Introduction: The following unit plan will cover the rock cycle and common rock-
I. Analyze Learners
The following unit plan is directed towards a regular ninth grade science class
(CATS 9). Students of this grade are approximately 14 or 15 years old. Students should
have a basic understanding of the layers of the Earth (to understand solidification of
magma), laboratory safety, and Internet use, as well as the ability to follow instructions
(both verbal and written). Students should be able to work in small groups chosen by the
teacher. In depth understanding is not expected of students because it is their first year in
the secondary school.
II. State Objectives
SC.9.2.4 properly and safely manipulate equipment, materials, chemicals,
organisms and models.
SC.9.4.29 employ a variety of tests to identify common rock-forming
SC.9.4.30 analyze and describe common rock samples using grain size and
shape, and mineral composition.
RLA.9.3.1 understand, communicate, and follow complex directions
TEC.9-12.5.1 use a variety of strategies to acquire information from
SC.9.3.2 apply evidence from models to make predictions about interactions
and changes in systems.
III. Select Media and Material
Materials Needed for Unit:
computers with internet access
Four websites that will be used during the unit plan:
http://www.nmlsta.org/rocks.pdf - Rock Cycle game; an activity for
teachers to illustrate time frames of various parts of the rock cycle.
Students roll a dice to see whether they stay at their station
(sediment, metamorphic rock, etc) or move on to the next station.
Time frames are listed at the station and students are to explain
why they are at each station for the period of time that they are.
Good activity to keep kids interested and promote critical thinking.
/es0602page02.cfm - Interactive Rock Cycle Animation; this site
would be excellent for students and provides an interactive look at
each process in the rock cycle. The animation goes step by step
and may help students visualize some of the more complicated
aspects such as cementation of sediments or how foliation forms in
www.beyondbooks.com/ear82/7.asp - Earth Science Part 2: The Rock
Cycle; Gives an excellent overview of the rock cycle with multiple
flow charts. There are charts that summarize the information given
and provide examples of each rock type. More advanced students
and teachers can gain a deeper knowledge of each classification of
rock by clicking on the links. This site could be accessed by
students as a reference for their rock cycle drawing.
http://www.sdnhm.org/kids/minerals/how-to.html - Mineral Matters:
How To Identify Minerals; a site that provides a look at each
aspect of mineral Identification. This site provides a thorough
explanation of each test but is still at a level that students can
understand. This would be good information to disperse to students
before performing the mineral identification lab.
http://thescienceroom.bravehost.com/index2.html - Rocks and Minerals
activity; Students will use this website to fill out the worksheet
with information about each of the minerals. This will be graded
and used as an assessment tool after the mineral and rock lab.
IV. Utilize Media and Materials
The unit will be introduced to the students and open with an activity. Focus will
be on the rock cycle, the different types of rock involved in the rock cycle, and mineral
identification. Lecture will include visual aids, whether PowerPoint or overhead
transparencies, and students will be expected to take notes. A brief review of the previous
day’s material will start off each class period, which is 90 minutes long (block
scheduling). The day by day activities are as followed:
Day 1: Students will be introduced to the rock cycle and the three major
classifications of rocks. A diagram of the cycle will be shown and students
should draw it in their notes for future reference. Students will then be put
into pairs, upon which they will play the Rock Cycle game. The worksheet
that accompanies the activity is to be saved and turned in after all rock
types have been discussed in class, so that students can use information
from class to critically look at how long each rock takes to form.
Day 2: We will start off by talking about the Rock Cycle game completed on day
1. Igneous rocks and metamorphic rocks will then be covered in depth. In
depth discussion will include formation, time frame of formation, where
they occur, etc. Topics that will be covered under formation will include
differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic cooling, crystal size, heat,
and pressure. “Metamorphic” rice crispy treats will be available for the
students to snack on.
Day 3: The lesson will start with a brief review of igneous and metamorphic
rocks. Sedimentary rocks will be covered in depth. Time required for
formation, the process of formation, and location will be examined.
Formation topics include weathering, erosion, deposition, compaction, and
cementation. Students will be taught that the size of sediments can tell
how the rock formed (large, small, round or angular and their relationship
to deposition). Students will have to make connections between
sedimentary rock processes and igneous and metamorphic rocks,
completing the understanding of the rock cycle.
Day 4: Students should have an in depth understanding of the rock cycle and will
be expected to demonstrate that understanding. Students will work in
small groups to make a poster of the rock cycle, including examples of the
different rock types. These posters will be presented to the rest of the class
and graded on accuracy, creativity, and understanding.
Day 5: An introduction will be made to minerals. Students will see that minerals
make up the rocks that they just learned about. Common minerals in
igneous and sedimentary rocks will be discussed. Properties used to
identify minerals will also be reviewed in depth. These properties include
color, hardness, streak, luster, cleavage, fracture, and specific gravity.
Day 6: Students will use their understanding of mineral properties to identify
boxes of minerals. They will examine hardness, streak, color, luster,
cleavage/fracture, and specific gravity and use their data to try to identify
minerals. Rocks will also need identification. Igneous, metamorphic, and
various kinds of sedimentary rocks will be provided.
Day 7: Students will review concepts covered the past six days by participating in
an internet search activity. Students are given pictures of minerals and
some physical properties. They must figure out what the mineral is, record
other information about the mineral, and then group similar minerals
Day 8: Due to the sheer number of minerals provided on the website, students
will be given a second day to complete their internet search. If students
finish early, they can work on an extra credit mineral and rock word
V. Required Learner Participation
In order to keep students interested in the topic, days of lecture will be followed
closely with a day of hands-on activity. During lecture days, PowerPoint presentations or
overhead transparencies will be used to keep the students visually stimulated and assist
with note taking. Questions are welcomed and hopefully students will participate in
discussions about the cycle or rock types. A game is planned during the first day to get
students interested in the topic. A lab on mineral identification will allow hands-on
manipulation. Students that enjoy working on computers will like the mineral
identification activity on the internet. This range of activities should be enough to
encompass at least one interest of the students.
VI. Evaluate and Revise
Students will be evaluated periodically through the unit. A worksheet will
accompany the Rock Cycle Dice game, which will be turned in after all of the rock types
have been discussed in class. This will show students’ ability to analyze and predict how
long it takes to change from one form to another. The posters drawn in small groups will
be graded for accuracy to check student understanding. Lab reports will be handed in
after the mineral lab. Mineral identification can be tricky, so points will not be deducted
if their data supports their conclusion and they demonstrate an understanding of the
properties they tested (color, streak, luster, etc.). Safety and ability to follow directions
will contribute to their lab grade. Evaluation will also look at a student’s ability to
recover facts from the internet and come from the completed internet activity sheet.