Let’s define weathering! Because of its close relationship to erosion, weathering is a difficult concept to grasp. The process of concept attainment will help your students understand the difference. What is concept attainment? It’s a research-based strategy that encourages students to generate and consider their own hypotheses.
Students view a series of pictures that are examples and nonexamples of weathering. In Part 1, the pictures help them understand that weather by itself is not weathering. Instead, weathering has something to do with rocks. In Part 2 many photos display rocks, but not all are examples of weathering. Kids should figure out that weathering has to do with breaking or wearing down of rock (but not moving away). Part 3 shows some pictures that help students consider causes of weathering. In Part 4, a thorough definition of weathering is displayed.
• Let’s Define Weathering PowerPoint presentation (can be viewed on screen or printed out)
• Teacher directions
• Student note-taking sheets
• Sheets that explain each slide (for the teacher)
• Sheets that display each slide with space for notes (can be used by individual students or small groups)
• Stationery for definition
• Tell students that they will be looking at a series of pictures to define the term weathering. Some pictures say, “This is weathering;” others say, “This is not weathering.”
• Explain that they should take notes on characteristics of weathering.
• Resist the urge to instruct or advise; they must conceptualize weathering on their own.
• Display each picture. Students should look at each picture carefully and take notes on the attributes of weathering.
• When you are finished with the slides in Part 1, have students meet in small groups to discuss and refine their generalizations.
• In this part, students should generalize that weathering has something to do with rocks.
• Once again, display each picture, giving time for careful observation and notes.
• When finished, have them meet in their groups once again.
• In this part, students should generalize that weathering breaks down or wears down rocks.
• This part acts as a discussion-starter for causes of weathering.
• Slide 26 displays winter and summer, pointing to heating and cooling of rock as a factor.
• Slide 27 shows rain. Heavy or acidic rain can cause weathering.
• In Slide 28, plants cause cracks in a sidewalk to grow.
• Have students meet in small groups and generate a definition of weathering.
• Read through the definition of weathering.
• Compare and contrast it with student definitions.
This activity employs higher order thinking skills and works great with gifted and talented students. Extensions are also included!
Are you looking for more geology resources? Try these:
• Exploring Geology: Rocks
• Layers of Earth Activities
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