Monday, December 17, 2012

It's Only Monday, and We've Already Been to Mars

The other day, I accidentally opened up Google Earth and a tip popped up that said, "Explore the Moon!" I shrieked at my desk and started exploring. My exploration didn't stop there. With the simple click of a button I was exploring Mars and the sky too! Needless to say, I had to find a way to work this into my lesson plans. Lucky for my students (and me!), we had to talk about why Earth is the best candidate to support life in the solar system. I felt this would be an engaging and meaningful way to explore other celestial bodies in our galaxy. 

This morning I posed the question, "Why is Earth the best place to call home?" Our plan for the day was to contrast Earth, the Moon, and Mars and determine why Earth is the best place for us to live. We hopped down to the computer lab and opened up Google Earth. I gave very few directions, because I wanted my students to do most of the exploring. In a whole group setting, I demonstrated how to navigate between the planets (Click View then Explore...) and sent them on their merry way. Each student also had a triple t-chart in their notebooks to write down features of Earth, Mars, and the Moon. To conclude class we watched a BrainPop video about Earth and wrote down all of the reasons why Earth is perfect for us. 

Exploring the Moon with Neil Armstrong!
While students were working, I moved around the lab and suggested different areas to click and showed students a few more neat features. For example, you can take a guided tour of the Moon and Mars complete with narration! 
Just Taking a Tour of the Moon...

I strongly encouraged students to Explore BEFORE Asking...that way, they wouldn't be dependent on me. Most were very excited about the lesson and teaching me new things about the program. It was a great start to our Monday. 

We Landed on the Moon!
Tomorrow, we are participating in an incredible Skype session. Thanks to the wonderful Barbara and her beautiful blog The Corner on Character, for making it all happen. 

Before I scoot, I must say a few things about the heartbreaking tragedy that happened in Connecticut on Friday. In my mind, I cannot piece together an appropriate set of words to even make sense of the unthinkable situation. My heart is with those affected and those poor children and faculty who lost their lives. I made sure to tell all of my students how wonderful it was to see them and their bright shining faces this morning. After all, they are the reason for why we do what we do. The Cornerstone For Teachers wrote an incredible post titled, "What Do You Say at a Time Like This?". I leave you with her words, because I can't seem to find my own. 


  1. Yay - Mr. Gruener says it's all systems go! I'll try to pop home during the afternoon session!

    Your students are SO lucky to have such a passionate science teacher and mentor.



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