Where is Water Found on Earth : Better Lesson

BetterLesson Review for Teachers
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Lesson/Lesson Plan , Curriculum
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.



This 5E lesson is the first of ten lessons that culminate with creating  physical models of landforms. In this lesson, the students engage in technology as text and media and “jigsaw” their expertise about glaciers, rivers and oceans. Last, students  present and then make a chart comparing their bodies of water. The materials include powerpoints, charts, a letter home, and examples of student work.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 2
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

2-ESS2-3 Obtain information to identify where water is found on Earth and that it can be solid or liquid.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
This lesson is the introduction to a ten lesson unit that builds toward the specified Performance Expectation. In this lesson, the Disciplinary Core Idea is addressed as an introduction to the Unit, and the practice and the Crosscutting Concept are explicitly supported as well. Suggestions for improvement include making connections to the kinds of water found in the community where the students reside, and engaging in community walks to provide real world connections. Another suggestion would be to spend more time eliciting students’ background knowledge before the lesson begins which could serve as not only an informal assessment but an opportunity to share intellectual resources and experiences contained in the classroom.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
This practice: obtaining, evaluating and communicating information, is fully met in this lesson, and this lesson builds and extends the practice toward addressing the modeling practice, deepening the engagement of obtaining, evaluating and communicating information, in the lessons that follow. The lesson would be strengthened if there were an opportunity for students to compare their own understandings with one another using a prompt such as “Is all water on earth liquid? Why or why not?” In this way, the students would have the opportunity to evaluate the information that they put together for communicating science ideas. In addition, the teacher could ask students questions as they engage in the resources to address criteria such as “Is there evidence here?” “What is the evidence?” and, “Does the evidence support the information provided?”

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
The lesson addresses the full disciplinary core idea. The teacher could support comprehension by asking questions that press for mechanistic reasoning. For example, “Why do you think water is on earth as a liquid and as a solid?” “Where do you find most of the solid water? Why do you think that is the case?” How are the different bodies of water the same, and how are they different?” When students are discussing the question, ask them which resources they used to support this thinking and if they have other evidence from their past experiences.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
The lesson culminates with students interacting with a chart holding all of the gathered information. The teacher could be explicit about the Crosscutting Concept by prompting for “patterns” thinking. She/he could ask questions like, “What is a pattern?” What is a pattern that we see in the chart?” “Do others agree the idea is indeed about a pattern? Why?” As a class, it might be fruitful to work on a class-made definition of a pattern which can be routinely inspected and revised.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This lesson is engaging and uses the 5E model to move students through a gradually deepening understanding of the performance expectation. Second grade students will be interested in the initial video clip of the planet and its water processes, and respond to the 2nd grade level driving question: “Why do we call this a blue planet?” Water distribution on the planet is an authentic issue that students encounter every day and the lesson builds on prior knowledge. Finally, the use of jigsaw and interesting texts and media foster interest. Though the process of figuring out is in the lesson, students engage in all three dimensions. They use the core idea to figure out the phenomenon by engaging in the practice of communicating information and applying the lens of patterns of types of bodies of water across the globe.

  • Instructional Supports: Teachers may have trouble supporting students who read below grade level using the lesson as written. They may have to supplement the materials with online resources that include narration, simple-to-decipher texts, or texts with pictures or languages other than English. Ongoing opportunity for informal assessment is embedded with the lesson. Through the prompts, the teacher supports eliciting ideas of patterns through the explicit questioning prompts. In addition, the use of text, photos, and teacher questions and collaborative discourse activity supports the teacher releasing responsibility to the students as the lesson (and the lesson sequence) unfolds. The narration of the author to the practitioner, explaining her modifications to the lesson, are welcome and support the instruction.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: There are opportunities for formative assessment in the lesson, but they are not spelled out. Teachers could have students return to their notebooks at the end of the lesson to respond to a prompt from the group discussion, or they could have an exit slip that asks them to describe two patterns they see in the student created “Bodies of Water” chart.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: There is the possibility of technology interaction in this lesson when the students are using their ipads to learn information about water, but the writer stated that this is not necessary to complete the lesson, or to meet the Performance Expectation. There are photos linked to the plan, and other resources that work well. Other than these links there are no interactions with technology.