Analyzing Visual Representations: How Earthquakes Cause Tsunamis

Contributor
The Learning Design Group (Lawrence Hall of Science)
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Activity , Illustration , Informative Text
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

This activity introduces the Active Reading approach for teaching students how to analyze visual representations in science texts. Students will annotate the text and visual representations in the article, Disaster in Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami, which includes several diagrams of how powerful earthquakes at subduction zones can cause tsunamis. Scientists often present their thinking visually, so it is critical that students gain the ability to analyze ideas presented in this manner. The article reinforces concepts and introduces new ideas about tectonic plates and helps students see how humans are affected by geological patterns. The suggested amount of time for completion of this activity is 2 class periods.

 

Intended Audience

Educator and learner
Educational Level
  • Grade 8
  • Grade 7
  • Grade 6
  • Middle School
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

MS-ESS2-2 Construct an explanation based on evidence for how geoscience processes have changed Earth's surface at varying time and spatial scales.

Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on how processes change Earth’s surface at time and spatial scales that can be large (such as slow plate motions or the uplift of large mountain ranges) or small (such as rapid landslides or microscopic geochemical reactions), and how many geoscience processes (such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and meteor impacts) usually behave gradually but are punctuated by catastrophic events. Examples of geoscience processes include surface weathering and deposition by the movements of water, ice, and wind. Emphasis is on geoscience processes that shape local geographic features, where appropriate.

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students are reading and analyzing text and diagrams and learning that earthquakes in Japan are caused by the subduction of the Pacific plate where it meets the North American plate, and, that earthquakes can cause tsunamis. After students have the opportunity to work with visual representations, encourage them to synthesize their understanding of the relationship between the subducting plates and tsunamis orally or in a written response and based on evidence from the visuals, or have them make their own visual representations to explain the idea.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this science and engineering practice.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
The Disaster in Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami article is about subduction zones, which are often the location of strong earthquakes, volcanic activity, and tsunamis. The activity is in a very organized “step by step” format. It provides students the opportunity to go through the process of annotation with discussions and visual text representations as evidence. The article provides information which students can use to construct a scientific explanation about the relationship between earthquakes, subduction zones, and the formation of tsunamis. Relevant and interesting discussions from this process may include ideas about how subduction works, connections that demonstrate understanding concepts about plate tectonics, etc. Discussions could also include questions that students have created and answered by going back to the text or calling on prior knowledge as evidence. Some example questions are; What is the relationship between plate tectonics and tsunamis? Do all subduction zones create tsunamis?

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students will get the most out of the Disaster in Japan: Earthquake and Tsunami article if it is used as part of an instructional sequence on geological processes that shape Earth’s surface. Reading this article can reinforce concepts about tectonic plate movement and help students see the impact that geologic activity has on Earth’s surface as well as on human life. Before reading the article, students should know that Earth’s surface is composed of different types of crust—oceanic crust and continental crust. Students should also have some knowledge about the different types of movement at plate boundaries. The timescale over which these processes occur is not addressed in the activity

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Analyzing Visual Representations: How Earthquakes Cause Tsunamis centers around phenomena that is too large or too far away to observe, such as a tsunami or earthquake located on the opposite side of the globe. Models and diagrams are especially helpful for illustrating map details and representing stages over time. In this activity the models used were the maps of the subduction zones, photographs of earthquake damage, and illustrations of plate boundaries located. The interpretation of these visual models is the central focus of this activity along with the simultaneous interpretation of scientific text.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: The content of the text and visuals relates to the interactions that have shaped the earth’s surface (Disciplinary Core Idea). The interpretation of these visual models connects three dimensional learning within this activity along with the interpretation of scientific text (Crosscutting Concepts). This activity reviews the process of annotation with discussions and visual text representations to obtain evidence that shows students the relationship of subduction to formation of tsunamis. The article provides information which students can use to construct a scientific explanation about the relationship between earthquakes, subduction zones, and the formation of tsunamis. By communicating information through discussions, connections emerge that demonstrate an understanding of the concepts about plate tectonics, etc. (Science and Engineering Practice).

  • Instructional Supports: This activity engages students in an “Active Reading” strategy. Students are provided with a relevant phenomena, “How do earthquakes cause Tsunamis?” Students are engaged in three- dimensional learning in order to make sense of why earthquakes happen in Japan. Students are presented with scientifically accurate and grade-appropriate scientific information and phenomena as they also learn to study visuals and read text. Students have multiple opportunities through discussion and small group/ pair work to express, clarify, justify, and interpret their ideas and respond to peer and teacher feedback. Boxes within the activity are included as tips for supporting English Language Learners.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: Students use models (photographs, maps and illustrations) along with visual text to make sense of the phenomena. Reading the article can reinforce concepts about tectonic plate movement and help students see the impact that geologic activity has on Earth’s surface as well as on human life. The activity is in a very organized “step by step” format. It provides students the opportunity to go through the process of annotation with discussions and visual text representations as evidence. Discussion and instructional materials are there, but no formative or summative assessments are suggested. No aligned rubrics or scoring guidelines are included. The vocabulary and representations are unbiased and accessible to all students.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is no technological interactivity associated with this activity other than downloading the activity from the web.