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The Rock Cycle: From Soft Rock to Heavy Metal Exemplary Plans
The Rock Cycle: From Soft Rock to Heavy Metal

At a Glance
Grade Level: 
Rock Cycle
Key Learnings:
Rock Cycle
Rock Formation
Rock Types
Time Needed:
3 weeks, 45 minutes/Day
From the Classroom
Things You Need
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Unit Summary
Rock enthusiasts prepare a multimedia presentation and explain their assigned rock type and where it fits into the Rock Cycle. Then, working in pairs, students adopt a rock that demonstrates the properties of their rock type. They design a Web page that exhibits the unique properties of their rock. These special rocks are featured in the Rockin� World Museum Web site!

Curriculum Framing Questions

  • Essential Questions
    What is the rock cycle?
    How are different types of rocks formed?
  • Unit Questions
    What are igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks?
    How can you recognize these rock types?
    Where do they fit into the rock cycle?

Instructional Procedures
In preparation for the unit, review the background information for the teacher.

Introduce the unit with a Rockin� �N Rollin� presentation, outlining student activities. Students explore the concept of the rock cycle in an online field trip. They are given an outline of unit activities , as well as the assessment rubrics for their presentation and Web page.

Slideshow Presentation on Rock Cycle and Rock Types:
In small groups, students use books and Web resources to find information about the rock cycle and their type of rock. Using a Microsoft Powerpoint* outline they organize their learning for a slideshow presentation. Students present their slide presentations to each other and take notes as they learn from the presentations of others. Presentations are assessed using a Presentation Gradesheet.

Web page on a unique rock:
Pairs of students choose a rock they bring from home, or select a specimen from the class rock collection. They study their sample and the site where it was found to determine what type of rock they have. Students take a digital photograph of their rock and put all their information together in a Web page. Web pages are graded using the Web site gradesheet.

Student Web pages are combined to make a virtual classroom museum. Each rock page is associated to either the igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic, or mineral collection page. [Note: students may design their Web pages in Microsoft Word* and save them as HTML pages.]

Prerequisite Skills

  • Locate information from Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia*
  • Navigate through the World Wide Web using Microsoft Internet Explorer*
  • Use electronic mail
  • Use production and presentation software such as Microsoft Powerpoint and Microsoft Word

Differentiated Instruction

  • Resource Student
    Carefully selected learning groups provide every student a chance to excel. A broad variety of resource materials helps accomodate different learning modalities. More guidance and support during Internet searching will promote successful learning. Modifications may include: extended computer and study time, use of presentation templates, dictation, and assistance from an instructional aide. Modifications will be made as needed and reflect each student�s Individualized Education Plan.
  • Gifted Student
    More able learners may choose topics of interest to extend their learning, or may be assigned more in-depth topics, such as geomorphism, the geologic ages, or formation of the planets.
  • English Language Learner (ELL)
    Non-native English speakers may select topics which relate to their country of origin or to their culture. For example, students whose background is Mexican may choose to work on igneous rocks like those of Popocatepetl. Using the rock Internet note sheet with additional time for explanation of terms, along with a demonstration of how to use the presentation templates will help non-native English speakers be successful in completing the unit.

Three assessment tools are included in this unit. Two are rubrics which students can use to guide their preparation and presentations.

  1. The Student Slideshow Assessment can then be used as an assessment tool for the student slideshow presentations.
  2. The Student Web page Assessment assesses the content, layout, and graphics of the student Web page reports on their rocks.
  3. The third tool is a series of questions assessing the students� engagement with the big questions in the unit. Students get to use their notes on their Internet research and their notes on class presentations to help them explain what they have learned.

Julia Fischer participated in the Intel� Teach to the Future program, which resulted in this idea for a classroom project. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.

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