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Grade Range:

Circle of Knowledge
Lesson Plan
Ocean Currents
90+ Minutes
Shalisa Gee

Instructional Unit Content

Content Area Standard
S6E3: Students will recognize the significant role of water in earths process.
d. Explain the causes of waves, currents, and tides.
TAG Standard
Higher Order and Critical Thinking Skills
2. The student responds to questions with supporting information that reflects in-depth
knowledge with others
3. The student conducts comparisons using criteria.
The student makes and evaluates decisions using criteria
The student predicts probable consequences of decisions.
The focus of this lesson is to give students an opportunity to discuss and explain the causes
of oceans currents and how they impact different parts of the world.

Enduring Understanding(s)
At the end of this lesson the student will understand that
a. How oceans are formed
b. How ocean currents travel
c. The major ocean surface currents and deep (density ) currents
d. Currents north of the equator move clockwise and currents south of the equator
move counterclockwise
e. How ocean currents impact our climate of the world
Essential Question(s)
1. How could you travel around the world using ocean currents?
Revised April 2009

Concept(s) to Maintain
The movement of water through the crust, ocean, and atmosphere.
The interaction of atmospheric conditions and the effects of these on weather and climate
Evidence of Learning
What students should know:
a. The structure of a wave includes a crest, trough, wavelength, amplitude and
b. Waves are formed from energy being transfer through water, predominantly by wind.
c. The major ocean current types are surface currents, upwelling, and density currents.
d. Tides are created from the Moons gravitational pull on the ocean the ocean.
e. Tide direction of surface currents is influenced by the Coriolis Effect
What students should be able to do:
a. Compare and contrast the different ocean currents
b. Demonstrate the transfer of energy from wind to water
c. Describe the Gulf Streams effect on hurricanes and European winters
Suggested Vocabulary
Ocean currents
Surface current
Density current
Gulf stream
Prevailing winds
Coriolis effect
Phase 1: Sparking the Discussion (Hook)

Call for volunteers to answer the following questions: How can a bottle drop off a boat

Revised April 2009

near Georgia shore wind up near the coast of England? How are things in the ocean
transported from one place to the other? Activate prior knowledge relating to ocean
currents, ask students what do they already know about ocean currents? Have they ever
been to the beach? What have you noticed when you are playing in the water? What
have you noticed about your movement?
Phase 2: Acquiring Content Needed to Participate in Discussion
Pose the essential (focus) question: How can you travel around the world using only
currents? Students will then pick 5 words of their choice on the word list (Handout 1)
and create sentences.
3. Students will be broken in to two groups. Students who are assigned to group 1 go to the
computers and review web pages from www.windows.ucar.edu titled Thermohaline
Circulation The Global Ocean Conveyor and Surface Ocean Currents. After reading
students will complete the graphic organizer. Group 2 students who are at their desk will
read handouts titled, Global Surface Winds (Handout 2), and Great Ocean Conveyor
Belt I (Handout 3). Students will then complete a graphic organizer on ocean currents.
After 20 minutes students will rotate from the computers to the desk and vice versa
completing the graphic organizers. After completion students will pick a partner and
discuss the graphic organizer. (Handout 4 Graphic Organizer)

Phase 3: Kindling the Discussion

Students are placed into groups of four or five and each group is given a six sided die
(handout 5) along with (handout 6) with six questions: 1. Look at the directions of the
surface currents in the oceans and at the direction of the wind. What evidence do you find
that wind influences the direction of the surface currents in the oceans? 2. What pattern
can you see in the direction of the global winds? Look at global winds near the equator,
in the middle latitudes, and in the Polar Regions. 3. Notice the location and flow of
warm and cold ocean currents. Why do you suppose that currents flowing toward the
equator are warm? 4. Explain why ocean water is warmer in some parts of the world than
in others? 5. What factors result in cooling of warm ocean water? 6. When the oceans are
referred to as having a conveyor belt, what is being conveyed?
5. When a student rolls the die, whatever number he/she gets is the number question he/she
must answer to the group. Each student should receive several tries and the students will
discuss their answers.

Phase 4: Synthesis Activity


As a whole group, students will summarize the readings and the maps from the lesson.
Students will discuss the different types of currents and their uses and impacts on our

Summarizing Activity

Students will be placed into small groups. Each group will develop 3 short answer

Revised April 2009

test questions and answers for their class mates and attempt to answer them based on
the readings
Students will then complete a 3-2-1 Ticket out the door. (Handout 7)

Anchor Text(s):
Handout 1: Word List
Handout 2: Global Surface Winds
Handout 3: Great Ocean Conveyor Belt 1
Handout 4: Graphic Organizer
Handout 5: Six Sided Die
Handout 6: Die Questions Roll and answer where you land.
Handout 7: 3-2-1Ticket out the door

Revised April 2009