Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Outline the research that was conducted to understand why the corona is hotter than the surface of the Sun.
- Explain how this research adds to the body of scientific knowledge on the Sun's properties and how this connects to conditions on Earth.
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Determine the meaning of selected academic and domain-specific words in the text.
- Identify the central ideas of the text.
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science:
- General familiarity with the structure of the Sun would be beneficial to students. This offers a brief and simple overview of the layers of the Sun.
- Basic knowledge of the temperatures of the layers of the Sun. For instance, students should understand that the core is the hottest layer of the Sun, which cools as it reaches the surface. Also, students should understand characteristics of the corona (temperature and coronal holes) and how the corona can affect Earth. For instance, that coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can get caught in solar winds and impact conditions on Earth.
- General knowledge of Alfven waves would be of benefit to students reading the article. Students do not need to understand a lot of detail here, but should know that Alfven waves occur in plasma causing an interaction of magnetic fields and electric currents, which results in oscillation of ions. Also, students need to know that plasma is a super-heated gas and ions are charged particles.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text. For this lesson, prior experience in using context clues to determine the meaning of words in a text would be beneficial. In addition, students should have some dictionary skills that will enable them to look up words with multiple meanings and determine the most appropriate meaning based on how a word is used in a text.
- Students should understand the term "central idea" and be able to distinguish central ideas from key details.
"Central idea" means the same thing as "main idea." The central idea is the author's main point about the topic or topics in a text. The central ideas are the dominant, most important, or chief ideas that emerge from all the ideas presented in a text. Students should be aware that the author can have several main points he or she wants to make about the topic or topics in a piece of writing, and as a result, there can be multiple central ideas in a text, especially in longer more complex pieces.
Key, or in other words, important, details in a text help an author support and develop his or her central ideas.
- Students should have an awareness that authors can organize or structure a text in many different ways. In longer, more complex nonfiction pieces authors sometimes use several types of structures in one text. In "It's Hot...Super Hot," some of the text structures include descriptive, problem/solution, and sequence.
- Students should be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in NSF's corona article include: title, subtitle, headings, photographs, and captions.
- Based on the writing rubric provided with the lesson, students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
- Students should have some awareness that use of transition words or phrases can help a piece of writing flow smoothly from one point or idea to the next. Teachers might wish to provide students with a sheet of transitions to help them. This site provides transitions teachers might provide.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
Main investigation questions: While students are reading and answering questions about the article, please use the questions below to help guide students' thinking:
1. What is the structure of the Sun?
The sun has six layers (from inside, out): the core, the radiative zone, the convective zone, all of which make up the Sun's interior. The Sun's visible surface is known as the photosphere and outside of that is the chromosphere and finally, the corona.
2. How does energy reach the surface of the Sun?
Energy reaches the surface of the Sun mostly due to nuclear fission and convection currents.
3. Why is collaboration and replication within the scientific community important?
It allows scientists and researchers to discover vital information that may impact society. Replication allows scientists and researchers to build on theories and ideas and to verify each others data.
4. How are conditions on the Sun and Earth connected?
Conditions on the sun directly impact almost all aspects of life on Earth. Without the sun, no life could be supported on this planet. Specifically mentioned in this text is the ability for X-rays emitted by the Sun to impact satellites roaming just outside of Earth's atmosphere.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by posing a general question to the class: "How can you relate the temperatures of Earth's layers to the temperatures of the Sun's layers?"
- Students are likely to suggest that just like the Earth, the Sun is hottest at its core and decreases in temperature to be coolest at the surface.
2. Next, ask the class the question: "Although the surface of the Sun is the coolest, the two layers outside of the surface are hotter. So, the last two layers get hotter the further they are from the core. Explain."
- Students will likely be thrown off by this question and they will try to come up with many ideas. Students with more prior knowledge of this topic may be able to support students who are lacking in prior knowledge.
- The teacher should write down ideas that the students come up with or have the students, as a group, write down their ideas in a central location in order to compare their thoughts to the findings in the article.
3. Next, ask students: "Of the ideas that we listed, which do you think is the most likely reason for the corona (outer layer) being hotter than the photosphere (Sun's surface)?"
- Students might continue to speculate as to why the corona is hotter than the photosphere and may come up with even more concrete ideas. Write down any other ideas that the students may present.
**The teacher may wish to review the basic structure of the Sun and temperatures of its layers at some point before or during this introduction period, before students read the text. This is a good basic review source that the teacher can use to prepare or can show to students. This page, also from NASA, is another good option. If the teacher wants to provide students with a more thorough review of the processes and conditions on the Sun, consider showing the video referenced in the accommodations section of the lesson.
4. End the discussion by informing students that we will be reading an article that addresses a group of researchers reasons as to why they believe, through data, that the corona is hotter than the photosphere.
5. Before students begin reading the article, consider showing this very brief (3 minute) video from National Geographic, which provides a good basic overview of some facts about the Sun and its connection and importance to Earth.
6. Tell students that the article may bring up a couple topics worth mentioning before they read.
- Inform students to be on the lookout for the term Alfven wave, which may be something they haven't heard of before. Tell students that Alfven waves are transverse magnetic tension waves that travel along magnetic field lines in electricity conducting liquid such as plasma (which is what the corona is made up of).
- Also review some basic information about satellite technology with students. Many students will know some key facts about satellites (that they are artificial bodies ejected into orbit around the Earth to collect information). Ask students to brainstorm about some of the many uses of satellite technology and consider listing student responses. End by telling students that the research they will be reading about was conducted using a satellite.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with a copy of the article "It's Hot…Super Hot." For class discussions that will follow, it might be helpful to have students number each paragraph within each section. They can also number the sections. (Section 1 follows the subtitle and is an introduction to the coronal heating problem, section 2 heading: "The 'In's and Out's' of Earth's Atmosphere," section 3 heading: "Puzzle Solved. Now What?").
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: It's Hot…Super Hot
- Subtitle: Finding Answers around the Sun
- Headings: The "In's and Out's" of Earth's Atmosphere, Problem Solved. Now What?
- Captions: Located under the one photograph
4. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed. Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words. For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by having students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion on students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to give alternative suggestions on ways the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Students without solid background knowledge of the Sun's structure may confuse the corona with the core, as the words sound similar and it is intuitive that the core would be hotter. Spend time reviewing the Sun's layers to avoid this, especially the corona, and consider telling the students that the word "corona" comes from the word "crown" or "coronation" and that it surrounds the sun like a crown.
- Students may think that the corona is the hottest layer of the Sun after reading the article. Remind students that the core is hotter, but then the layers begin to cool progressing toward the outside of the Sun. However, the temperature in the corona (outside the Sun's outer layers) is much hotter than the outer layers.
- Review the difference between replication and repetition in science and remind students that new findings within the scientific community are typically not accepted with consensus until they have been independently replicated multiple times. Students may think that the findings described in the text are "the answer" but remind them that this is not the way the scientific process works and there is no proof or absolute truth in science.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will you check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use this sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
1. Before students complete the writing prompt: Be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or with an LCD projector and discuss some of the following:
- Have students examine how the topic is introduced in the opening sentences of the introductory paragraph. (Students often struggle with ideas in how to start a written response, and they often want to repeat the prompt back in the first sentence because they are not sure what other options they have. Go over how this writer opened his or her piece of writing. Brainstorm with students other ways the writer could have opened the piece.)
- Ask students to examine the introductory paragraph and identify the main point of the written response.
- Have students identify relevant and specific textual evidence from the article that is used throughout the written response.
- Have students identify use of domain-specific vocabulary (e.g., Sun's corona, Earth's atmosphere, coronal heating).
- Have students identify use of transition words or phrases within the paragraphs that help the ideas and points flow together.
- Point out the last sentence of the written response that serves as a concluding statement.
3. As one final option, teachers might want students to use the rubric to provide a score for the sample written response and have them justify the score they gave, possibly providing revision suggestions for any categories they scored lower than a 4.
4. As an engaging way to close the lesson, consider showing the students this clip. It is very short (~30 seconds) and does not have audio but provides a great visual of images of Alfven waves in the corona collected by the Hinode satellite. Teachers may also want to provide several of the guiding questions featured earlier in this lesson as an exit ticket for students to complete at the end of the lesson.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion or concluding statement. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
3. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address. The prompt: Speculate on how the researchers' findings on possible explanations for coronal temperature might be relevant to conditions or events on Earth. Be sure to cite evidence from the text in your response.
4. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."