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Write About Fossils

Students will watch a webcast and then write an essay stating what they learned about collecting and preserving fossils and how fossils can teach people about events that happened on Earth thousands or millions of years ago.

PROCESS:

  1. As a class, watch the Smithsonian Science How webcast, "Inside the Smithsonian's Fossil Prep Lab." Instruct students to take notes as they watch to record important ideas and interesting details.
  2. Divide the class into pairs or small groups. Encourage students to make a list of the most important things they learned as they share and compare their notes. 
  3. Using their notes as a guideline, instruct partners or groups to write a brief essay about fossils. Challenge them to describe what a fossil is, explain how they are collected and preserved so people can study them and identify things people have learned from studying fossils. If you like, extend the activity by having students create their own fossil replicas.

ASSESSMENT: 

Invite students to share their essays with the class. Challenge them to identify the most important things people can learn from studying fossils. 

CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON: 

Grades 3-4:
Have students write their essays in small groups. As they do, remind them to introduce the topic clearly, develop it with facts and interesting details and summarize their positions with a strong concluding statement. 
Grades 5-6:
Have students write their essays in small groups. As they do, remind them to introduce the topic clearly, develop it with facts and concrete details and summarize their positions with a strong concluding statement. Encourage students to include at least one direct quotation from the webcast that supports their ideas about fossils.
Grades 7-8: 
Have students write their essays with a partner. Instruct them to craft an introduction that introduces the topic clearly and piques readers' interest so they want to learn more. Tell them to develop the topic with facts, details, definitions and quotations from the webcast. If necessary, encourage them to conduct additional research to learn more about the topic. Challenge students to conclude their essays with a strong statement that supports their ideas about fossils.
Grades 9-10:
Divide the class into pairs. After watching the video, have partners conduct research to learn about fossils. Challenge them to identify specific things people have learned about Earth's history after studying fossils. Then have partners write an essay that introduces the topic clearly and piques readers' interest so they want to learn more. Tell them to develop the topic with facts, details, definitions and quotations from the webcast. Challenge students to conclude their essays with a strong statement that supports their ideas about fossils.