The Moon’s Phases and the Self Shadow by: Timothy Young and Mark Guy

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In this article, the authors present a new way of teaching the phases of the Moon. Through the introduction of a self shadow (an idea of a shadow that is not well-known), they illuminate students’ understanding of the phases of the Moon and help them understand the distinction between the shadows that cause eclipses and the shadows that relate to the phases of the Moon. Then, they follow with two easy-to-do demonstrations that help students further develop their understanding of the reasons behind the patterns of lightness and darkness in the Moon’s phases.

  • Elementary
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Reviews (6)
  • on Tue Nov 29, 2016 9:41 PM

I love how this article not only explains the phases of the moon, but also highlights some of the common misconceptions students have when learning to make sense of them. It also provides teachers with clear models to use to demonstrate why the amount of light on the surface of the moon seems to grow and shrink. Additionally, the author provides an assessment rubric that is easy for teachers to use. Overall, an article worth reading!

Hilary P
Hilary P

  • on Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:26 AM

This article describes the phases of the moon as a self shadow. "A self shadow is a shadow on the object blocking the light. It forms on the opposite side of the light source." This is a novel way to explain moon phases caused by the sun. It also clears up the misconception that moon phases are the earth's shadow. The article continues with some activities to further explain the phases of the moon.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Fri Oct 12, 2012 11:55 AM

This article proposes a ‘new’ approach to teaching about the moon phases. This approach is different and involves views of the moon (Moon Ring) from outside of space and not just from Earth. The article provides the reader with how to carry out the activity (including materials) as well as a complete rubric for assessing students with both activities Moon Ring and Glow Moon. Before passing judgment about the effectiveness of these activities one needs to try it out in the classroom first.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:09 PM

This article gives several activities that can be done to teach about the phases of the moon, starting with one commonly held misconception, that the phases are caused by cast shadows rather than self-shadows. Overall there are a few really powerful activities that could be used to teach the basics of the moon phases if supplemented with good assessment along the way.

Wendy  (Pocatello, ID)
Wendy (Pocatello, ID)

  • on Sun Mar 27, 2011 5:07 PM

The first activities in this article about self-shadows provide important experiences for students learning about moon phases who may believe that the phases are caused by cast shadows. The additional activities further enhance the teaching of this concept but most teachers may have to be selective about how many and for which activities their curriculum will allow time. As a whole though this article outlines a complete unit about phases of the moon that addresses many of the common misconceptions about the subject.

Bambi Bailey  (Tyler, TX)
Bambi Bailey (Tyler, TX)

  • on Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:33 PM

The article introduces and defines two different kinds of shadows, cast and self. The authors use excellent examples, helping students understand the phases of the moon in a different way. I shared these concepts with my middle school students. It took them a little while, but once they began to understand, they were able to explain how the phases occur with a lot more confidence, and were able to explain how the Sun – Earth – Moon models worked. Within the article, the authors shared how they used a “glow moon model”, which is pretty similar to investigations included in most kit programs.

Sandra Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandra Gady (Renton, WA)

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