Welcome to a series of ten lessons on planet research! This set of lessons is part of a larger unit my district is implementing all about the topics of space and books with great word choice. My grade level completes a research report or project for each of our six thematic units. This happens to be the fifth research project my students are completing this year.
I loved completing these lessons because none of my students' reports came out the same - even those who researched the same planet! The design of this unit was inquiry-based, so students chose the direction of their report. Some were interested in the history of their planet - how it got its name, who discovered it, etc. Others wanted to know if there were features similar to Earth, or why their planet had so many moons.
I've included the Planet Research Packet in this section of my lesson on each day. I refer to page numbers as I walk you through each day of this series of lessons, however I left page numbers off, in case there were pages you didn't want to use. You may notice that my student samples vary slightly from the packet I've provided for you. I made changes to the packet as I noticed things that could be made better. I hope you and your astronomers find these resources helpful as you research planets! Thank you! (See Resource File: Planet Research Packet)
Please watch the short video to see how to put together all of the pieces of the research report. (See Resource File: Planet Research Day 9)
*Clipart in my lesson picture purchased from ScribbleGarden on Etsy
To complete our research reports, the students will be creating an informational text feature to support the information in their report.
Review Nonfiction Text Features: My astronomers have already learned about nonfiction text features throughout the year, so we complete a quick review to remind them of all of the different types they have to choose from to complete their report. We go through our nonfiction text feature posters on the SMART Board. This is a file I found for free online. Thank you to Deana Kahlenberg for posting them for teachers to use! (See Resource File: NonFiction Text Feature Posters)
Text Features Ideas for Our Reports: We brainstorm a list of nonfiction text features on the board, determining the features that would work well with our planet reports. The students come up with: diagram with labels, glossary, illustration with caption, illustration with text box, chart, sequence map-display, cut-out, and a map.
Choosing a Detail to Illustrate: We have a discussion about which part of a report would be the best one to focus an informational text feature about. The students realize that they would want to illustrate something for their reader that is hard to understand, and that a text feature would help comprehension. I read through my report, and explain to the students that I decided to create a nonfiction text feature to support my readers in understanding the layers of atmosphere on Venus and its green house effect.
Model: I display the sample that I've made for the planet, Venus. We refer to the rubric in our packets, noticing that the expectations for the nonfiction text feature.
Further Support: I also display some informational text features from our research materials to inspire ideas by showing them on my document camera. I leave these texts along the ledge of my white board while my students are working. The nonfiction text feature posters are still on the SMART Board too, if the students need to view any more examples.
Before beginning our independent work, I leave the following notes on the white board to support students:
*Choose a topic to illustrate
*Choose a nonfiction text feature
*Create a careful, detailed, colorful text feature
*Copy spelling and information accurately
I pass out page ten in the research packet, which is the circular page for the students' nonfiction text features. (See Resource File: Planet Research Packet - Page 10)
Independent Work: The students work on their nonfiction text features. I move around the room and assist with any students who have questions or trouble getting started. If any of my students had trouble, I asked them to read their report to me. We then focused on an idea in the report to begin a nonfiction text feature. I leave plenty of colored pencils and crayons out for students to use, if needed. (See Student Nonfiction Text Feature Samples One through Six)
After students completed their nonfiction text feature, they stapled their nonfiction text feature, report, and watercolor/oil pastel planet to a black 9" X 12" piece of construction paper, and decorated it with metallic markers. They had made the oil pastel and watercolor planet during art class. Page eight in the Planet Research Packet can be used to create the planet cover, or page which students use oil pastels and watercolors. (See Resource File: Planet Research Packet - Page 8)
*Please note that my students have literacy centers right after our shared reading time. Most students didn't finish in the 25 minutes, but did finish shortly after during our literacy centers.
Review: We review and celebrate today's work.
Peek at Tomorrow: I let the students know that tomorrow is the day that they'll be displaying their reports, and projects they created at home. We'll be having a "Space Museum" where they'll be able to see everyone's work! Also, we'll be having visitors from Mrs. Hesemann's class to see our "Space Museum", too!
Here are some additional resources you may find helpful if you're working on a space-themed unit.
Do We Wish Upon a Shooting Star, or Falling Rock?: This document is an informational passage that includes multiple choice questions. My students need practice with these types of questions, including those with multiple answers, questions with Part A and Part B, and fill in the blank. I teach in Illinois, and our students will be taking the PARCC Assessment beginning next year. I hope these types of tasks will help prepare my students for these tests, as well as our end-of-unit assessments, and overall mastery of the standards. The focus of this assignment are standards RI3.1, RI3.4, and RI3.7. (See Resource File: Shooting Star, or Falling Rock MC Practice)