Shell fossils found in a layer of sandstone

Fossils and Rock Layers

Grade 4

This lesson focuses on two main ideas:

  • How fossils help us understand the history of Earth
  • Fossils found in rock layers tell us how long ago that organism lived

 

Procedure

INTRODUCTION (15 minutes)

Read the introduction to students and review new vocabulary. Students will watch the “Outdoors Maryland - Episode 3302” video. After the video, have a discussion around the essential questions and thinking questions aligned to the topic and video. Discuss the career connections related to fossils and rock layers with students.

EXTENSION (15-30 minutes)

Complete extension activities with students, as you see fit.

ASSESSMENT (15 minutes)

Have students apply their newfound knowledge by completing a Summative CER on the lesson using evidence from the video and activities as support.

REFLECTION (10 minutes)

Have students complete a reflection.

Standards

NGSS and Maryland Environmental Literacy Standards

3-LS1-1 From molecules to Organisms: Structures and Processes
Develop models to describe that organisms have unique and diverse life cycles but all have in common birth, growth, reproduction, and death.

  • Science and Engineering Practices
    Developing and Using Models
    Modeling in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to building and revising simple models and using models to represent events and design solutions.
    • Develop models to describe phenomena.
    Connections to Nature of Science
    Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence
    • Science findings are based on recognizing patterns.
  • Disciplinary Core Ideas
    LS1.B: Growth and Development of Organisms
    • Reproduction is essential to the continued existence of every kind of organism. Plants and animals have unique and diverse life cycles.
  • Crosscutting Concepts
    Patterns
    • Patterns of change can be used to make predictions.

Standard 2
Human Dependence on Earth Systems and Natural Resources:
Environmentally literate students construct and apply understanding of how Earth’s systems and natural resources support human existence.


Summative CER

Option 1:

Construct an explanation describing why fossils are key to helping scientists understand Earth’s past. Use evidence and reasoning from the videos and activities to support your explanation.

Option 2:

Refer to this image showing various sets of fossils found in different rock layers. Construct an explanation addressing which organisms were the oldest based on this model. Use evidence and reasoning from the videos and activities to support your explanation.


Reflection Questions

  • Why are fossils important in understanding Earth’s history?
  • How are paleontologists able to estimate when an organism lived on Earth, based on the rock layers its fossils were found in?

Summative CER Rubric

Scoring Rubric Components No Response
Score Point 0
Not There Yet
Score Point 0.5
Beginning To
Score Point 0.75
Yes
Score Point 1.0
CLAIM The claim is missing. The claim is incorrect or irrelevant. The claim partially takes a position on the topic or issue addressed within the prompt. The claim takes an appropriate position on the topic or issue addressed within the prompt.
EVIDENCE There is no type of evidence in the response. The evidence is irrelevant or does not support the claim. The evidence partially supports the claim and demonstrates some understanding of the topic or text, using appropriate sources. The evidence supports the claim and demonstrates a strong understanding of the topic or text, using appropriate sources.
REASONING There is no use of words, phrases, and clauses to create cohesion and to clarify the relationship between the claim and evidence. Use of words, phrases and clauses fail to show or explain any relationship between the claim and evidence. Scientific words, phrases, and clauses used lack cohesion but partially clarify the relationship between the claim and evidence. Appropriate scientific words, phrases, and clauses are used to create cohesion and to clarify the relationship between the claim and evidence.


This learning resource is a production of Maryland Public Television/Thinkport.