MS-LS4-1 Analyze and interpret data for patterns in the fossil record that document the existence, diversity, extinction, and change of life forms throughout the history of life on Earth under the assumption that natural laws operate today as in the past.
Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on finding patterns of changes in the level of complexity of anatomical structures in organisms and the chronological order of fossil appearance in the rock layers.
Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the names of individual species or geological eras in the fossil record.
This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.
Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
Students are asked to analyze and interpret data for patterns in the evidence about a fossil tooth and whether it came from a shark or mountain lion. Only one species is examined, so the idea of diversity and a change of life forms in the performance expectation is not addressed. Students may, however, connect the tooth to a prehistoric shark or mountain lion and identify the changes that happened from the older species to the one that is alive today. Then the idea of a change of life forms would be included in the activity. Since students are to construct a scientific claim backed by evidence, it is assumed that natural laws operate today as in the past. Three dimensional learning would take place with this activity as written. It would help if students had a recording sheet for each claim so that they could write down their initial ideas as well as any changes that occur during the class discussion.