Reflection: Grappling with Complexity Part 2-The Light in Our Night Sky...Stars - Section 4: Evaluate


One of the biggest challenges is teaching students how to interpret data from a diagram.  I find with these types of assignments, my students want the information or answer to be right there. They grapple with higher level thinking questions because they always want the answer right away. With that, I end up doing a lot of modeling and thinking aloud to show them how to go about interpreting information and that it is acceptable to have different ideas. As part of science practice 4, analyzing and interpreting data, students are expected to “improve their abilities to interpret data by identifying significant features and patterns.”  With that understanding, providing multiple opportunities for students to practice their abilities of interpretation is significant for them to develop these capabilities.

As part of this lesson, students created an HR diagram to illustrate stars luminosity, size, and temperature. We discussed as a class the information presented on the diagram. It appeared that students easily identified the parts of the diagram like the colors of the stars, the temperature, and luminosity. Once completed, students had a series of questions to answer about this diagram. I used these questions to help them analyze their diagram.  Before sending them off to complete this assignment, I had reviewed each question aloud. My intent was to model critical thinking and clarify key words that may lead to confusion of what the questions were asking them. We reviewed terms like characteristics, the question words how and describe. I wanted them to be clear on what these terms mean and what kind of response is expected. 

When I collected the assignment, I found student responses varied with questions related to these terms. It revealed they continue to struggle with these terms.  In some cases, they did not provide enough information to fully answer the question, while in other cases; they struggled with connecting diagram information to what the question was asking.  I realized they did not have enough experience with interpreting data and that they needed more opportunities to practice. I would add a turn and talk after they created their diagrams and then get into a class discussion. I jumped right into a class discussion once they completed their diagrams. I think giving them some collaborative time with peers would have helped them better interpret the diagram as they would have the chance to hear different points of view.  All in all, I need to find ways to give students more opportunities to practice these skills as they are expected to use data, diagrams, and various graphical displays as evidence to support out comes. 

  Interpreting the HR diagram
  Grappling with Complexity: Interpreting the HR diagram
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Part 2-The Light in Our Night Sky...Stars

Unit 5: Out Of This World- A Journey Through Our Solar System
Lesson 10 of 11

Objective: SWBAT explain how the appearance and brightness of stars is due to their relative distance from the Earth.

Big Idea: Students will construct a Hertzsprung-Russel diagram to illustrate and explain how a stars distance contributes to the brightness that is seen on Earth.

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