Patterns in the Stars

2 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT explain why stars are visible in the night and not the day.

Big Idea

Allow students to particpate in answering a scientific question by reading about and exploring the stars.

Lesson Overview

Next Generation Science Standard 

This lesson is connecting to 1-ESS1-1, because the students are making the connection that the stars are visible during the night and not during the day. The standard does not mention anything about constellations as patterns, so we are not going to go into constellations in this lesson. Text and video are the resources I am using to lead my students to discover the pattern themselves. I feel that students tend to retain more and really understand concepts when they discover them on their own. By providing the resources and facilitating discourse I support my students in their learning.

In previous lessons students have learned about the sky including the sun, moon, and stars. Then we studied how the earth and sun can cause the patterns of the seasons. We also studies the patterns of the moon. Now, we are ready to explore the stars and their pattern more deeply.

Lesson Overview

First the class reads the text, and then they watch a video. Next, we engage in discussion, and the students take part in an application activity. Last, the students present their new learning and evaluate the ideas of their peers.

In addition, I use peanut butter partners and transitions in every lesson. 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 have assigned seats. 

The transitions that I find really helpful are beginning each lesson in the lounge or carpet area. Then we move to the center of the room to desks for the explore, explain, and evaluate section. Last, I close every lesson back in the lounge. First graders need frequent transitions to help them persevere through lengthy and complex lessons.



10 minutes

As the lesson begins I try to excite my class by using technology, so I project the lesson image on the Smart Board. Then I activate my students prior knowledge by saying, "Turn and tell your partner everything you know about the stars." I listen and write down on the KWL chart the information I hear. Then I allow anyone to share that wants to share their knowledge, because students find learning more meaningful when they learn from each other.

I am teaching the students to learn from their peers, but I am also assessing their prior knowledge. When I can find out what my students already know about the stars at the beginning of the lesson I can determine how much extra explanations they are going to need. It also helps me pace the lesson fast or slower. Sometimes I even have to reteach the content if the class has no prior knowledge. But, I have already introduced stars in a previous lesson, so my students are probably going to have some information to share. I expect somebody to say, "Stars are in the sky, and the sun is a star." These are two things we learned in a previous lesson.

Next, I tell the class what we are going to do in the lesson, because I find it helps them persevere through the complex lesson. I say, "Today we are going to learn a pattern about the stars. You will discover when the stars are visible."


15 minutes

In this section my students record a question in their science journal, listen to me read, highlight evidence, and record their notes in their science journal.

The question is: When can we see stars? Why?

Now, I read the class the text, Stars at Day and Night. Really, I just read the text under the heading Stars at Day and Night, because too much information can be overwhelming for my students.My procedures are to ask the question and write it on the board.

My students record the question in their science journal at this time. Then, I read the text twice as each child follows along by tracking on their own copy. During this time I am attempting to teach my students to find evidence in text, and learn from reading.

Before I read the text a third time I reread the question. This redirects the class upon the answer we are looking for as we read. Then I say, "Please highlight the answer in the text as I read it aloud." Next, I say, "Now go ahead and record the answer to the question in your science journal." This is teaching my students to behave in a way that a scientist might as they are looking for information about their research question.

Many first graders struggle generating a question, so at this point, December, I am giving them a question. Plus the question is very specific in order to teach the understanding that the stars are only seen at night.




10 minutes

Now we are going to engage in a collaborative discussion to teach communication skills, allow me to assess the students' understanding, and teach students to build upon the ideas of their peers. So, I ask the students to first tell their partner what they recorded, then tell the group across the table, and last we engage in a whole group discussion. This is the time when I find out if my students really understand the content, and I often have to back up and reread the text for them. Other times their partner explains the pattern which is what I really want to happen. My goal is to facilitate learning and allow the students to learn more from each other. 

As I engage the class in partner talk I say, "Turn and tell your partner when you see the stars and why?" I walk around and listen to their conversations. If they do not talk I prompt the students with the question, "What did you record?" Sometimes I have to read it for them or their partner reads it. Then I say, "If you have something different than your partner discuss it, and if you want to change your notes go ahead. We learn from each other and you can make adjustments to your work at any time." I really want them to tell each other when they are wrong, and explain their reasoning. When students have to justify or explain themselves they engage in higher order thinking.

Then I say, "Please tell the group across the table what you recorded." Again I listen and prompt students who are not talking. I might say, "Go ahead and share your notes." Last, I ask, "Will a volunteer please share when we see the stars and why?" Then I try to get the students to build upon the ideas of their peers and I say, "Will anyone add to that?" This is a great routine to help students recall what we just learned and confirm that each child understands that we see the stars at night, because the sun is so bright during the day.


15 minutes

Now, the students are going to engage in an application activity where they create a foldable that shows the stars in the day, and the stars at night: illustration. Then the students add a sentence explaining the stars during the day and the stars during the night.

First, I show a model, so my students understand what I am looking for, and I leave it out for the class to look at as they are working. I do say, "Please do not copy my work, but use mine as a model." Now, there are students in my class that cannot write, and if they copy mine it is perfectly fine. I am just pushing those that can to write their own understanding, and giving other students something to copy. This creates an opportunity where all students can participate in the lesson activity.

Then, I walk around and monitor my students. When I see students struggling I stop and say, "What did the sky look like in the day? Where were the stars? Why? Illustrate the sky." I see students struggling with making a star and I quickly create this anchor chart. My video: how to make a star explaining the anchor chart might be helpful.


15 minutes

Finally, we transition back to the lounge where I allow about three students to present their data and share their understanding of why there are different amounts of stars visible on different nights. By knowing that the stars are mostly visible at night the students are really expanding on their knowledge of the pattern at this point.

Then the students listening give the presenter academic feedback about whether they agree or disagree with what the presenter said. Now, I do find that sometimes all of my students want to present, and I need to try to accommodate my students when they are really motivated. So, I let the others present during snack and at recess. 

Presentation in the first grade can be challenging, but I use positive behavior strategies to really help my students act the way I want. Basically I am specifically telling the students what I want them to do instead of reprimanding students for undesired behavior. We chant, "Criss cross apple sauce pockets on the floor, hands in your laps, talking no more." Then I add, "Your eyes are on the speaker. You are listening and thinking of ways you can give your peer feedback."

Next, I try to consider whether my students mastered the objective for the lesson. I find that selecting about three standards or skills is the best. If I try to assess everything it seems to get confusing to me. So, I create a spreadsheet with the categories I am assessing at the top, and my students names are on the left. I put a check by the category they master and a 0 by the ones they don't. Then I just put the score beside their name. My goal is 3/3. The categories for this lesson are pattern in the star, speaking clear, evaluating a peer. When I look at the data I try to see areas of weakness in my students. I group the students by the weakness and then teach these skills at a later late in small group.


10 minutes

This portion is homework that we are going to evaluate after ten days of data collection. So, I say,  "Break the sky into five sections. Then count the number of stars in each section. Record the number on the star chart." We are going to check the star count sheets everyday to make sure they are keeping up with their data. We will also add the numbers in class, but you can do it at home if you wish. Just put your total under the day at the bottom.

After ten days, I ask the class to discuss why there may be more or less stars in the sky in different locations. Now, I am expecting them to have actually discussed this with their parents as they are documenting their star count. After discussion, I am going to basically agree with the students, because there are different amounts of clouds in the sky on different nights.