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Ready-Set-Tech: An Alphabet Journey Through Space
An Alphabet Journey Through Space

This unit evolved from a magnet curriculum on space. Students had previously completed a genre study of ABC books and decided to make their own ABC Space Books.

Students were asked to compile a list of space vocabulary words. They then researched the meaning of each word. Most students chose to use online sources that were related to the topic. Once they could define their words, they were ready to create their books. Using Apple Works for word processing, they designed a page for each letter of the alphabet, which included the meaning and related graphics which they imported from various Web sites. Finally, they worked on the layout of the page, adding color, working on font and in other ways enhancing the overall appearance of the page. They included in their books a title for their space book, added the title page, dedication page, and an "about the author" page.

The project culminated with the third grade authors sharing their completed books with their kindergarten reading buddies.

 

Laura Sarago

Laura Sarago is a third grade teacher at P.S. 206 in Rego Park, New York .  She has been teaching for three years.  She received her Master's in Elementary Education from Saint John's University. 

lauraj513@aol.com



Subject:

Science, Literacy, Technology

Grade Level: 3

Time: 3-4 weeks

Materials: Computers with Internet access, word processing software, projector, paper.


Objectives:

 

 

 

 


Students will:

1. Increase their knowledge of astronomy and the universe.

2. Develop literacy skills including vocabulary development and reading comprehension.

3. Improve writing skills including drafting, revising and editing.

4. Develop facility with word processing and using the Internet for research.


Web sites:

 

•  Dustbunny Astronomy http://dustbunny.com/afk/index.html. This is a student-friendly site designed for all reading levels. Students can click on links to read more about related topics.

•  Enchanted Learning www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/astronomy. It is a broad site on the subject of space and astronomy. It is designed for students of all ages and reading levels. Readers can begin at a basic level on each topic and then advance to more difficult information by clicking on links.

• Students also used Google www.google.com to obtain images for their books.

 


Day One:

Cruising the Alphabet

Time : 4—45 minute sessions

Goal: To create a mock Alphabet Space Book using the Enchanted Learning and Dustbunny sites.

Objectives: Students will:

  1. Develop literacy skills including vocabulary development and reading comprehension.
  2. Develop writing skills including drafting, revising and editing.
  3. Develop facility using the Internet for research.

Advanced Preparation: Students should be told, as a homework assignment, to find one word for each letter of the alphabet relating to the topic of space.

Materials:

Computers with Internet access, projector (if available), student generated space vocabulary word list, a pencil and mock books (9 sheets of 8 ½ x 11 paper folded in half and stapled)

Procedure:

  1. Briefly review the rules of working on the computers. Make a quick chart for the astronomers to refer to during the unit.
  2. Have astronomers label their mock books with the letters of the alphabet, leaving a page for the cover, dedication, title page and about the author.
  3. Explain to the astronomers that they will be using a web site to research their space words on their list.
  4. Demonstrate by typing in the web address www.enchantedlearning.com in the location bar and then clicking go.
  5. Have the astronomers look at the web site and make observations and comments. Student responses should include that it is set up like a book with a table of contents containing chapters, a glossary and an index. (At your discretion, give the students a few minutes to explore the site, so that they are focused during the lesson.)
  6. Then choose a word from your own list to model what the students are expected to do. Say “I am going to start with the letter A, let's see, I have the word asteroid on my list. Let's see if this site can help me better understand what an asteroid is. I see here that they have a whole section on asteroids, let's click to read on." (Read the passage aloud to the students.)
  7. Explain to the astronomers that we are putting what we just read into our own words.
  8. Teacher comes up with own meaning for asteroid—An asteroid is a large rocky object that orbits the sun in the asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter.
  9. Have astronomers try one on their own and share with the class their meaning for a different word. Have astronomers start to research their words and write down the meaning in their mock books. The teacher should circulate the classroom to assist those astronomers having difficulty. Use the http://dustbunny.com/afk/index.html site as well for reference.

Assessment : Have a few astronomers share with the class a word they researched and the meaning they wrote for it.


Day Two:

Type Away Astronomers!

Time : 5—45 minute sessions

Goal: To type the text for the Alphabet Space Books and to experiment with the different fonts.

Objectives: Students will:

•  Develop writing skills including drafting, revising and editing.

•  Develop facility with word processing.

•  Experiment with the different fonts and styles for their text.

Materials:

Computer, a projector (if available), student mock books and a word processing program

Procedure:

•  Explain to the astronomers that over the next several days they will be typing the text from their mock books onto the computer using Apple Works.

•  Tell the astronomers that they are first going to save their document in a folder created for them on the computer. Take the astronomers through the steps: 1. Click on file, 2. Pull down the menu bar and find save as…, 3. Click on save as..., 4. Find your folder with your name on it and click on it twice, 5. Type the word space in the file name box then, 6. Click save.

•  Let them know that they will be hearing the word “save” every 5-10 minutes. That is their signal to stop what they are doing, click on file, pull down the menu and click save. (I try to teach shortcuts, so I would say to the students “Apple S.”) After about a day, the students will not need to be reminded to save their work, they will be doing it on their own.

•  Show the astronomers that once they have finished typing the text and checking for errors, to highlight the text and select the font.

•  Explain to the astronomers in order to change the font, we must highlight the text by clicking and dragging the mouse over the text. Have the astronomers try it and walk around the room to assist any astronomer that is having difficulty.

•  Once the text is highlighted, click on the font menu. The menu will pull down different kinds of fonts, scroll to see which one you would like to use. Do not worry if you do not like it, we can always Undo (Apple Z) the last thing we did.

•  Remember “Apple S!”

•  As the astronomers are working, continue to circulate the classroom to assist any astronomer that is having difficulty.

•  Astronomers could also begin to work on their title for their cover, dedication, title page and about the author page.

Assessment : Teacher circulates the room and observes astronomers using the skills taught in the lesson.

 


Day Three:

Picture It!

Time: 5—45 minute sessions

Goal: To import images and graphics for the Alphabet Space Books from Google Images.

Objectives: Students will:

•  Develop facility using the Internet for research and locating images and graphics.

•  Learn how to import images into a document.

Materials:

Computer with Internet access, a projector (if available) and space document (already created by astronomer)

Procedure:

•  Tell the astronomers that over the next several days they will be navigating through web sites searching for the perfect image or graphic to match with their text.

•  Remind the astronomers to type the web site address in the location box and click go.

•  Explain to the astronomers that we are going to explore Google Images, www.google.com. Have the astronomers log onto that site.

•  Have the astronomers look at the web site and make observations and comments. Ask them, do they notice anything different from this web site and from the others they have been exploring?

•  Explain to the astronomers that Google is a search engine, that helps you find exactly what you are looking for and gives you access to 4 billion web pages.

•  Have an astronomer name something that is related to space. Make sure you click on Images before you type the word. Demonstrate to the class where to type the word and then click on the Google Search button.

•  Astronomers will notice there will be hundreds of pictures to choose from. Have the astronomers look at the first and second page only, otherwise they will get too caught up and never finish the project.

•  Have astronomers find and open their space document. The document will stay open as they are searching and importing the images, they will be flipping back and forth to it.

•  Demonstrate to the astronomers that once we find the image we want to import, we click on the image. Ask: What do you notice? Astronomer responses will be the picture is small.

•  Show the astronomers that they can click the words see full-size image next to the picture. That will open a new window with a bigger picture (sometimes that is not the case, so they will have to try looking for a new image.)

•  Once they have found the image, click on the mouse and hold until a menu box pops up, click on copy this image and then go back to the space document. Find the page that they want to place the image on, make sure the cursor is flashing on that page. Go to the Edit menu, click on Paste (Apple V).

•  Explain to the astronomers that around the image are handles that allow us to move it around and also make it smaller or bigger. Demonstrate for the class.

•  Have the astronomers try it before sending them off to work on their own. When they have shown you they mastered it, send them off. Continue to circulate and help those astronomers that are struggling.

•  Remember Apple S!

Assessment : Teacher observes astronomers using the skills.

 


Day Four:

Putting it all Together!

Time: 4—45 minute sessions

Goals: To enhance the overall appearance of the Alphabet Space Book by using color and text and image layout.

Objectives: Students will:

•  Experiment with color of font.

•  Manipulate the placement of the text on the page along with the picture.

Materials:

Computer, projector (if available), Space document (already created by student)

Procedure:

•  Have the astronomers find and open their Space document in their folders.

•  Explain to them that they are at the last stage of creating their books. They will be focusing on enhancing the appearance of their book by experimenting with changing the color of the font, the background and placement of the text and image.

•  Remind them that when we did our genre study on Alphabet books, we noticed many things (refer to the chart that was created during that study). Allow them some time to look through some of their favorite authors to get ideas.

•  Review how to highlight, click and drag the mouse across the text, click on font color that they want.

•  Next show the astronomers how to manipulate the text on the page by using the Tab key to create an original layout.

•  Finally, remind astronomers about the handle bars around the image to move it anywhere on the page. Make sure the cursor is flashing where you want to put the image.

•  Remember Apple S!

•  Have the students check through their work before sending it for the final editing process by the teacher.

•  If everything looks good…astronomers are ready to print and bind their books.

•  Congratulations, you are ready to share your book with your reading buddy!

Assessment : Astronomers' Alphabet Space Book is assessed based on the rubric created at the beginning of the unit.


Standards:

Students will read and comprehend informational materials, and produce work in at least one genre that follows the conventions of the genre.

Students will use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, promote creativity, and prepare publications.

Students will demonstrate an understanding of objects in the sky, such as Sun, Moon, planets, and other objects that can be observed and described.

 

 
   

 

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