Intro to Plate Tectonics
In the Galleries for Google Earth are one for "Earthquakes in the Last Week" and one for "Volcanos". Students can use these to explore the patterns of where quakes and volcanos occur. (Unfortunately, the Earthquakes gallery displays plate boundaries and names; ideally students should discover boundaries for themselves, but there it is.) Critical questioning leads into the content of the lesson: Why do earthquakes and volcanos occur in patterns?
2 Direct Instruction
This app allows students an overview of the Earth's tectonic plates. Part 1 lets them fit the plate together like a puzzle. The continents are shown in outline on the plates, as a guide. It would be good to have a world map available for students to reference as they work. The timed game provides feedback to kids and provides a little competition among groups. Part 2 has the students locate earthquakes and volcanos (spiraling back to our Google Earth activity) and gives a very nice illustration of how these cluster along plate boundaries. Part 3 starts to move students toward an understanding of the different types of plate boundaries.
3 Guided Practice
This website is not in Graphite yet, but should be: PhET Plate Tectonics Simulation. Students use this simulator to investigate properties of continental and oceanic crust, including composition, temperature, and density. Then they set up a plate boundary and control its movement, observing the results. This (along with some critical guided questioning) moves the students from observation of a pattern ("earthquakes and volcanos occur most often along plate boundaries") to a model for an explanation ("here's how movement of the plates and types of crust produce earthquakes and volcanos").
4 Independent Practice
Students can use this app to investigate recent earthquakes near them (or around the world, if they like). Using what they have learned about plate boundaries and motions, they should be able to identify the type of boundary that a quake occurs on, the reason for the depth of the quake, and the likelihood of more quakes in the future.
Have students use Explain Everything (or another presentation app) to draw, animate, and explain different types of plate boundaries, including where in the world they might be found, and what kinds of quakes and volcanos they result in. Students might work in groups, choosing one type of boundary each, and then present their work to the rest of the class.