I ring my chime to get the class’s attention and announce we were about to begin the third Science lesson in our unit about weather. I ask them to return to the carpet squares and ‘Show Five’.
“What planet is our home? “Earth” “And what makes the Earth warm and helps things grow? “The Sun!” “How many of you knew that the earth revolves- turns- around the Sun?” A few students raise their hand. “I need two volunteers to show each other how this process works? Anyone want to help demonstrate this to the class?” As expected, I see many hands, so I choose the two Daily Helpers and bring them to the front.
“I want one of you to stand in the middle of our circle. You can be the Sun. Put your hands out and create a big presence.” I aim to find a balance of raised vocabulary and accessible language. I guide the next student farther away from the first student. “He is going to be the Earth. To illustrate this revolution, he will walk in a circle around the Sun.” The two students begin the demonstration. I want to give some depth to the instruction perspective and connect it with the concept of seasons, so I add, “Go slow to show it takes one whole year for the Earth rotate once around the sun.” To keep it simple, I stop once the student had walked around one time, then I move on to the next part of the lesson.
I make a transition to weather. “Who has ever seen a cloud?” “Me!” “Who has ever seen rain?” “Meeeee!.” “These are two examples of weather that we’ve seen recently. People experience weather in different ways depending on where they live, so they need to plan and adapt to their own unique environment."
“Most of the time, no matter where people live, weather is described in the same ways- how wet, cold, warm, windy it is outside. These conditions will be very different depending on the time of the year and their proximity to the Sun. Just like we saw at the beginning of the lesson, we saw that the Earth rotates around the Sun. This rotation- and it’s proximity from the Sun- contributes to the degree of weather people experience." I purposely use the words like ‘further’ and ‘proximity’ because came up lately in a Math lesson when the students studied estimation. In this lesson, I want to use it in the correct context to help them better understand another application. I take a minute to show them a quick video that gives a good visual of rotation before I continue the instruction.
“There was a really famous scientist hundreds of years ago named Nicolaus Copernicus. He was the first person to explain how the Earth rotated around the Sun. New ideas can be really scary to some people. Through careful observation and demonstrations though, he was able to explain how his theory made sense.” When practical, I love to interject quick lessons about famous contributors to the field of Science. It shows the students that new ideas are exciting and make a huge difference to the way people think and interact with the world around them.
• Rotation Model Worksheet
• Brass Brads (2/student)
To avoid having them sit too long, I use the chime to dismiss them to their tables. I say, “It’s time for us to create a model that shows the way the earth rotates around the sun.
"The first part is the big hot star that gives us heat, the.. “Sun!” “Right. The second part is the planet where we live that rotates around the sun, called..” “Earth” “Yep. When the Earth rotates around the Sun, it creates… “Weather”. “Yes, again. The model that you’ll make shows the way that the Earth revolves around the Sun." I feel that models like this provides the students a valuable visual and kinesthetic way to apply and process what can easily be confusing material. The rotation piece can be the most difficult part to understand so this model focuses in on that part.
• First, cut out the three parts- Sun, Earth, and strip of paper to connect the two.
• Next, get two connectors and poke each of them through an end of the paper. One end will be connected to the Sun; the other will go through the Earth.
"There is a little picture on your paper that will help show you what to do. Plus, I’ll be walking around to help. I expect you to work carefully. If you finish, discuss the ideas we learned with a table partner while you accurately color the Sun and Earth.”. I always emphasize accurate coloring for two reasons. First, color helps the brain organize the information that was learned. Accurate color will help them retain accurate information. Additionally, when the product goes home, it lets the families know that we take the important work we do at school seriously.
I circulate among the students as they complete this Formative Assessment to spend adequate time listening to their comments (“The atmosphere is around the earth.” “A weather is only in one place at a time.”, asking for clarification (“Tell me more about that.”) when necessary.
After the weather diagrams were complete, I use a chime to single the end of this lesson piece. I ask the students to put away the papers in their bags before they return back to their carpet squares. I ask them a simple question, “Tomorrow, when you get dressed for school, what is the first thing you will consider?” “The temperature!” “Because…..?” “We don’t want to get sick!” Looks like they took the connection about how weather affects us and took it one step farther. Making a personal connection to weather is a nice step to consider because it can easily be applied to any time of the year..plus, it's fun for the kids!