The 2017 Solar Eclipse is coming and my county is in one of the paths were a great amount of totality will be experienced. It’s such a big deal that we’ve called off school that day for several reasons, but we are required to teach a lesson on the event before August 21, 2017. I’ve researched and glanced briefly online, but most lesson ideas that come up are either for math or science, or they are not for middle or high school level. We secondary English teachers don’t want to let the elementary teachers or science and math teachers have all the fun with the 2017 solar event of a lifetime; we “totally” want to join in with the fun, too! Therefore, I’ve brainstormed five ideas that I think are perfect to shed some “light” on the topic in your secondary English class.
1) Reading Informational Text: Find some articles that explain what happens during an eclipse. I used this article @ http://www.math.nus.edu.sg/aslaksen/gem-projects/hm/0304-1-08-eclipse/Types%20of%20Solar%20Eclipse.htm for the lesson I did with my dual enrollment seniors. I had them read the article and annotate. Then, in groups, they had to make a poster displaying that information. There were many skills that I was able to cover in this lesson including reading complex informational (scientific texts which scores points for ACT science); summarizing; classifying information; speaking & listening; art. Before conducting the lesson, review close reading strategies with my Close Reading and Annotating Teaching Pack.
2) Traditional Writing: Students don’t usually get “starry-eyed” about writing, but when the topics are as cool as a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse event, even the most reluctant writers will “shine.”
Narrative Prompt – Tell a story of what happens if the moon didn’t move out from in front of the sun, and it stayed dark forever. Teach younger students to use descriptive language when writing narratives using my interactive “Show. Don’t Tell.” sorting game.
Explanatory Prompt – Compare and contrast the different types of solar eclipses. (This would be a perfect follow up to the informational text reading activity above.)
Explanatory Prompt – Write to explain what causes a total solar eclipse to occur.
Argumentative Prompt – Your school is considering closing for Solar Eclipse Day, but some of the school board members disagree. Write to persuade them to let you have the day off. If your students need extra practice or an introduction to counterclaims, my Claims and Counterclaims Teaching Pack is sure to brighten their arguments.
3) Songs/Poetry: Students love the opportunity to listen to songs in class, and I don’t mind when we can study them as poetry. Take a look at Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse” or Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of My Heart.” These two songs in particular are rich with figurative language and a particularly appropriate dark tone. Grab my poetry analysis bundle with a variety of tools including poetry worksheets, poetry analysis task cards that are perfect for stations, and vocabulary review games. You’ll be all set to guide your students through a celestial poetry analysis.
4) Reading Science Fiction: Ray Bradbury is the first author who comes to mind when science fiction is mentioned. He expertly explored and explicated his imagination of the future and even life outside of earth in relation to and as a reflection of our own humanity. I’ll be reading his “All Summer in a Day” with my juniors for our eclipse lesson. While the characters in the story actually are waiting to see the sun, and we will be waiting to do the opposite on August 21, 2017, Margot, the main character, is literally in the dark and misses the experience entirely because of her antagonistic classmates. See my easy prep, ready-to-go lesson with other paired texts and a complete sun-themed unit. I think this lesson would also work well with younger students, too. If you are looking for a science fiction text for more advanced students, check out Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall.” Pair it with my literary analysis task cards, and your students won’t be in the dark for long.
5) Creative Writing: Many cities across the country are planning events and celebrations to host viewing parties for the Great American Solar Eclipse. Have your students use propaganda techniques and figurative language to create posters advertising a real – or imagined – viewing party in your neck of the woods. Sneak in a little review of the types of propaganda with my complete teaching pack.
Check out NASA’s website and my own county’s website for more information! #headingtothedarkside
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