Integrate > Workshops and Webinars > Teaching the Methods of Geoscience > Activity Collection > Interpreting the Geologic History of Canyon de Chelly

Interpreting the Geologic History of Canyon de Chelly

This page is authored by Holly S. Godsey, University of Utah.
University of Utah, Geology & Geophysics
Author Profile

This activity was selected for the On the Cutting Edge Reviewed Teaching Collection

This activity has received positive reviews in a peer review process involving five review categories. The five categories included in the process are

  • Scientific Accuracy
  • Alignment of Learning Goals, Activities, and Assessments
  • Pedagogic Effectiveness
  • Robustness (usability and dependability of all components)
  • Completeness of the ActivitySheet web page

For more information about the peer review process itself, please see http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/review.html.


This page first made public: May 11, 2012

Summary

This is a two-part lesson designed to give secondary Earth Science teachers an opportunity to experience what it is like to be a field geologist. Teachers will combine field observations with information given in the lesson to interpret the geologic history of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. Part one of the lesson occurs in the classroom with an overview of the regional geology and a review of some basic geologic concepts. Part two occurs in the field where teachers make observations about rock type, unconformities, structures, and erosion. The lesson concludes with a discussion about interpretation of data and multiple hypotheses.

Learning Goals

Concepts and Content: Concepts covered in this activity include rock classification, depositional environments, weathering and erosion, plate tectonics, geologic time, unconformities, and the scientific method.

Higher-order Thinking Skills: Students will integrate several different geologic concepts with their observations to interpret the geologic history of the area. Students will think critically about multiple hypotheses and determine if they make sense given the available data.

Other goal: To give teachers and students an opportunity to experience doing geologic field work and using the scientific method as it applies to the geosciences.

Methods of Geoscience

  • Making detailed observations in the field.
  • Development of hypotheses based on observations.
  • Comparison of data and hypotheses to present knowledge base.

Context for Use

This lesson is designed as a professional development activity for secondary Earth science teachers. The lesson can be modified for use in secondary classrooms as a lab or capstone activity. Modifications include using any area where two or more strata crop out or even using pre-collected rocks, maps, and photos for a classroom-only exercise.

Description and Teaching Materials

This is a two-part lesson designed to give secondary Earth Science teachers an opportunity to experience what it is like to be a field geologist. Teachers will combine field observations with information given in the lesson to interpret the geologic history of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. Part one of the lesson occurs in the classroom with an overview of the regional geology and a review of some basic geologic concepts. Part two occurs in the field where teachers make observations about rock type, unconformities, structures, and erosion. The lesson concludes with a discussion about interpretation of data and multiple hypotheses.

Teaching Notes and Tips

If it's really hot, you can do parts 3-5 back in the classroom.

Assessment

Use the written hypothesis statements to evaluate if students are grasping main concepts.

References and Resources