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  • 4th Grade

    Earth's Systems: Processes That Shape the Earth

Students who demonstrate understanding can:

Performance Expectations

  1. Identify evidence from patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers for changes in a landscape over time to support an explanation for changes in a landscape over time. 4-ESS1-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  2. Make observations and/or measurements to provide evidence of the effects of weathering or the rate of erosion by water, ice, wind, or vegetation. 4-ESS2-1

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  3. Analyze and interpret data from maps to describe patterns of Earth’s features. 4-ESS2-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary
  4. Generate and compare multiple solutions to reduce the impacts of natural Earth processes on humans. 4-ESS3-2

    Clarification Statement and Assessment Boundary

A Peformance Expectation (PE) is what a student should be able to do to show mastery of a concept. Some PEs include a Clarification Statement and/or an Assessment Boundary. These can be found by clicking the PE for "More Info." By hovering over a PE, its corresponding pieces from the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts will be highlighted.

Science and Engineering Practices

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Planning and carrying out investigations to answer questions or test solutions to problems in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to include investigations that control variables and provide evidence to support explanations or design solutions.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

Analyzing data in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to introducing quantitative approaches to collecting data and conducting multiple trials of qualitative observations. When possible and feasible, digital tools should be used.

Constructing Explanations and Designing Solutions

Constructing explanations and designing solutions in 3–5 builds on K–2 experiences and progresses to the use of evidence in constructing explanations that specify variables that describe and predict phenomena and in designing multiple solutions to design problems.

By clicking on a specific Science and Engineering Practice, Disciplinary Core Idea, or Crosscutting Concept, you can find out more information on it. By hovering over one you can find its corresponding elements in the PEs.

Planning Curriculum

Common Core State Standards Connections

ELA/Literacy

  • RI.4.1 - Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. (4-ESS3-2)
  • RI.4.7 - Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears. (4-ESS2-2)
  • RI.4.9 - Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably. (4-ESS3-2)
  • W.4.7 - Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic. (4-ESS1-1), (4-ESS2-2)
  • W.4.8 - Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources. (4-ESS1-1), (4-ESS2-1)
  • W.4.9 - Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (4-ESS1-1)

Mathematics

  • 4.MD.A.1 - Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm; kg, g; lb, oz.; l, ml; hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Record measurement equivalents in a two column table. (4-ESS1-1), (4-ESS2-1)
  • 4.MD.A.2 - Use the four operations to solve word problems involving distances, intervals of time, liquid volumes, masses of objects, and money, including problems involving simple fractions or decimals, and problems that require expressing measurements given in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit. Represent measurement quantities using diagrams such as number line diagrams that feature a measurement scale. (4-ESS2-1), (4-ESS2-2)
  • 4.OA.A.1 - Interpret a multiplication equation as a comparison, e.g., interpret 35 = 5 x 7 as a statement that 35 is 5 times as many as 7 and 7 times as many as 5. Represent verbal statements of multiplicative comparisons as multiplication equations. (4-ESS3-2)
  • MP.2 - Reason abstractly and quantitatively. (4-ESS1-1), (4-ESS2-1), (4-ESS3-2)
  • MP.4 - Model with mathematics. (4-ESS1-1), (4-ESS2-1), (4-ESS3-2)
  • MP.5 - Use appropriate tools strategically. (4-ESS2-1)

Model Course Mapping

First Time Visitors

Resources & Lesson Plans

  • More resources added each week!
    A team of teacher curators is working to find, review, and vet online resources that support the standards. Check back often, as NSTA continues to add more targeted resources.
  • Students contemplate the big idea that erosion affects the surface of the earth's crust. The teacher creates student interest with an anchoring event called RAP- Review and Preview. Focus and relevance for the lesson is emphasized by asking stude ...

  • Students work in teams to design their own seismographs using everyday materials, (string, wire, paper, pencil, marker, pen, paper clips, glue, cardboard, poster board, foil, rubber bands, tape, pan or tray, clay) then test their design to recor ...

  • Students learn about geologic sampling by taking 'core samples' from a layer cake. The activity gives specific directions on how to prepare the Earth cake, complete with raisin, pecan and chocolate chip fossils. Students use a rolled-up ...

  • This 5E lesson sequence probes student pre-knowledge of the erosion and its impact on earth's mountain landscapes before students explore weathering, deposition, and layering at three different activity stations.  Students sha ...

  • Students aim to make sense of glacial phenomenon through observation and analysis of a mini glacier simulation in the classroom. Prior knowledge can be elicited from the short video clip of a "glacier calving", before engagin ...

  • This resource includes a three-dimensional weathering lesson embedded in an article describing strategies for whiteboard use in the classroom. Students engage in a group/class discussion as they explain how rocks change over timeb ...

  • Students observe types of destruction that occur when an earthquake strikes an area in this 5E structured lesson. Students view teacher selected videos before comparing observed earthquake destruction depicted in the Seymour Simon book, Ear ...

  • This set of 31 Weathering and Erosion slides depict landform changes that occur due to the natural processes of weathering and erosion. Captions explain/define the different causes of weathering and erosion (ice, wind, water, and vegetation ...

  • Students learn about natural hazards and the means engineers have developed to detect these hazards as a means of preventing  natural disasters. Students match engineered natural disaster prevention devices with natural hazards they mi ...

  • This article and associated formative assessment probe can be used to determine students' prior knowledge and misconceptions about weathering and erosion. Implemented before or during a weathering/erosion unit, ...

  • Students use a table-top tsunami generator to test how different materials used in house models (created by students and the teacher) are impacted by a simulated tsunami. Students discuss the work of engineers who design buildings and use high-t ...

  • This informational text shows students how tsunamis form and behave. It also describes how scientists are collecting data to create models that can be used to predict tsunamis . Animations/computer models are also included to enhance student knowledg ...

  • This science lesson integrates the concepts of physical weathering and erosion with an English/Language Arts informational text lesson. Students are guided through a reading of a National Geographic encyclopedic article, as the teacher provides close ...

  • This engineering design lesson focuses on the effects of erosion on Florida's coastline. It is one lesson offered within a larger weathering and erosion unit. Students groups work to create and use a model able to slow erosion, without damaging t ...

  • This sixty-four page teacher guide / student informative text provides additional reference materials for educators who are using the Stratovolcanoes of the World poster (see Instructional Materials) Each poster featured on the map has a smaller map ...

  • Fourth grade lessons on glacial erosion demonstrate and explain the manner in which glaciers erode the earth. The mechanisms of plucking and abrasion are discussed. Activities (either whole-class or small group) include a teacher creation of a glacie ...

  • Students investigate which building types are structured to withstand earthquake damage. They take on the role of engineers as they design their own earthquake resistant buildings, then test them in a simulated earthquake activity. Students also de ...

  • This lesson plan details a Design Challenge in which students build and test structures while learning about the earthquakes that shake them. It is designed as a review or culmination of an Earthquake unit of study. The lesson plan allows teachers to ...

  • This book allows students to observe illustrations of magnified sand particles with guided dialogue from an earth scientist who discusses sand origins. This book can be used to introduce students to types of sand, explain how earth processes were re ...

  • Bill Nye, "The Science Guy", presents a video describing the effects of weathering (wind, water, ice) on landforms. Bryce Canyon is used as an example of the ways in which freezing water, plant roots, and wind weather the earth's surfac ...

  • This hands-on activity allows students to explore five earth forces that may cause erosion as they model, observe, and record the effects of erosion on earth surfaces. Stations include demonstrations of chemical, wind, water, ice and heat forces as t ...

  • This activity helps to demonstrate the importance of rocks, soils, and minerals in engineering and how using the right material for the right job is important. The students build 3 different sand castles composed of varying amounts of sand, water, a ...

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Planning Curriculum gives connections to other areas of study for easier curriculum creation.