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The Planet Mars

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Keywords: Solar System, Earth, Mars, Planets
Subject(s): English/Language Arts, Technology, Art, Science
Grades 5 through 8
School: Sparta Elementary School, Sparta, NC
Planned By: Allie Chrisawn
Original Author: Allie Chrisawn, Sparta
Allie Chrisawn
5th Grade
Sparta Elementary School
October 18, 2007

- Students will be able to build their understanding of the solar system, including planets, stars, and gravitational forces.
- Students will be able to communicate their understanding of planets by comparing and contrasting Mars and Earth.

- The teacher will engage students by showing them a hands-on visual representation of the planets in the solar system. Students will be able to observe some characteristics of planets. This activity will help learners to become focused on the concept to be explored in the coming lesson.

Direct Instruction:
- As a way of assessing students' prior knowledge, the teacher will ask learners to complete a true/false survey. The teacher has created this survey to address possible misconceptions of the planet Mars, and to introduce new information. After completion of the survey, the teacher will review the true statements about Mars so that learners have correct understanding of the facts.
- The teacher will show students realistic photographs of Mars and the god it was named for. This gives students another chance to visualize Mars and compare and contrast it to Earth.
- Next, the teacher will create a Venn diagram on the board to compare and contrast Mars and Earth. The students will help supply answers unique to Mars, Earth, or both planets.

Guided Practice:
- The teacher will pass out leveled reader booklets to each student. The leveled readers are entitled "2061: Photographing Mars" and were written by Richard Brightfield. This fictional story tells of a child from Earth, who visits Mars to take photographs for her classroom peers. This story is beneficial to students because it leads readers on a virtual tour of the "Red Planet."
- The teacher will read this story with students, and stop periodically to check for understanding. The teacher will remind students that this is a fictional story of life on Mars, and that true life has not yet been established there.

Independent Practice and Assessment:
- The teacher will now provide an opportunity for students to show the information they have learned. Students will be asked to create a brochure advertising life on Mars in the year 2061. Students will be expected to create an appealing brochure that could convince people of Earth to visit Mars. Students will be required to explain and promote at least one natural feature of the planet in their work. By reviewing student work, the teacher will be able to assess student understanding and teacher effectiveness.

- This lesson meets the following North Carolina Standard Course of Study Objectives for fifth grade students.

- Science 5.01 - Analyze the components and cycle of the solar system including:
- Sun
- Planets and Moon
- Asteroids and Meteors
- Comets
- Phases
- Seasons
- Day/Year
- Eclipses

- Science 5.02 - Compare and contrast the Earth to other planets in terms of:
- Size
- Composition
- Relative distance from the sun
- Ability to support life.

- English Language Arts 2.03 - Read a variety of texts such as:
- Fiction
- Nonfiction
- Poetry
- Drama

- English Language Arts 2.05 Evaluate inferences, conclusions, and generalizations and provide evidence by referencing the text(s).

- ADHD students will be asked to be the "teacher's helper" to pass out materials, hold up visual aids, etc.
- Female students will be called on as often as male students, so that they will receive an equal opportunity of learning and sharing about a new science concept.

- The teacher will remind students of the proper way to handle classroom materials.
- The teacher will constantly encourage students to stay on task during the learning activities.
- The teacher will maneuver around the classroom during the guided and independent practices to prevent and manage behavior issues.

Bloom's Taxonomy:
- Knowledge - The students will demonstrate their prior knowledge as recorded on the true/false inventory.
- Comprehension - The students will be encouraged to comprehend the book that is read to them by the teacher. The teacher will ask questions throughout the story that allow students to make connections with prior knowledge of the concept being learned.
- Analysis - The students will analyze their observations of the similarities and differences of Mars and Earth.
- Evaluation - The teacher will assess student learning by reviewing finished brochures. This will show student comprehension and misunderstandings.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This lesson was a great way to reinforce the idea of creating and using graphic organizers, such as the Venn Diagram. Also, it was very easy to incorporate End-of-Grade test terminology such as compare and contrast using this lesson.
Materials: Slideshow, Web Page
Other Items: 25 "2061: Photographing Mars" Leveled Readers written by Richard Brightfield