Lesson Plan Template: General Lesson Plan
Learning Objectives: What should students know and be able to do as a result of this lesson?
Students should be able to:
- Explain why it is important to study human physiology in space
- State what research is being conducted to determine the long-term effects of microgravity on humans
- Determine what the essential components to a scientific study are and explain why controls are needed
- Cite specific and relevant text evidence to support analysis of a text
- Determine the meaning of selected academic and domain specific words in a text
- Provide an accurate summary of a text
- Construct a written response that clearly establishes the main point(s), contains relevant textual evidence to support the main point, utilizes transitions to maintain flow, effectively uses domain-specific vocabulary, and provides an appropriate conclusion.
Prior Knowledge: What prior knowledge should students have for this lesson?
In regards to science skills:
- Students should be able to explain scientific methods and how scientific methods are used to answer questions.
- Students should be aware of the International Space Station where astronauts serve as scientists who conduct studies to improve our understanding of the world.
- Students may need to be provided background information on the human microbiome. Teachers may want to utilize details from this site:
Teachers may want to survey the following resources to help provide additional support to students on different content that is referenced in the article ("Ten Things to Know about Scott Kelly's #YearInSpace") for this lesson.
In regards to literacy skills:
- Students should have prior experience utilizing various vocabulary strategies to determine the meaning of unknown words in a text, including use of context clues and dictionary skills.
- Based on the writing rubric provided with this lesson, students should be able to respond to a writing prompt in a clear, organized manner that includes use of an introduction to establish the main point(s), a body paragraph(s) that support the main point(s) and includes relevant and specific textual evidence, and a conclusion that supports the main point(s).
Guiding Questions: What are the guiding questions for this lesson?
- How are NASA researchers testing and studying the effects of long-duration spaceflight on humans?
- How might the findings from the Year in Space mission be used by NASA and other countries involved in space exploration?
- Why is astronaut Scott Kelley's brother, who wasn't in space, so important to the Year in Space study?
- How is science used to answer questions?
- Why is scientific thinking so important when answering questions about situations we have never encountered?
Teaching Phase: How will the teacher present the concept or skill to students?
1. Introduce the lesson by asking students questions like the following:
- If you were offered a seat on the first trip to Mars would you go? Why or why not?
- Would you go on a weekend trip to the International Space Station (ISS)? Why or why not?
- What might space exploration be like? Do you know how long different space missions can last?
- Have you heard about American astronaut Scott Kelly's Year in Space mission? Could you be away from your family and friends that long?
- Through past space missions, what have scientists learned about how spaceflight affects human beings?
2. Explain to students that in previous space missions, scientists learned about microgravity and how it affects astronauts' muscle health. They learned that astronauts' muscles atrophy (shorten and weaken) without use. Doctors have noticed this happening to people on Earth, for example, in coma patients and in people who have a limb enclosed in a cast. On Earth, we have to keep working our muscles to keep them strong, but through data gathered in past space missions, scientists learned that astronauts have to do that in space too.
3. Explain to students this is just one example of what scientists have learned through studying the effects of spaceflight on humans, but there is still much we don't know. As NASA prepares for future long-term deep space missions, like going to Mars, they need to better understand how astronauts' health and capabilities may be affected from long-term exposure to microgravity. By gathering this data, it may allow NASA and other space programs in other countries to better protect and prepare astronauts for future missions. With this in mind, NASA designed the Year in Space mission to begin gathering this data. The mission included one American astronaut, Scott Kelly, and one cosmonaut (a Russian astronaut), Mikhail Kornienko. During their year in space, they conducted many experiments while living on the International Space Station. As part of the study, Scott Kelly's identical twin brother, Mark, a former astronaut, lived on Earth and served as a control subject. In other words, it allowed Kelly's test results while living in space to be compared to his twin's on Earth. This data may provide further evidence about how living in microgravity for a long time can affect an astronaut's health.
4. Show students this engaging titled "A Year in Space Featuring Billy Dee Williams" (1:48, uploaded by YouTube user NASA Johnson) that advertises the Year in Space mission.
5. Tell students they will be reading an article about the Year in Space mission. Teachers might also want to inform students that Kelly and Kornienko left Earth in March 2015 and returned to Earth in March 2016.
Guided Practice: What activities or exercises will the students complete with teacher guidance?
1. Provide each student with the article "Ten Things to Know about Scott Kelly’s #YearInSpace."
2. Provide each student with a note-taking guide.
3. Before students begin reading, direct them to pay attention to the text features of the article to help them learn and locate information:
- Title: Ten Things to Know about Scott Kelly's #YearInSpace
- Headings: Point out to students that each item on the list has a heading that helps explain what each item in the list will be about.
- Point out the photographs and captions
4. Have students fill out the note-taking guide as they read the text. This can be done individually, in pairs, or in a small group. The teacher should monitor students as they work and provide support and guidance as needed.
- Note: Based on the needs and skills of the students, teachers can decrease the number of academic or domain-specific vocabulary students will define on the note-taking guide.
- For academic vocabulary, students will likely be able to use a variety of vocabulary strategies to define the meaning of the words (context clues, word parts, dictionary). For domain-specific (in other words, subject-specific) vocabulary, students will typically need to draw on prior knowledge and use a dictionary to define the words.
5. Teachers might want to use the following tips to help students with some of the words in the article (not all of these are included as vocabulary words on the note-taking guide):
- Suite of investigations (paragraph 1): a variety or group of tests. Encourage students to use context clues. Remind them that context clues can sometimes come after a word is used. In this case, further on in the article, the author references the amount of studies conducted.
- Hurdles (paragraph 2): problem(s) that must be overcome. Students will likely think of hurdles in the context of a track and field meet. They may be confused in thinking of a hurdle as a situation or problem, and not just an object. Help students to understand that hurdling in a track and field meet is the act of running and jumping over an obstacle called a hurdle at a high rate of speed. These hurdles are obstacles the runners have to overcome (jumping over them without knocking them over) to successfully finish the race. In the context of the article, "hurdle" is used to describe a problem that NASA must overcome in order to make sure humans are ready for a mission to Mars.
- Full Capabilities (paragraph 2): completely healthy and able-bodied. Encourage students to use context clues in the rest of the paragraph to understand this phrase.
- Microgravity (Used in numerous places, including paragraphs 2 and 8): a small, weak gravitational field. When students hear about space, they think zero gravity, but there is some gravity while orbiting the Earth on a space station. There is just enough gravity to keep it in orbit.
- Countermeasures (paragraph 2): an action taken to counteract a threat or danger; an action or device that is intended to stop or prevent something bad or dangerous. Students can break this word down to help them decode it. They may know that "counter" is an opposite reaction to something, so a countermeasure would be a way to counter some sort of issue or instance.
- Mitigate (Used more than once, paragraph 2 and 5): to lessen or make less severe; prevent from getting worse. Encourage students to use context clues to decipher this term. Both paragraphs discuss the mitigation of risks; the research scientists are conducting is designed to lessen the health risks astronauts will face in future long-term deep space missions.
- Indications (paragraph 3): to indicate or relate to. Encourage students to use both context clues and a dictionary. Science doesn’t just prove or disprove. Scientists look for evidence that may identify a relationship to something that may prove to be true.
6. In addition to the questions on the note-taking guide, depending on the needs of students, teachers may want to use the additional questions below as a comprehension check:
- During the Year in Space mission, what were some of the things they were collecting data on? Body fluids like blood, saliva, and urine; ocular scans; measuring radiation; sleep logs; measuring muscle mass; and even collecting data on mental/behavioral health.
- How is what they were doing during the Year in Space mission related to good scientific research? Their research includes careful measurements over a long period of time, acquiring lots of data, and having a control subject (Scott's brother on Earth).
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for student understanding?):
1. Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' completed note-taking guide, checking their work, providing written feedback, or grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
2. Teachers can use the note-taking guide sample answer key to help them assess students' answers.
3. For discussion on students' answers to the defined vocabulary words, teachers are encouraged to not only ask students to explain the meaning they determined for a word, but the strategy they used to arrive at that meaning. This will allow the teacher to provide alternative suggestions as to how the student could have arrived at the correct meaning of the word.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond:
- Working in microgravity for long periods of time has not shown any long-term effects. For years, scientists have studied astronauts working in space, but we really don't know the true long-term effects. Prior to the Year in Space mission, scientists had acquired solid data about how bodies respond to living in microgravity for six months, but significant data beyond that timeframe had not been collected. Scientists need to take a measured approach to studying the long-term effects in order to send astronauts on extended deep space missions to Mars or the Moon.
- NASA only studies the physical limitations of working in space. We really need to understand our human health from all facets. Feeling good mentally may be even more important than physical health, and mental health may even be related to physical health. The Year in Space study will go a long way to gather data on this type of research.
- The U.S. is the main space researching country. The ISS is multi-national including the U.S., Russia, Canada and the European Space Agency, which involves many countries. This is a global effort and one that is important for many reasons. It will relieve some of the cost burdens, pass the bureaucratic stops that sometimes prevent resources from becoming available, and it allows for a more open-minded view of things. More research and creativity with more people from diverse backgrounds are included when collaboration across countries takes place.
Independent Practice: What activities or exercises will students complete to reinforce the concepts and skills developed in the lesson?
Provide each student with a copy of the text-dependent questions to complete. Students should be reminded to continually refer back to the text and to use relevant and specific evidence from the text to support their answers.
Formative Assessment (How will teachers check for understanding?):
- Teachers can check students' understanding by collecting students' answers to the text-dependent questions, checking their work, providing written feedback, and maybe grading the assignment. Or, teachers can have students share out their responses and the teacher can provide verbal corrective feedback, allowing students to make corrections to their work during the discussion.
- Teachers can use the sample answer key at the end of the text-dependent questions document to help them assess students' answers.
Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond: Please see the text-dependent questions sample answer key.
Closure: How will the teacher assist students in organizing the knowledge gained in the lesson?
Before students complete the writing prompt for the summative assessment:
1. Be sure to review responses to the text-dependent questions as a class, including covering the misconceptions and key points described in the sample answer key.
2. After students' written responses have been graded and returned with feedback, teachers might wish to use the provided sample response with the class. Students who are struggling writers can benefit greatly from seeing a well-organized, detailed written response. The teacher could show the sample response on an overhead or projector and discuss some of the following:
- Ask students to identify use of textual evidence from the article to support the main points in the written response.
- Ask students to identify the effective use of domain-specific vocabulary (e.g., hypothesis, physiology, genetics, omics, fluid shifts, atrophy, microbiome, microgravity).
3. At the end of the lesson, allow students to discuss whether they would be willing to go to space and how they think they would handle the stressors. What would be the most difficult issues to overcome from what we have read and learned about? Have them write a diary entry after day 100 that would showcase some of the issues they were facing. This could be done as an exit ticket. Teachers may want to ask some students to share their entries with the class.
1. Students will individually respond to the writing prompt. They should be directed to respond with a multi-paragraph response, with a clear introduction, body section, and conclusion. They can refer back to the text as they construct their response.
2. Provide students with a copy of the rubric and go over the rubric with them so they will know how their written response will be assessed.
The prompt: How does the Year in Space mission so clearly show the importance of careful scientific thinking and reasoning? Using evidence from the text, explain how the study "Year in Space" is so vital to our understanding of the effects of microgravity on humans.
3. Teachers will use the rubric to assess students' written responses.
Specific suggestions for conducting Formative Assessment can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "How will you check for student understanding?"
Feedback to Students
Specific suggestions for providing Feedback to Students can be found in the Guided Practice and Independent Practice phases of the lesson where it says, "Common errors/misconceptions to anticipate and how to respond."