Grade 6Science

Focus: In this unit, students investigate the phenomena of the building up of Earth’s Surface and the wearing down of Earth’s surface. The subtitle of this unit is What causes Earth’s surface to change? This is a phenomenon that all students have some experience with. Students know about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. They have a sense that mountains are built up and erode. It is then natural to ask: What are the processes by which the surface of the Earth changes? This unit allows students to observe the phenomena of the shifting landscapes of Earth and then spend time working with classmates to analyze the shared experience, formulate new questions, and developing new strategies for answering them. Students explore concepts that include the following:

  • How are earthquakes related to where mountains are located?
  • What is happening to Earth’s surface and the material below it during an earthquake?
  • How could plate movement help us explain how Mt. Everest and other locations are changing in elevation?
  • Where were Africa and South America in the past?
  • What causes mountains to shrink in elevation?

As students move through their day-to-day activities, they will also read Core Knowledge literacy selections. These include factual articles, history of the sciences, art and literature, spotting bad science in the media and advertisements, graphics comprehension, research-type articles, reliability of sources, and other areas of science literacy.

Lesson Numbers:

  • Teacher Guide: 14 Lessons
  • Student Reader: 4 Collections

Lesson time:

  • Lesson can be competed in one or more class periods.
  • A Pacing Guide, found in Online Resources, offers the suggestion that the entire unit should take about 25 days to complete if class is held each day.
  • A complete list of materials needed to complete the unit is also provided in the Online Resources.
  • The Core Knowledge Student Reader includes one reading collection per week for every week of the unit. A week’s reading collection relates to the lessons completed in the previous week.
    • The reading is assigned at the beginning of the week with the accompanying writing exercise due at the end of the week.
    • The reading and writing exercises are designed to be completed by students independently, with brief, supporting, teacher-facilitated discussions at the beginning, midpoint, and end of the week.

Additional Search Terms for the Student Reader:

• science literacy • fracking • crust • fault • seismic waves • tectonic plates • seismometer • plate tectonics • continental drift • rock cycle • hot spot • paleontologist • nonfiction • informational text

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