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The Theory of Continental

Drift and Plate Tectonics

Standard Covered:

 The Next Generation Science Standards

 Middle School Earth science
 MS-ESS2-3. Analyze and interpret data on the distribution of fossils and
rocks, continental shapes, and seafloor structures to provide evidence of
the past plate motions.
 The entire standard will have to be covered in multiple class periods, This
lesson will be part one in the series.
Exported from:
(2018) NGSS Summit
Essential Questions

 Does the Earth move?

 What evidence is there to support that the Earth moves?
 What is the Continental drift theory?
Instructional Objectives:

 Students will analyze and interpret the fossil types on different continents,
and the shape of the continents to provide evidence of the past plate
 At the end of the lesson students will be able to demonstrate that they
understand the Earth does move and state evidence to support this
 Students will understand how important evidence is to scientific findings.
 Scientific knowledge is tentative.

 Inquire about students prior knowledge by asking if they have ever heard
about The Continental Drift Theory and introduce the super continent
 I will write down on the board the prior knowledge the students have on
the topic.

Image exported
from: Google
Group activity

 In small groups students will assemble two different models of Pangea.

How the activity applies to the standard:
 The students map ancient land (Pangea) to make clear how the Earths
plates have moved great distances since the time the supercontinent
 This will give students a chance to analyze and interpret data on the
distribution of fossils and continental shapes, to provide evidence of the
past plate motions.
Observations/ Importance of

 After I will ask students to take a minute to make some observations about
the two different models they assembled.
 In a whole group discussion students will ask the students about the
observations they made. (For formative assessment)
 I will ask the students if the model of Pangea with more evidence placed
on the continents was easier to put together, if they think the information
on the continents was important for the correct assemblage of Pangea
and the essential question: Does the Earth move?

 To differentiate the lesson and give students a visual representation of

what was previously discussed.
 This video will introduce plate tectonics and large-scale system
interactions. This video partially covers the MS-ESS2-3 standard.

 Video was funded by NSF
PowerPoint Presentation

 Differentiates the lesson

 Covers the topic in more depth
 Covers concepts in more detail
 Incorperates NOS by :
Emphasizing that scientific knowledge is tentative and in light of new
evidence what we know now may be subject to change.
Summative Assessment

 Written reflection
 Short quiz
Differentiation of the lesson

 Video
 Kinesthetic activity
 Small group pairings (Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development)
 Multimedia PowerPoint presentation
 Whole group discussion
Materials needed for lesson:

 Computer
 Cut out continents
 Paper for reflections
 Quiz sheet
 Dry erase/ chalk board
 Earth Science (7th edition) by Tarbuck Lutgens