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The Moon's cycle of phases is one of the most familiar natural phenomena, yet also one of the most misunderstood. Research has found that a significant segment of the population, including students and teachers, mistakenly believes that the Moon's phases are caused by the shadow of the Earth. This articles discusses how to avoid the pitfalls of introducing misconceptions when reading about the Moon.
A selection from Science and Children -- October 2005
Collection: Earth and Space
Article: “The Moon in Children’s Literature” by Kathy Cabe Trundle
1. Why did you choose to put this article in your collection? Be specific...."because it looked interesting" is not sufficient.
I chose this article because I love to incorporate literature into all content areas when I teach. This article is all about how to avoid the pitfalls of introducing misconceptions when reading about the moon. The moon is familiar to all of us but is the most commonly misunderstood. It is important that we know what we are teaching to our students. If we plan to incorporate children’s literature in our lessons, we need to be sure they are teaching the facts!
2. What new information did you learn?
I learned that many people struggle with their knowledge of the moon (something I often find a little confusing), including Harvard professors and graduates. I learned that the book, Papa Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle, was a book that was deemed “educationally sound” had many misrepresentations of the moon. Several things in this book would present misconceptions in students. I also learned how to address the concerns of the misconceptions as a teacher. The article goes step by step to remedy this problem as a teacher. It also provides advice on how to choose the right books for your classroom.
3. What TEKS would it go with and how could you use this information in your classroom?
A good, applicable TEK would be the fourth grade standard:
(8) Earth and space. The student knows that there are recognizable patterns in the natural world and among the Sun, Earth, and Moon system. The student is expected to:
(C) collect and analyze data to identify sequences and predict patterns of change in shadows, seasons, and the observable appearance of the Moon over time.
I would use this information in the classroom like the article discussed. I could continue to use the popular books integrating them into inquiry-based instruction on Moon phases. In this method, students first make methodical explanations of lunar phases, then follow up with a comparison of their observations to a book’s illustrations. Students will realize that the illustrations differ from real world, which can lead to further discussion.
4. Based on your experience, is there anything in the article that you agree with? Disagree with? Have questions about?
I agree with much of the information in this article. This is a topic that even I struggle with. I agree with the concept that children’s literature should be integrated into instruction. I do not necessarily agree with the statement that non-fiction books are the BEST resource. I wonder how many books I may have read believing they were fact, when they might have not been (as seen by the examples in the article)?
Lindsey Cooper (Lindale, TX)
Not only does the article do a great job of telling the importance of connecting disciplines, such as by bringing literature into the science classroom, but it also addresses the idea of misconceptions and ensuring to avoid them when doing so. I think the author did a good job of describing ways that we can incorporate this literature in a way that allows the students to compare their own observations to that of the book's portrayal of phases of the moon. This will allow the students to think deeply about how realistic the book's portrayal is. Therefore, it is important that the students participate in this observation ahead of reading.
The article the Moon in Children's Literature is a real eye-opener in trying to help children avoid developing misconceptions about the moon. As teachers try more & more to integrate literacy and science they need to be careful the content they choose is appropriate.
This doesn't mean we shouldn't these excellent pieces of literature with children but we should provide children with their own expereinces in obsserving the moon over a long period of time before they are introduced to books that have inaccurate science content. Then they can compare and discuss their observations to the points in the book. Now there is teachable moment.
Kathy Renfrew (Barnet, VT)
Using literature to connect and engage students in the science classroom is increasingly popular. Yet when using moon stories one must be careful not to reinforce broadly held misconceptions. The authors analyze several books about the moon taken from children's literature making recommendations and suggestions on classroom use. This is a great resource if you are planning an elementary level lesson on the moon.
Not only is this article an informative analysis of two prominent books for children featuring the moon—wrongly—, the authors also provide teaching strategies for using the books, including "thinking questions" to help guide discussion of the reality of the books' portrayals of the moon. The article is aimed at teachers of young children, below Grade 2.
Teachers often have difficulties explaining the phases of the moon properly to their students in the classroom. In the article The Moon in Children’s Literature, by Kathy Trundle and Thomas H. Troland written in Science and Children’s Journal October 2005, the authors portrays that children’s literature often depicts incorrect information about the phases of the moon but states different ways to address this problem. One way the authors advise teachers to teach children properly about the moon is to still continue to use the misconstrued literature but have children compare their own findings about the moon to the literatures findings. Another way the others advised teachers was to have them select non-fiction books that depict the correct phases of the moon. However, the authors enforce the idea of having the students always make their own observations records whether reading a fiction or non-fiction book about the moon. I believe these are great options when trying to have students understands that they must make their own observations and not always take the books information as the truth. One thing I believe the authors did not include was to have students create their own comparison and contrast between their own findings of both non-fictional and fictional moon books. This would allow critical thinking to develop for the students. I would recommend this article to all elementary science teachers who are trying to find ways to portray the concept of the moon properly through the usage of books in the classroom.
Leslie Pierce (Jacksboro, TX)
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