A Peek into the Past: The Fossil Record
1 Engage: Brainstorm What is a fossil? What is a living fossil?
Students brainstorm their definition of a fossil. This definition may include words and diagrams. During the course of the unit, this definition will form the basis of a concept map which explains catastrophism and uniformitarianism.
Engage students by showing a video about fossils, a paleontologist working in the field or even letting students explore a fossil collection if one is available. One video that sparks a discussion about, "What is a fossil?" is the TedEd video, The coelacanth: A living fossil of a fish http://ed.ted.com/lessons/the-coelacanth-a-living-fossil-of-a-fish-erin-...
Discuss with students:
Why was the coelacanth once considered extinct?
What happened to change speoples' ideas about the coelacanth?
The coelancanth has been referred to as an "evolutionary bridge." Why is the coelacanth important to our knowledge of genetics and evolution?
Why is it sometimes called a link between aquatic and land vertabrates?
Explain why it is often referred to as a "living fossil"?
2 Explore: Use a flipped classroom model with Engrade
Engrade is a class gradebook that can be used as a Learning Management System, especially with the paid account. One feature is a wiki in which teachers can embed content to allow for blended/flipped instruction. This series of lessons utilizes a publically posted wiki that has flashcards and videos linked, as well as well as extension videos about finding a frozen baby mammoth and and an ancient human.
Go to: Engrade › Wikis › General Science Class Website › Module 7 - The Fossil Record
Students can use the flashcards embedded on the site, at any time to review vocabulary words and concepts.
On this wiki the links which allow students to explore the concepts and meet the objectives for this unit, include:
- Pompeii Plaster Casts: How and Why they Were Formed - a concise introduction to molds and casts related not to fossils, but the deceased citizens of Pompeii. There are links on the page to pictures of the casts, some which might be a little disturbing. However, only one (at a distance) is on the information page.
- Fossil Diving in South Carolinas May River- broadband required
- Fossil Hunting in Nashville - printable brochure for Nashville, TN residents
- Fossils for Kids Website - this is a fantastic website, lots of great pictures and information with special information for California residents.
- Insects in Amber from Fossil Kids website
- Types of Fossils - a nice PDF slide show to review the types of fossils we are learning.
- Petrified Forest National Park - fantastic close up photos of petrified wood.
- The Official Website for The Petrified Forest National Park
- Carbon 101 - a PDF brochure that shows how fossil fuels are formed and how we extract them.
- How are Fossil Fuels formed? from the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The concise version. Do you know why they are called fossil fuels? Do you know the difference in how coal, natural gas and petroleum are made? Take 2 minutes and read this (and see the PDF chart above it).
3 Explain: Discuss and formatively assess with Engrade
Students take a quiz in Engrade about the content they have explored. The quiz consists of basic knowledge questions such as, How are fossils formed? and What kind of environment are fossils likely to be found in?
Students clarify their ideas by participating in a class discussion, either in class or using the Engrade discussion board around comprehension/application questions such as, Why do we call petroleum products, such as oil and gas, fossil fuels? and Could the trees in (name a local park or forest) ever become petrified? Explain.
4 Elaborate: Concept Mapping
Students use a concept mapping tool, such as bubbl.us or the Drawing Tool on Google Drive to create a concept map explaining the catastrophism and uniformitarianism theories. Students may work collaboratively on both of these concept mapping programs, so students may work in partners or independently.
Maps should include
- definition of fossil
- characteristics of the four types of fossils
- the 4 ways fossils are formed
- where fossils are formed
- explanation of catastrophism and uniformitarianism theories
This can be graded and the grades entered into the Engrade grading program.
5 Evaluate: Students create digital presentations showing learning
Students create a presentation of their choice illustrating the difference between the catastrophic and uniformitarianism views, using concepts and vocabulary from this unit. The presentation could be an animation (Domo Animate or Scratch), a presentation (Google Drive Presentation or Prezi) or a video (Animoto). The presentation is scored on a rubric for content and presentation skills.
This can be graded and the grades entered into the Engrade grading program.
6 Extend: Think like a Scientist!
For students who finish early or want to engage further, this inexpensive program allows students to "think like a scientist," as they examine fossil evidence.
Key Standards Supported
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6–8 texts and topics.
Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to an understanding of the topic.
Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).
Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.
Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.
By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text’s explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 9–10 texts and topics.
Analyze the structure of the relationships among concepts in a text, including relationships among key terms (e.g., force, friction, reaction force, energy).
Analyze the author’s purpose in providing an explanation, describing a procedure, or discussing an experiment in a text, defining the question the author seeks to address.
Translate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text into visual form (e.g., a table or chart) and translate information expressed visually or mathematically (e.g., in an equation) into words.
Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claim or a recommendation for solving a scientific or technical problem.
Compare and contrast findings presented in a text to those from other sources (including their own experiments), noting when the findings support or contradict previous explanations or accounts.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend science/technical texts in the grades 11–12 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
Key Standards Supported
Biological Evolution: Unity and Diversity
Communicate scientific information that common ancestry and biological evolution are supported by multiple lines of empirical evidence.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that the process of evolution primarily results from four factors: (1) the potential for a species to increase in number, (2) the heritable genetic variation of individuals in a species due to mutation and sexual reproduction, (3) competition for limited resources, and (4) the proliferation of those organisms that are better able to survive and reproduce in the environment.
Apply concepts of statistics and probability to support explanations that organisms with an advantageous heritable trait tend to increase in proportion to organisms lacking this trait.
Construct an explanation based on evidence for how natural selection leads to adaptation of populations.
Evaluate the evidence supporting claims that changes in environmental conditions may result in: (1) increases in the number of individuals of some species, (2) the emergence of new species over time, and (3) the extinction of other species.
Create or revise a simulation to test a solution to mitigate adverse impacts of human activity on biodiversity.
Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
Apply scientific ideas to construct an explanation for the anatomical similarities and differences among modern organisms and between modern and fossil organisms to infer evolutionary relationships.
Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy.
Construct an explanation based on evidence that describes how genetic variations of traits in a population increase some individuals’ probability of surviving and reproducing in a specific environment.
Gather and synthesize information about the technologies that have changed the way humans influence the inheritance of desired traits in organisms.
Use mathematical representations to support explanations of how natural selection may lead to increases and decreases of specific traits in populations over time.