can choose from the following tasks to assess students' understanding;
create your own; or review student journals or your notes from class
discussions. In any case, you can use the Reasons
for Seasons Assessment Tool to document student understanding of
key concepts in this mini-unit.
Have students draw diagrams showing the relationship between the Earth
and the sun as it would be on the day they are doing this activity.
Then have them sketch North and South America on their "Earth"
and place a small x in the approximate location of their hometown.
Have students explain two important reasons why their town or city has
hot summers and cold winters. You can also have them draw the Earth,
mark the approximate location of their town or city, and show its relationship
to the sun during each season.
Give students sunrise and sunset times of three different “mystery”
cities in North America on the date you’re giving this assessment.
Challenge them to:
up sunrise and sunset times for your school’s city or town (or
give these to them).
photoperiods (number of daylight hours and minutes) for each location.
what this reveals about the mystery city locations (in relation to
your location and one another).
an Article or Teach a Lesson
Have students write and illustrate an article for a classroom
or school newsletter to help others understand the reasons for seasons.
Another option is to ask small groups to prepare lessons to teach younger
students about seasons, shadows, sunlight, or related concepts.
Pal Scenario (adapted from . . .)
Give students the following challenge:
that it is June 23rd. You are living in southern Argentina. You have
an e-mail pen pal who lives in New York City. (Assume that both locations
are about the same distance from the equator.) You decide to write
to each other about the weather. Write each note. For each one, talk
about the season, the general amount of daylight (long day, short
day, somewhere in between), a possible high and low temperature for
the day, the kind of precipitation you are having, and any other creative
information that will make your letters complete.
for younger students: Instead of writing notes, students can imagine
they are talking to their penpals on the phone, sending them a tape
recorded message, or preparing a drawing to send them. (You should also
simplify the challenge, as appropriate.)
lives in Argentina. She notices that the sun is rising earlier each
morning and setting later each evening. What season could it be? (Answer:
day, a boy in Massachusetts is going skiing with his family. What
might a girl in Australia be doing?
and Seasons (The Shadow Knows)
the degree and accuracy to which students are able to justify their
explanations of the changes in shadows in relationship to the sun's
position daily and seasonally.
a tree and a sun on a reproducible response sheet. Write in several
different times of day. Ask students to draw approximately where they
think the tree's shadow will fall at each time indicated.
Ask groups of three or four students to develop a demonstration to show
why the Northern and Southern Hemispheres have four seasons. Using rubber,
Styrofoam, or clay balls, they should make models of the Earth and the
sun. Have flashlights or lamps available along with other materials
such as string, construction paper, dowels, and so on. They will need
to account for the tilting of the Earth, the position of the poles,
the path of the Earth around the sun, the spinning of the Earth on its
axis and the effects of direct and indirect light. They will need to
use some means to mark the seasons. Have the groups perform their demonstrations
for one another.