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Choosing Research Topics: Plate Tectonics

Main Core Tie

Secondary Library Media (6-12)
Strand 2: Standard 1:

Time Frame

2 class periods of 45 minutes each

Group Size

Large Groups

Life Skills

Thinking & Reasoning


Christina Bates


Students will read from selected materials about earthquakes, volcanoes, continental features, ocean floor features, rocks and/or fossils, and develop a question to investigate.



  • Newsla: Non-fiction Literacy and Current Events
    Current news articles available in text sets in various Lexile® levels.
  • Utah's Online Library
    Utah's Online Library is a collection of electronic resources. It provides statewide access to newspaper articles, magazines, professional journals, encyclopedias, video, photographs, maps, charts, and graphics.

School Library Catalog to pull appropriate library resources

Background for Teachers



  • Utah's Online Library
    Teachers will look at specific sources on earthquakes, volcanoes, continental drift, ocean floor rifts, fossil evidence and rock evidence.

Teachers should review the listed Curriculum Ties for the Library Media Strand, the Science Strand, and the attached list of articles from Gale Research in Context using Utah's Online Library.

Student Prior Knowledge

Students will come prepared with background knowledge on plate tectonics and the structure of the Earth.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Read about the optional topics, choose a topic of interest, and develop a research question to investigate.

Instructional Procedures


1. Introduction: Review Plate Tectonics and introduce six topics:

  • Volcanoes
  • Earthquakes
  • Continental features
  • Ocean floor features
  • Rocks
  • Fossils
2. Students select a reading on one of the six topics.

3. Instruction on research process:

  • Citation
  • Read article
  • Summarize
  • Own ideas and questions
4. Students select another reading and cite and take notes on their own.

5. Wrap Up


1. Instruction:

Each student is to select one or more additional readings to cite and take notes. Review process as needed from work turned in from the previous session.

2. Students work on their own.

3. Developing research questions: Have students review the questions they formulated as they read to find a question they would like to research.

4. Wrap Up

Strategies for Diverse Learners

Selected materials on every topic will be available on many Lexile® levels and in different formats. Students will choose the topic and sources for their personal research.


Students with more interest or deeper research questions can access additional materials on their topics.

Assessment Plan

Students will turn in their note pages on the topic of interest and the research question that they developed.


Reviewed for USBE by Sarah Herron

Created: 09/08/2016
Updated: 02/05/2018