I need your expertise…

Throughout my student teaching I found that some of the best lessons I implemented were ones that I shared and requested feedback on from other science teachers. Involving other science teachers allowed me to gain insight from what they have done. It allowed us to share ideas and material, as well as refine instructional strategies. By the end, the finished lesson proved to be much better than the original.

So I thought, why not try this out with my cohort. I don’t have an exact lesson planned, but I have an idea that I would love some feedback on.

During my 8 weeks, the students will be uncovering ideas about the water cycle and minerals. To tie the units together, I wanted to develop a lesson around the key idea that “The use and distribution of mineral resources and fossil fuels have important economic and environmental impacts. As limited resources, they must be used wisely (NYSED, n.d.).” So here is my idea:

I wanted to get articles (newspaper, some scholarly, etc.) on mineral resources in New York State. I then want to pose a scenario depending on the resource. The following is an example

Scenario: For the past 50 years a mining company has been mining Wollastonite in your neighborhood. The land that they mine is right next to a Forest Preserve. The mining company is running out of land and are looking to start mining the Forest Preserve. There is a law that protects the Forest Preserve from industrialization. The only way the mining company can move in on the property is if voters allow it. As a voter what would you vote for, or against, the company expansion onto the Forest Preserve?

To make a well informed decision you will need to:
Explain how you would identify Wollastonite.
Identify human uses for Wollastonite
Identify important economic and environmental impacts?

Some example information I would provide are found below (I would print these out):


Another idea:
I provide them with different mineral resources of New York State, and they:
Explain how to identify the mineral.
Identify human uses for the mineral
Discuss recent issues/concerns involving mineral resource

Some example information I would provide are found below ( I would print these out):




Some other things I was considering was discussing the project and having the students design the rubric with me on how they should be graded. This will help them know what is expected, as well as let them take ownership for their work.

These are just ideas I’m developing. I am open to any suggestions, tips, resources, and/or concerns.


New York State Education Department. (n.d.) Physical Setting/Earth

Science Core Curriculum.  Retrieved by



5 thoughts on “I need your expertise…”

  1. I really like your idea of having the kids work with you to create the rubric that they will be graded on. Besides the obvious point of getting the students’ input on this and empowering them in your classroom I think it creates a really clear time that you can explicitly lay out your expectations for the project, so that you know everyone is on the same time.
    I would be interested to see, if you had the time to add another component to this, if you could add another situation that is similar but in a different environment. For example, instead of encroaching on a forest preserve you could be encroaching on a urban center or a lake and see how that might affect the way they weigh their pros and cons to expansion. It might bring about an interesting conversation on what land we value and why or what resources we value over certain plots of land. Just an idea, I like the framework you have so far!!

    1. I agree with Jess, if the environment the mining company wants to encroach on was okay for them to mine in ecologically, then while there might not be a debate, it can also open up a discussion as to what land is suitable for certain activities while doing minimal damage to the land.

      They can also grade student’s work from “last year” and use those as references while they make their rubric. Have them ponder why a certain project had more information or was more clear at delivering that information.

  2. Thanks! Jess I agree with you. I want to include the urban setting as well. I have articles on manure in Lake Ontario and thought about how that could be a different scenario, as well as something with fracking.

    Eric, that is a great idea! I could give some “sample work.”

  3. I love this idea, and I love that you want to create the rubric with your learners!

    I don’t have a lot of suggestions beyond what others have said. One approach that I have used is to suggest some alternate viewpoints. The urban students may not value a forest preserve, so perhaps show them a story (real or made up) about someone who really values a natural space.

    For example, I have my students going to one station where they are to decide whether a logging company can expand into a local park. They are given these viewpoints, and must hear them all before deciding:

    Logging Company Executive: You believe that your company is managing the park sustainably, which means that you are managing the resources in the park in a way that they can be used forever. For every tree that you chop down, you plant a new one. Why not allow us to expand when we are replacing everything that we chop down?

    Park Manager: You are worried about allowing the logging company to expand, because it takes hundreds of years for trees to grow back. Because it takes so long, you do not believe that the logging company is managing the park sustainably.

    Local 8th grader: You love to play baseball in this park. If the logging company comes near the baseball field, they will have to close the field for your safety. You are against the logging company expanding. It is a public park, and you deserve to enjoy it too! Who is going to want to come there with all the trees chopped down?

    Local Restaurant Manager: Your restaurant is downstream from the park. You believe that more pollutants are ending up in the water because there are less trees in the park. The logging company pulls up the trees, leaving soil, which seeps into the river. The river looks brown and horrible, and you are losing business!

  4. Besides co-constructing the rubric, you can also have students critique each others projects. This would help them see the variety of shapes the assignment could take as well as help them apply their understanding by assessing.

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