Tuesday, January 31st

Today, students read an article in the Gravity Workbook, Chaos Among the Planets, pgs. 4-5. The article describes what may have happened in the early Solar System.  A group of scientists proposes the outer planets were much closer to the Sun.  Over time, because of gravitational influences, the planets moved through the Solar System to where they are located now.  Students answered questions about the article on pgs. 5-6.
Next, students began working on Gravity Explorations, pgs. 6-12Gravity WorkbookStudents calculate how much a person would weigh, how far a person could jump, and how high a person could jump on other world.  The purpose of this activity is to show how the mass of the planet affects the strength of its gravity.
In the afternoon, students continued working on the Space Exploration Timeline assignment.


Monday, January 30th

We began the day be reviewing the Planets Exam.  I went through each question, explained how to go about selecting the answer, and giving students the correct answer.
Students received the Gravity Workbook.   They completed More or Less (pg. 3) in Gravity Workbook. Students compare the mass of Earth to the mass of the other planets.  The more massive the planet, the stronger its gravity.  The less massive the planet, the weaker its gravity.
In the afternoon students began working on the Space Exploration Timeline assignment.  Students are given a selected list of space probes that have been sent to explore the Solar System.  Using that information, they are to make a timeline showing a history of exploration for objects in the Solar System.


Blue Marble Image of Earth

A "Blue Marble" image of the Earth taken by NASA's most recently launched Earth-observing satellite - Suomi NPP.  This composite image uses a number of swaths of the Earth's surface taken on January 4, 2012.    Suomi NPP is NASA's next Earth-observing research satellite.  It is the first of a new generation of satellites that will observe many facets of our changing Earth.

Three Generations of Mars Rovers

Two spacecraft engineers join a grouping of vehicles providing a comparison of three generations of Mars rovers developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA.
Front and center is the flight spare for the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997 as part of the Mars Pathfinder Project.  On the left is a Mars Exploration Rover Projects test rover that is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004.  On the right is a Mars Science Laboratory test rover the size of the project's Mars rover, Curiosity, which is on course for landing on Mars in August 2012.  
The engineers are JPL's Matt Robinson, left, and Wesley Kuykendall.


Friday, January 27th

Students worked on the activity I, Robot, pgs. 19-22, in the Exploring Space workbook.  This is the last assignment in the workbook.
This activity introduces the concept of the robot space probe.  Students answered questions about how they would design a robot spacecraft to perform a space mission.  Using the parts of the Cassini probe, students identified parts of the probe and then identified which part of the human body was that part’s counterpart.
In the afternoon, students completed the Comet Trading Cards assignment in the Exploring Comets II workbook.  Then, they read an issue of the Star Witness News about the Deep Impact mission to Comet Tempel 1.  On July 4, 2005, the Deep Impact probe sent an impactor towards the surface of the Comet.  This gave scientists the opportunity to study the inside of the comet.  They then answered questions about the Star Witness News  issue.


Thursday, January 26th

We took the planets unit exam today.  I was very pleased with student's scores.  They did very well.  The testing took up our class time today.


Wednesday, January 25th

Today was spent reviewing for the planets test we will take tomorrow.  We played two review games – Planets Jeopardy and PLUTO (planet Bingo).  PLUTO is played like Bingo, except that students are given a clue and they have to see if they have the correct answer on their card.
In the afternoon, we had the monthly reward activity for students who have completed all assignments.


Tuesday, January 24th

Today, students read the article Planetary Paparazzo in their Exploring Space workbook (pgs. 11-13).  This article talks about the MESSENGER space probe now orbiting Mercury.  They answered questions about the article.
Next, students read pgs. 15-17, NEAR Shoemaker Mission to ErosExploring Space workbook. The article presented the results of the mission that was completed in February 2001.  Their assignment was to write a one page report about the NEAR mission. 
In the afternoon students who haven’t completed the Comet Cinquain assignment (Exploring Comets II workbook) completed that assignment.  Students also began the Comet Trading Cards assignment (pg. 13) in the Exploring Comets II workbook.  Students select three comets and make a trading card for each comet, drawing a picture of the comet and writing information about the comet on the back of the card.


Monday, January 23rd

Today students read pgs. 5-7, What Can You See With a Telescope?Exploring Space workbook. This article discussed the problems astronomers had finding asteroids with the small telescopes they had available to them.  38 years after the fourth asteroid was discovered, the fifth was discovered.  It was only after they had larger and better telescopes were they able to continue discovering asteroids.  They answered questions on pgs. 7-8. Comparing Reflecting and Refracting TelescopesExploring Space workbook.  This compares reflecting and refracting telescopes.  Students completed the graphic organizer on pgs. 10-11. 
In the afternoon, students worked on the Comet Cinquain, assignment in Exploring Comets II workbook.  Students are assigned to write three cinquains about comets.


Friday, January 20th

Today students watched Bill Nye Space Exploration.  They were given a worksheet to complete while they were watching the episode.
Wednesday is our monthly reward activity.  After the video, I handed out a copy of missing assignments.  Students spent the last half-hour of class working on those assignments.  Students without missing assignments either worked to catch-up on this week’s workbook assignments, or read.
Students earned an episode of Mythbusters.  In the afternoon, they watch an episode.  Students with missing work had more time to turn in the work.


Thursday, January 19th

Today we began work in the Exploring Space workbook.  Students read the article, Seeing Faraway Things as Though Nearby, pgs. 1-3. The article discusses the invention of the telescope and how it was improved over time.  Students answered the questions on pgs. 3-5
This afternoon, the Exploring Comets II workbook was handed out.  We read article, pgs. 1-2, What Are Comets Made Of.  It talks about how scientists are learning about comets by studying a comet that broke apart.  By studying the parts of the comet, it helps scientists understand what makes up a comet.  Students answered the question on pg. 2.
They began the Comet Comparisons, activity on pgs. 3-5. Students write a description of a picture of Comet Machholz.  


Wednesday, January 18th

Today we finished work in the Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids workbook.  At the end of the hour, students turned in the workbook.
In the afternoon, students completed all assignments in the Exploring Comets workbook.  It was turned in at the end of class.


Tuesday, January 17th

Today we continued working in the Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids workbook.  We read pgs. 13-21 and completed the questions and worksheets on pgs. 21-24.
In the afternoon, students complete pgs. 11-12 (Comet on a Stick) in the Exploring Comets workbook.


Friday, January 13th

Students read It Was A Dark and Starry Night, pgs. 8-10 in Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids workbook. This explained how the first asteroid was discovered.  It detailed the process of communication and cooperation among other scientists that led to confirmation of its discovery.
One of the radio telescope teams had a session in the afternoon.  Students collected data on two quasars.  (A quasar [quasi-stellar radio source] is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus.)


Thursday, January 12th (Substitute)

There was a substitute today.  I spent the day at the District Office in Professional Leadership Community (PLC) training.  Most of my day was spent learning about better ways to test students and see what they know.   We learned ways to identify which students did not fully understand the concepts and those who did.  I learned a lot and it will help me better identify students who need assistance.
In the morning, the students read Kids Discover Telescopes and started working on a worksheet as a class.  In the afternoon, students read the latest ScienceWorld issue.


Wednesday, January 11th

Students complete the activity Meteoroids, Comets, and Asteroids in the Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids  workbook. The assignment is found on pgs 4-7.  Complete the Data Sheet on pg. 7.  Students cut ¼-inch strip from a 2” wide strip of paper (this represents a scale of a meteoroid).  This was glued to the “Meteoroid” section on the Data Sheet on pg. 7.  Next, they cut a ¾-inch strip from the same paper (this represents a scale of a comet).  This was glued to the “Comet” section.  Finally, students take all their strips (four strips, 2” wide and 8½-inches long) and tape them together.  Students measure and cut a 40” long strip and glue it on the Data Sheet.  This represents a scale of an asteroid.  This activity gives students an idea about the differing sizes of these three objects.
In the afternoon, student completed pgs. 6-10 (Ten Facts About Comets and Comet Acrostic) in Exploring Comets workbook.


Tuesday, January 10th

Students received their Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids workbook.  We read pages 1-3.  The reading explained the differences between a meteoroid (rocks or dirt in space), meteor (the same rocks or dirt going through our atmosphere), and comet (a dirty snowball).  There were a series of questions on pg. 3 students completed.
In the afternoon, students worked on pgs. 6-10 in the Exploring Comets workbook.
We read pgs. 6-7. This was a list of ten facts about comets.  On pgs. 8-9, students selected three of the facts, wrote them in their own words, explained why the selected them, and how these facts help us learn about comets.  On pgs. 9-10 is the Comet Acrostic assignment.  Using the first letter in the word “comet,” students write a “poem” about the structure of comets.  The assignments require them to complete two acrostics.


Monday, January 9th

Today students worked on finishing the Planet Workbook assignment - Planet Research Project - pg. 25.  Students select a planet, research information about that planet, and write a two-page paper about the planet.  Students were told to turn in the Planet Workbook at the end of the hour.
In the afternoon, we began discussing comets.  Students were handed out the Exploring Comets workbook.  We read pgs. 1-4, which are an introduction to comets.  After reading the pages, students answered questions on pgs. 4-6.


Friday, January 6th

Students who scored a 2 or lower on the Seasons Unit Final Exam re-took the test today.  Overall, I was pleased with the improved scores.
Students who had not finished the Planet Workbook assignment - History of Saturn's Discoveries - pgs. 14-15, worked on that assignment.
Students also began the Planet Workbook assignment - Planet Research Project - pg. 25.  Students select a planet, research information about that planet, and write a two-page paper about the planet.


Thursday, January 5th

Today, students completed the History of Saturn's Discoveries – pgs. 14-15 in the Planet Workbook.  The first part of the assignment consisted of making a timeline (using cards) showing how we learned about Saturn.

The second part of the assignment consisted of students writing a one-page paper about one of the following topics:
  • Compose a letter to Galileo explaining how scientific understanding of Saturn has changed since the time of his observations. Address questions like: What news would be most exciting to share with Galileo? What advances have been made in technology? What additional discoveries were made due to these advances? What do we hope to learn by the year 2010, after the Cassini spacecraft has toured the Saturn system?
  • Explain the different categories of technologies that have been used to explore Saturn.
  • Explain why we use spacecraft to explore Saturn. What is the advantage of having Cassini orbit Saturn vs. having Pioneer 11 and the Voyagers fly-by the Saturn?

This helps students better understand how we have used technology to learn about the planets.

In the afternoon, the second group of students completed remediation for Seasons Unit Final Exam Retake.  They will take the test tomorrow.


Wednesday, January 4th

We continue working on the Planet Workbook .  We finished Ceres and Pluto: Dwarf Planets as a New Way of Thinking about an Old Solar System (pgs. 16-24).

We started working on History of Saturn's Discoveries - pgs. 14-15. Students complete a timeline identifying significant events that have helped us learn more about Saturn.  They use ten cards to complete this assignment.

In the afternoon, the first group of students completed the remediation assignments so they can take the Seasons Unit Final retake on Friday.


Tuesday, January 3rd

Welcome to 2012!

We continued working on the Planet Workbook
  • Classifying Planets (pgs. 10-13) – Students are given different standards to classify the planets in the Solar System.  Some of the ways the planets were classified include size (giant – larger than Earth or small – smaller than Earth), and Inferior planets (planets closer to the Sun than Earth) and superior planets (planets farther away from the Sun than Earth).    Students were told to look for patterns in the classification.  Were the rocky planets and the gas giants regularly classified in the same groups?  If so, how? 
  • Ceres and Pluto: Dwarf Planets as a New Way of Thinking about an Old Solar System (pgs. 16-24).  This is an activity found at the NASA Dawn website.  The purpose of the activity is to help students understand the differences between dwarf planets, planets, and asteroids.  We began the activity and will continue tomorrow.

In the afternoon, we watched Traveler’s Guide to the Planets – Saturn.

Tomorrow and Thursday, students who got a 2-proficiency level (or less) on any part of the seasons test will spend the afternoon in remediation.  During the time spent, we will review basic concepts, preparing students to re-take (and make-up) the test on Friday.

I am very disappointed by the results of the test.  Two-thirds of my students have to go through remediation.  What is so frustrating is the majority of them did not turn in their assignments that were supposed to be completed during the unit.  I realize that many students did the work and still did not understand the concepts.  I have no problem with spending the time working with him and helping them to better understand the concepts.  My frustration comes from students who are perfectly capable of completing the assignments and understand the concepts, but don’t do the work.  I’m working to find a way to deal with so many assignments that are not turned in.