Reflection: Student Led Inquiry Connecting Shadows with the Sun's Altitude - Section 2: Focus


To develop my students' ability to drive the inquiry process, I ask students to help come up with the guiding question of the day: Students Developing a Guiding Question. Students know that the guiding question is the question that helps guide our research, investigations, and exploration process throughout each lesson. 

Prior to the lesson, I construct the guiding question ahead of time to ensure that our guiding question aligns with 5th grade standards. I placed any words having to do with today's lesson in bold: 

For this lesson, I reflect upon NGSS Standard 5-ESS1-2: Represent data in graphical displays to reveal patterns of daily changes in length and direction of shadows, day and night, and the seasonal appearance of some stars in the night sky.

I also refer to the Disciplinary Core Idea 5-ESS1-2: Earth and the Solar System: 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

At first, I decide that the guiding question should read: How do our shadows and the altitude of the sun change throughout the year? I then try to make it simpler: How do our shadows change throughout the year?

After thinking about this lesson further and after creating a graph of the sun's altitude throughout the year, I realize that this lesson connects perfectly with a previous lesson where students graphed the monthly temperature in Bozeman, Montana throughout the year. As my plans for this lesson developed, I decide to change the question once more to: How does the altitude of the sun affect shadows and temperatures throughout the year?

During the lesson, I guide students as they develop the question of the day. This helps develop my students' ability to drive the inquiry process as students are taking ownership of their learning and questioning the world around them. 

  Developing Guiding Questions
  Student Led Inquiry: Developing Guiding Questions
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Connecting Shadows with the Sun's Altitude

Unit 4: The Sun & Earth' s Patterns
Lesson 8 of 10

Objective: SWBAT expalin how the altitude of the sun affects shadows and temperatures throughout the year.

Big Idea: In this lesson, students explore the angle of the sun in the sky and how it affects the temperature and shadows on Earth using a computer simulation and researching an online text.

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Science, Earth and Space Science, sun, stars, pattern, temperature, shadows, altitude, sun, time, seasons
  110 minutes
student researching
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