Let's Research the Sun!

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SWBAT observe and describe the Sun to determine if the sun has more predictable patterns.

Big Idea

Students use books and note taking to determine that the sun does have more predictable patterns.

Setting the Stage:

National Science Education Science Standards Connection:

The National Science Education Standards has said that making observations is key to inquiry-based and discovery-focused learning in science instruction. In order to do this students participate in inquiry-based learning that allows them to solve a problem in science through observation, discourse and using a science journal. Students will then be give a chance to share their findings with their peers and then reflect on their own understanding.

Next Generation Science Standards Connection:

In this lesson students continue to observe the sun. 1-ESS1-1 asks students to use observations to explore the predictable patterns of our sun.  Students are taking home a Science Bag and Sun Journal to observe and record the sunset.  Each day the Sun Journal is shared and the findings are recorded on our classroom sunset calendar. We will use the information to determine that each day we see the sun but at night we don't.

Sun Observations:

Students observe the sun three times a day for a week. We record their observations on our sun chart each day and use these findings to observe the patterns of the sun.

Home to School Connection:

We will be learning about the sun, the stars and moon. The NGSS asks that students to observe, describe and predict how the sun and moon changes over a period of time. I send home two science bags that will allow students to observe the night sky.

The Sun Bag: In order for students to observe the changes of our sunset, each day a different student takes home our Sun Bag that includes a Sunset Observations sheet, The Sun: Our Nearest Star by Franklyn M. Branley, a box of crayons and a parent letter. Students record his/her findings on our class Sunset Calendar. We observe the sun for a full month so that we can observe, describe and predict the sunset changes.

The Moon Bag: In order for students to observe the change of the moon, each day a different student takes home our Moon Bag which includes a Moon Observation Form (black paper), The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons, white crayons and a parent letter. Then students record his/her findings on our class Moon Calendar. We observe the moon for a full month so that we can observe, describe and predict the changes it goes through in one full cycle. If the moon is not visible that student will record the night sky and then the next day we will predict what it would have looked like had it been seen.

Classroom Structures:

In order to support a high level of student discourse within my science lessons I have assigned two different student partnerships.  Turn and Talk Partners are discourse partners that work together to share the deep thinking that happens throughout the day.  Workshop Partners are partners who are matched together for the purpose of working during our independent times.  In this lesson students will be engaged in both partnerships.


Earth and Sky Unit - Parent letter

KLEWS anchor chart: What are the patterns of the sun? - Continued from "The Sun - Day 2"


Book Clubs - Sun, Stars, Moon, Space

Books about the sun: The Sun by Elisa Peters, Sun by Susan Canizares, The Sun by Thomas K. Adamson, Sun up, Sun Down by Gail Gibbons, The Sun: Our Nearest Star by Franklyn M. Branley, Sun by Steve Tomecek

Sticky Notes


Book Club Poster

Reader's Notebooks

Book: Exploring Space: The Sun by Colleen Sexton

Science Journal -Prompt: Did you learn about any new patterns of the sun?


15 minutes

In order to develop a culture that encourages student engagement, curiosity and a desire to understand the world through scientific exploration. I begin this lesson activating prior knowledge for my young students by reviewing the work we did on our KLEWS anchor chart.

In our last lesson we added "wonderings" to our KLEWS anchor chart titled, "Does the sun have predictable patterns? If so, what are they?" One of the questions asked was, "Does the sun have more predictable patterns?"  Today we are going to investigate that question. How do you think we might go about investigating this question? What do you think we should do?

I ask my students to talk with their turn and talk partners to develop a plan for investigating this question.  It is hard for students at this age to focus on the planning. They naturally want to start answering the question by making predictions It is important for me to scaffold this by putting a plan in place to encourage student planning.  After allowing some talk time, I pass out a clipboard to each child with two sticky notes. I ask my students to record (by drawing) a plan on how to investigate this question.  I tell them they can use books, computers, and observation.  I give each child enough time to make a quick sketch and then I bring them back together to share out their ideas. 

I am always curious with the new things my students come up with.  These are some of their ideas:

*We could read books in our sun books to find out if there are more patterns.

*We could go outside again to see if the sun does anything.

*We could study more of the sunsets with our calendar.

*We could use the computers.

*We could use our book clubs from Reader's Workshop.


**The Explore section of this lesson is derived from my students "plans."


25 minutes

In the classroom I have organized nonfiction book clubs as part of our reading workshop. The CCSS and NGSS asks that we integrate curriculum. This lesson is a combination of ELA and Science. Students act as scientists reading nonfiction text.  This lesson teaches students how to take notes while reading nonfiction text. 

Boys and girls, during reading workshop this morning you wrote some great questions about the sun.  Today you are going to learn how to do research by using an important tool called note-taking!  You know that research is a very important science word. It means you have to find the answers to really important questions. As a reader, thinker and writer there is something very important that you need to do when you are researching.  You get to jot down notes. Today I am going to show you how to do that. I use the article called, The Sun on World Book Online and project it on my interactive whiteboard.  If you do not have access to World Book Online, any book or kid's article about the sun will work.

Boys and girls when you read something that you really want to learn about you have to do something really important.  You only read a small amount. I only read the size of my hand. I put my hand on the paper.  After you read that amount then you STOP and think.  I touch my hand to my head to show I am thinking.  Then I jot down a quick sketch on my sticky note so I remember what I read.  I model this several times and allow my students to practice with me.  After a few practices, I send them off to their book baskets to do the same thing.

Boys and girls as you are reading about the sun, I want to read and think about our question.  See you if you can discover any new patterns that the sun may have.

As my students work I walk around and confer with each group naming and noticing the smart thinking happening. Conferring is the process of listening and recording the work the student or students are doing and then compliment the work. As I listen, I research a teaching point and then work to provide clarification through questioning, modeling and re-teaching. My goal with this conference is to prompt each group is to two fold: can they take notes and use those notes to share their learning and have they discovered any other predictable patterns of the sun?



10 minutes

The CCSS speaking and listening standards asks that students describe "things" with relevant details while expressing ideas clearly. In this section students will share what they learned using their sticky notes to help them remember. 

After a few minutes I bring them back together to have them share what they learned with the class.  As they discover new patterns I record them on the anchor chart under the L-Learned and record their evidence under E.


10 minutes

The Common Core Literacy Standards asks that students recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question. The book I have chosen to read the same book from our last lesson Exploring Space: The Sun by Colleen Sexton. In our last lesson I really focused in on pages 4-5 however for this lesson I want to focus in on pages 18-19. For this read aloud I engage students in a discussion after small segments of text rather than after reading the entire text.  I want my students to carefully consider ideas and clarify misconceptions.


5 minutes

The Science and Engineering Practice 4 asks students to analyze data. At the K-2 level this involves students collecting, recording, and sharing observations. In this lesson the students are recording information, thoughts and ideas in their science journals. I send my students back to their science journals and ask them to write the answer to our big question: "Did you learn any new patterns of the Sun?"

Students record their answers in their journals. I am looking for answers that show that the sun is visible during the day but not at night, or the sunrises and sets everyday, etc.