This post is the first in a series of posts about an Integrated Inquiry Unit about Earth and Beyond.
Week 1 - Tuning In
This week our activities were designed to activate students' prior knowledge about Space and to stimulate questions they would like to investigate. We began with some brainstorming, where students listed words that come to mind about Space. They then worked in small groups to bundle their words into categories. Following this, students wrote questions they would like to know answers to. They chose the best question for their group and shared it with the class. We collected their ideas and will use these for a word wall and to guide our investigations.
Integrating with Literacy
Predicting and Questioning Skills
Prior to reading the big book "Watching The Night Skies" the class formulated three questions they felt would be answered by the text given the title and list of contents. Students wrote the questions and the answers they predicted, leaving space for the answer from the text. We then read the text together, discussing the information we were finding out. After reading, students went back to the questions and wrote the answer from the text.
In the next literacy session, students were given an individual text on Space. They repeated the activity for themselves - choosing a question, writing their answer, and finding the answer in the text.
This activity is useful for helping students to engage with a text and seek out information.
Creative Writing - Description
I told students that they would be doing a piece of creative writing, imagining that they are the first person to step onto the surface of Mars. We began by looking at some photographs of the landscape of Mars and then watched these NASA Vodcasts: Soaring Over Mars and Mars Exposed. While they looked at these things, students jotted down notes on their clipboards. They then returned to their desks to begin writing. I gave an initial prompt sentence which they could use to get them started: I stepped from my space craft and there, stretched before me, was Mars. I walked around while students worked and, with permission, read out their writing to help those struggling to get started. There were some really descriptive passages being formed and many were including details from their notes including the names of some of the places.
Integrating with ICT
Students were given some terms to investigate eg. morning star, evening star, shooting star, the sun comes up, the sun goes down, the sun goes behind a cloud. They needed to use the internet to research the accuracy of these statements. Students used a variety of online resources including wikipedia, google search using 'define:' and yahoo answers. This was a great activity for students to practice using the internet for quick clarification.