First, let us say that this unit has too much to be covered in the six-week allotment for astronomy. We planned this unit keeping these things in mind:
1) We all have the opportunity to go to Challenger at Chabot Space and Science Center (and we all go at different times in the school year—see schedule and Challenger timeline for more information)
2) There is no astronomy covered in our textbook (in fact, the Curriculum in Focus group opted to move astronomy into the sixth grade standards being that it seemed to fit with the earth science theme).
3) Students absolutely love astronomy and are fascinated by the topic.
Rather than organizing this unit like the other units presented thus far, there is a degree of flexibility built into its organization. Rather than presenting a single timeline, you will notice that there are actually three.
1) The five-week unit
2) The astronomy calendar
3) Earth science connections
There are several different ways that you can use this entire unit. The first timeline can be used as a stand-alone unit. For a five-week unit, follow the asterisked items. For the sixth week, use the one-week Challenger timeline the week before you go to Chabot. This will be your six-week astronomy unit.
For those of you that are interested in a little more flexibility, there are several other possibilities. We compiled a list of all of the astronomy events that are scheduled to occur during the school year. This is a tool that be can referred to for a big picture of astronomy connections throughout the year (i.e. meteor showers, mission launches, eclipses, etc). In many cases, a related activity is provided that can usually be covered in one day. Not only is there always something astronomical in the news, there are always ways to connect astronomy with the other earth science units that we are doing throughout the year. There is a brief timeline that relates these areas to astronomy. We’re sure that you will use these in a way that will best suit your needs.
There is one more thing to be aware of—included in the timeline are plenty of activities that are not asterisked that can easily fit into your astronomy unit. We have tried to accumulate the best activities available on the given topics. The general idea is that you will determine what sections you might want to substitute for others based on your students’ interests (and yours, too!). See the KWL lesson for more information on this.
Astronomy is the last unit of the year. Go out with a BANG!