Lesson Plan

Wondering about Landforms in Asia

Students examine an important landform in Asia and form questions
Liz D.
Media specialist/librarian
P.S. 360
Bronx, United States
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My Grades Pre-K, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Following a guided observation through Google Earth of a landform in Asia, students will be able to form questions that reflect what they have observed and what they want to know about that landform.

English Language Arts
Social Studies
Grades 3
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Preparation: Prepare  Mt. Everest (or other pre-selected landform) wonder sheets for each student.  Have wonder sheet prepared with enough separate landforms for every child in the classroom. 

(Be aware that this lesson may need to be spread across two or more class periods.  When only one full class session is available I have modelled the entire process.  When time is more flexible it has worked better to model the observation segment and move to the independent observations  Model the question segment in the next class lesson and give generous time for students to complete their observations & questions.  Classes with less geography experience will need an additional explicit lesson and practice on describing location or on identifying landforms in which case the "Hook" becomes a seperate lesson)

Today we are going to look closely at some landforms in Asia and form questions saying what we wonder - that means what we don't know and would like to find out.  Let's start by looking at Asia and seeing if we can identify some of the landforms we have been learning about.

Display list of landform types we have learned about in class to the side of the screen.  Open Google Earth  (all layers off except borders and labels) and navigate manually to Asia (with coaching from students as they demonstrate that they know their way around the continent)

Call on students to identify any landform (use real or virtual "Pik a stiks / Stick Pick " to keep the student choice random).  Every time a landform is identified, check it off on the chart.  Zoom in briefly on each landform that is identified for a quick look.


2 Direct Instruction

Now let's look together at Mt. Everest (a mountain).  Because I know the name of this landform we can enter Everest into the search bar.  Spell the name Everest slowly as I (or a monitor) type it in the search bar.  (This models the process of carefully copying the spelling from the work sheet and entering it in the search bar).

So that is what Mount Everest looks like from space!  What do you notice?  What do you see?  Remember to be descriptive using words that describe color, line, texture, before you say what you infer.  When students state an inference instead of an observation ask them to phrase it as a description followed by their inference.  Model:  "I see a lot of shiny white that could be snow or ice.."

Open the selected landform observation/question sheet on the electronic whiteboard so it is available to toggle back from Google Earth

Model taking notes on observation

Use Pik-a-stix to select students - not everyone will get to say what they notice!  But that's okay - because the next part is even more important!

This page has also some question stems - the first few words of questions.  Thinking about all the intriguing things you are noticing, take a minute to complete three or four of these questions.  Don't try to do them all, instead let's aim for a few really good questions that you really wonder about!  A really good question is connected to what you notice, and is something that you would really like to find out.

3-5 minutes before saying "pencils down" - I know your not done, that's okay.  We will collect and celebrate your really good questions.  Spot check and celebrate good questions. (Pik a Stick to keep it moving)

Record as many questions as time allows.  When questions are similar encourage students to improve previous questions by making them specific and linked to the observations.

Note:  The lanform question sheets are based on the Writable Assessments developed by the NYC School Library services as a companion to the NYS Information Fluency Continuum


3 Independent Practice

Distribute individual landform sheets

You are now going to explore a mystery landform.  Each student will be observing and asking questions about a different landform in Asia. Take a few minutes to really look at your landform before you start forming questions.  Remember, really excellent questions are connected to what you observe! The iPads are waiting for you at your seats.  Open Google Earth and carefully type the name of your landform into the search box. 

Circulate and prompt students to observe, asking them what they see - students who jump to inference prompt:  What do you see that makes you think that might be...

Students that are ready to move on to questions:  Prompt students to return to their observations and ask "What do you wonder about" what they noted in their observations. 

4 Share

Activity: Presenting

This share is usually a full period or even better, distributed throughout a week with 4-5 students presenting each day.

With Google Earth displayed on the white board the student will use the search bar to display the landform that they explored.  They will describe what they noticed, including (with prompts if necesary) what evidence supports it being that particular type of landform.  Finally they will present their questions. 

This activity could lead in to a research project where each student would select a landform to learn more about.