Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lesson Plans - Astronomy (Planets)

Whew...this week was one of those topsy turvy weeks that threw us off schedule slightly. We had H1N1 shots administered Monday, a field trip Tuesday, no school on Wednesday.....looking forward to a "normal" week :)

Monday - Showed students the International Year of Astronomy Trailer on YouTube and explained how 400 years ago Galileo used his telescope for the first time. Played the song "On the Shoulder of Giants" for students (video with the song can be found on my website - my students last year LOVED the song and had it memorized!). Showed a PowerPoint I made about the planets in order (had students line up as planets with smaller ones being the rocky inner planets and the taller students being the gas giants - threw some students in there to be the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. I picked a student wearing red to be Mars and I lucked out with twins in one of my classes so I made them Venus and Earth). Students got to practice trying to say the planets in order (My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nachos). Showed students the accordion project (which I talked about in an earlier post) they will be making this week with notecards and I went through how to share resources (planet books I checked out of the local and school library) and how to use nonfiction reading strategies to find the information they are looking for.

Tuesday - No science classes due to field trip. Made an adorable video of our trip using Animoto.com (which is free to teachers) and posted it on my classroom blog. Teachers met with their reading and ELA groups.

Wednesday - No school. Veterans day.

Thursday - Students worked on their planet accordion project independently (I have a checklist for grading and I take points off for excessive teacher intervention if I continually have to refocus students...which didn't happen too much...I isolated my easily distractable students and they worked fine). I was very pleased at how well all the classes worked on this project. I told students that all the facts and pictures needed to be done by Friday, which meant five cards each day needed to be done. I sat at the front of the class with papers I was grading and just looked around in awe at how the students were borrowing books from each other, staying focused and on task, following directions, etc. I wasn't feeling that well (ended up going to the doctor that evening for a sore throat I thought might be strep...which thank goodness it wasn't!) so it was nice that all the students were working so wonderfully.

Friday - Students continued to work on their planet accordion project. They needed to get the final five cards done (most met the deadline). Monday they will finish coloring and tape them together. I have a handful (three to four students) done in each of my classes who will be helping the other students finish up and tape. I will have to have some extra work for those completely finished students to do. If I have time left over in class I will show a Bill Nye video.


I have several resources students in my classes and I just have them look for two facts per planet (and the sun) instead of the five the other students are required to find. You could even drop this down to one fact (I have a child that writes incredibly large so he only had to find one good fact per planet).

If you teach GT or are adapting this project for an upper grade level you can have them write out a paragraph about their planet incorporating three to five facts about it and citing their source (just keep in mind how small 3x5 index cards are).


This is a really cute project idea (thanks to Mrs. Tressler who shared it with me). It could easily be adapted to other subject areas (report on various presidents, timeline of something in social studies, book report, etc.). My students in my writing class will make one for Mother's Day spelling out the word MOTHER with one letter per card and writing a little note on the back of each card having to do with the letter, example M - "Makes wonderful pancakes" on one side and then a short note on the other - Thanks mom for taking the time to make pancakes on the weekend for us. They are yummy and I love them!).

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