Day Two of Where's Plaid Pete?

11 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT describe the organization of Earth's place in the universe.

Big Idea

How do scientists communicate very complex information in ways that make it easy for others to understand? Students create infographics of their research on the universe, using design elements to convey meaning.

Setting Up the Investigation

This is Day Two of a Two Day Lesson.  Click here for Day One of Where's Plaid Pete?

On Day One of this investigation, students engaged in a guided exploration where they learned about the organization of the universe.  They participated in an interactive read aloud and watched a video that assisted them in beginning to understand the immensity of the universe that we live in.  Then they worked in collaborative pairs to research the astral phenomenon presented, to determine identifying characteristics and patterns.  These concepts are beyond the developmental appropriateness of students at this age and stage to fully understand, however; these experiences will provide a foundation for future mastery.  On this second day, students will further their understanding by constructing infographics of their research.  This will allow them to integrate both reading and written language skills in their content area studies, as well as aid in developing technological literacy skills for their future.

Connection to The Next Generation Science Standards

In this investigation, students begin the work that will lead them to explore the Disciplinary Core Idea of Earth's Place in the Universe:  The Universe and its Stars -  that the sun is a star that appears larger and brighter than other stars because it's closer, and stars range greatly in their distance from Earth. (5-ESS1-1); Earth and the Solar System - that the orbits of Earth around the sun and of the moon around Earth, together with the rotation of Earth about an axis between its North and South poles, cause observable patterns.  These include day and night; daily changes in the length and direction of shadows; and different positions of the sun, moon, and stars at different times of the day, month, and year. (5-ESS1-2); Motion and Stability:  Forces and Interactions - that the gravitational force of Earth acting on an object near Earth's surface pulls that object towards the planet's center.  (5-PS2-1) and the Crosscutting Concept of Patterns  - Similarities and differences in patterns can be used to sort, classify, communicate and analyze simple rates of change for natural phenomena. (5-ESS1-1); Scale, Proportion, and Quantity - Natural objects exist from the very small to the immensely large (5-ESS1-1); and Cause and Effect - Cause and effect relationships are routinely identified and used to explain change (5-PS2-1).

Please Note:  The Lexile Level for Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe - Lab Scenario Sheet Lesson 2  is 750 (5th Grade Range is 740 - 1010).

The Preparation Time for This Investigation is approximately 10 minutes.

Materials Needed:

One copy for each student of Kathy Shrock's Infographic Rubric (available at the link- permission has been granted for its use).

One computer or laptop with powerpoint for each pair of students.

How to Create Infographics in Powerpoint by Hubspot (downloaded and projected for instruction)

Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Infographics - Lesson 2 (powerpoint file downloaded and available for students to access)

Day One

Materials Needed:

The book My Place in Space by Robin and Sally Hirst (1990, Orchard Books)

One copy for each student of P

Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe - Lab Scenario Sheet - Lesson 2

One copy for each student of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Lab Sheet - Lesson 2

A variety of resource books on space topics including:  the universe, the Virgo Supercluster, the local galactic group, the Milky Way Galaxy, the solar system,  and Earth.  I have a few of the Seymour Simon titles on these subjects, as well as books that I have checked out from our school library.


Focus & Motivation

5 minutes

I review the learning objective and success criteria that I shared with my students yesterday, reminding them that at the end of today's lesson we will need to meet the criteria:

Learning Objective & Success Criteria

Note:  Consistent with the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol, I am now including a language objective with each lesson.  These objectives were derived from the Washington State ELP Standards Frameworks that are correlated with the CCSS and the NGSS.

I share the learning objective and success criteria, explaining that we will be working on these for the next two lessons:  

Learning Objective:  I can describe the organization of Earth's place in the universe.

Language Objective:  I can write to develop an informational topic with facts and details. [ELP.4-5.7]

Success Criteria:  I can create an info graphic that describe's the organization of Earth's place in the universe.

Partner Pairs

15 minutes

Research Check-Ups!

I love Science, and I love watching my students research and engage with scientific topics. I also love Seymour Simon's books.  However, I also know that scientific text, and the type of non-fiction narrative text that is typical of these types of books is quite difficult for many of my students to navigate.  I have done my absolute best to provide "check-ins" for my students.  I am aware of those "serious strugglers" - but there are always the ones that seem to hang on the periphery, and have made misinterpretations of text that will prove to be a serious impediment to this project.  Today, I am asking my students to provide the kind of peer support that will be asked of them in the working world when they exit school. Some of my students are ready for this - and some of them are not. However, we are always working towards real world objectives.  

"Pairs Check" Strategy

I tell my students, "Before we begin working on our infographics - we need to make certain that our research is accurate - and that our research makes sense!  Sometimes when we are in the thick of things - so intent in working on what we want to discover - we don't realize that the notes we have written down don't make sense, aren't useful, or just aren't accurate. Then, when we need them the most - they can't help us.  

Today - before that happens - let's take the time to make a "Pairs Check" and help each other by preventing that kind of problem.  The infographics that you create from your research will be published by publicly displaying them in the hallway in front of our classroom - that means you want them to be your very best work!  We are going to meet in partners to help each other, and go over our research - checking for these two things:"

  1. Is it accurate?
  2. Does it make sense?


I write these two prompts on paper and clip them on the whiteboard so they guide my students.  I have mixed up my students so that they are not working with their previous partner(s).  I ask my students to designate a Partner A and a Partner B, and to each get a highlighter.  I tell them that I will give them about 5 minutes per partner to share the information that they have collected.  

The partner sharing the information is to highlight any information that is not accurate or doesn't make sense.  Then, they will revise later.  This process forces them to work productively, rather than using the time to socialize.  I give them the signal for Partner A to share their information.  As I am circulating and listening in on conversations,  I come upon this pair in Video Clip 1 and make sure they understand that we are only "fact checking" right now - not revising.  They only have 5 minutes and I want them to make the best use of this time.

I move between partners, ensuring that they are listening to one another and giving productive feedback. I then give the signal for Partner B to share, following the same procedure.  I find this student in Video Clip 2 who is reading aloud her notes, and realizes that something she has written doesn't make sense.  This "Pairs Check" strategy is great for students who are learning English as a second language, because they are able to read what they have written out loud and listen to the way it sounds.  This "auditory check" will often help them detect errors that need correcting much more effectively than just reading them silently.  It is also good for students who struggle to see that even the more capable readers and writers have inaccuracies and errors as well.

Partner Revisions

Students who need to make revisions, will do so with their partners during the partner activity phase of this lesson, while others begin constructing their infographics.  This will allow me the opportunity to check in with student pairs and provide assistance to those who need it.


25 minutes

Introduce Infographics

I tell my students, "As Aidan said in the scenario, an infographic is is a way of presenting complex informational text using graphics - pictures and shapes - in a way that makes them easier for a reader to understand.  I display two examples of infographics:

Example 1 Is an infographic that is a guide to different types of coffee drinks.  I ask my students to look closely at the cups of coffee.  I ask them to turn and talk in their teams about what they see, answering the question - What kind of information is being conveyed?

Students are able to notice that the infographic explains; different type of coffee drinks; how to pronounce the different type of coffee drinks; and finally the colors tell you the proportion of each ingredient.  I say, "Isn't that clever how this author has used these graphics to communicate all of that information!"

Example 2 Is an infographic of student passion for Science.  I click on the infographic to enlarge it and point out some of the graphic choices the author has made.  For example, rather than using some type of graph for the traveling to Earth or the Moon, the author uses figures; the section that describes attitudes about men and women in Science uses colors (pink and blue) to show the difference instead of using a graph; and the section about importance of leading the world in Science uses a line graph, but the top point on the graph is a rocket ship.

I tell my students, "These two infographics should give you some ideas of the creative ways that authors use to communicate information.  You will notice that even though the second infographic doesn't contain a lot of text, it still communicates quite a bit of information.  This is one of the big tasks that scientists have - communicating very complicated information in a way that is meaningful and easy for others to understand.  That will be your task for this project as well!"

I also ask my students, "Did anyone notice any consistent patterns in their research on the universe?  Remember, you were supposed to look for geometric patterns that might assist you in your design and make notes."  My students comment on the spiral shape of galaxies, and the circular and spherical shape of planets and moons.  I say, "Keep these geometric shapes in mind because these are things you may want to incorporate into your design."

How to Create Infographics Using Powerpoint

I show the powerpoint presentation, How to Create Infographics in Powerpoint by Hubspot to my students.  I happened upon this free power point presentation (with templates included) on Twitter. Although I don't provide the templates for my students to use, I do discuss the information about the effective creation of an infographic and I use the templates to show where the different shapes and lines are located in powerpoint.

In order to facilitate this process, I have saved a power point file in one of each pair's folders with a slide that has been adjusted to fit 11 x 17 paper (ledger size) so that it will be large size when they print it out.  

I have also saved a copy of Plaid Pete is Finding Earth's Place in the Universe Infographics - Lesson 2 to the student folder.  I briefly show my students how to access this, and how to copy, paste, and resize the pictures (They will forget - and I will have to do it again!).  All but two of the pictures are in the public domain, and I have already included the Creative Commons citations for the remaining two.  I explain that for this project, I am providing the pictures they might need, so we will not be using the internet to search.  They may also use the labels I have created, but they can also create their own or change the fonts.  Then I scroll down to the second page and point out the pictures of Plaid Pete.  I say, "Oh by the way, as you are creating your info graphics, I thought that perhaps you might want to place Plaid Pete somewhere on the page - sort of like 'Where's Waldo.'  Won't it be interesting to see all the places that Plaid Pete ends up at?"

I hand out a copy to each student, and present Kathy Shrock's Infographic Rubric and explain that this is how I will score their piece.  I don't take time to go over each item now. However, as groups of students are finishing up their infographic, I will meet with them and go over the rubric with them.  Kathy has kindly given permission for me to the rubric this on this site (Thank you Kathy!).  Then I say, "It looks like we are ready to move on!"

Class Brainstorm

I want to set my students up for success, so I know that they will need a bit more scaffolding for this project - they have never done this before.  I write on a piece of chart paper:  Where is Earth?  Examples of Showing the Organization of the Universe.  I ask the question, "How big is Earth, when compared to the rest of the Universe?"  I call on a student who answers that it is actually a very small part.  I know I will have to get them going, so I draw a small circle on the chart paper and write "Earth" on the inside.  I draw a larger circle around it and write "Solar System", and then prompt my students to tell me what to write in ever widening circles until I get to the largest circle, the universe.  I tell my students, "This is one way that I could show the organization of the Universe, and demonstrate Earth's place in a graphic way."  I ask my students to turn and talk in their teams and see if they can suggest any other ideas.  This is the chart and the ideas that students suggested:

I tell my students, "You don't have to use any of these ideas - but you do need to have some way of graphically showing the organization of the universe in the design that you choose." 

Team Activity

30 minutes

Introduce Design Task

I tell my students, "Those students who do not have revisions to make will be able to begin designing their infographics in just a bit.  Before you begin however; I would like to share some steps with you."  I have written the following "Signposts" on the board.

  1. Your infographic must clearly demonstrate how the Universe is organized!
  2. You must have your rubric with you and I want to see it at all times!  You should be referring to it as you create your document.
  3. Share the design task with your partner.  Arguing will result in losing the opportunity to work on the computer on this piece, meaning you will do it by hand!
  4. As with any other published piece, I need to see evidence that you have checked it for each item on the rubric, and that you have edited it for correct punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
  5. DO NOT PRINT your document.  (I do not share this, but I will be printing them in color and I need to check every single one before printing).


Small Group Revision

While students get busy working, I work in small groups and pairs with those students who need assistance with their revisions.  They are anxious to begin creating, but I have to slow them down explaining that - "It doesn't matter how great your document looks, if the information you present isn't accurate and understandable!"  I know that there will not be adequate time for my students to finish today.  I will provide additional time to complete this project during our Writing Workshop period.

Reflection & Closure

5 minutes

Project Check In

It's important that I know where students are in the process and that I get them to commit to a time deadline - working in Powerpoint is fun!  If I don't set a deadline - this could go on forever!

I tell my students, "Unfortunately, our time to work on this project today has ended.  In a moment, I am going to check-in with each pair and see where you are in the process.  I expect that most pairs will need a bit more time.  However, just as if you were in a job - you will only have a certain amount of time to complete a project.  I will be able to allow one more class period during our Writing Workshop time for this project, and then this piece will be due."

Then I get my clipboard out and check in with my partners.  Those students who are way behind will be asked to spend some recess time catching up, and will get some "coaching" in the areas where they are stuck.  Overall, I am pleased at my student's abilities to integrate Science ideas with writing and technology.

Here are some completed infographics: