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Earth and Space Sciences


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      Strategies: Help with Fundamentals

      The following activities are suggestions for working with students who need help with fundamentals. We hope that the activities spark ideas and conversations among teachers about useful classroom strategies that can supplement existing curriculum.

      Difficulty 1

      The interactions of oceans, the atmosphere and the lithosphere are key ideas for understanding climate and weather patterns. Struggling students may not grasp the fact that ocean currents influence climate and weather patterns throughout the world.

      • In Grade 7, students described the water cycle, explained the transfer of energy between the atmosphere and hydrosphere, and described the connection between the water cycle and weather-related phenomenon, like tornadoes, floods, droughts and hurricanes (Earth and Space Sciences, Benchmark C, Grades 6-8). This knowledge is critical to understanding of grade-level indicators.

      • At this grade level, students are expected to explain climate and weather patterns associated with certain geographic locations and features. Examples include hurricanes, lake-effect snow and tornado alley.

        Click here* for Tornadoes and Technology, a lesson designed to promote student understanding of how and where tornadoes are likely to form. This lesson also provides students with examples of how scientific inquiry is driven by the desire to understand the natural world and how technology is driven by the need to solve human problems (Science and Technology, Benchmark B).

        Click here* for an animated tutorial that illustrates how hurricanes form.

        Click here* for the Winter Storm Resource Center from the University of Illinois, which provides scientific information and supplementary material to support student understanding of lake-effect snow.

        These resources may be useful to include in research-based lessons for students to explain that many processes occur in patterns within Earth's systems (Earth and Space Sciences, Benchmark B).

      Difficulty 2

      Students often have difficulty understanding the polarity reversals and data collected by Harry Hess regarding seafloor spreading and the fossil evidence that led to Alfred Wegener's theory of continental drift, and how these two theories are related to what is known today about plate tectonics.

      • In Grade 8, students described the interior structure of Earth and its crust as divided into plates riding on top of the slow-moving currents of magma in the mantle. They should have also explained that most major geological events, like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hot spots and mountain building, result from plate motion (Earth and Space Sciences, Benchmark E, Grades 6-8). Assess student understanding of this foundational knowledge and develop appropriate, research-based instruction based on assessment results.

      • At this grade level, students should explain the results of plate tectonic activity, including magma generation, igneous intrusion, metamorphism, volcanic action, earthquakes, faulting and folding (Earth and Space Sciences, Benchmark E).

        Click here* for an animated tutorial which allows students to interpret and apply a conceptual model of how plate tectonics cause earthquakes (Scientific Inquiry, Benchmark A).

        *This link contains resources or information that may be useful. These resources were not written to align specifically to Ohio's Academic Content Standards. The inclusion of a specific resource is not an endorsement of that particular resource, or any of its contents, by the Ohio Department of Education. Teachers are advised to preview all sites before using them with students.

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