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Laura Douglas

EPS­541

Unpacking PCK and Developing a Growth Plan

Illinois Assessment Framework (IAF) 12.7.78 states that students should “understand that some changes in the solid earth can be described as the rock cycle: rocks at the earth's surface weather, forming sediments that are buried, then compacted, heated, and often recrystallized into new rock”. In order to effectively teach the rock cycle, I must ask myself: What do students need to know to understand the rock cycle? To unpack the concept and identify major components, I created the concept map as seen in figure 1 below.

Laura Douglas EPS­541 Unpacking PCK and Developing a Growth Plan Illinois Assessment Framework (IAF) 12.7.78 states

Figure 1: Rock Cycle Concept Map

As seen in figure one there are two main concepts to the rock cycle, the three major classifications of rocks, and the causes of change in rocks. The three major types of rocks are: metamorphic, igneous, and sedimentary. Each of the types of rocks can form into another rock through one or more of the following processes: heat and pressure, melting, weathering and erosion, or compaction and cementation. The most important thing to note that the connection between these two major components is cyclical and ongoing. While sediments and liquid rock (magma and lava) do not necessarily fall under the three major rock components, they are an intricate part of the rock cycle. As seen in the concept map, sediments are a precursor for sedimentary rocks. Similarly, lava and magma are the precursor to igneous rocks. When observing the concept map, as you begin to branch out from the three major rock types, you get into more descriptive terms of what each rock, from appearance to how it is classified. The difficult thing about teaching a cycle, is where to start? Should the students learn about the individual rocks first, how rocks change, or a combination of the two? After much thought and research online, I concluded that it would be best to teach the basic concept of the rock cycle to students and then build off of there. A more basic rock cycle is shown in figure two.

As seen in figure one there are two main concepts to the rock cycle, the three

Figure 2: Simple Rock Cycle

By starting with a simplified rock cycle, students can really see the associations

between the key concepts. Coyne, Kame’enui, and Carnine(2011) say that “visual maps of big ideas add to the overall considerate quality of an instruction tool”. A considerate tool acts as an aid to ease comprehension by supporting students. I would like to start off with this simplified model (figure 2). In order to get students excited about learning about the rock cycle, I could introduce the basic concepts using a rock cycle crayon lab. The lab introduces the major concepts, rock type and causes of change, using crayons as “rocks”. Students begin by weathering and eroding crayon rocks; they scrape of bits of different colored crayons to form different colored sediments. Next students deposit the sediments in layers on a piece of tin foil, fold the foil over, and compact the sediments together. They have now formed a sedimentary crayon rock, see figure three for an example. I could then have students list characteristics of their rock. I would make sure to highlight the fact that it had layers.

between the key concepts. Coyne, Kame’enui, and Carnine(2011) say that “visual maps of big ideas add

Figure 3: Crayon Rocks

To form a metamorphic rock students would have to apply heat and pressure. Students would take their sedimentary rocks, wrapped in tin foil, to me and I would briefly place the packet on a hot plate and press down on the foil. Once the packet has cooled students would discover their metamorphic rock (figure 3). I would instruct students to discuss the differences they noticed in the change from sedimentary rock. Again, I would make sure to highlight the fact that you can still see the different colors from the original

rocks, but the bands have become twisted and mixed. Finally, students would bring me there tin foil wrapped metamorphic rock and once again I would place it on a hot plate. Only this time, I would leave the packet on long enough for it to melt and become “magma”. Once the packets cooled, students could investigate their new rock (figure 3). Students would be prompted to discuss the changes they saw again.

To check for understanding of the introductory lesson, I could ask probing questions

like:

● How could I turn this igneous rock into a sedimentary rock? ● Do you think only a metamorphic rock could become an igneous rock? Why? These question would not only check for understanding, but I could scaffold them to meet the level of the students.

rocks, but the bands have become twisted and mixed. Finally, students would bring me there tin

Figure 4: Sedimentary Shale Metamorphosed

The following lessons would involve note taking, visual representations of the rock cycle, and observations of real rocks. Coyne et. al (2011) states that “ample opportunities to apply the concept are necessary if students are to fully understand the relevance and utility of a concept or big idea”. In a previous lesson I taught on the rock cycle, I gave students a sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous rock that followed the progression of the rock cycle from the same material. This way students could make real life comparisons

of the changes in rocks; an example of this is seen in figure 4. Students could also observe sedimentary and metamorphic rocks under a microscope to help them understand how a rock changes on a micro level when heat and pressure is applied. A diagram, such as the one in figure 5, would offer a good visualization for the students.

of the changes in rocks; an example of this is seen in figure 4. Students could

Figure 5: Sedimentary and Metamorphic Rocks Magnified

In order to check for student misconceptions, it would be important that I check for understanding (CFU) regularly. I described some methods for CFU with the crayon lab, but additional methods would include exit slip and worksheet analysis, as well as observations during student conversations and group work. One misconception I have noticed when previously teaching the rock cycle is that students confused the banding on some metamorphic rocks, like gneiss (figure 4), for layers of sedimentary rocks. To address this misconception I would have students directly compare gneiss with a clearly layered sandstone rock. I would then ask scaffolded questions until students came to the realization that the bands were intertwined and not separate like the layers. “Research has shown that planned refutations were more effective in changing students’ naive conceptions to scientific understanding than instruction that left the teacher tp provide refutational material spontaneously during instruction” (Coyne et. al, 2011). As a final piece of the rock cycle unit, I would like students to be able to complete a component sort, like the one seen in figure 6. While my original concept map covered more

material (figure 1), I figured it would be more beneficial for students to break the rock cycle down into two smaller units. Once they have demonstrated mastery of the main components, by completing a diagram like figure 6, I could move on to the next unit and delve deeper into the characteristic of each of the three major rock forms.

material (figure 1), I figured it would be more beneficial for students to break the rock

Figure 6: Rock Cycle Sort (completed)

I believe I have a very strong background in content knowledge for this subject. In the future I would like to focus my practices on gathering data on student knowledge, so that I could use it to help guide my instruction; which would in turn build my instructional knowledge. Like the rock cycle, the three areas of pedagogical content knowledge and their integration are intertwined; strengthening one leads to new knowledge in other areas to consider.

Reference Coyne, M.D., Kame’enui, E.J., Carnine, D.W. (2011) Effective Teaching Strategies that Accommodate Diverse Learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.