Gazing at the Moonby: Page Keeley, Francis Eberle, and Lynn Farrin

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The purpose of this assessment probe is to elicit students’ ideas about the Earth, Moon, and Sun system. It is designed to find out if students think Moon phases change with the geographic location of observation. The probe may determine whether students use a rule of “opposites” in their reasoning about Moon phases seen in opposite hemispheres on the same evening.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:52 PM

This formative assessment examines students ideas about differing geographical locations and the appearance of the moon's phase. Students who have not mastered the spatial arrangement of the moon, earth, sun system such as relative size, motion and distance may struggle with lunar phases. This formative could be used as an entry point to a hands-on model creation of the earth, moon, sun system to investigate the cause of the moon phases.

Angelika Fairweather  (Bradenton, FL)
Angelika Fairweather (Bradenton, FL)

  • on Sun Nov 14, 2010 9:20 PM

This probe will allow educators to gain insight into their students' understanding of the Earth, Moon, and Sun system and specifically to identify students who believe that the Moon phases change with the geographic location of the observation. Suggestions for instruction and assessment along with specific grade levels of understanding are noted.

Alyce D  (Peyton, CO)
Alyce D (Peyton, CO)

  • on Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:38 PM

I really have enjoyed using the probes from this book, and this one is no exception. The probe as always quick (unless you want to discuss them longer!) and really help a teacher understand certain misconceptions that students have coming into learning a particular concept. In this case, it helps a teacher know whether Moon phases change with the geographic location of the observation. It's important to note, however, that it uses a full moon as an example, which will be the same for both hemispheres. It does not address the fact that other phases (besides new and full moon) will look different (rotated 180 degrees) in different hemispheres. Understanding that would really indicate a deep understanding. This may not be appropriate for elementary students (K-4), though as their standards typically typically address knowing the shape of the phase, the pattern, and that the cycle lasts about a month. Of course, that understanding should become more in-depth in middle school and in hi

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

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