Earth Motion 3: Our Changing Earth   Western Reserve Public Media
Module 2: Plate Tectonics

Plate Tectonics


In Plate Tectonics, students begin with a formative assessment. The goal of the module is to help students to understand that the earth is constantly changing.

There are two approaches to gaining that understanding. The first is to place the students into specialty groups. Each group is given a topic about which they are to become experts. They may use their text, the library or the links provided to gather information. They must find five important facts about their topic and have those facts approved by the teacher. They then will make a presentation to the class about the facts that they have learned. The topics include the earth’s internal structure, plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes, Ring of Fire and vocabulary.

The second approach is more hands-on. Students create a model to show the effects of plate movement — the folding, faulting and uplifting of the earth. The project requires student to come up with their own model of one or more aspects of plate tectonics. A summative assessment follows.

Also available are a resource page that gives information about the changing earth, a vocabulary list and a resources hotlist.


Standards Addressed

Grade 8, Science, Earth Science

6-8 Benchmark E. Describe the processes that contribute to the continuous changing of earth’s surface (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, erosion, mountain building and lithospheric plate movements).

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09. Describe the interior structure of Earth and Earth’s crust as divided into tectonic plates riding on top of the slow moving currents of magma in the mantle.


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10. Explain that most major geological events (e.g., earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hot spots and mountain building) result from plate motion.


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13. Describe how landforms are created through a combination of destructive (e.g., weathering and erosion) and constructive processes (e.g., crustal deformation, volcanic eruptions and deposition of sediment).


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14. Explain that folding, faulting and uplifting can rearrange the rock layers so the youngest is not always found on top. Copyright©2010, Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.
Overview Module 1: Earth Cycles Module 2: Our Changing Earth Module 3: Transfer of Energy Teacher Materials Online Resources Watch Online Plate Tectonics Overview Plate Tectonics Vocabulary Plate Tectonics Resource Page Formative Assessment Our Changing Earth — Expert Groups Topic Research Hands-On Plate Tectonics Plate Tectonics Show Me: The Moving Earth Project Show Me: The Moving Earth Summative Assessment