While some students are inherently interested in rocks and minerals (I always get a rock hound or two) most middle schoolers find the topic boring. To start the unit on rocks and minerals, I've designed a whole lesson on mineral relevance so students can see the enormous role they play in our lives.
In this lesson, students experience real minerals through centers, a reading jigsaw, an online interactive and more, and will begin to see that some of the products they use the most (like their cell phones!) wouldn't be possible without minerals first. To start off, students see the impact of coltan mining in Africa, and discuss not only the "necessity" but also the ethical impact of mining on a country strewn with war. Civil rights plus cell phones makes for some interesting conversation!
In order to get them invested, students have to care-- this lesson answers the question, "why do I have to learn this?"
I will describe how minerals are used in our daily lives
I will observe and describe the properties of different, common minerals
I will define "mineral"
Preconception Check & Discussion
Coltan Vid: What is it? What is it's impact?
Real Mineral Stations & Discussion
Minerals in our Homes Interactive
Jigsaw: Minerals in our Lives & Bodies
What do minerals look like?
Revisiting our Preconception Check: What do we know now?
Defining a Mineral: Working Definition #1
Homework: Writing a Mineral Story
Ticket Out the Door