Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Forces of Change

Laurie Ayers
Bay District Schools


This lesson is for Days 9 and 10 of the unit [Bedlam in Bedrock]. Students create a class reference book about ways landforms change over time and share their Earth Explorer projects.


The student understands the processes of weathering and erosion.

The student knows that land forms change over time (for example, earthquakes, volcanoes).

The student uses reference materials to obtain information related to science concepts.


Day 9
-Reference materials (Bibliography and Suggested Weblinks are provided - see extensions)
-Fast Changes/Slow Changes chart previously used on Day 3
-Book Form, one copy per student (see associated file)
-Paragraph Checklist, one per group (see associated file)
-Crayons or watercolor markers
-Notebook paper, one piece per student
-Pencils, one per student
-Six 3x5 index cards
-Book binding materials
-Laminator, if available
-Computer generated cover for book, title page, and table of contents (teacher discretion) or materials (construction paper, markers, crayons, etc.) for students to create these.
-Computer lab, if available
-Student Online Web Lesson, [Breaking News]

Day 10
-Earth Explorer Project 2 (Students will bring from home)
-Rubric for Summative Assessment 1, Earth Explorer Project 2, one per student (see extensions)
-Student Online Web Lesson, [Breaking News]

Day 11
-Final Summative Assessment, one per student (see extensions)


Day 9
1. Gather reference materials.
2. Download and make copies of Book Form, one per student (see associated file).
Note – The teacher might want to “white out” the header “Book Form” before making student copies of the form.
3. To enhance durability, it is suggested that the teacher laminate student pages before assembling the book.
4. Create computer generated book cover, title page, and table of contents using clipart or ask students to make them in advance.
5. If necessary, print hard copies of information from Suggested Web Links for students to use as reference materials.
6. An extensive bibliography of reference materials is provided (see extensions).

Day 10
1. Download and make a copy of the Rubric for Earth Explorer Project 2 (see extensions), one copy per student.
2. An extensive bibliography of reference materials is provided (see extensions).

Day 11
1. Download and make copies of the Final Summative Assessment, one per student (see extensions).
2. An extensive bibliography of reference materials is provided (see extensions).


Vocabulary for this lesson: volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis

Day 9
1. Using the Fast Change/Slow Change chart previously created on Day 3, review fast and slow changes in landforms over time. Weathering and erosion are slow processes. Hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis are fast changes. Add or delete any additional or impertinent information.

2. Tell students the purpose of today’s lesson is to use reference materials to learn more about ways landforms change over time. The class will then create a reference book about how these different processes change landforms.

3. Divide students into six groups. Allow groups to choose a topic or you may assign the topics. Note – One way for groups to choose a topic fairly is to write each topic on 3x5 index card. Place the six cards on the floor with the words turned down. One representative from each group circles the cards. On the teacher’s signal, all the group representatives squat down and choose a topic card. The topics will include:
Fast changes – hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis.
Slow changes – weathering and erosion

4. Provide each group with reference materials for their topic. A Bibliography and Suggested Weblinks lists are provided (see unit associated file). Note – The teacher may use reference materials that are readily available in lieu of those on the suggested list.

5. Provide each group of students with a Paragraph Checklist (see associated file). Discuss the criteria for paragraphs with students.

6. Students read reference materials and write a paragraph on notebook paper telling ways the process changes landforms over time.

7. Students pair off and peer edit rough drafts using editing strategies previously established.

8. The teacher quickly reads the edited rough drafts and conferences with each student providing formative feedback. Feedback should be both positive (“Your paragraph gives many details about how volcanoes change landforms over time.”) and guiding (“Think about this sentence. Is erosion a process that breaks rocks or is it a process that moves weathered material?”)

9. Students revise rough drafts and write final paragraphs on the provided Book Form (see associated file).

10. Students draw a picture above the paragraph to illustrate ways landforms change over time.

11. Upon completion, the pages are compiled into a class book. A cover, table of contents, and title page are added. The teacher could create these on a computer using clipart or ask students to create them.
Note – The teacher can bind the book in any convenient way. Possible ideas are to punch holes in the student pages and bind them with string or yarn. If a spiral binder is available it could be used. The student pages could also be stapled.

12. Remind students that Earth Explorer Project 2 is due tomorrow.

13. Students continue to work in pairs to complete the Student Online Web Lesson, [Breaking News].

Day 10
1. Students share Earth Explorer Project 2. This serves as both Summative Assessment 1 and as a means of review. During presentations the teacher uses the Rubric for Summative Assessment 1 to assess student projects. The teacher is careful to clarify any misconceptions expressed by students while sharing their projects.

2. The teacher asks questions to the class after each presentation. The questions should revolve around the criteria for the projects. For example: Did the student include a sketch or a diagram? Did the student include information about how landforms change over time? This will provide an opportunity for the class to see what was required and to review the concepts.

3. Remind students that the Final Summative Assessment will be tomorrow.

4. Students continue to work in pairs to complete the Student Online Web Lesson, [Breaking News].

Day 11
Administer the Final Summative Assessment (see extensions).


The teacher reads revised copies of student paragraphs and provides formative feedback. Paragraphs should include details about processes that change landforms over time. The teacher clarifies any misconceptions or incorrect information stated in the paragraphs.


1. The Beacon Unit Plan associated with this lesson can be viewed by clicking on the link located at the top of this page or by using the following URL: Once you select the unit’s link, scroll to the bottom of the unit plan page to find the section, “Associated Files.” This section contains links to the Unit Plan Overview, Diagnostic and Summative Assessments, and other associated files (if any).
2. Students need prior knowledge about note taking, the writing process, and peer editing.
3. If the teacher has difficulty locating reference materials for the six topics, he/she could print information from the provided Web links to be used as hard copies.
4. If the teacher has access to a computer lab the class could do its research online. The teacher and/or computer lab assistant would need to bookmark suggested Web sites for each topic in advance.
5. The developer wrote this as an integrated unit. It is hoped that teachers will feel free to use the unit as core curriculum. For instance, the book [The Drop in My Drink] could be used as a shared reading experience in language arts. Content vocabulary words could be used for a “Working with Words” activity. If the teacher chooses not to make this an integrated unit, then additional time for daily lessons may be needed.

Web Links

This Student Web Lesson explores various forces that can cause the breaking and weathering of bedrock and larger rocks.
Breaking News

Attached Files

Student Handouts     File Extension: pdf

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