Lesson: Solar System Reports

Author: Marc Sheehan

Subjects: Science, Writing, Research Skills, Technology Skills

Instructional Level: Middle School

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

Time: Four Weeks: four weekly in-class sessions for research and putting the project together, another two consecutive days for sharing final products

Materials/Necessary Tools: Computers, internet access, digital projector, electronic slideshow program (Google Slides or PowerPoint would work), journals for note-taking, writing utensils

The student will utilize technology to conduct research on a given topic.
The student will use technology to create and present an electronic slideshow at a level appropriate to his/her grade level.
The student will be able to synthesize research to create a project using grade-level written work.

Introduction: Ideally, this project will be the culminating activity for a unit on the Solar System. I will share an example slideshow of the entire Solar System using Google Slides to give the students an idea of what they will be creating for this project. I will then share the requirements for the project: the students will research the Solar System and create a slideshow about each planet in it.

Procedure: I will give the students the following instructions in written form:
Your task: Create a slideshow about our Solar System.
1 introductory slide: give your name and include some sort of image from the Solar System
9 main slides: 1 for each planet and 1 for dwarf planets or other objects in the solar system (e.g. Pluto, Ceres, Eris, asteroid belt, comets, Kuiper Belt)
1 bibliography slide showing the resources you used to complete this project with at least 3 research sources using EasyBib.

Your main slides (1 planet per slide) can feature:
Size and Location of the planet in the Solar System (Must Have)
How the planet was named
Its Distance from the Sun and Earth
Length of Day and Year
Number of Moons
Temperature, Atmosphere and Gravity
Visits by Earth Exploratory Missions
Any Other Interesting Facts -- when discovered, general color of planet, when/where to see in the sky, surface features, rings (Must Have One At Least)

Use at least 4 features per slide.

Each of the 8 planet slides will include:
An image of the planet
A description of the planet in 4 sentences

The ninth slide will also require:
an image
3-4 sentences describing at least 2 of the following: Pluto, Ceres, Eris, dwarf planets, asteroid belt, Kuiper Belt, and comets. The same types of data for the planet slides can be used for this slide.

The students will be given a timeline of when the slides are due: the first three in nine days, the next three a week later, and the final three the following week. Each set of slides will be submitted to me so I can check on their progress. 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 three of the research sources they used by utilizing EasyBib

Closure/Modifications: The students will share their slideshows to their classmates over two or three class sessions. The slideshows will be submitted to me electronically so that I can offer corrections and suggestions. The project could be modified in terms of length, either number of slides and/or number or sentences per slide. The project will be done in stages, but the time requirements could be altered (submit two every five days, for example). 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.

Assessment: The slideshows will be graded on completeness (all slides done); 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 (could read the typed information on the slides)? Is it done with appropriate writing and images?

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