Weathering and Erosion: A Comprehension Instructional Sequence (CIS)

Wendy Shelden; ( Creator), CPALMS ( Contributor)
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Rubric , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Assessment Item
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 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 reading guidance. Students are encouraged to use the text context as a means of defining the words appropriate to the earth science erosion topic. As they listen to the selection, students learn to mark the text using terms that describe weathering, erosion and the impact they have on humans. This technique allows students to make inferences about the text, Students then take part in directed note-taking as a focus for their next re- reading and as evidence for a prepared guided question. Students may work independently or in groups, with scaffolding provided for small groups of students when needed. Students then write a response to the erosion guiding question provided. The text is re-read, students generate their own questions, based on the re-reading and note taking. A final written response is also included, which can be used as a summative assessment. Students complete the final written response after students have discussed answers to the guided question. The lesson includes an assessment rubric, student worksheet, and can be used in conjunction with "Beach Erosion- An Engineering Design Challenge", also collected by CPALMS. While the lesson might appear to be more English/ Language Arts weighted, it guides students to develop skills necessary for deciphering and making metacognitive inferences about informational text.

Intended Audience

Educational Level
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 4
Access Restrictions

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

Performance Expectations

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

Clarification Statement: Examples of variables to test could include angle of slope in the downhill movement of water, amount of vegetation, speed of wind, relative rate of deposition, cycles of freezing and thawing of water, cycles of heating and cooling, and volume of water flow.

Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to a single form of weathering or erosion.

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

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Teacher could include photos/videos/simulations of types of weathering and erosion, ( Ex. fly-by video of Grand Canyon), having students discuss first impressions of the images. Teacher could note whether students used terms weathering and erosion before being asked to detail impact of erosion on their lives.

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
Students could enhance their emerging skills of deciphering informational text by orally reviewing the concepts learned with younger students. They could present information through the use of a power point, poster, or slideshow presentation.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

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

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students could create a class web, with terms weathering and erosion at the center. They could link those terms with photos, illustrations of the forces that cause them.

Crosscutting Concepts

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

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Students may feel that cause and effect actions happen quickly. They may add terms slowly and quickly to their class web, color coding which forces take the most time.

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: Students are not observing real examples of weathering and erosion. They may also use the hands-on "Beach Erosion" activity to supplement this reading/writing activity. However, the lesson provides students with practice in developing informational text reading skills, as well as a basis for future earth science study. Teachers should be careful not to use this resource as the one weathering and erosion lesson. This lesson can be used in conjunction with hands-on lessons ( such as the Beach Erosion lesson mentioned above) in order to provide students with an opportunity to create their own explanations for earth changes.

  • Instructional Supports: Teachers are provided with a systematic approach to the task of teaching informational text reading. This type of scaffolding allows the teacher to guide students as they read, write, and think about weathering and erosion and their impact on humans.

  • Monitoring Student Progress: The Final Written Response may be used as a Summative assessment, since the CIS Final Written Response rubric is attached. Teacher may also rate the student worksheets - "Writing in Response to Reading Question", Directed Note-Taking, and Question Generation worksheet. While students may work in pairs/groups/with scaffolding to complete these items, they could individually respond to the questions/comments as a type of formative assessment.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: - none -