PUZZLING PLATES overview
LESSON PLAN Overview
In this activity, students label and personalize their own maps of today’s plates as they play Level One. By locating big cities on the map and coloring the pieces in, students become familiar with the plates in relation to themselves. It is also beneficial for students to keep and interact with physical copies of the plate map in addition to the digital experience.
To go even beyond today’s plates, this activity asks students to work together in groups and decipher the chronological order of the plates’ movements by evaluating their progression over various maps. With these analytical skills, students can also predict and draw the Earth’s surface in the future. Students can then organize their maps together into a flip-book to illustrate the constant movement of the Earth’s surface. In addition to this hands-on detective work, students can grasp these concepts in motion as they watch videos of the plates’ past and future movements.
- Recognize the role of plate tectonics in causing continental drift and shaping Earth’s surface.
- Construct their own book on the history of continental drift to understand Earth’s constant transformation.
- Analyze the movements of Earth’s plates in the past and predict the future of Earth’s surface.
Step 1: First give the students an introduction to tectonic plates and continental drift. Briefly define the two concepts and explain the role of tectonic plates in continental drift. Make sure to emphasize how the Earth is constantly changing and that our modern world has been shaped by the plates’ movements. To supplement this introduction, display a map of the modern world and highlight how the continents can fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
Step 2: Have students play the first level of Puzzling Plates, but not the bonus round yet. It might be difficult for the students at first to understand how to move the plates around with their fingers, so it might be helpful to give them a brief demonstration of how to use the game.
- NOTE: Remind students that these pieces are not continents, but plates. However, the continents are located on the plates and can be used to place the pieces in the correct location on the map.
Step 3: Once students have completed this level and are ready to move on to the bonus round, have them collect a blank map of today’s plates and correctly label the plates on their physical map as they play. For more advanced students, have them label some of the big cities around the world, especially the ones they are currently living in (e.g. Los Angeles, London, Beijing, Buenos Aires).
Step 4: After students have finished filling in their physical maps, divide them into groups of four or five (depending on the class size) and have each student collect their own plate tectonic packet. This packet will include a number of maps of the plates throughout the ages that will be out of chronological order. It should also include a blank paper for students to draw their predictions of Earth’s surface in the future. This task will take place later in the activity.
- NOTE: The maps should not have time ranges on them since students will have to put the maps in chronological order. However, they can have the name of the time period and of the land forms.
- Here is a link to a similar lesson plan that you can use for the flip-book materials: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~braile/edumod/flipbook/flipbook.htm
Step 5: As a group, students are challenged to identify the correct order of the maps. Once they think they have the correct order, they can consult with the teacher.
Step 6: If the group is correct, students should then label each map with the correct time range using the teacher’s answer key. They should staple their maps all together (including the blank page in the back) to make a mini plate history book or flip-book. If they finish early, have them color in their new books.
Step 7: Once most of the groups have finished this task, play a video that demonstrates visually how the plates have moved for millions of years. It will be helpful to have a video that includes the names of the time periods. Here is one video that may work for this activity.
Step 8: Lead a discussion on what the students have learned from Puzzling Plates, the group project, and video. Some questions can include the following:
- How did the Earth’s surface become what is it today?
- What role do plates play in shaping the Earth’s surface?
- What plate are we currently on?
- What made you put the maps in this order?
Step 9: Then, direct the discussion more about the future of the Earth’s surface. Some questions can include the following:
- What patterns did you notice when placing the maps in order? Could that help us predict the Earth’s surface in the future?
How will the movements of the plates affect the surface of the Earth in the future?
What do you think Earth will look like in x number of years?
- NOTE: Make sure that students understand particular patterns in continental drift before moving on to the next step.
Step 10: Using their knowledge about plate movements, have them each draw a map on their blank page of what they believe Earth’s surface will look like in x number of years (e.g. 250 million years.)
Step 11: After they draw their maps of Earth’s surface, play a video that shows what scientists predict will be the Earth’s surface in 250 million years.
Next Generation Science
disciplinary core ideas
The History of Planet Earth: Some events happen very quickly; others occur very slowly, over a time period much longer than one can observe.
Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions: Maps show where things are located. One can map the shapes and kinds of land and water in any area.
4-ESS2-2. Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features.
MS-ESS2-2. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.
DISCIPLINARY CORE IDEAS
Earth's Materials and Systems: The planet's systems interact over scales that range from microscopic to global in size, and they operate over fractions of a second to billions of years. These interactions have shaped Earth's history and will determine its future.
DISCIPLINARY CORE IDEAS
Plate Tectonics and Large-Scale System Interactions: Plate tectonics is the unifying theory that explains the past and current movements of the rocks at Earth's surface and provides a framework for understanding its geologic history.
Common Core - English Language Arts
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3 Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7 Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse formats and media, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Speaking and Listening
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
1. Creativity and Innovation
Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processesCreate original works as a means of personal or group expressionUse models and simulations to explore complex systems and issuesIdentify trends and forecast possibilities
2. Communication and Collaboration
Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
3. Research and Information Fluency
Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
Process data and report results
4. Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
Use multiple processes and diverse perspectives to explore alternative solutions