What’s Up in the Sky: A Study of the Sun, Moon, and Stars | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA G1:M2

What’s Up in the Sky: A Study of the Sun, Moon, and Stars

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In this module, students build their literacy and science skills as they engage in a study of the sun, moon, and stars. The module begins with a story about a young boy named Elvin who is curious about the sun, moon, and stars. Elvin wants to learn more about the sun, moon, and stars and shares his wonderings and artifacts he receives along his journey with the first-grade students. In Unit 1, students study the sun, moon, and stars through various narrative texts and begin to understand how and why the sun, moon, and stars inspire authors. Students respond to texts through role-play and written response. In Unit 2, students focus their study on the science concepts of observable patterns in the sky as they relate to the sun, moon, and stars. Students engage in a close read-aloud of What Makes Day and Nightby Franklyn Branley and a focused read-aloud of Does the Sun Sleep? Noticing Sun, Moon, and Star Patterns by Martha E.H. Rustand. Students track their observations of the sun, moon, and stars in pictures and videos in a Sky notebook.

In Unit 3, students engage in a focused read-aloud of What the Sun Sees, What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri, first to understand the content of the position of the sun and moon at different times of day and descriptions of the sun and moon. They then use the text again as a mentor text to study the author's craft of writing a narrative poem. Students use their growing understanding of descriptive language, author's craft, and patterns of the sun and moon to compose a narrative poem titled ͞What the Sun Sees.͟ After completing a first draft of this poem for the Unit 3 Assessment, students give feedback to one another and revise and edit their poems as part of the performance task. This performance task centers on CCSS ELA W.1.5, L.1.1f, L.1.1j, and L.1.2b

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • Why do authors write about the sun, moon, and stars? 
  • Authors write books to describe, imagine, and explain the objects we see in the sky.
  • What patterns can we observe in the sky?
  • The sun and moon appear in different places in the sky during different times of day and of the year.
  • Stars are visible during the night, but not during the day.
  • Patterns of motion of objects in the sky can be described and predicted.
  • Scientists use a process of inquiry in order to understand patterns and make predictions and comparisons.
  • How do authors use their knowledge and observations to write a story? 
  • Authors select a topic and observe and study it.
  • Authors plan out what they want to write by talking about it and trying it out.
  • Authors use beautiful language to show, not tell, about the topic of their choice.
  • Authors write a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.

The Four T's

  • Topic: What’s Up in the Sky: A Study of the Sun, Moon, and Stars
  • Task: Revising and Editing “What the Sun Sees” Narrative Poems
  • Targets (priority standards): W.1.5, L.1.1f, L.1.1j, L.1.2b, L.1.6
  • TextWhat the Sun Sees, What the Moon Sees by Nancy Tafuri

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the content-based literacy block of the school day. This module also intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in first grade. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies standards during other parts of the school day.)

Science (based on NGSS) or NGSS:

1-ESS1-1 Earth’s Place in the Universe: Use observations of the sun, moon, and stars to describe patterns that can be predicted.

  • Stars are visible during the night, but not during the day.
  • Patterns of motion of objects in the sky can be described and predicted.
  • Scientists use a process of inquiry in order to understand patterns and make predictions and comparisons.
  • The sun and moon appear in different places in the sky during different times of day and of the year.
  • The movement of the Earth affects people day to day.

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

  • Central to EL Education curriculum is a focus on “habits of character” and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).
  • In this module, students work to become ethical people: habits for how we treat others.

Assessment

Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

(Create a free account to access assessments.)

Performance Task

Revising and Editing “What the Sun Sees” Narrative Poems

In this performance task, students use feedback from peers and from the teacher to revise and edit their “What the Sun Sees” poems, written for the Unit 3 Assessment. Students then use the High-Quality Work anchor chart and the High-Quality Narrative Poem Checklist to revise their poems into a high-quality final product. This task addresses CCSS ELA W.1.5, L.1.1f, L.1.1j, and L.1.2b.

Materials

See each Unit Overview for a list of any unusual physical materials required (such as puppets or props) for module lessons.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.


Text Quantity ISBNs
What the Sun Sees, What the Moon Sees
by Nancy Tafuri
6 per class
ISBN: 9780688144937
Does the Sun Sleep?: Noticing Sun, Moon, and Star Patterns
by Martha E.H. Rustad
1 per class
ISBN: 9781467786119
What Makes Day and Night
by Franlyn M. Branley
6 per class
ISBN: 9780062381972
Kitten’s First Full Moon
by Kevin Henkes
2 per class
ISBN: 9780060588281
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me
by Eric Carle
1 per class
ISBN: 9780887080265
Sun and Moon
by Lindsey Yankey
1 per class
ISBN: 9781927018606
Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky
by Elphinstone Dayrell
1 per class
ISBN: 9780395539637
Summer Sun Risin’
by Nikola-Lisa, W.
6 per class
ISBN: 9781584302520

Module-at-a-Glance

Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

Labs

Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day. They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages: Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials).

Connections to the Labs

Labs continue to provide students with an engaging, hands-on place to build habits of character, literacy skills, and module related content understanding. There are four Labs for the second module: Create, Explore, Imagine, and Research. The Labs are directly connected to the content of the module and should be implemented alongside the module lessons.

Labs for this module focus on having students:

  • Blend colors to accurately represent the changing colors of the sky
  • Use a variety of materials to explore light and shadow
  • Work with classmates to dramatically reenact familiar stories
  • Use research skills to learn more about high-interest, sky-related topics
  • Build social-emotional skills through playing and collaborating with classmates

Connections to the Reading Foundations Skills Block

The Reading Foundations Skills Block is an hour of instruction that teaches students how to crack the alphabetic code. This block supports reading and writing conventions necessary for student success in the Integrated Reading Block, covering all Reading Foundations Standards and the Language Standards associated with spelling. Research and Standards-based instructional practices are designed to support teachers as they teach students how to read, write, and analyze words. Built-in instructional supports and resources provide teacher guidance for differentiation in both the Whole and Small Group settings based on each students’ Phase of Reading and Spelling Development. The Skills Block includes one hour of instruction: 15–20 minutes of Whole Group and 45 minutes of Differentiated Small Group instruction.

Skills Block lessons for this module focus on having students:

  • Continue to read and spell single-syllable words with 2-3 sounds (e.g., "at" and "cat")
  • Identify new letter-sound connections that represent familiar sound, but with 2 letters instead of 1 (e.g., /k/ represented by "ck")
  • Read and spell words with consonant clusters at the beginning ("flap"), end ("bend"), and possibly at the beginning and end ("blend")
  • Read and spell single-syllable words with the "-ed" suffix

Refer to each cycle overview for more detailed information regarding that cycle, including information about what to prepare in advance.

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