Student Reflections on Teaching Children about the Moon during the Elementary School Visit

Students Reflections
Student 1This experience turned out to be a lot of fun. And I realized it is more difficult to teach someone something even when you feel like you know what you are talking about. It was very beneficial for us to go to the elementary school because it helped reinforce what we were learning in class and I feel the children all benefited from us being there. First we sat in a circle on the carpet and had everyone tell us their names and one fun fact they knew about the moon. All but about two of the kids said they knew nothing about the moon which I think most of them were just being shy. Then we asked the children to show us their moon journals and asked them questions about what they have observed. It was funny how about half of the group thought one side of the moon was lit up and the other half thought the other side of the moon was lit. So this made it difficult to write down a pattern because everyone was giving different answers. So we decided to move on to the foam ball example. We went over the rules of the foam balls and the tooth picks and then had them all stand up. I asked them to all get to where they could see a full moon. Some kids had a hard time knowing that it was suppose to be the side that was right in front of your eyes because they were moving their head and then would say that saw the full moon. Once we got everyone to see the full moon we explained how the moon revolves to the left (counter clockwise) and we had them all make their moon revolve to the left. We stopped to talk about what we saw as we were revolving it around. Once we got through this and we had the moon revolve a few times we moved on to the moon dance. We had everyone sit on the carpet again in a circle and then Emily, Natalia and I all demonstrated the three spots of the moon dance and went over what each of us represented then we took volunteers so everyone got a chance to be in each of the spots. Then we broke up into three small groups to do the moon dance one more time so each of us had about 3 kids and then had them do each of the spots and talk about it. After the moon dance we still had a little time so we had them all go to their seats and we gave them a piece of paper and had they draw and write about something they learned today. It was very cool to see most of the kids writing down exactly what we went over today so that we knew they understood it. After they were all done with that we sat back on the carpet and each kid showed their picture and told us about what they learned. This was a great experience but I wished I would have had a better understanding about the moon so I was able to talk to them a lot more about it. But the kids seemed to really enjoy our activities and really learned something about how the moon revolved and how you saw the different phases of the moon.
Student 2Things do not always go as planned, however it was pretty close. We had planned to talk about the students observation, then go into the Styrofoam exercise and finally do the moon dance. The students were very excited to share their observations and interested in the lesson we had for them. When students gave crazy answers, it was hard to explain the concept without telling them the answer. Some students disagreed on which side of the moon was lit up, while others did not know at all. It was good to see them discuss the information and have multiple answers, however it was surprising to hear their different outcomes. If I were to do this lesson again, I would do the same exercise, but maybe in a different way. I would have each of the teachers in charge of a certain section. It was hard, but it was a lot of fun and it was a successful day at school. It was great to see the students understand that the moon moves counter clockwise and in a cycle. It was rewarding to hear them use the vocabulary words and ask more questions that they could look at in more depth later. I was able to go into a situation that I did not feel very confident about and actually do a good job and have fun. I have a lot to learn and work on with teaching, however I think this was a successful event. I learned that students will always surprise you with different answers. You should not expect anything, because the students will always shock you. Overall, it was a good experience and a fun day.
Student 3 Looking back at the overall experience, I would say it was a positive and successful one. Being that we had no prior connection with the students and didn't know how they would react, I would say that things went well. I knew it would be challenging when Sage informed Christine, Natalia and I that when the entire class looks at the moon at the exact same time, they will all report two different findings. Half of them would say that the moon is lit on the left, while half would say it's lit on the right. At the beginning, the three of us sat down as one big group in a circle to introduce ourselves and say one thing we have learned about the moon. At first all of the children were very shy and didn't want to say anything. Also at the beginning they were all very attentive and didn't have a lot to contribute to the discussions we were hoping to have. This caught us off guard because we expected them to have more knowledge or information than they actually did. I think we had the impression that they were going to teach us what they knew, but of course in all reality lessons don't always go as planned, which is a good lesson to learn in itself. But, this was the hard part because it didn't go exactly as we had expected. I think that finally, after many rounds of taking turns with positions in the moon dance, most all of them got what we were trying to teach. However, it was kind of disappointing when some of the students came back to their desks where we asked them to reflect and draw/ write one thing they learned, some of them said they learned nothing or that it was boring. But, they ARE in third grade and their attention spans and interest spans aren't that of ours and as I said already that the lesson wasn't planned off their interests and personalities, it was a pre-made more so lesson. Of course in the future when designing a lesson for my own class, many other factors will be included and I hope that things will eventually be able to flow, for the most part smoothly. Overall, though it's always great to be able to spend every opportunity in a real classroom!
Student 4I don't know what I expected when I thought about teaching these third graders about the moon. Well, I was in for a surprise. I would say my teaching side came out and I ended up being extremely excited to get to know the kids. I was all set to get right into things and have them tell me the things I wanted to know. Well, this didn't work according to plan. The kids were all so smart and really loved to talk and share their ideas. This was all great, what I didn't anticipate though was some of their answers. When we asked the question, what side of the moon is lit on a particular day, and we were getting different answers. It was difficult to get them to understand that the moon travels counter clockwise when different sides were lit on the same night, as we were told. I think in the end they understood that the moon travels to the left though, and this was a great accomplishment. I was also very excited when the kids finally understood what we were doing with the Styrofoam balls and the light source. Though it took a while to get, I really feel like they understood what we were doing and really enjoyed it. It was like a light bulb coming on when they discovered a half moon on the ball. I really liked this whole experience, though I do know that I need more practice with teaching and understanding these children. I am excited for my future teaching, and I feel like this has helped prepare me for what I should expect.
Student 5The very first thing we did was have the children circle up around the table. We took turns introducing ourselves by saying our name and our favorite thing about the moon. A lot of the children said their favorite thing about the moon was when it was full and bright. One child said he liked the moon when it looked like a banana. We then had the children open their moon journals. We looked at several pages and had the children compare what they saw. We then asked the children to figure out the pattern the moon was making by going through its phases. The students were actively engaged in the conversation about the moon and what had been drawn in their observation journals. During the moon phase activity with the Styrofoam ball the children began to get a bit antsy. It was difficult to get them all doing the same thing. Some of the children caught on right away, and others did not. Next we had the children sit down on the carpet and called them up three at a time to demonstrate the different phases of the moon using their bodies. This was fun for the children and they seemed to understand what was going on. Millie used the basketball to demonstrate the different phases as well. I think teaching the concept by using many different strategies was helpful for the children to understand. They had a really fun time, and we enjoyed teaching them!
Student 6Our planning gave our group a good basic structure to follow for the lesson with third graders. I thought that beginning with introductions from us adults was a good way to put the class at ease. We then had the children take out their journals and find different phases of the moon and compare drawings from the same day. We identified when there was a full moon and half moon and these dates were recorded on a page to try and find a pattern. Some children were understandably more diligent then others in their observations, which meant that the pattern was not obvious for some. I saw some beautifully detailed pictures with trees, stars and colored in sky and others who had blank pages. The seating arrangement grouped around a table was a good way to have the children missing days still be part of the conversation by looking at their neighbor’s observations. I thought that the general discussion produced some interesting insights with one child claiming that the moon had disappeared when it was hidden behind clouds. All of the class seemed interested in talking about meteorites and shooting stars – perhaps the movement and action conjured up by these images appeals to boys especially. I say this as I read recently in Why Gender Matters (Leonard Sax) that boys are predisposed to draw verbs and girls draw nouns (ie: toddler boys draw movement more than faces). We could maybe have capitalized more on this interest by bringing in some talk of moon landings or exploration. I had a sense that some of the children had lost interest in observations after a while and needed some additional material to bring the topic to life.\\We moved on to our exercise with the Styrofoam balls and the rules of conduct were outlined, but we could have done a better job of more precise directions in where to stand and perhaps clarifying the objective for them. A few of the children grasped the point straight away and were good at modeling this for those that did not. I think that it was good for the children to experiment with where to hold the sticks for maximum effect rather than telling them exactly what to do. This seemed like authentic exploration! The children were very engaged and were on task with maybe one child needing redirection only. I think that the children were better able to understand that the moon waxes and wanes through this experience as there was some confusion about which part of the moon was “missing” when looking at the journals. Their teacher made reference to this when stating that one child was adamant that the moon appeared in one size only. I think it might have been helpful at the end of this exercise to check for understanding of the words “waxing” and “waning” before moving on to the moon dance.\\It’s always difficult picking volunteers when faced with a crowd of eager helpers – I tried not to pick only the most forthright and to have at least one boy and one girl. If I were to do this again I would be clearer beforehand on how I would want the exercise to look in terms of spacing in the room and thinking through clear directions. Our volunteers did a pretty good job of demonstrating the movements and conveying the various orbits in a general sense to the rest of the class. I think that they captured the “big idea” of orbiting planets rather than seeing the moon, earth or sun in isolation. One problem with having only a few children involved in the demo. is that the others can become restless. On a future occasion perhaps a role for the others such as counting revolutions or thinking of questions might have helped with short attention spans. Another factor that could have been better planned was the division of teaching in our group. We were all holding back a little on taking control as we were trying to be equitable, but this did affect the flow of the lesson from the children’s perspective. I had a sense that they were not quite sure how to handle so many teachers! However, the children were respectful and cooperative. We could have made better use of our question and answer sheet and summarized the main points at the end. Overall I thought that this was a useful class and the children’s enthusiasm is always inspiring – what a fun age to teach!
Student 7The first thing we did was asked all the children to sit in a circle on the carpet; once everyone was seated we asked them to say their name and one thing that they had learned about the moon. This did not go so well, our kids were extremely shy and while they said their name, they refused to state any facts. Next I asked them to show me the first page of their journals and share what this looked like. Next I asked them to flip three pages and show me what they had drawn. I asked them how this picture differed from the one before. They gave me some good explanations, and were spot on when they said it was getting smaller. Though as Mrs. Robertson explained to us, the kids really struggled with deciphering which side was lit and which was not. After we briefly went over which side should have been lit, we talked about if anyone who could see the moon and the sun at the same time. Only a few children said that they had in fact seen the sun and the moon at the same time. At this point I turned the spotlight over to Emily who then asked if we had noticed any patterns. They noticed a few patterns but not as clearly as we had hoped they would. After this we moved on to the model. First Emily, Christine and myself demonstrated what was supposed to happen. Then we picked three volunteers; we had them move through each stage and then let three new kids have a turn. We did this until we worked though all of the kids. While we were doing this we noticed a few children were not participating. So we decided that we would break up in to three small groups and do it again so that way we could be sure that each child actually had a grasp on what was happening. After we finished with this, we still had about 15 minutes of time left, so we had the kids sit down at their desk and we asked them to draw a picture of what they learned and write a sentence about it. This was the most rewarding part of the whole experience because it was solid proof that they were paying attention and they did retain some of the information that we discussed. After we gave then a change to complete their pictures we all sat down in a circle and discussed the pictures.
What would I have done differently? I wish that I myself had had more of a concrete understanding of the concepts that we were explaining. I felt a little shaky on the basics. I also wish that we had planned out how long things were going to take because we rushed through the first two activities thinking that we would run out of time, forcing us to improvise. Which I know is something that teachers are forced to all the time, so it was good practice. All and all I think this was a good experience.

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