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)
*Clipart in my lesson picture purchased from ScribbleGarden on Etsy
Our note taking lesson is very quick today, as I want to give my astronomers time to finish up researching and note taking. We quickly review the note taking tips on page five in our Planet Research Packet. I also put a few exemplary student samples under our document camera for students to see. (See Planet Research Packet)
My students have had a lot of practice with note taking, but if yours haven't you'll want to do some more modeling.
The students complete their research today, similar to days one and two of our researching. Some students have the minimum of five index cards, and some have ten! I move around the room assisting students as needed, especially with those who are using the Readability app for the first time.
Review: We review and celebrate today's learning.
Peek at Tomorrow's Mission: I let the students know that we'll be choosing some really cosmically cool words to use in our reports tomorrow. I ask students to start thinking about awesome adjectives to describe their planet, as well as figurative language, such as similes and onomatopoeia.
Display/Prop: As part of this research unit, the students have to create a display, or prop, at home showing the most exciting thing they learned about their planet. This is not a large-scale project, but rather a small prop that illustrates the most interesting thing they learned about their planet. At the end of the school day today, I pass out page 11 in the Planet Research Packet, which gives directions to complete the activity at home. The students and I read through the letter together, they add their name, due date of the prop, planet they're researching, and most interesting thing they've found out about their planet. We'll continue to write the assignment in our agendas (daily assignment books that go home every night) each night until the prop is due. I'll also put a note in my Friday newsletter to remind parents about the small project at home. (See Resource File: Planet Research Packet - Page 11)
Last Day Celebration Note Home: If you are interested in celebrating with space-themed food, here is a letter you can send home with your families. This would give them about a week's notice that you are looking for special treats to get sent in to the classroom. There is more information about this in day ten of this set of lessons. (See Resource File: Cosmically Cool Treats)
*Be sure to visit day ten in this series of lessons to see some photos of my students with their space projects.
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)