Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy

Uncovering Student Ideas in AstronomyI’m already a fan of the Uncovering Student Ideas series, but authors Page Keeley and Cary Sneider piqued my interest with the 45 new formative assessment probes in this latest volume, Uncovering Student Ideas in Astronomy. Trying to get a sense of how and what students think about a particular science concept is tricky. As the authors’ say, “You cannot ‘fix’ your students’ misconceptions. However, by using these probes to formatively assess your students’ current thinking, you will be in a much better position to create a path that moves students from where they are to where they need to be scientifically.”

Organized into five sections, the book explores The Nature of Planet Earth; The Sun-Earth System, Modeling the Moon; Dynamic Solar System; and Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe. The probes presented in each section are designed to allow students to increase their perspective and improve their mental models of the Earth’s position among other bodies in space.

The probes, such as these examples, delve into astronomy concepts that will keep your science classroom discussions lively:

  • Where did the Sun go?
  • Sunrise to sunset
  • How far away is the Sun?
  • Does the Moon orbit the Earth?
  • Earth or Moon shadow?
  • Moon spin
  • How do planets orbit the Sun?

Using the tools in this book, you can uncover the astronomy-related ideas your students bring to the classroom. Every student has his or her own unique approach to creating meaning in a learning situation. Whether or not a student’s ideas change depends on the willingness of the student to accept new ways of looking at his or her natural world.

Along with each probe, teacher notes are provided that define the purpose, provide related concepts and explanation, connect to the Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the National Science Education Standards, and suggest ideas for instruction and assessment.

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