Lesson: Planet Reports

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: Science, Writing, Research Skills

Instructional Level: Third-Fifth

Skills: Utilizing techology to complete a project, Writing, Research

Time: Three Weeks: Three in-class sessions for research and putting the project together, two days for poster production, a day for practicing the oral presentation portion, another two consecutive days for sharing final products

Materials/Necessary Tools: Computers, internet access, journals for note-taking, writing utensils, posters, markers, crayons, colored pencils

The student will utilize technology to conduct research on a given topic.
The student will be able to synthesize research to create a project using grade-level written work.
The student will be able to present their project in oral form to his/her classmates at grade level standard.

Introduction: Ideally, this project will be the culminating activity for a unit on the Solar System. The students would identify two or three planets (dwarf planets included) they would like to research for a project involving a brief oral presentation. An example of a final project will be shown to the class to help them get a better idea of what the project will look like.

Procedure: I will give the students the following instructions in written form:
Your task: Research one planet and produce a poster about it. You will also describe your findings to the class in a brief talk. A basic script will be provided to help you.
What your research poster will include:
An image of the planet
Size of the planet and Location of the planet in the Solar System
Its Distance from the Sun and Earth
Length of Day and Year
Number of Moons
Surface Temperature
Visits by Earth Exploratory Missions
Other Interesting Facts -- how named, when discovered, general color of planet, when/where to see in the sky, surface features, rings

You will have a bibliography showing the resources you used to complete this project using EasyBib.

You will have time to use in class for research, typing, producing the poster, and practicing your presentation.
Students will be also urged to work on the project outside of class so they can get everything done well and on time. The students will also be instructed to cite at least one research source they used by utilizing EasyBib

Closure/Modifications: The students will present their final products to the class. The project could be modified in terms of length. Students could have their work scribed for them if necessary. Students could focus on getting their ideas written down, while the teacher or someone provides assistance on editing those ideas. The students could also be given ideas to use (e.g. for Saturn -- discuss the rings) to better focus their research. The script can be written word-for-word to help students with their talk.

Assessment: The projects will be graded on completeness (requirements met); on the use of grade-level writing skills in spelling, grammar, and composition; on the required use of the research citations; and quality of the project -- Is it informative? Is it interesting? Is it legible? Is it done with appropriate writing and images? The oral presentation will be graded using a grade-level rubric on the student's use of voice and poise.

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