Today I had the chance to teach a lesson about classifying rocks and minerals in the grade 8 class I’ve been placed in for my ECS 300 field placement. This was an amazing experience! I thought classifying rocks could be kind of boring but the way the students reacted was the exact opposite. I began by holding up one rock after another over a tank of water asking the students, “Will this sink or float?”. Sure enough every rock sunk to the bottom, they thought I was dense just to ask a silly question like that. Eventually I reached my pumice rock, dropped it in, and would you believe it floated!
After this the students were hooked. Not telling them why this happened but instead that some rocks have different propertiesI put them into groups and had them organize the 11 samples I had brought. I told them they could organize them anyway they wanted as long as they could explain why they did it that way. This worked out amazing, some groups went by colour, others by size, others used ‘prettiest to ugliest’.
This lead into a discussion about how rocks actually are classified with the students having already discovered properties such as colour and lustre (I was ecstatic). I also introduced hardness, streak, and cleavage/fracture and had the students examine these properties together as a group. Finally I had the students re-organize their collection based on what we had discovered about rock and mineral properties (SUCCESS!). Below is the lesson plan I made for this class. It would of been nice to have more time in order to cover some topics more in depth however the inquiry based approach I took was very effective in grabbing the students interest and encouraging them to explore on their own.