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Lesson Plan

Volcanoes: Mount Vesuvius by ECSDM

Course, Subject

Earth Science, Math, Science & Technology, Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects (NYS 6-12 Common Core)

Grade Levels

Commencement, 9th Grade, 10th Grade, 11th Grade, 12th Grade


Earth Science

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • Explain why plate boundaries are the sites of most volcanic activity.
  • Compare and contrast landforms that result from volcanic activity.
  • Hypothesize how predicting eruptions and emergency preparedness can reduce loss of life and loss of property.


Did you know that.......

  • More than 80 percent of the earth's surface is volcanic in origin?

  • Gaseous emissions from volcano formed the earth's atmosphere?

  • On May 18, 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in the Cascade Range of Washington State    happened after more than 100 years of dormancy (a time when the volcano was "asleep.")? When the volcano erupted, it took the lives of 58 people and caused $1.2 billion in damage.

  • There are more than 500 active volcanoes in the world? More than half of these volcanoes are part of the "Ring of Fire," a region that encircles the Pacific Ocean.

  • The rock debris carried by a lateral blast of Mount St. Helens traveled as fast as 250 miles per hour?

  • Crater Lake in Oregon formed from a high volcano that lost its top after a series of tremendous explosions about 6,600 years ago?
In this lesson, students will discover what a volcano is, the various types of volcanoes, factors affecting volcanic eruptions, volcanic material, and  volcanic landforms. Students will discover this information through a serious of activities created to meet different styles of learning content information.

Duration of Lesson

Two class periods (approximately 84 minutes)


Day One:

It should be noted that students will work in pairs for all assignments.

As an introduction activity students will research 15 active volcanoes and 10 historic volcanic eruptions. One of the historic volcanic eruptions must be Mt. Vesuvius.

Students will then print a copy of a world map using National Geographic's Xpeditions. Map Link: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/xpeditions/atlas/

Students will plot the locations of these volcanoes on the printed map. Students will then compare their Xpeditions map with the "Tectonic Plates" map located in their Earth Science Reference Tables.

Students will then work in groups to answer the following questions: What is the relationship between the locations of the volcanoes you plotted and the plate boundaries map located in the Earth Science Reference Table.

  1. Students will show their map and discuss their findings in an open forum type discussion.
  2. Students will discuss the factors that determine the type of volcanic eruptions that occur. Eruption types will include fissure, Hawaiian, Strombolian, and Vulcanian eruptions.
  3. Students will discuss and describe the various types of volcanic materials that are ejected from volcanoes.
  4. Students will discuss and list the three main types of volcanoes.

For procedures 1-4 students will use the following websites listed below:
    1. Volcano Data One
    2. Volcano Data Two
*These websites have been approved for student usage by instructor!

Day Two:

At this point have students work in pairs to make a graphic organizer in Kidspiration showing facts about factors affecting eruptions, volcanic material, types of volcanoes, and other volcanic landforms.

Students will then take a tour of Mt. Vesuvius and many surrounding cities, focusing on the City of Pompeii. The link for the tour is provided below.

Students will individually got to Volcano Explorer: Virtual Volcano and adjust the simulations in order to re-create the type of eruption that the City of Pompeii experienced based on the type of volcano Mt. Vesuvius is.

Students will then create a brochure using Microsoft Publisher that will describe the type of volcano Mt. Vesuvius is. The description must include volcano type, factors that determine that specific type of eruption, materials ejected from the volcano, and the damages caused by that eruption to the City of Pompeii.

* It should be noted that there is no specific template for the brochure, students will be encouraged to use a template provided through Microsoft Publisher.

Brochure must include pictures of the volcano type and a projected picture of what Mt. Vesuvius was suggested to look like before the eruption and how it looks today. Students may use shots from the Mt. Vesuvius live WebCam.

Mt. Vesuvius WebCam Link: http://www.vesuvioinrete.it/e_webcam.htm

Student pairs will share their brochures in a "Round Robin" style classroom setting. Reasoning and directions for teachers about cooperative learning strategies like a round robin is provided in the link below.

Instructions for Round Robin


    1. Students will be given a student-teacher created rubric to follow for their construction of the Mt. Vesuvius brochure. This rubric will be used by the teacher to evaluate and assess the groups.
      Making A Brochure Rubric.doc


  1. Students will also be assessed of their knowledge of Mt. Vesuvius and the City of Pompeii by taking an online quiz through the link provided below. Students will submit their grades for evaluation and assessment.
    Pompeii Quiz

Instructional Environment

Students with physical limitations will be aided with an in-class teaching assistant to help navigation of the Internet browser as well as creating their brochure in Microsoft Publisher.

For ELL students, pre-teach key vocabulary such as erupt, dormant, and lava by pointing directly to photos that illustrate these concepts.

Let ELL students preview the topic by looking at fascinating photos of volcanoes at http://www.livescience.com/volcanoes/. Allow them to browse the website independently, at their own pace, to pique their interest in the subject.

Technology Tools and other Materials

Technology resources:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Kidspiration
  • Microsoft Publisher
  • SMART Board

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