To Our Solar System and Beyond
1. This is an entire unit that will take approximately 3 - 4 weeks. Use common curriculum to build this unit and set up individual lessons within the unit. You can also collaborate on it with other teachers within common curriculum.
2. Start saving useful links, info, and resources for this unit by creating your own task library using Thinglink. Click here for a solar system task library for teachers. Set up a task library for students using Thinglink as well. Include helpful resources in the task library for students to explore before they begin collecting their own information. (resource suggestions are included in this app flow)
3. Create an account with Newsela. Newsela provides non-fiction articles about current events at a variety of reading levels allowing you to differentiate for your students. It assesses student understanding of the article through quizzes based on Common Core standards. You can assign articles for students within Newsela that relate to the solar system.
Begin by asking students:
Have you ever played Angry Birds?
Have you ever played Angry Birds in Space?
What do you already know about space that will help you predict the challenges you will face when playing Angry Birds in Space?
1. Create a KWL using Popplet and record what students already know and can predict about the game.
2. Let students play Angry Birds in Space. (There is an atmosphere, a gravitational pull)
3. On the KWL popplet, fill in what students learned after playing Angry Birds in Space or questions they have about things that happened during the game. What scientific principles about space changed the game?
3 Direct Instruction
Teach students how to conduct online research, find credible sources from which to gather research, and give credit to those sources. Common Sense Media offers some helpful resources for teaching these online strategies.
Click here for 'The Key to Key Words (3 - 5)'
Click here for 'Whose Is It, Anyway? (3 - 5)'
Click here for 'How to Cite a Site (3 - 5)'
Click here for a digital resource to accompany 'How to Cite a Site' created using Narrable.
What do the predictable patterns between the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky tell us about the solar system?
Students need to create a task library using thinglink to collect research, articles, and pictures about the solar system that will answer the essential question. With thinglink, students can organize their information by linking different resources within a picture of the topic. Click here for an example. Show students how they can link specific research from these sites to the thinglink task library, as well as type notes on thinglink about what they have learned.
Note: Students can also collaborate on a thinglink task library by changing the settings to 'anyone can edit,' and changing the image visibility to 'unlisted.' Then share it with all group members. (Once the task library is complete, you may want to change the setting back to 'public' and take away the ability for others to edit.)
4 Guided Practice
With guided instruction based on the lessons given during direct instruction, students can begin their research on the essential question using these resources: NASA's Space Place, Galaxy Zoo, Google Sky, NASA: Solar System Exploration, Journey North, Sky Safari, and NASA Kids' Club.
5 Independent Practice
Students continue to research and collect information for their solar system task library independently.
Students read articles at their reading level about the solar system, which have been assigned to them using Newsela (in the pre-planning stage).
Extension: Have students download the article from Newsela, and import it into skitch where they can highlight important information and take notes. Click here for an example. (Note: If you are using the free version of skitch, students will need to re-save the article as a .png file and import it into skitch. To do this, click file--duplicate--file--save or save as--change pdf to .png.)
Students can also collect more information and images to save to their thinglink task library with PBS LearningMedia, Discovery Education, DIY Sun Science, and Britannica Kids: Solar System.
6 Interim Assessment
To show their synthesis of the learning in their task library, the class will collaboratively create an ABC book of predictable patterns involving the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky. Each individual or small group will be responsible for creating a page about the solar system that begins with a different letter in the alphabet.
21st cenutry tool suggestions for creating an ABC book about the solar system:
- Book Creator
- Explain Everything
- Adobe Voice
7 Wrap-up: Summative Project
Students analyze predictable patterns involving the Earth, moon, sun, and other observable objects in the sky to create a product that creatively incorporates scientific explanations about the solar system. The product will display a problem that will predict what would happen to the seasons of Earth or other patterns in the solar system if a part is missing.
- Write a fable about why there are seasons on Earth incorporating real scienctific explanations in the problem and solution
- Create a game (such as Angry Birds in Space) that incorporates real scientifc principles
- Write a play with a problem and solution that incorporates real scientific explanations about the solar system
- Movie trailer for The Core: The core of the Earth has stopped spinning, and the government is trying to get it restarted. You are a government official that must warn people of the dangers they face using the emergency broadcast system.
- Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs trailer: Flint was an inventor that discovered how to convert water into food in the movie Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Create your own movie trailer about an inventor who used the phases of the moon in an invention that created a problem in the solar system.
Deep Impact/Armageddon (I recommend editing these movie trailers using weavly.com before sharing with students): You are a scientst that has just discovered an asteroid that is headed straight for Earth. You must create a presentation for the President of the United States describing the size of the asteroid, where it will hit the Earth, and what kind of damage it will cause. You must convince the President to take action that will stop the asteroid from hitting Earth and save mankind.
Students identify the best 21st century tool to create and present their project.
- Flip Boom animation
- Book Creator
- Adobe Voice
Key Standards Supported
Reading Informational Text
Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text.
Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event or topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.
Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.
Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.
Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.
Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.
By the end of year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
Conduct short research projects that build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
Recall relevant information from experiences or gather relevant information from print and digital sources; take notes and categorize information, and provide a list of sources.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Apply grade 4 Reading standards to literature (e.g., “Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text [e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions].”).
Apply grade 4 Reading standards to informational texts (e.g., “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text”).
Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
Provide reasons that are supported by facts and details.
Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases (e.g., for instance, in order to, in addition).
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
Introduce a topic clearly and group related information in paragraphs and sections; include formatting (e.g., headings), illustrations, and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
Develop the topic with facts, definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples related to the topic.
Link ideas within categories of information using words and phrases (e.g., another, for example, also, because).
d.Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
Provide a concluding statement or section related to the information or explanation presented.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
Orient the reader by establishing a situation and introducing a narrator and/or characters; organize an event sequence that unfolds naturally.
Use dialogue and description to develop experiences and events or show the responses of characters to situations.
Use a variety of transitional words and phrases to manage the sequence of events.
Use concrete words and phrases and sensory details to convey experiences and events precisely.
Provide a conclusion that follows from the narrated experiences or events.
Key Standards Supported
Earth’s Place in the Universe
Support an argument that differences in the apparent brightness of the sun compared to other stars is due to their relative distances from Earth.
Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.
Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons.
Develop and use a model to describe the role of gravity in the motions within galaxies and the solar system.