This unit engages students in an in-depth consideration of the ways in which features of the earth’s surface change over time. It is designed to help students understand materials of the earth and processes that change them along with cyclical changes in the earth. Students will explore both erosion and weather and will learn how to distinguish between them.  The instructor uses Frayer Models, Sum It Up, and Word Walls to build understanding.  Technology integration includes a simulation of the rock cycle as well as annotated photos and online images of erosion and weathering.


      Changes in the earth are ongoing.
      Things change quickly and over long periods of time.
      Weathering is the breaking and changing of rocks.
      Erosion is the moving of weathered rocks and soil by wind, water, or ice.

      How is the surface of the earth altered by weathering and erosion?

      The difference between weathering and erosion (MLR-D2)
      How fast things move differs greatly and how some things are so slow that their journey takes a long time (MLR-A3)
      How waves, wind, water, and ice shape and reshape the earth's surface by eroding rock and soil in some areas and depositing them in other areas (MLR-D2)

      Summarize main ideas from textbook passages (MLR-A3)
      Synthesize information from various sources (video, text, photos, and discussion) to describe changes in the earth (MLR-E2)
      Recognize change and sources of erosion from images

      A3 – Constancy and Change
      Students identify and represent basic patterns of change in the physical setting, the living environment, and the technological world.
      a. Recognize patterns of change including steady, repetitive, irregular, or apparently unpredictable change.

      C3 – Science, Technology, and Society
      Students identify and describe the influences of science and technology on people and the environment.
      b. Give examples of changes in the environment caused by natural or man-made influences.

      D2 – Earth
      Students describe the properties of Earth’s surface materials, the processes that change them, and cycles that affect the Earth. c. Explain how wind, waves, water, and ice reshape the surface of Earth.

      A3 – Informational Texts
      Students read, paraphrase, and summarize informational texts, within a grade appropriate span of text complexity, for different purposes.

      E2 – Speaking
      Students use active speaking skills to communicate effectively in a variety of contexts. b. Speak using eye contact, clear enunciation, clear gestures for emphasis, and appropriate volume and rate. c. Share information summarized from reading, listening, or viewing and form a position on a topic, supporting the position with a variety of print and non-print sources.


      Frayer Model:
      As a pre-assessment students will complete a Frayer Model on erosion. The results will be used to determine what level of instruction will be necessary in order for students to master unit objectives.

      Exit Slips:
      Throughout the unit students will demonstrate learning through the use of exit slips. These brief exercises will help determine if any re-teaching is required.

      Journal Responses:
      Students will complete weekly journal responses to demonstrate their level of understanding as well as ongoing questions and interests that could be addressed in future lessons.

      Sum It Up:
      While reading their selection of the textbook, students will complete the Sum It Up activity to practice finding main ideas and demonstrate the ability to summarize text (MLR-A3). Their responses will denote their level of understanding and need, if any, for additional instruction.

      Triple Entry Journal:
      Students will add "weathering" and "erosion" to their Earth Science vocabulary journal after reading about both events in their textbook. Their entries should reflect an understanding of each word and a clear distinction between the two.

      Frayer Model:
      Students will complete a second Frayer Model of erosion following the unit to demonstrate enhanced understanding of the concept. This assessment will address mastery of MLR-D2, understanding the difference between weathering and erosion.

      Venn Diagram:
      After reading and brainstorming a list of traits, students will also produce a venn diagram to show that they are able to compare and contrast erosion and weathering (MLR-D2).

      Unit Assessment:
      This assessment will take place following the final two modules of the larger unit "The Make Up of the Earth". It will be used to measure how well students have retained learning over a longer period of time.

      In order to demonstrate an understanding of the speed at which things move (MLR-A3), students will create a poster with annotated photographs. Additionally this will require that they synthesize information from various sources to describe changes (MLR-E2)

      Click here for the Assessment Rubric.


    • OEM erosion pictures:
      These photos will be used as an introduction to the unit to elicit prior knowledge. The images will help students conceptualize changes that take place over long periods of time, in various climates and surroundings. These photos will aid students in understanding different types, sources and results of erosion (MLR-D2 and MLR-A3)

      Interactive Cycle Slideshow:
      After learning more about erosion and weathering, students will participate in and interactive slide show to better understand the variables that affect change in our earth. The slideshow emphasizes the cyclical nature of change (MLR-A3) and demonstrates multiple examples of both erosion and weathering.

      Annotated Photos:
      As a summative assessment students will go online to find photographs that demonstrate both slow and fast forms of erosion. In this way technology will assist students in displaying their learning. Students will annotate photos by describing the erosion that is depicted and analyzing the speed at which it must have occurred.


    • Word Wall:
      Throughout the unit students will be using a word wall to interact with vocabulary words, become familiar with their spelling and definitions.

      Triple Entry Journal:
      Students will need to be able to define both weathering and erosion as well as compare and contrast the two. This skill will not be explicitly modeled as it is an ongoing activity throughout the year.

      Venn Diagram:
      After reading and discussing the textbook passages, completing the lab, brainstorming lists of characteristics, and looking at various images of weathering and erosion, students will be asked to complete a venn diagram of the two concepts. This will require that they are able to synthesize information from text, discussion, and photos, think about how they relate and discuss their differences and similarities.

      Frayer Model:
      This will be used as both a before and after reading activity. The class will work together on one focal word and individually on the other.

      Sum It Up:
      In the third and fourth lessons, students will read and summarize textbook selections using the Sum It Up method.


    • LESSON 1:
      Pre Assessment Frayer Model
      Online images to elicit prior knowledge
      Journal Entries

      LESSON 2:
      Exit Slips

      LESSON 3:
      Weathering in Textbook
      Sum It Up
      Class brainstorm of traits
      Vocab journal

      LESSON 4:
      Erosion in Textbook
      Sum It Up
      Class brainstorm of traits
      Vocab journal

      LESSON 5:
      Venn Diagram

      LESSON 6:
      Cycle Slideshow
      Online search for photos

      LESSON 7:
      Fast and Slow Posters

      LESSON 8:
      Frayer Models
      Whole class "Weathering"
      Individual "Erosion"

      Journals, Textbooks, Frayer Model Templates, Sum It Up Templates, Lab Supplies, Overhead projector, Laptop, Printer

      Cooney, Timothy et al. Scott Foresman Science. Glenview, Illinois: Scott Foresman, 2000.
      Documenting Glacial Change.” 2008. Teachers’ Domain. 19 June 2010.
      Literacy Maps.” Changes in the Earth's Surface. DLESE. 12 Apr. 2010
      Meltzer, J.M., & Jackson, D.J. (Eds.). (2010) Thinkquiry Toolkit I: Strategies to Improve Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary Development Across the Content Areas. Portsmouth, NH: Public Consulting Group.
      "OER Materials." Bryce Canyon National Park: Hoodoos Cast Their Spell. 2007. Commons Open Educational Resources. 12 Apr. 2010
      "Rock Cycle Animation." 2002-2010. Teachers' Domain. 12 Apr. 2010
      "Weathering & Erosion." Geology Online. 15 Feb. 2003. Illinois State Museum. 11 July 2010


Name of Instructor(s):

Laura Bryant


This is a segment of a Surface of the Earth unit. It follows studies of landforms and precedes lessons on materials of the earth and human impact.

Grade Level: 4th
Duration: 2 weeks
Weathering and Erosion Video #1—Literacy Support: Sum It Up

Weathering and Erosion Video #2—Technology: Animated Rock Cycle
Rationale and Context:
This unit is designed to help students understand materials of the earth and processes that change them along with cyclical changes in the earth.

In order to be successful students must have foundational understandings of how change happens to many things, changes can be so fast or so slow that they are hard to see, and that chunks of rock come in many shapes and sizes, from boulders to grains of sand and even smaller.

In the case of this unit, students are already familiar with Triple Entry Journals, a Word Wall, Sum It Up, and Frayer Models.

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