Welcome to a series of ten lessons on planet research! This set of lessons is part of a larger unit my district is implementing all about the topics of space and books with great word choice. My grade level completes a research report or project for each of our six thematic units. This happens to be the fifth research project my students are completing this year.
I loved completing these lessons because none of my students' reports came out the same - even those who researched the same planet! The design of this unit was inquiry-based, so students chose the direction of their report. Some were interested in the history of their planet - how it got its name, who discovered it, etc. Others wanted to know if there were features similar to Earth, or why their planet had so many moons.
I've included the Planet Research Packet in this section of my lesson on each day. I refer to page numbers as I walk you through each day of this series of lessons, however I left page numbers off, in case there were pages you didn't want to use. You may notice that my student samples vary slightly from the packet I've provided for you. I made changes to the packet as I noticed things that could be made better. I hope you and your astronomers find these resources helpful as you research planets! Thank you! (See Resource File: Planet Research Packet)
Please watch the short video for an overview of this lesson. (See Resource File: Planet Research Day 10)
*Clipart in my lesson picture purchased from ScribbleGarden on Etsy
The students are excited to share their space reports and planet displays. We establish some "Space Museum" guidelines together.
Visitor/Viewer Expectations: I ask the class what it looks like and sounds like when we visit museums. We establish that a museum is not a quiet or a noisy place. Visitors are actively engaged and interested in the exhibits. They ask questions, listen to answers, and have a discussion about the exhibits they're viewing. The students also say that visitors should be complimentary of the presenters, offering kind words, and pointing out the favorite parts of their reports and displays. We read through our "Engage in Discussion" standards poster to further help us understand expectations. (See Resource File: Engage in Discussion Poster CCSS SL3.1)
Presenter: I ask the students what the person who is presenting, or the host or hostess of a museum is doing when people are visiting their displays. The students say that they should stay on topic and give information about their planet. They should stay by their display and report, so that visitors can get information from them. We read through our "Present Information" standards poster to further help us understand expectations. (See Resource File: Present Information Poster CCSS SL3.4)
*I'm not formally assessing speaking and listening skills today. However, I do embed speaking and listening standards within the expectations for the museum today. It would be difficult to assess all students in one day, so consider making a checklist for speaking and listening standards on a clipboard that you can grab when you offer your students opportunities to interact with one another.
My students take turns browsing exhibits in the classroom. I walk around and visit exhibits, ask questions, and monitor the conversation of my astronomers. I am not formally assessing speaking and listening standards today, but I am making sure all of my astronomers are participating and being respectful. Half of the class browses for about five minutes, then I switch to have the other half browse.
I also use this time to snap a quick photo of my astronomers with their reports and displays. I will send home a copy of the picture with their Planet Research Packet and final report. I've included a few of my astronomers with their reports and projects for you to view. (See Resource Files: Student Photos One through Six)
Visitors Welcome! We invited the class we team with, Mrs. Hesemann's class in to see our reports and planet displays. The students browsed through our museum, listened to reports, and asked our planet experts questions. My astronomers loved showing off their hard work and sharing their expert knowledge about their planets. (See Resource Files: Planet Museum One through Four Photos)
*You may notice that I chose not to assess the students planet displays they created at home. I always check work that is done at home, but rarely grade it, if ever. Some students are lucky to have lots of support, others not so much. I assess students success with the standards with work they complete at school, so I know that it is their abilities that earned the assessment or grade.
I like to celebrate the end of larger projects like this with some kind of treat. Sometimes it's something small like a new pencil, eraser, or bookmark. One idea is to ask your families to send in treats. Another idea is a certificate of a job well done, filled out with metallic marker. Celebrating accomplishments makes students feel successful and gives them a positive approach to the next mission! (See Resource Files: Cosmically Cool Treats and Planet Research Award Certificate)
I hope you have found these space-themed lessons and resources helpful. Thank you!
This is mission control, signing out!
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful if you're working on a space-themed unit.
Do We Wish Upon a Shooting Star, or Falling Rock?: This document is an informational passage that includes multiple choice questions. My students need practice with these types of questions, including those with multiple answers, questions with Part A and Part B, and fill in the blank. I teach in Illinois, and our students will be taking the PARCC Assessment beginning next year. I hope these types of tasks will help prepare my students for these tests, as well as our end-of-unit assessments, and overall mastery of the standards. The focus of this assignment are standards RI3.1, RI3.4, and RI3.7. (See Resource File: Shooting Star, or Falling Rock MC Practice)