Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
- Sequence the life cycle of stars.
- Demonstrate how a star's initial mass affects its birth, life, and death.
- Explain why different stars have different "fates."
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of the text.
- Use various vocabulary strategies to define academic and domain-specific words in 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 astronomy (stars, galaxies, planets), chemical elements (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, iron), and nuclear reactions.
- A basic overview of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram to get a sense of where Main Sequence stars fall. Our Sun falls on the Main Sequence line of the diagram during its mature phase.
- This is kid-friendly and has a nice picture and description of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram.
- Students should know that the energy from the Sun (and other stars) is caused by hydrogen fusion. Two or more hydrogen atoms fuse together to form helium atoms and release tremendous amounts of energy. That energy is what we see as light and warmth from the sun (ultraviolet electromagnetic waves).
- Students should know that most of the light in the universe is invisible to our eyes. Astronomers use the entire electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves are used to look inside dense interstellar clouds. Microwaves are used to see evidence of the Big Bang. Infrared waves can be used to determine the temperature of planets as well as to look into the middle of the Milky Way galaxy. Visible light helps astronomers determine the temperature of stars. Red is the coolest and blue is the hottest. Ultraviolet light can be used to find regions where stars are born.
- This is a collection of resources from NASA that explains the electromagnetic spectrum. It has short video clips that introduce the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as short video clips describing the different types of energy.
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 be aware of text features that can help them locate and learn information when reading a text. The text features in the "Stars" article are very helpful. Subtitles include: Star Formation, Main Sequence Stars, Stars and Their Fates, Average Stars Become White Dwarfs, White Dwarfs May Become Novae, Supernovae Leave Behind Neutron Stars or Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Black Holes, From the Remains, New Stars Arise. Pictures are provided for subtitles 4-9 and for the Carina Nebula.
- 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.
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
1. Why does the author refer to stars as the fundamental building blocks of galaxies?
Stars form from a nebula or dust cloud. As the star evolves, it produces heavy elements and chemical compounds. The dust and gas left behind by novas and supernovas when they die can then combine with the heavy elements/chemical compounds and other dust and gas in the universe to produce new stars, planetary systems and galaxies.
2. How does the initial mass of a star determine its evolution?
The protostar or early stage of a star will form in the center of the nebula dust cloud. After many millions of years, one of the main sequence stars forms. Main sequence stars range in size, mass, temperature, color, and composition. The smallest main sequence star is the red dwarf. Smaller stars like the red dwarf will live a lot longer (tens of billions of years) than more massive stars and emit less energy (about 0.01% as much as the Sun), and exist at lower temperatures. Our Sun is considered an average main sequence star and will live approximately 10 billion years. The most massive stars, hypergiants, will have 100 times more mass than our Sun, emit hundreds of thousands of times more energy than our sun, but will only live a few million years. Main sequences stars stay alive as long as there is enough hydrogen for fusion reactions that will release energy to keep them burning. Once the hydrogen is used up in the core, the nuclear reactions (fusion) stop while hydrogen fusion continues in the outer layers. The outer layers are forced outwards and will cool, thus transforming the main sequence star into a red giant. Smaller stars (1.4 times the Sun’s mass or less) may collapse directly into white dwarfs without becoming red giants. Larger stars greater than 1.4 times the mass of our Sun may form a nova if other stars are nearby to drag matter from. Main sequence stars that are over 8 times the solar mass will die in a supernova explosion. If the collapsing core of the supernova is between 1.4 to 3 solar masses, a neutron star will form. If the beams from the neutron star are pointed towards Earth so that we observe regular pulses, we call the neutron star a pulsar. If the collapsed stellar core of the supernova is above 3 solar masses, a black hole will form. Dust and debris from novae and supernovae will blend with other gas and dust in the universe along with elements and chemical compounds (produced from stars) to form new stars and new planetary systems.
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Begin the lesson by asking students how the Sun produces energy. Accept all answers from students. Maybe write them on the board. Tell students that our Sun produces energy by nuclear fusion.
- Inside stars, hydrogen fusion occurs when hydrogen nuclei fuse together to form helium nuclei and end up releasing tons of energy. The teacher can use the following to help students visualize this process:
- This is a to show the nuclear reaction that occurs in the core of the Sun.
- This image compares the energy released by chemical, fission, and fusion reactions.
- This is a short video titled "Solar Energy - Nuclear Fusion in the Sun" (4:40, uploaded by YouTube user RimstarOrg) that explains how the Sun produces energy. The beginning of the video also includes a short review of basic chemistry.
2. Provide each student with the Stars Anticipation Guide.
• The teacher will model the process of responding to the statements and marking the columns as true or false.
• When students are done, ask them if they agree or disagree with each statement as the foundation for a class discussion. Teachers can utilize this answer key for reference.
• Use this opportunity to discuss each idea.
• Try to make students feel comfortable sharing by stating that "right answers" don’t matter, but sharing prior knowledge and making predictions are important. Tell them they will revisit their answers at the end of the lesson.
3. End the discussion by telling students that they are going to read an article about how a star's mass affects the way it develops or evolves. Some stars can turn into supernovae while others do not have enough mass.
- Remind students that stars are formed from dust and gas; some of the resulting "blobs" form stars or other objects such as planets, asteroids, or comets, while some remain as dust.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with their own copy of the article, "Stars." Make sure students number each paragraph on their copy before reading (1-17).
2. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Stars
- Subtitles: Star Formation, Main Sequence Stars, Stars and Their Fates, Average Stars Become White Dwarfs, White Dwarfs May Become Novae, Supernovae Leave Behind Neutron Stars or Black Holes, Neutron Stars, Black Holes, From the Remains, New Stars Arrive
- Pictures: Carina Nebula, White Dwarf, Nova, Supernova, Neutron Star, Black Hole, New Star/Planetary System
3. Have students mark or make a list of words they need help with 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.
- If students struggle with determining the meaning of the selected academic vocabulary, teachers might use the following glossary to help them:
- Astronomical: extremely large object
- Galaxy: a system of gas, dust, and stars held together by gravity
- Element: a type of substance that cannot be separated into simpler substances by chemical means
- Coalesce: to grow together into one body
- Infrared: part of the electromagnetic spectrum, towards the red end of visible light
- Turbulence: disordered or violent
- Gravitational: force of attraction between two masses; the larger the mass, the greater the gravity
- Asteroid: also called minor planets; size can range from 480 miles to less than one mile in diameter
- Comet: body in space that moves around the Sun
- Magnetic Field: a field of force surrounding an object
- Nuclear Fusion: reaction when two nuclei fuse and form a nucleus, releasing energy
- Luminosities: the brightness of a star
- Diminutive: small or little
- Cinder: any residue or leftover of combustion
- Quantum Mechanics: theory of the mechanics of atoms, molecules, and other physical systems that are subject to the uncertainty principle
- Paradoxical: self-contradictory
- Intrinsically: belonging to a thing due to its nature
- Oblivion: the process of dying out
- Binary: involving two things
- Array: order or arrangement
- Proximity: nearness in place or time
- Copious: large number
- Interstellar: between two stars
4. Provide each student with a copy of the for reference.
5. Provide each student with a copy of a Hydrogen Fusion Reaction Diagram for reference.
6. After reading, provide each student with the sequence note-taking guide. Students can complete it individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Based on the needs and skills of students, teachers can have students who are familiar with the vocabulary peer teach students who are less familiar. 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 scientific dictionary to define the words.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' sequence note-taking guides, checking their work, providing written feedback, or 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 should use the 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 provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
1. Students often believe that we know everything there is about the Milky Way because it is "our" galaxy. Be sure to explain to the students that we have limited information. We certainly have a lot of information, but we still have much to learn!
2. Students should remember how far away the stars they see in the sky actually are. Many of the stars they see at night have already died--we only see the light they once emitted.
3. Information on how black holes form and their interactions with the rest of the space is still being determined. We do not have a black hole that is close to us, and since they have so much gravitational attraction, it is hard to study them in detail at this time.
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. Have students answer these questions independently or in groups. 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.
How will you check for student understanding? (Formative Assessment):
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 discussion.
2. Teachers should use the sample answer key to the text-dependent questions to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: see above in Guided Practice.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
- Revisit each statement on the anticipation guide and have students fill in the "After You Read" section for each statement (True/False).
- Encourage students to underline or highlight the article where the text defends or contradicts their initial reaction to statements.
- Encourage discussion.
- 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.
- 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. Point out the following:
- How this author introduces their response in a way that catches readers' attention and addresses the prompt. Brainstorm alternatives.
- How each body paragraph refers back to a different part of the text while addressing the prompt.
- How the author uses text evidence and quotes throughout.
- How the author uses transition words and phrases.
- How the author uses academic vocabulary appropriately.
- How the author closes the response. Brainstorm alternatives.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt at the end of the text-dependent questions. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They should refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over it with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed. Go over the writing prompt with students and make sure students understand what the prompt is asking them to address.
3. Encourage students to underline key parts of the prompt as the teacher goes over it so they will remember to answer all the required parts.
- Prompt: Using evidence from the text, describe in detail the evolutionary stages of our Sun, a main sequence or average star.
4. Teachers should use the provided 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 conducting Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"