to learn more about the Earth. Mirror with words: I know a lot about the Earth! Last year, in 5th grade, I made a model of the Earth from clay and cut it to show the crust, mantle and core! I have learned about the crust, mantle, and core before! Teach! (OK!)

Step 2: Answer
Mirror with words: Crust, mantle and core! The crust is thin, made of rock. This rock is either basalt or granite, depending on the type of crust. Continental crust is made of granite. Oceanic crust is made of basalt. Teach! (OK!)
Mirror with words: Crust, mantle, and core! The crust is thin, made of either basalt or granite, depending on the type of crust. The mantle is made of rock. This rock is mostly a mixture of iron and magnesium. No one has ever drilled down to the mantle. Teach! (OK!)
Mirror with words:  Crust, mantle, and core! The crust is thin, made of either basalt or granite, depending on the type of crust.  The mantle is made of iron and magnesium. The core is made of metal. The metal is mostly iron. Teach! (OK!)

Step 3: Expand answer
Hands and eyes. Explain that the lithosphere is made of the crust and upper mantle. It is broken into tectonic plates."Litho-" means rigid. The asthenosphere flows slowly, and causes the tectonic plates to move. Have students close their eyes and imagine they are in a large bath tub full of small, yellow, rubber duckies. When they stay very still in the bath tub, the duckies don't move. Ask students to imagine that they start moving their arms and legs around underwater. What happens? The duckies move! The water is the asthenosphere, the duckies are the tectonic plates! Teach! (OK!)
Mirror with words: The lithosphere is rigid and the asthenosphere is weak. Explain that the mesosphere is the strong part of the lower mantle. The core is divided into two parts: the outer core is liquid and the inner core is solid. Teach! (OK!)
Play the You Tube video. Teach! (OK!)

Step 4: Assessment
Explain that you will read a statement, and students have to agree (yes) or disagree (no way). Ask students to come up with gesture for "yes" and for "no way".

1. All of the crust is made of granite. (no way)
2. The mantle and core are made of different materials. (yes)
3. A tectonic plate is made of both the crust and the upper mantle. (yes)
4. The inner core gives the Earth its magnetic field. (no way)
5. The farther into the Earth you go, the greater the heat and pressure. (yes)
After each statement have a student stand and use a because clapper to explain their answer: The statement is a "yes" because... or The statement is a "no way" because... Use lots of ten finger woo's!

Step 5: Critical Thinking
Have students complete a pie piece drawing. You could use the points on the scoreboard to add/remove items to this activity. After students have completed the activity, have them stand with a Class-Yes and Mirror with words to explain one step of the activity. Repeat with different students for each step of the activity.


  1. Great lesson plan, Sarah! Your posts are always very informative and useful for incorporating into other classroom settings! Thank you!