The Sun Over My School

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SWBAT identify that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West.

Big Idea

Bring the concept of of the pattern of the sun to life at your school. Observe and document the sun moving over your sky.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

In this lesson my student are going to take pictures of the sun in the sky over our school. Then they are going to record their data and create an illustration. Based on their data they will predict what the sun will do from the time we leave school until it gets dark. We have studied the earth's orbiting the sun and the earth tilt which causes our seasons. I feel like understanding the orbit and tilt are prerequisite skills to actually understanding how and why the sun moves across our sky. I am connecting to 1-ESS1-1 as the class makes observations and predicts a pattern in the movement of the sun across the sky. 

Lesson Overview

I use collaborative partners of different abilities to help my students support each other in their work. When one students struggles the other can assist, and they can build upon each others ideas. Student work with their peanut jelly partner throughout the lesson, and they even sit together in the lounge or carpet area.

Another thing I do that helps my students persevere through very complex tasks is using transitions that remain consistent through almost all of my lessons. It helps the class know what to expect and they know about how long they are going to be working. We begin in the lounge or carpet for the engage section, move to the desks in the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate, and finally we close the lesson back in the lounge.


10 minutes

As the lesson begins I excite the class by projecting the lesson image on the smart board, and tell them we are going to observe the sun today. Then I assess their prior knowledge by asking, "Please tell your partner the pattern the sun takes across the sky." I expect the class to say it moves from east to west. We studied this in the previous lesson, and I am teaching my students to reflect upon their prior learning. After about thirty seconds, I ask them to bring their conversation to a close, and I allow several volunteers to share their conversations. Allowing the students to share their knowledge makes them feel special and proud. In addition, other students appreciate the learning more when it comes from a peer rather than if I reminded them about the sun's pattern. 

Then I share the plan for the lesson with the class, because I want them to feel at ease. When the students know what to expect they feel more comfortable with complex activities and a fast paced lesson. So, I say, "Today we are going to take the ipads, go outside, and you are going to take pictures of the sky at different times in the day in order to observe and document the pattern of the sun as it move across our sky."


10 minutes

So, this section is where we actually go outside at different times in the day to take pictures of the sky. This video: how to take a picture on the ipad might help if the class is not familiar with taking pictures. We stand in the same location and when we get back to the class the students write the them and record their observation. Now, the students have to hold the ipad in front of their belly and make sure they get the horizon or the land in the picture. By having the horizon in the picture we can see the way the sun moves, since we will have different objects the sun will be over. The objects are going to be necessary to help the students see how the sun moves. The horizon also gives us a point to show how the sun moves up or down in the sky.

I decided to take the first picture and show the class my notes in my science journal, because they are going to need to know what to do. First graders always need models. I take my picture at 7 AM and show them the picture and my observations in my science journal at about 8AM. Then I take the class outside and each group takes an ipad. When we get outside I show the students how to hold the ipad in front of their belly, get the horizon in the picture, and take the photo. I then check each pairs photo to be sure it is good. We go back to the class and they record their observations in their science journal. 

We go back outside to the same location at 10:00AM, 12:30, and 2:00 PM. These times are documented in the science notebook beside each illustration. I decided upon these times because there is enough time that the students will sees some change, and we are at  transitioning points in our day. At 8 class beings, at 10:00 we finish snack, 12:30 is right after lunch, and 2:00PM is right before we pack up. So, this section really takes one whole day to get enough data to see a pattern. This is a set of images:8 AM10 AM12:30 PM, and 2:30 PM one student took.


10 minutes

Now I try to teach the students how to communicate the pattern they see in in their illustration. I do this by first having them tell their peanut butter jelly partner what pattern they see, then they share across the table, and last the students engage in a whole group discussion. At any point during this time a student feels like they need to change their illustration or notes they can, because I am creating a culture in my class where we can learn from each other.

I ask, "Please tell your peanut butter jelly partner/ shoulder partner what pattern you see as the sun moves across the sky?" Then I listen to them talking: partner talk, and sometimes they just don't say anything. This is when I give them specific instructions by saying, "Look at your partner and tell them what your notes say. What did you observe?" If I see or know they can't read their notes, or just forgot I read their notes to them and then as the student to repeat what I said. This is a modeling strategy that really helps with students that have special needs or English language learners.

Now, I need to get the students to tell the group across the table what they observed by saying, "Tell the group opposite you what you observed?" I listen, and then I ask, "Will a volunteer please share with the entire class what you observed?" After my students talk I ask another student to add to what their peer said by saying, "Will somebody add to that?" This teaches students to build upon the ideas of their peers.


15 minutes

Now, the students are going to make a prediction about what the sun will do between 2:00 and dark. They have to reflect upon their notes from the previous lesson to make their prediction. The prediction needs to be illustrated in their science notebook. The students must also write one sentence explaining their prediction. I write on the board. "I predict the sun will _________ between 2:00 and dark." They can copy this down and add in their prediction, because many students are not able to create their own sentence at this point in December. 

I walk around and check to see that the students are creating an illustration showing the sun going down. If they are not getting it right, then I just ask them, "Are you sure that is right?" Then I refocus the students on the patterns we observed in earlier lessons about the movement of the sun.


10 minutes

Now the lesson is about over and my class is going to present their prediction and illustration in the lounge. Two or three students read their prediction and explain their illustration. To make sure everyone gets the same number of opportunities to present I use a chart. One way I accommodate students who really want to present, but it's not their turn is to allow them to do presentations during snack or recess. Sometimes I allow them to go read and present to another class, because this helps my students develop a sense of pride in their work.

A different strategy I like to use that helps make the lesson flow well is called positive behavior support. Positive behavior is when I directly tell the students what I want them to do in a fun way instead of fussing at them for not doing what I want. Then we all engage in this fun chant, "Criss cross apple sauce, pockets on the floor, hands in our laps, talking no more." Then I continue by adding, "Your eyes are on the speaker. You are listening to what they say, and you are really evaluating if they are giving you the correct information."

When I assess the class I look for three things. The students need to make an accurate prediction and have notes documenting the sun moving from the East to the West and is going down. In addition I score them on whether or not they speak in a loud enough voice that they can be understood.  The spreadsheet has the students names on the left and the columns named across the top. My goal for each student is 3/3. This is a formative assessment, and I analyze the data from the lesson to plan future lessons.