Simple lessons and activities that will teach students about the solar system as well as teaching the scientific process.
- Research the question "Is Pluto a Planet?"
- Record what they discover on a graphic organizer
- Write their findings in paragraph form
- Research Graphic Organizer (PDF)
- Books and printed pages of information from websites
Set Up and Prepare
- Make copies of the Research Graphic Organizer (PDF) and a transparency for the overhead.
- Gather books and materials and display on shelf or table.
- Print out facts from websites and highlight the sentences you want students to read. This will take you lots of time but it will be worth it once students begin their research. If you laminate the pages you'll have them for next year.
Step 1: Using transparency, walk children through the process. Don't give anything away. Tell students that at one time, scientists debated whether Pluto was a planet or not.
Step 2: Assign students to work in pairs. Pairs work well because strong readers can help poor readers. One child reads and the other writes.
Step 3: Set this activity up as a center so that only three sets of partners work at any one time. Maybe the others are making models.
Step 4: Students do research and fill in Graphic Organizers. Check in with them every five minutes.
Step 5: When Graphic Organizers are complete, students write up their information in paragraph form. I do this during my writing workshop.
Step 6: When everyone is finished, have a sharing time so that students can present both sides of the argument.
Supporting All Learners
Students with ADHD
Some students are going to need more support than others. I work with students with ADHD one-on-one for short periods of time. It's especially difficult for students with ADHD to begin a task, even with a Graphic Organizer. Sometimes I end up helping these children during recess when the room is quiet and there are fewer distractions.
Looking at the Night Sky
Among the things students and their families might look for are: North Star, constellations, and phases of the moon. Send home a month-long calendar and ask students to draw the phases of the moon with a family member's help.
When evaluating this lesson, think more about process than product. Ask yourself these questions. Did I:
- Spend enough time in preparation?
- Provide children with highlighted material they could read?
- Have books written on several different reading levels?
- Help the children who needed the most help, especially those who need help getting started?
- Check in with students at least every five minutes?
- Demonstrate to students how to take information from a Graphic Organizer and write it in paragraph form?
- Make sure everyone completed the assignment and shared their report?
Here's what I'm looking for. Did students:
- Work cooperatively?
- Share materials?
- Make intelligent guesses?
- Gather evidence?
- Draw a conclusion based on evidence?
- Write the information on Graphic Organizer in paragraph form?
- Share their findings with the class?