The Moon a two-Way Science Learning Unit for Qikiqtani Elementary Students


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The Moon
A Two-Way Science Learning Unit for Qikiqtani Elementary Students

The Sun and the Moon: Germaine Arnaktauyok

University of Manitoba

Centre for Research, Youth, Science Teaching and Learning

June 2008

Table of Contents

Topic Page

Guiding Principles of the Unit 3
Cross-Curricular Applications 4
Conceptual Framework 5
Skills Development 7
Attitudes and Beliefs Development 8
Curriculum Applications 9

Things to Consider in Preparing to Teach the Unit 10

About the Activities 11
Activities 12
Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit Background 89
References 177

Guiding Principles of the Unit

  • Provide two-way learning experiences by integrating Inuit knowledge, ways of knowing, beliefs and values and contemporary scientific knowledge, processes and attitudes.
  • Draw upon traditional and contemporary northern cultural examples as contexts for student learning.

  • Include the local community and its people in students’ learning opportunities as the classroom is an extension of the school and local community

  • Foster language development in their local language and, where required or encouraged, English.

  • Use locally recognized pedagogical practices to promote student learning.

  • Use science experiences as a rich context for promoting literacy and numeracy skill development.

  • Use diagnostic and formative assessment to inform planning and teaching and monitor student learning.

  • Engage students by starting lessons by providing first-hand experiences for students or drawing upon common experience.

  • When using story to engage students, use the interrupted-story-line as a vehicle to prompt first-hand investigations.

  • Deliberately promote scientific attitudes of mind (curiosity, problem-solving, working to end) student through thoughtful independent consideration of questions and challenges posed.

  • Move from the experiential, first-hand experiences to the psychological; that is, after providing concrete experiences assist students in making sense of experiences by using purposeful strategies to promote understanding such as role plays, illustrations and analogies.

  • Assist students in their consolidation of ideas only as an extension of the initial experiential and psychological learning experiences.

  • Within the lesson and throughout the unit, move from concrete to more abstract ideas.

  • Provide opportunities for student-initiated and directed investigations.

  • Provide opportunity for students to make connections among science and all other learning areas.
  • Foster student independence, creativity and curiosity by providing opportunity for students’ ideas and questions and follow-up opportunities for problem-solving and investigation.

  • Provide students the opportunity to make connections between what they are learning and career opportunities.

Cross-Curricular Applications

This unit is developed with an emphasis on developing oral and written language skills within the context of Earth’s only and closest and year-round natural satellite, the moon. The activities that are recommended encourage student expression of their experience in written, visual and oral form.

The unit has strong connections to appreciating Inuit mythology pertaining to the moon and its importance in influencing northern life, both in practical matters such as our only natural source of light in the dark season and tidal influence. Students are encouraged to consider how the moon has always played an important role in the everyday life of Inuit. As well, because it is so prominent, observable and influences our environment predictably we are in a position to understand it as a science phenomenon looking for understanding about its movement through the repeating patterns we observe and experience.

Students are encouraged to explore the moon within their immediate context, especially with the assistance of persons within the community who have experience and expertise in the suggested activities, both in traditional and contemporary knowledge. It is anticipated students will understand how we have come to take for granted one of the most noticeable and influential occurrences in northern life, the lunar cycle. Students will learn about the changing pattern of the moon’s appearance and how the lunar cycle and its appearance have predictable correspondence with the tidal rhythms we experience including the behavior of ice as observed in changes in pressure ridges and ice-floes.

There are obvious connections to social studies, art and mathematics. Teachers are encouraged to make reference to local mythology and the everyday and seasonal importance of the moon. The activities suggested are starting points. Broaden the focus by adding stories and activities of your own or from the experiential base of your community.

Conceptual Ideas and Progression

The recommended sequence for supporting student conceptual development of the moon as a source of light and the most significant influence on our tides is suggested below. For the most part, the activities and the conceptual and skill development embedded within the activities are sequential. Lower elementary experiences and ideas primarily focus on observing, experiencing and communicating these experiences. Upper elementary experiences focus on understanding and investigating these experiences and appreciating applications of this understanding to their students’ everyday world. It is suggested teachers address the following key ideas:

Lower Elementary (Grades 1-3):

  • There are very important stories about the moon in northern culture.

  • The appearance of the moon is not always the same. We are more familiar with some appearances than others.

  • The moon does create its own light.

  • There is a pattern in the changing appearance of the Moon. This repeating pattern occurs every 28 days

  • The different appearances of the moon have names and these names are important to northern peoples.

  • We see the moon when light from the sun reflects off the moon. The changing appearance of the moon can be explained

  • The stories we hear about the moon are important as they teach us about how we should regard one another.

Upper Elementary (Grades 4-6)

  • The Changing Appearance of the Moon can be Modelled. The changes in the Moon’s appearance relate to the amount of its illuminated surface we see. This is determined by the relative positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun.

  • The changes in the Moon’s appearance relate to the amount of its illuminated surface we see. This is determined by the relative positions of the Earth, Moon and Sun.

  • Although the Moon is seen most clearly at dark, the moon can be visible throughout the day.

  • The change of sea level on the beach is called the tide.

  • The tide goes in and goes in and out twice every 24 hours.

  • The moon has its own gravitational pull.

  • The tidal movement of water is linked to the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth.

  • The tidal movement influences pressure ridges and the ice-floe and this influence is predictable.

  • Understanding the relationship between the observable lunar cycle and tidal activity is important to northern peoples.

  • The moon is a natural satellite, we also have natural satellites and these have a variety of purposes.

Skills Development

This unit emphasizes that the learning of science ideas is inextricably linked to the development of the processes of science. As asserted by the Northwest Territories Elementary Science Primary Program Guide, the legislated curriculum for Nunavut schools, science experiences should provide opportunity for the development of conceptual understanding within the context of relevant investigative experiences. Although individual scientific process skills may be emphasized in specific activities, they are to be supported more holistically in teacher-facilitated or student-directed inquiry.

The skills to be developed are expected to be appropriate to the level of the learner. These skills and a typical developmental sequence are outlined in detail in the NWT Primary Program Guide. Attention is given to providing students with first-hand experiences that promote skills such as:
Observing Communicating

Classifying Measuring

Predicting Planning Investigations

Inferring Interpreting Information

Recording Formulating Investigative Questions
These skills involve coordination between cognitive and muscular skills, often referred to as psychomotor skills. Handling and manipulating equipment require not just the physical ability to perform a task but also the intellect to know how to measure or observe accurately. It is anticipated that by the end of upper elementary a student might be able to, with assistance, conduct a scientific investigation. This unit provides opportunities for students to work physically and cognitively towards this end.

Attitudes and Beliefs Development

An explicit goal in the development of this resource and the other resources being developed in this Qikiqtani and Beaufort-Delta project and the accompanying professional development provided for teachers is to use these as a vehicle to contribute to student ‘success’ in science. Although success in science is often attributed to measurable outcomes such as knowledge acquisition and development, the intent of this development project is much more encompassing. It extends this notion of success to investigate the influence of ‘two-way’ learning experiences on students’ perceptions of success in their personal attitudes and beliefs.

What does success in science mean to Inuit students? It is anticipated that students will experience success in a variety of ways, beyond the border of knowledge into the domain of attitudes and beliefs. Attitudes are regarded as states of mind, behavior or conduct regarding some matter, as indicating opinion or purpose. The program of study suggested in the activities that follow will foster student curiosity and creativity, and openness to new ideas of thinking. As well students will develop confidence in their perceptions of self as students of science. Similarly they will develop confidence as evidenced in risk-taking and their effort to conduct science investigations. Their participation in the processes of science will foster their perseverance, precision and objectivity in solving scientific problems. As members of a team they will develop in their respect for and ability to work co-operatively towards purposeful goals with their peers.

Above all, it is anticipated that students will develop a more positive sense of themselves in contemporary society as they learn about the inextricable link between science and the world in which they live. It is anticipated that students will see science as part of their life trajectory both in future formal and informal settings as a result of science study that advocates ‘two-way’ learning.

Curriculum Applications

In this context, the conceptual knowledge base and essential skills identified by these curricula are paired with Inuit cultural values, beliefs, and heritage to become the cornerstone of the learning provided in this unit. Both the Pan-Canadian and NWT curriculum address the concept of the Moon at Grade 2 and 6.Consequently, this unit addresses both lower and upper elementary learning objectives. It is suggested that teachers of Grade 6 use many of the Grade 2 (Lower Elementary) introductory activities as starting points for the Grade 6 learning objectives. The specific learning outcomes for the NWT Curriculum and Pan-Canadian Curriculum are not detailed here.

The General Learning Outcomes for both these levels include: Students will learn through investigations how the moon’s appearance changes and how these changes can be explained and relate to changes within our environment.
Lower Elementary:

  • Identify the moon as an object in our sky,

  • Understand how important it is to northern peoples,

  • Understand how it changes.

Upper Elementary:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the lunar cycle and why it occurs

  • Demonstrate an awareness of the effect of the lunar cycle and tidal cycles.

  • Demonstrate an awareness of new developments in lunar exploration.

Things to Consider in Preparing to Teach the Unit:

In order for you to foster the development of the conceptual knowledge base and essential skills paired with local cultural values, beliefs, and heritage in this unit give consideration to the following:

Your students’ capabilities and interests:

  • What will be the language of instruction? If the language of instruction is English, how can you include and affirm local language in your instruction?

  • Will students be keeping a written learning log? Again, will it include and affirm local language?

  • What contexts suggested are likely to be of most interest and relevance to your students?

  • Should the investigations suggested be teacher- or student-directed?

Your capabilities and interests:

  • Consider the conceptual knowledge base, essential skills and Inuit cultural values, beliefs, and heritage affirmed by this unit. Where will you find the teaching challenging?

  • What personal experiences, knowledge and skills can you bring to this unit? The unit provides opportunity for your strengths to be incorporated into the unit

The capabilities and interests of your teaching context:
This resource has been developed with consideration for northern Qikiqtani and Beaufort-Delta regions and its students. How can you work collaboratively with the school community to see the intentions of the unit a reality? Who are the individuals that can assist in ensuring local cultural knowledge is incorporated into this unit.

About the Activities

Select a Starting Point:

Although a sequence of instruction has been provided for this unit of study your starting point will be a reflection of your students’ backgrounds and interests. Upper elementary teachers are encouraged to start with the lower elementary activities.

Select Knowledge, Beliefs & Values to Develop:
Again consider the interests of your students especially in terms of their Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit background.
Select Appropriate Skills to Develop:
Consider the investigative abilities of your students. What investigative skills are most appropriate for your students? The investigations suggested could either be teacher-facilitated or student-directed depending on the capabilities of your students. What is most appropriate?
Develop an Instructional Sequence:

Use the information provided in previous sections of this resource to assist in developing a coherent instructional sequence. The list of activities is only a suggestion of what might be addressed. Focus on the General Learning Outcome: Students will learn through investigations how the moon’s appearance changes and why these changes occur and how these changes correspond to changes in the tides. As well students will develop an appreciation of the prominent place the moon has in Inuit story and the implications of these stories in fostering positive social behaviors and attitudes.


Lower Elementary: Grades K-3

There are very Important Stories about the Moon in Northern culture

What you need:
Story that follows on the origin of the moon – if the students are developing reading independence have copies of the story photocopied for each. You may wish to remove the illustration at is shows the moon which students are to draw their own perception of.

Drawing paper and coloring materials

What to do:

  • Begin by reading students the story that follows stopping on occasion to ask questions or provide the opportunity for students to ask questions. It is likely that students have heard this story before or at least an adaptation of the story. In some settings the story is quite graphic and mention is made of the sexual abuse of the girl by the brother, or in some cases it is said to be the father. As well, the girl is believed to have cut off her breast in her anger and mixed it with blood and urine and given it to her brother.

  • The story is one that is often illustrated. Provide students with the opportunity to draw a picture of what they visualize as a result of the reading of the story.

  • Encourage students to think of the story and visualize what they here and draw what they see in their mind. Encourage students to work quietly and as they make progress to begin to share what they have drawn with their peers. Ensure that students focus on including the moon and sun in their picture and how they need to illustrate how moon is different from the sun.

  • As students complete their pictures ask students to stand in front of the class and explain their pictures.

  • As each one presents their story to the class begin to compare and contrast their moon illustrations. Possibly try to redraw on the board each student’s moon representation and compare and contrast the illustrations.

  • As the stories come to an end ask students if they have all drawn the moon the same way. Get students to note that there illustrations differ and that some students may have drawn circular or full moons and some have drawn partial or half- or crescent moons. Also note that they may differ in size, color and location.

  • Ask students if all of the illustrations are, indeed, accurate pictures of the moon. Does the moon actually look like this?

  • Ask students to explain why their pictures are not the same? That is, why can the moon look differently? At this stage you would expect students to give very naïve views of why the moon may appear different.

  • Assist students in realizing that the moon does have many different appearances and that in thus unit well will be learning about the moon and why it has different appearances.
  • Ask students if they have any questions that relate to the moon. Make note of their questions and that these questions will be answered during the unit.

  • Place their storied illustrations on the wall accompanied by your own abbreviated story of the origin of the moon.

  • A further illustration provided whereby students might write their account of the story.

What to look for:

Do students draw the moon the same way?

If not, how do their illustrations differ?

Can they explain why they have drawn it the way they do?

Are everyone’s pictures correct? Do they agree that all the pictures do, in fact, provide accurate illustrations of the moon?

The Origin of the Moon
The Origin of the Moon: An adaptation of a story told by various people across the arctic, Inuvialuit, Inuit and First Nations. Based upon the narrative provided by Paniaq 1990: IE 142 and adapted by John MacDonald in The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy Star Lore and Legends.

In the beginning there was no moon or sun.
A brother and sister were living alone in one house. The brother told the sister that she ought to marry so as to bring a hunter into the household to help out. The sister refused to get married for this reason alone. She asked her brother to seek a wife, but he too refused saying he had no need of a wife. They both believed that they were not in need of a partner.
One night an intruder came to the sister’s bed when and kissed her while she was sleeping. Because it was dark the sister did not know who it was and was disturbed. It happened the next night as well and the sister became more disturbed. She thought about how she could find out who was kissing her when it was so dark. She had an idea.

The next night the sister marked the intruder’s face with soot from the qulliq. In the morning the sister got up and went around to see if she could find a person with soot on their face. To her surprise, she saw the soot on her brother’s face. She was very angry.

She returned to her house in anger and resolved to leave her brother and the village. She went home and picked up a qulliq and started to walk in a circle. Slowly she rose up in the air. The people shouted at her to come back, but she would not listen.
The brother was so sad that she had left. He knew he was responsible for her leaving. He also started to walk in a circle and soon too began to rise in the air. As the sister rose higher and higher her lamp became warmer and warmer, giving out heat and light to the country. She became the sun.
As the brother rose he became bright too, but he never became hot. He became the moon.
In the sky the brother pursued the sister, but he was never able to catch her. He was always behind her. To this day when the moon is coming up the sun is going down and when the moon is going down the sun is coming up.
Today when we look at the moon we can see the dark spots and these are the boy in the moon, carrying something. It is light but not hot.
The sun is both light and hot. Both the heat and the light are from the qulliq that is still burning.

The Birth of the Sun and Moon

The Appearance of the Moon is Not Always the Same. We are More Familiar with some Appearances than Others

What you need:

Books or stories that have moon illustrations in them

Drawing paper

Pictures of the moon

What you do:

  • Start the lesson by reviewing the illustrations drawn by students from yesterday’s lesson relating to how they drew the moon. Emphasize ways in which they have drawn the moon the same and different. Focus on size, shape, location and color.

  • Choose one or two children’s stories that make mention of the moon or at least provide an illustration of the moon. Try to choose stories and illustrations that show contrasting images of the moon; that is images that show the moon in its full or quarter phase. As well, many story images show the moon to have human-like qualities.

  • Read through the stories focusing on the images presented. Ask students to indicate whether the images presented are realistic or not. Students should be able to provide justification or reasoning to support their claims.

  • As students provide justifications, encourage students to use their first-hand experiences of observation of the moon as justification for their choices. Encourage them to see beyond the images presented in children’s books and other fictional media as their source of information.

  • If the lunar cycle provides for first-hand observation, take students to a place where they can comfortably look at the moon. For most students their first facilitated observation is likely to result in some confusion. Students may have a pre-conception that is contrary to their observation; that is, some may have a pre-conception that the moon is always full or always in the first quarter or only out at night. Be prepared for contrary responses.

  • Provide students with the handout that follows. It illustrates different images of the moon. Get students, either orally or in writing to identify which images are realistic images and which are fictional.

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