Lesson plan

What's Your Phase?

This lesson engages students in activity to help them understand the phases of the Moon, and why they occur. Students read literature, analyze it, and then apply it to the small group performance of one cycle of the Moon’s phases.
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Students will be able to describe the changes in the observable shape of the Moon by assigning a “personality” to each phase. Students will use the personality to perform the phase’s characteristics when working with an ensemble in the classroom.

(25 minutes)
  1. Begin with movement and sound to get students comfortable making eye contact with each other and taking cues from each other.
  2. Have students form a circle, and explain that the class will be making sounds from space.
  3. Start the sound activity by making a brief sound, such as whoosh, while making eye contact with the student to your right.
  4. Tell that student to pass the eye contact and the sound to the person to his or her right.
  5. Keep going around the circle until the sound reaches you again.
  6. The second person now needs to make a new sound, and passes it while making eye contact.
  7. Each subsequent student should follow the procedure until everyone has had a turn to initiate the activity.
(10 minutes)
  • Read pages 1-10 from The Moon Book to the class, while showing students the images from the text.
  • Share pages 11-13 with the class, showing that there are 8 distinct phases of the Moon as seen from Earth.
(15 minutes)

Organize the students into groups of 4 or 5.

  • One student is the Sun, and he or she should hold the flashlight.
  • One student is the Moon
  • One student is the Earth.
  • Earth and the Moon should be facing each other and maintain eye contact throughout.
  • One or two students will record what they see on paper as the activity progresses.

Direct each group to follow these instructions, to demonstrate how the Earth, Sun and Moon move in relation to each other.

  • The Sun stands still and shines the flashlight in a straight line.
  • Earth and Moon rotate and revolve in formation
  • The recorders take note of the amount of light reflecting from the Moon with regard to the different locations of the Moon and the Earth throughout the activity.
  • When groups are finished, maybe 5 minutes, each group should debrief with itself.
  • When all groups have finished, allow time for whole group reflection and discussion questions. Some great examples include: What did you see? Why were there different shapes reflected onto the Moon? Why does the Moon have phases? Where are the dark parts of the Moon when we can’t see them?
(45 minutes)

Part One (20-30 minutes):

  • Distribute the photocopies of the pages of the Moon phases and the descriptions.
  • Ask each student to take on the role of one of the phases, including the New Moon.
  • Direct students to assign a personality to the phase they have chosen. The student should pose in place in a way that represents the shape and “personality” of the phase, as well as say a word or phrase that reinforces the choice.
  • For example: a student assigned to waxing crescent may choose to hold his body in a crescent shape and say “Peekaboo,” showing the shape of the phase and describing the gradual appearance of the Moon at beginning of the Moon cycle.
  • Encourage students to share ideas within their small groups.
  • Once each student in a given group has chosen his or her pose and phrase, have the entire Moon cycle ensemble practice the cycle together in sequence from New Moon to New Moon.

Part Two: Performance (15-20 minutes)

  • Have each Moon cycle group perform their ensemble to the class.
  • Pause between phases to brief clarify the pose choice and phrase choice.
  • In this performance assessment, students should explicitly state why the pose and phrase choice aligns with the phase shape of the Moon.
  • Continue until all groups are finished.

Heterogenous groups are best, so all learning types are blended and students may use each other as guides through the process.

  • Enrichment: Students who need a challenge will read aloud pages from The Moon Book to cooperative group, encourage to explore the remainder of the book to learn about the connection of the Moon to mythology.
  • Support: Students who are struggling should preview vocabulary, label phase illustrations with the phase name, and receive verbal encouragement for students to think creatively about the performance aspect. Ask clarifying questions to be certain students understand the procedures and process.
(10 minutes)
  • Encourage students to discuss in small groups about the choices they made, and why they made them.
  • Next, have your class write a description of their choices. This could be done as a group grade, or students may work independently.
  • To complete a final assessment, students use a pencil to shade in the Identifying the Moon’s Phases worksheet. Remind students that they must fill in the eight phases of the Moon in sequence.
(5 minutes)
  • Invite students to stand in a large circle as they did at the opening of the lesson.
  • Each student should share one thing he or she learned during the activity and something they want to learn more about. Encourage students to answer uniquely. Don’t allow “I agree with her,” as a response.
  • Create a sequence card game with pictures of the phases that students must put into the correct order: new Moon, waxing crescent, first quarter, waxing gibbous, full, waning gibbous, last quarter, waning crescent, new Moon.
  • Students use a flow thinking map to show cause and effect relationships between the position of the Moon and the Earth, and the shape of the Moon’s phases.
  • Students draw diagrams showing new Moon versus full Moon and the relationship between the Sun, the Earth and the Moon.

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