The Moving Moon

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SWBAT determine a pattern in the movement of the moon.

Big Idea

Explore the pattern of the moon in the sky by reading, making observations, and applying this new knowledge to an activity.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard Connection

This is an amazing lesson connecting to 1-ESS1-1 and it really brings earth science to life in the classroom. Students learn about the pattern of the moon by reading a short text, which is one way I life to expose my students to new information. They are really just learning to read, and I am allowing them to learn by reading, so this is really a rigorous task. In the text the class learns about how the moon moves across the sky, and in the video the class observes how the moon moves across the sky every night in a similar way or pattern.

Lesson Overview

Students read a text and then make observations by watching a video of the moon moving across the sky. They also make the observation of how it moves across the sky from east to west. These notes are recorded in the science journal. Toward the end of the lesson the students apply their new knowledge by creating an informative poster answering the question: What is the pattern of the moon? The pattern is that it moves across the sky from east to west.

Two things I keep consistent in my lessons are transitions and collaborative partner which I call peanut butter jelly partners. Both of these classroom management strategies help my students persevere through complex tasks. Peanut butter jelly partners are collaborative partners of a different ability. The partners stay the same throughout the lesson even when we transition. The students even have assigned seats. In addition, first graders need frequent transitions to help them persevere through lengthy and complex lessons. I like to begin each lesson in the lounge, and then we move to the center of the room for the explore, explain, and elaborate section. Finally, I close most of my lessons back in the lounge or carpet area.



10 minutes

As the lesson begins I try to engage my class in an activity to help them connect today's learning to previous learning, assess their prior knowledge, and tell them my expectations for the lesson. To connect today's lesson to previous lessons I say, "Please tell your peanut butter jelly partner everything you remember or know about the moon." Then I listen to assess their prior knowledge, and if I notice a certain child really knows a great deal about the moon I say, "Please share your knowledge about the moon." It is a very motivating and exciting time for students when they can share something they know with the class. Another thing that is great about students sharing aloud is that students really appreciate learning from their peers. I anticipate the students to say, "The moon is rock on the outside, and it is seen at night." We actually read a little bit about the moon in the first lesson in this unit, but it's been a few weeks since we talked about the moon.

After the students share their current knowledge, I share the plan for the lesson. In addition I connect todays lesson to previous lessons, because I want to develop the habit of reflecting upon prior learning in my students. So, I say, "We have been studying patterns related to the sun, and now we are going to learn about a pattern connected to the moon."


25 minutes

In this section I try to expose my students to new information, and I read the second paragraph. By reading to my students I am taking out any decoding frustration they may have. First I ask them to consider the questions: Do you notice any pattern in the movement of the moon? Then, I do read the text to them three times. One the third reading I ask, "Go ahead and highlight any evidence that support the answer to the question. Think about when the moon is seen." Giving hints is sometimes helpful in scaffolding tasks for young students. I try to remember this is one of my students first experiences really focusing on learning from reading, opposed to learning to read.

Next, I remind the class of the question: What pattern do you see in the moon? Then we watch this video. I replay it several times to help my students see the pattern, and then they illustrate the pattern in their science journal. This is my way of helping the students learn to record their observations.


10 minutes

Now we try to engage the class in some scientific discourse to help them to learn how to communicate. Basically, I want my students to learn how to collaborate and build upon the ideas of their peers.  First, I engage the class by asking them to talk to their partner, share across the table, and tell the class their ideas.

I say, "Please turn and tell your partner the pattern of the moon." Then I listen and walk around to hear the students conversations. Next, I say, "Please tell the group across the table what pattern you notice?" Again, I walk around and listen. If I see a table not discussing the question I say, "What did you observe? Did you write down the pattern you saw?" Now, if they somehow did not get any notes in the previous section I reread the first sentence, and restate the question. I say, "What direction does the moon move?" Then I listen. Sometimes students just do not understand what I am asking. 

Finally, we engage in a whole class discussion. I ask, "Will a volunteer please tell the class what pattern they observed?" Then I listen and ask, "Will anyone add to that?" Now, I listen again. Since we are in January now I am going to begin trying to get my students to concentrate on some text or video evidence. So, I ask, "Where did you find that?" I anticipate somebody says, "It is in the second sentence or the video shows the movement."


10 minutes

A this point I try to engage the class in an application activity where they can use their new knowledge. This is what I find really helps my students remember that the moon moves across the sky from east to west. To allow the class to practice some writing as well I allow them to create a poster showing their knowledge of the pattern of the moon. I have an image of student work and a video: student work. I do set some criteria. The title needs to be, The Moon's Patterns. There should be one illustration showing the moon moving across the sky. The students need choices, and I allow them to use any color poster paper. They can write on paper and glue it to the poster, use crayons, markers, or anything they choose to write. Choices are great to motivate the class.


10 minutes

Now, we transition to the last portion of the lesson which is my students' favorite section. The students get to present their poster about the pattern of the moon. We have a chart I tape to my white board by the lounge and it documents who has presented. So, it is a rotating schedule, and each child gets the same number of opportunities to present their work. But, every child wants to present sometimes, so I allow them to do it during snack or recess. 

After each child presents I ask the students who are listening to give them feedback. This can be in the form of a question. It can be them agreeing or disagreeing with their peer, and then I ask them to use evidence from the text we read to support their thoughts. Yes, this does take some prompting. I first say, "So, do you agree or disagree with what your peer said?" and I listen. Then I add, "Can you use evidence from your work, the text, or the video to support your reasoning?" Then I listen.

One particular strategy I like to use in the beginning of this section that helps things flow well is called positive behavior support. I specifically tell the students my behavioral expectations. 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."

Last, I assess the class, and I look for three things. The poster needs to show the pattern for the moon, students need to speak clearly, and they need to give their peers feedback. Then I use a spreadsheet that has the students names on the left and the columns named across the top. The goal for each student is 3/3. I use this formative assessment to plan future lessons.