Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas
Marcia's Science Teaching Ideas

Teaching Geologic History by MJ Krech

The Teaching Geologic History Packet is now available. Click here. Contains over 200 pages of ready-to-run materials covering: Relative and Absolute Time, Sequencing Geologic Events, Geologic History Timelines, Geologic Eras, Fossils, Tree Cookies, and Radiactive Dating. The Packet contains: Objectives and strategies, detailed lesson plans & ideas, bellwork and journal suggestions, labs and worksheets with answers, tests & quizzes with answers, active learning suggestions including the Rules of the Game Foldable©, and game suggestions you can run off on colored paper. Includes: ELEVEN PowerPoints! Can be purchased as a Download or a CD. Several items from this Packet are also available below at NO CHARGE
You are welcome to use these ideas in your classroom, within your science department, within your school district, or to distribute to any teacher who may find these lessons useful. I only ask that:
1. You cannot sell these lessons or make a profit on them in any way.
2. You cite the lessons original source, and do not white-out the copyright footer on the pdf files
3. Do not copy and paste lessons onto your website. A link to the original is to be used.
4. Do not claim these lessons as your own work.
NOTE: This disclaimer is modeled after a couple of my favorite websites: The Science Spot and Middle School Science. Thanks, teachers!

Relative Aging Study Guide

Email me for a Relative Dating Teaching Idea which includes much of what is discussed here!
One of the most basic concepts in teaching geologic History is distinguishing between Relative and Absolute Time. This Study Guide covers that topic using my textbook, Heath Earth Science. Click here.

UPDATE:  Lately I've given up on the boring Study Guide approach. Click hereEmail me for a PowerPoint covering the "Rules of the Game." Click here for the PowerPoint FollowSheet. Show the PowerPoint before doing the Fact Sheet.

Relative Aging Worksheets You'll want to teach how to sequence rock layers during this unit. You can make your own or surf the Web for other images you could use. Earth Science textbooks usually contain exercises covering this topic also. All mine are copyrighted worksheets so none are included here.
Relative Aging Team Games

A good way to introduce the concept of rock sequencing is to present each step with a separate sketch. We usually just give students the finished product and many students have trouble with seeing how the finished diagram came to be. Here are a couple of good sequencing games. I give each team the four sketches along with 4 sticky notes. They have to put the sketches in order and put a sticky label with each sketch explaining what cause the change in each sketch. Click here for the first game and click here for the second game. These are in worksheet form. Run off and cut out for the game. I use as many teams as I need to put 4 or 5 in a team--often 5 or 6 teams, each identified by a different color.

Fossil Lab

You'll want to do a Fossil Lab at this point so that when you do a timeline later, they will be able to relate to "Trilobites" or "Crinoids." Click here for a simple version. We use teacher-made Fossil Identification Booklets but I don't have a pdf version of them.

Fossil Worksheet

Here is a review of fossil concepts from our textbook,Heath Earth Science. Click here for my version. 

UPDATE: I don't use this too often anymore. Don't see the need for quiet seatwork when we could be doing something more lasting, like a game or lab or powerpoint or other more active activity.

Jurassic Park

You might want to show the film as a nice break from the usual routine. These questions are courtesy of Stephen Dilks, another earth science teacher in my building. Thanks, Stephen! Wonderful review of many of the concepts we've been covering in our Geology Unit.

Absolute Time

Email me for a comprehensive Absolute Dating Teaching Idea which includes several activities including a Tree Ring Activity and an Absolute Dating PPT.

You'll want to cover methods used by scientists to measure absolute time. This is a worksheet covering concepts from our textbook. This is a worksheet from Glencoe that also covers this topic. This Glencoe site has great stuff. Worth a bit of a "surf" around their site for good material! 

NOTE: Here is a brand new Cut & Paste Fact Sheet covering three main ways to determine Absolute Age. Click here for Absolute Time Fact Sheet. Short & Sweet! Gets the job done.

Half-Life Lab

Here is a good version of a half-life lab using pennies in shoe boxes. If you make up seven boxes for seven lab groups, you'll need seven dollars in pennies. This is such a common standardized test subject, so it's worth covering well.

Half-Life Calculations You'd probably better cover simple calculations of half-life. Click here for a lesson on how to teach your students to calculate half-life using a simple table. Hand this form out to your students along with the matching half-life worksheet.
Half-Life Skit Have the entire class stand up in the center of the room, all huddled together. Then touch the shoulders of students and have them step out of the "huddle" and stand around the outside of the room. Eliminate half at a time. As each "half-life" is completed, pause and ask them what just happened. You can either tell them what you are doing. or continue on, taking half out each time, and pausing for them to figure it out. How many half-lives to completely "decay" our class? If one half-life takes about 1 minute, how "old" is the class?
Geologic Timelines

Once you've taught all the basics, a timeline exercise is a nice change of pace. Usually takes one or two class periods. We assign either the Missouri timeline or Earth timeline to various pairs of students. The Earth timeline is 5 meters long and a bit more difficult. The Missouri is two meters. I usually don't do more than a couple of the five meter timelines per class. We have the students make the timelines and then answer the Timeline Comparison Questions. It might be worth the trouble for you to make up one similar to my Missouri version for your own state's geologic history. Click here for a Timeline Scoring Guide. We've also done Universe Timelines and Human History Timelines.

Geologic Timescale Worksheet

Good worksheet to assign when the Timelines are finished. Click here.

Geologic Eras Team Game

Click here for the game pieces. Run off on colored paper and cut out. I cut out the Eras and the characteristics separately, then have teams assemble them in order with corresponding characteristics. I also have sketches (copyrighted) that I also run off as game pieces. I hand the pieces out clipped together and when they open them, I don't tell them what to do with the pieces. "Figure out what to do." They do a great job with this! Gets them up and moving and thinking as a team!

Geologic Eras Skit Assign each team of students an Era and give them 5 minutes to come up with a pantomime illustrating at least two geological and two biological events from the Era. No words or sound effects this time! Have the other students guess which Era is being dramatized. Good way to review the main geological and biological characteristics of the Eras.

 ©Copyright 2016.  M. J. Krech. All rights reserved. 

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