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SWBAT describe patterns in the length of day and dark during the fall.

Big Idea

Students learn how patterns in the earth rotation during fall can be observed, described, and predicted.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This lesson connects to 1-ESS1-1 and 1-ESS1-2. As far as 1-ESS!-1 goes the students are going to read, make observations, and illustrate the model they see in the rotational pattern of the earth during the fall. But, we also connect to 1-ESS1-2, because the the students learn about how the length of daylight changes in the fall.

In previous lessons the students learned about the amount of daylight and dark which is caused by the earths rotation and amount of sunlight. I also introduced new vocabulary like orbit, tilt, North Pole, South, Pole, and orbit. Really, I just explain the words as I am showing my students the pictures and the model. In addition, we have studied the seasons as far as what they look and feel like.With all this prior knowledge and the vocabulary being explained throughout we are ready to dig deeper into our understanding of the relationship between the earth and the sun. 

Now, I was not real comfortable teaching this unit until I watched this video. After watching the video I decided I need to teach each season and show them a real model in my class of how the earth looks when it is fall. So, we actually create a model using a globe and a flashlight as the sun. Its quite engaging, and students really need to be able to see things in order to learn them. I know we could watch a video, but I really think seeing the model helps students understand the pattern.

Lesson Overview

Almost all of my lessons include the same transitions, because I find that first graders need consistency. They also tend to persevere through complex tasks better when they know what to expect. It seems like they already know about how long they will have to sit still until they get to move again. 

So, I begin in the lounge with the engage section, and we travel to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section. Finally, the lesson ends back in the lounge where the students evaluate and critique the ideas of their peers.



10 minutes

When the lesson begins I try to excite my students even though it doesn't take much to excite first graders. So, I project the lesson image on the smart board, and I ask, "Will you please tell your peanut butter and jelly partner what season you think is on the board?" So, I listen to asses their prior knowledge. The previous lesson involved describing each season, so I really hope my students remember what fall looks like. I expect each child to say, "Oh this is fall for sure, because the leaves are all colorful." But, whatever they say, I allow at least one or two student to share their thoughts and to justify why they think it is fall. Now, I know what my students remember I can predict how much extra support and explanation they are going to need throughout the lesson.

Moving on, students seem to really follow instructions better and complete the tasks more willingly when they know what is expected. So, I say, "Today we are going to learn about fall and how the sun shines on the earth during fall. You are going to read, take notes, and create an illustration in your science journal. My plan is for you to discover that there is a pattern in the way the earth orbits the sun, and it creates the season, fall, which is the same every year."


10 minutes

During this section I read Text 1 and Text 2, three times to my class. This helps the students learn the content. When I finish reading they take notes in their science journal that help them understand fall. There are two big things I want my students to see. First, I want them to notice that seasons happen every year and the are a result of the pattern created when the earth tilts as it orbits the sun.

Now this is not as simple as it seems, after reading text 1 I prompt the students with a question to help them identify the important information and really collect notes that help them understand there is a pattern created by the earth orbiting the sun. I say, "What changes does fall bring?" If the students struggle, I reread the text to them.

Finding the evidence to answer my question is a very challenging task for many young learners, so scaffolding is necessary. Even if they still are confused after I reread the text I reread the specific sentences that have the answers in them. The answers I am looking for are that fall brings a change in the leaves, the air gets cooler, and the amount of daylight is shorter. 

After my students have some notes I ask them to listen to me read the text 2 three times. I then ask the students to look at the diagram at the top of the page. I ask them to just notice how the earth is orbiting the sun and how it changes the tilt to cause fall. Many first graders do not know what tilt means so I say, "The tilt is the shift in the earth. Then I show them how it tilts on my globe. I also explain the North and South Pole create an axis that the earth spins around." I am very clear to explain that this pattern happens every year, because I want my students to see that one orbit is a year. So, they understand that the four seasons occur every year and are dependent on the relationship between the sun and the earth. You may find my video: explanation helpful, because it shows me explaining the orbit and tilt to the class.


10 minutes

At this time I want to check to see that all of my students understand that with fall comes shorter day, and the earth is moving at a different angle. So, I engage the students in some discourse to see what they understand, and to get them to think about fall. I say, "Talk to your partner about what you recorded about fall." After I listen to assess what they know I say, "Now, add or change anything." As the students read each other their notes they are learning from engaging in a conversation with their peers.

After they compare notes with their partner, I say, "Now share your notes with the group across the table from you." This is another great opportunity to get students to see if there is something they missed or to really evaluate what they learned from the text.

Last I engage the entire class in a whole group discussion by saying, "Will a volunteer share their notes about fall with the class." After somebody shares I say, "Will somebody else add to that?" By encouraging students to build upon what their peers say I am getting them to really learn to collaborate. When students can build upon the ideas of others they seem to develop more complex designs, and they develop a better understanding.


15 minutes

So, during this section I create a model and allow my students to illustrate the model in their science journal. I already explained and labeled the North and South Pole, but that needs to be done to help the students create their illustration. As the students are illustrating I walk around and make sure their illustration is accurate. 

I remind the students to label the poles, the sun, earth, and our location. This shows me that they really understand the pattern and that fall occurs every year. In addition, I think the students really need this application activity to fully develop their understanding, but it also helps me understand how much they know about the pattern in fall.


10 minutes

This is the last section of the lesson and my students favorite part, because they get to present their work. I select two or three students and they explain their illustration to the class. They also are required to evaluate the work of their peers which can really engage them in a higher order thinking activity as they decide whether their peers are right or wrong. Another thing I like to do here is to ask the students to add to what the presenter says. This is just another way of teaching students to build upon the ideas of their peers. 

Now, I use positive behavior support to encourage my students to do what I want, so I don't have to constantly correct unwanted behavior. So, we chant, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." Then I say, "Remember to keep your eyes on the speaker, and think about what they are saying."

When it comes to assess in the students I use a rubric with four columns. One column has their name, but there are four others. One is for speaking loud, clear, and communicating effectively. Another is for correctly illustrating the amount of daylight that is on earth during the fall. The last column is for providing correct and appropriate academic feedback to their peers. I put a check or a one in the column if the students do it, and then I record their score out beside their name.