It's Seasonal and the Star Party

I've been very impressed this year with how quickly my 8th graders have seemed to grasp the concepts of night and day through the seasons.  I took a different approach this time...instead of feeding the information to them and having them conduct related labs/investigations, I allowed to make their own observations and reach conclusions based on those observations.  The results have truly been amazing! 
It's difficult for students to make true connections with the concepts they are learning about, especially when the concepts are out of the realm of possibility for a lot of these kids.  In an attempt to make the vastness of our universe more understandable and give students experiences that they may otherwise never have, I partnered up with our local Hill Country Astronomers group about 3 weeks before we began our unit on Earth's cycles and had an Astronomy Night Star Party with our 8th graders and their families.  The astronomers set up about 7 high-powered telescopes in the fields behind our elementary school and had each one directed at a different celestial body.  Students and their families were able to see nebulas, galaxies, planets, the moon, stars and more!  It was a huge success and I was most impressed with how many of my At-Risk, Economically Disadvantaged students and their families were able to come to the party.   It may have been a once in a lifetime experience for many of these kiddos (and their families), so I considered it totally worthwhile.  I highly recommend looking around your area for amateur astronomers who would be willing to share their resources and knowledge. 
ok....FOCUS!  Back to my strategy for teaching night and day and seasons.
I have put it all into a document that I want to share with my loyal blog followers.  In the document, I refer to a Google Earth/Stellarium video.  I have added that video to this post (see below). 
I hope you find the resources valuable and I'd love to hear if you have the same kind of successes that I'm having. 
Click HERE for the Seasons Foldable Package (which is also for sale on my TeachersPayTeachers site.  But since you are so special, you get it for FREE.

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