Deborah Rang, ESC XIII
Students are estimated to have to be exposed to an estimated 88,500 words in
print between grades 3-9 (Nagy and Anderson, 1984). Choosing a few key words
to focus on provides students with a scaffold for moving through this sea of
words. Additionally, rather than having students write and memorize vocabulary
definitions, interaction with focus vocabulary should be meaningful and contextual.
Teaching vocabulary in this way often provides student connections and ownership
to the new words they are learning. In order to allow students to connect with
the vocabulary terms in another way, try the following strategy:
-Write two-three terms (focus words) on the board/overhead
-Read each of the words after you write them
-Ask students to repeat the words with you
-Assign each of the words a "special" sound (for example "hooray")
-When students read text or hear the word in class, encourage them to "celebrate" using the assigned sound.
Example- Student term is "matter." Assigned sound is a snap. Every
time a student hears, sees, or reads the word "matter" they snap.
So enjoy the snapping and let the celebrations begin.
Reference: Nagy, W., & Anderson, R. C. (1984). How many words are there in
printed school English? Reading Research Quarterly, 19, 304-330.
Carol Lutsinger, Area Director South 1 and 2
The elementary TEKS are filled with TEKS that can be addressed
If you don’t know what to do with astronomy, this is a perfect time to
learn more about it. The United Nations, and many states and cities in the United
States have declared 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy. This is specifically
to mark and celebrate the contributions made by Galileo Galilei and his serendipitous
turning of a telescope to the nighttime skies over his head. He discovered “moonlets” surrounding
the planet Jupiter and changed the way the world viewed to cosmos.
If you want to know more about astronomy there are numerous websites available
via the internet. If you want a human being to help you learn more about it there
may be a NASA/JPL sponsored and trained Solar System Educator or Ambassador in
your area that you could call upon for assistance. SSE is on the web with cities
that have contacts who willingly share information about space missions and astronomy.
Local area astronomy buffs leap at the chance to share the beauties of the nighttime
skies with school groups and many larger cities have astronomy clubs that also
enjoy presenting star parties and sharing expertise. If you are not aware of
any in your area, contact me at Stargazerherald@att.net for information.
As it happens, I am one of those Solar System Educator/Ambassadors, as well as
a member of the American Astronomical Society Teacher Resource Agent program
and I really enjoy sharing the nighttime sky. If you would like to receive my
weekly astronomy newspaper column send me an email to the address above and I
will happily send it. The articles are designed for average readers in the sixth
grade to understand and are related to what is in the sky for that week.
Astronomy is the oldest science and has connections to TEKS in art through zoology.
The constellations are mostly geometric figures that are taught in kindergarten
so the connections to math begin for 5 year olds. All the seasons and motions
of our planet relate to the Earth’s position in space so there is that
connection as well.
Cultural stories abound with science as a basis, which gives a social studies/reading
connection. We are including one with this ‘Dillo issue. It has to do with
the apparent motion of the Sun along the horizon during the course of a year.
you watch the Sun rise and set during the course of a season in relation to
a fixed object such as a utility pole or tree, then you will notice this pattern.
Because the Earth is tilted on its axis 23.5 degrees, and rotates in its axis
once every 24 hours and a few minutes, and revolves steadily around the Sun for
365 days and six hours plus a few minutes, the Sun appears to rise slowly from
due east and set due west only around the first days of spring and autumn. From
the first days of spring it appears to rise a bit north of east each morning
and set a bit south of west each evening until the first days of summer. On those
first couple of days it seems to stand still (summer solstice-which means “stand
still”) and then retreats back to the due east/west points on the first
days of autumn. From that date it seems to move along the horizon toappear SOUTH
of east in the morning and set NORTH of west in the evening.
This is what causes summers to be hot. The Sun is above the horizon many more
hours of the day allowing heating of the surfaces on the planet. In the winter
the Sun is in the sky fewer hours of the day, with less heating of the surfaces.
Combining the tilt with the amount of heat and light hitting the Earth, voila!
Hot summers and cold winters, in either the northern or southern hemispheres.
Now for the southwestern
tale of “Why Sun Rises Cautiously” based on a real
Native American story but retold my way. Carol Lutsinger, Area
Why Sun Rises Cautiously
Now it is night, time to sit and talk about the world in which we live, time
to share the tales of those who have gone before; time to listen and think about
the reasons for things to be as they are.
In the beginning of time, each morning very early, while the animals were trying
to sleep, Sun would leap suddenly into the sky, shine in their faces, and rouse
them from their dreams. He would dance around the sky all day, leaping and shouting,
and making things so very hot that the animals began to complain loudly,
“My fur is too hot!” howled Coyote.
“My feet are burning!” grumbled Horned Lizard.
“I am thirsty and cannot find water” chattered Cactus Wren.
All of this complaining was too much for Rabbit! He was a loud and boastful fellow
and liked to make all the noise and do all the grumbling by himself. He stood
up in front of the Council of the Tribe and bragged thusly:
“Tomorrow I myself will go and teach that Sun a lesson! No longer will
he dare show his face so early in the sky. No longer will he singe our flesh
and take away our water!” vowed Rabbit. Then he marched right out of the
Council House to his hogan and began to remove from his quiver all but the most
straight and true-flying arrows.
That night as the Sun disappeared into the Land of the Dead, Rabbit sat watching
and planning just how he would teach the Sun to respect The People. As he sat,
his friends Coyote, Horned Lizard, and Cactus Wren came and sat beside him, also
thinking thoughts to help their friend. Together they decided to rise early the
next morning and stand on the mesa where the Sun came leaping into the sky. Rabbit
was to be ready with his best arrow nocked in the bow and let it fly just as
And so it was, as the Moon and his sister, Morning Star were the only things
in the sky, Rabbit and Coyote climbed to the mesa top to wait. Carefully Rabbit
placed the base of the arrow against the tough sinew bowstring and he p- u- l
-l -e -d back the string v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y and carefully, holding it taut against
his right ear until...THERE, there were the fingers of the Sun! Rabbit let go
the bowstring and the arrow flew straight where he had seen Sun rising the day
before! And the arrow flew right on by, while Sun laughed because he had come
into the sky just a little bit to the side of where he had come up the day before.
The next morning the four friends again went to the mesa to wait. Rabbit took
out another arrow and placed it in his bow, ready to shoot. He carefully aimed
his arrow toward the spot where Sun had leaped into the sky the day before. Just
as Sun leaped, Rabbit let his arrow fly! Coyote howled his encouragement, Wren
sang a warriors song, and Horned Lizard danced a straight flying dance, but this
time the arrow fell again to earth without striking Sun.
Rabbit was very embarrassed and angry as well, He jumped up and down in his anger.
Coyote howled in frustration; Wren chattered loudly; Horned Lizard raced away
to sit under a cool rock and collect his thoughts. But Rabbit was not discouraged.
He vowed to try again the next morning.
Now the friends had been watching while Rabbit was shooting and they noticed
that the Sun moved just a bit farther along the horizon this day as well. When
they told Rabbit what they had seen, he decided to aim just a little bit ahead
of Sun to see what would happen.
The next morning the friends again rose early and walked in the cool morning
breeze to the mesa. Once again Rabbit took an arrow from his quiver and nocked
it into the bowstring, slowly pulling back on the bowstring and holding it taut,
and aiming just a bit ahead of where the Sun had risen the previous morning.
At the exact moment that Sun leaped, Rabbit let the arrow fly, and true it flew,
right SMACK into the right side of the Sun!
At once fire began to bleed from Sun and fall towards the Earth, and Rabbit!
Rabbit began to run for his life across the mesa! Frantically he called to Yucca
Tree, “Help me! Hide me! Save me! I have shot the Sun and Fire is chasing
“Oh, no,” sighed Yucca Tree. “I cannot help you, for if I do
that fire will burn me too!” And Yucca Tree kept herself straight and tall.
Rabbit raced on, with fire close on his heels. In the distance he saw a creosote
bush and called out desperately, “Creosote! Creosote! Help me! Hide me!
Save me! I have shot the Sun and Fire is chasing me! It will surely burn me if
“Oh, no, Rabbit,” whispered Creosote Bush, “for if I do that
fire will burn me too!”
And Rabbit raced on, with Fire close on his tail. As Rabbit was nearly exhausted,
he saw, far away, a small cactus plant rising out of the sand. He managed to
gasp out “Cactus! Help me! Hide me! Save me! I have shot the Sun and Fire
is chasing me! It will surely burn me if you don’t!”
Now Cactus was a kind-hearted soul, even if he was prickly with
thorns all over him and he called out, “Come quickly! I
will protect you with my thorns! Dig a hole at my feet and Fire
will not find you!”
Gasping in exhaustion, Rabbit used his last ounce of energy to dig furiously
at the base of Cactus to make just enough space for himself. Rabbit managed to
get in, just as Fire raced over the top of Cactus, not seeing Rabbit under the
thick green feet of Cactus. As Fire raced on across the prairie looking for Rabbit,
he burned it into desert that is still desert today after all this time.
Rabbit crawled shakily out from the hole at Cactus’ feet and thanked Cactus
for rescuing him. Modestly, Cactus replied, “That is what kind beings
are for, to help people in need. Even though I did not know you and you did
me we are still friends in this place and our children will be friends forever.”
That is why, from that day to this, Rabbit has become a shy timid fellow, hiding
from danger, often under a cactus. If one looks closely, the dark streaks where
Fire singed Rabbit can be seen between his ears because the hole was not quite
deep enough for all of Rabbit to hide in.
And that is why Sun carefully lifts his head above the horizon and slowly peeks
around the edge of the Earth before lifting himself into the sky where he slowly
makes his way across the safe path in the sky. And why Rabbit seeks shelter underneath
the prickly pads of the cactus during the heat of the day.
Sun Shadow Data Sheet
Location:__________________ Date:__________ Site Latitude:________________
Site Longitude:______________ Gnomon height: __________ cm; ________mm
Data Collection Team Members:
Predict the motion of the shadow: Clockwise or counterclockwise?
||Shadow Length in cm.
||Shadow Length in mm.
Draw a sketch of the motion of the shadow. Show north. Use arrows to indicate
the direction of the motion.
What did you learn from this data?
What do you notice about another team's data?
What observations or questions do you have now about solar motion?
* Plot the position of the sun at sunrise and/ or sunset along the horizon
weekly for several months.
* Research the terms "equinox" and "solstice" and then
prepare a classroom presentation related to the research.
* Research Medicine Wheels, Chaco Canyon, or some other archeoastronomical
Solar Motion/Tracking Shadows
(1 per team) 1000 ml graduated cylinders (OPTION: Golf tees or new pencils
and clay to hold them, but not as effective to track shadow lengths)
(1 per team) Metric measuring tape in plastic bag to keep it clean
Several pieces of sidewalk chalk per team in plastic bags
Log book or data sheet copies with pencils to write observations
Find out the latitude and longitude of your site by going to the US Naval Observatory
website. Gather materials and distribute them as you choose. On a sunny morning
take students outside to set up their research sites. It is important to select
an area that will be sunny for several hours. Readings should be repeated at
regular intervals throughout the day.
Assign teams to work together to set up gnomons and trace shadows and collect
the measurements. Separate the groups so that they have a wide area in which
to work. A concrete surface works best. If that is not available, using golf
tees stuck in clay on a small sheet of notebook paper could be used, but the
shadow lengths are not as easy to discern.
Team members should take turns tracing JUST THE OUTLINE of the gnomon shadow.
To set up: Go to assigned area. Set gnomon with spout of cylinder pointing
north. Trace the base of the cylinder and the initial shadow OUTLINE ONLY.
Do not color it in. Write the time in the space of the shadow. Record the data
in the data chart.
TEACHER NOTE: The shadow will be seen to move within a couple of minutes. It
is extraordinary to observe this. As students make their observations draw
them into conversations to elicit it is actually Earth rotating on its axis.
Astronomy with a Stick website is filled with details for you to learn more
about this or contact McDonald Observatory for more information.
Continue recording data throughout each class period. Use the data from each
class the following class periods to get students to work with data, develop
understanding of how important data collection is and discuss why there are
differences in the data. There will be significant differences due to care
taken drawing, measuring, etc. They will think it is because their setups were
in different places but that is NOT the case. Classroom follow up discussions
are critical to this lesson.
See the story connection about “Why Sun Rises Cautiously” if you
are not sure about why this happens. Feel free to email me for clarification
at email@example.com Thank you
Carol for this valuable contribution to the e’Dillo.
the International Year of Astronomy 2009
Here is the education link from the IYA with many resources.
This NASA web site has many resources for your study. http://astronomy2009.nasa.gov/
The Lunar Planetary Institute in Houston has excellent resources as well.
NOTE: If you have lessons that you would like to share with other TCES members
email them to me: Marilyn Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org