What Happened to Our Volcano?by: Elaine Silva Mangiante

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One third grade teacher reflects on her students living by the ocean and their frequent jaunts to the beaches where expansive slabs of granite jut out into the sea. During the summer, they run along the rocks and explore the cracks and crevices. Through their geology unit, the students discovered that this granite was formed “inside” a volcano. The students asked, “Why isn’t the granite inside the volcano now? Where is the rest of the volcano?” These questions provided the seeds for an investigative approach to “understanding Earth changes.” Students were familiar with earthquakes and volcanoes in other regions of the world but never considered how the land beneath their feet had experienced changes over time. This geology unit helped them understand and experience the changing nature of our Earth and the place where they live firsthand.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (2)
  • on Wed Jun 13, 2018 9:58 PM

This article tells in its entirety, the story of the creation, execution, and learning in an entire unit on constructive and destructive forces. The unit focuses on student inquiry about a local volcano that existed millions of years ago. Students first discovered the volcano when they learned that the large rocks by the beach are composed of granite, an igneous rock that forms inside of volcanos. But where is the volcano? Through experimentation and observations, the teacher leads students to uncover the many ways in which the Earth's landscape changes overtime. The unit culminates with a local geologist who addresses lingering questions and expands on student learning. This article is a memorable read, and I am sure the unit was a memorable learning moment for all involved. I am now wracking my brain for local landmarks on which I can base my own lessons, and looking into local geologists who can bring their expertise into the final conversation.

Casey Fichtner
Casey Fichtner

  • on Mon Jul 16, 2012 5:26 PM

The lessons outlined provide a step-wise introduction for students of how rocks are broken down and eroded over time to change the surface. The local tie-in with a geologist from the nearby university provided students with an opportunity to ask an expert and personal connections with the materials. This could be a model for a similar unit at any grade level in any location - great lessons!

Tina Harris  (Fairmount, IN)
Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN)

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