Creating Objectives and Plans from "Real Books"

Many books at the library are wonderful. There's one that I have in mind that is my favorite resource for astronomy, The Nature Company Guides: Skywatching by David H. Levy [288 pages]. I bought the book many years ago. It is out of print now, but you should be able to find it at the library. [I take that back, it is now available in paperback and so is "Astronomy" and "Weather" by The Nature Company Guides.] If you wish to cover parts of astronomy, I recommend this book.

For the sake of this example let us say that you want to design a group of lessons that teach how to read a star map, how to find certain stars and identify constellations. See the objectives listed below... These classes could take place in September through October in preparation of the lab. The lab for the astronomy unit should be going outside finding the stars and constellations. In the northern hemisphere the best time to observe the night sky is during winter.

Your objectives might be something like:
1. Student understands the earth's movement and why we see different stars at different times of the year
2. Student understands why the earth's rotation around the sun causes the seasons and why the shadows lengthen or shrink.
3. Student can find and identify major constellations and stars.
4. Student learns to use and care for equipment such as binoculars, cameras, or telescopes
If you used Skywatching as your main resource, then your lesson plans might be something like this:

week 1 Mapping the Stars, page 80-81 1 lesson
week 2 A Spinning Earth, page 82 1 lesson
week 3 Time and seasons, pages 84-87 2-3 lessons
week 4 Observing Techniques, pages 58-59- 1-2 lessons
week 5 Choosing and Using Binoculars, pages 60-61 1-2 lessons
week 6 Choosing and using a Telescope, Pages 62-67 2 lessons
week 7 Astrophotography page 68-69 1 lesson
week 8 Finding Your Way Around, pages 102-103 1 lesson
week 9 The Star Finder Charts, page 104-107 2 lessons
weeks 10-15 The Lab Observing Stars: several evenings Look at the appropriate star finder chart (1-2 nights each week) go outside and observe the night sky.
Morning after each lab: Look up one of the constellations that the kids have found, read about the constellation. Make drawings, label the named stars.

This is just a basic outline, if you planned this completely, you'd add details to the plans. You might have the children draw pictures, go outside and practice the observing techniques, do a little research about Isaac Newton, demonstrate how the earth is tipped and spins on its axis as it rotates around the sun.....

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