As a teacher, I really wanted to approach this project from the standpoint of a media specialist. So though I have definitely taught this content before and some of the student materials links that are given as background have been used before, my lessons as a media specialist are a new addition to the units. There are numerous acivities that involve collaboration with the media specialist within each unit and I will do my best to provide a good overview and outline of the entire unit, but I have chosen to focus my lessons for this project on the especially important lessons provided by the media specialist (who is hopefully me eventually!).

6th Grade: Comparison of Planets & High School Earth/Space Science : Theories on the Conception of the Universe


-Inquiry Skill
The information inquiry skills both student levels will be exploring deals with searching for information, processing that information, asking new questions and using that new information to synthesize even greater understanding. The sixth grade students will be guided through some of the early steps of searching for information by asking questions and locating appropriate sources as a group, while the high school level students when given a research question will be expected to locate and evaluate sources on their own. There are many more steps to the inquiry process going on in these units, but these specific lessons will focus on the student’s ability to locate appropriate sources.

The lessons I will describe are certainly ones I could complete as a teacher with my classroom on my own. That is not my goal. My goal is to look at ways that I could collaborate with classroom teachers if I were a media specialist. I do not expect that many classroom teachers will come to me on their own, out of the blue, to ask me to collaborate on a lesson. So, I will definitely make the teachers in my school aware that I am looking to collaborate with them on lessons and projects and hope that the two learning experiences outlined in this project will give them examples of how I can contribute to their classroom in ways other than content knowledge. Both of the lessons to be outlined in this project are information inquiry standards that are appropriate for any content area.

6th Grade Science Unit: Comparison of Planets

Indiana Academic Standard 6.3.1
Compare and contrast the size, composition, and surface features of the planets that comprise the solar system, as well as the objects orbiting them. Explain that the planets, except Pluto, move around the sun in nearly circular orbits.
Standards for the 21st Century Learner: Standard 1
Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

-Student Audience
· a 6th grade multi-racial, varied economic and SES statuses, classroom located at the middle school
· 24 students in the class, mixed ability levels
· an average size middle school, mostly urban setting
· students have been given inquiry opportunities in their lower grades but most were step by step teacher guided activities, they are new to the self-discipline needed to accomplish a task on their own and the responsibility of completing assignments on their own
· they are excited about being able to be in charge of their own learning and finding ways to understand and make their learning authentic for their situation and prior knowledge
· the approach with this class will be to guide them at the beginning and teach students how to accomplish their task (not accomplish it for them) and then allow them to use the skills they’ve learned to continue with their lessons/projects
· the students will be taking all of their new information and synthesizing and applying it to an authentic task, but just as important as the content knowledge the skill of how to search for answers by oneself will be stressed

The 6th grade science unit that will be covered deals with the comparison of the planets within our Solar System. I will include in my student/teacher materials examples of the activities students will be completing. The lesson I am focusing on would take place at the beginning of the unit as the skill will be used throughout the entire unit. The entire unit deals with locating information on each planet within our solar system, comparing/contrasting those planets, and using that information to create a fictional creature that could survive on one of those planets.

-Lesson Plan/Teacher Materials
6th grade – Introduction to the Planets, Vocabulary Related to Planet Characteristics and Introduction to Research

Classroom Teacher Lesson Plan:

Media Specialist Lesson Plan:

-Student Materials
Astronomy Checklist –

Interactive Word Wall –

Composition and Atmosphere –

Acrostic Planet Poem –

-Examples of Student Products
Interactive Word Wall –

Composition and Atmosphere Table –
Acrostic Planet Poem –

My main goal with this lesson is student completion of the Surface Features and Satellites table and begin cultivating research skills. Because of this, most of my assessment will be based on completion, participation and time on task. I will hold individual conferences with each student where we will look over their table, talk about what went well and what they struggled with.

-Continuation of Unit
Students will continue to research different aspects of the planets including distance, size, surface features, satellites, orbit and gravity. The entire unit takes at least 3 weeks on a block schedule. Though the lesson described here was very research oriented, I wanted to include that the end product will be the development of a Create-A-Creature. Students will take the knowledge they have gained and create an example of a creature that could survive on a specific planet. They must take into consideration surface type for movement, how do they breathe, what will they eat, what protections will they need etc… They are required to include tags on their Create-A-Creature that address at least five facts that went into the creation of their creature. Below is an example of a students’ Crupiter!


High School Earth/Space Science Unit : Theories on the Conception of the Universe

Indiana Academic Standard ES.1.4
Describe Hubble’s law. Identify and understand that the “Big Bang” theory is the most widely accepted theory explaining the formation of the universe.
Standards for the 21st Century Learner: Standard 1
Draw conclusions, make informed decisions, apply knowledge to new situations, and create new knowledge.

-Student Audience
· a high school multi-grade (10th – 12th) muli-racial, varied economic and SES statuses,
· 26 students in the class, mixed ability levels
· a large size middle school, mostly urban setting
· students have been participating in inquiry and research opportunities since middle school, they should have the skills and self-discipline to be able to complete a research assignment on their own
· students are nervous but excited to research such an in depth, slightly controversial topic and present that information in a new way
· when given the task, students should be able to proceed on their own; the content knowledge will be new and the evaluation of sources task will be new


This Earth/Space Science unit will focus on the foundations of the various theories on the conception of the universe. Both teacher-directed and student inquiry will take place in the days prior to this lesson in order to establish understanding of vocabulary and necessary content. This specific lesson will focus on the evaluation of sources, locating appropriate sources and finally using research on the Big Bang Theory as a basis for a science fiction comic.

-Lesson Plan

Earth/Space Science – Evaluation of Sources and The Conception of the Universe: A Science Fiction Comic
Classroom Teacher Lesson Plan:
Media Specialist Lesson Plan:

-Student Materials
Checklist for Evaluation of Sources –
The Conception of the Universe: A Science Fiction Comic Handout -

-Examples of Student Products

The Conception of the Universe: A Science Fiction Comic
In case you don't h ave the Comic Life software this is a copy and pasted version in Word
One way that I will try to evaluate the success of this lesson is to have students complete a self-assessment/project reflection journal entry. In their journal entry, students will address the following questions:
· During this project I think I did well on …
· When completing the next project I can do better at …
· Two things I am sure I understand about the Big Bang Theory are …
· One thing I would like to have clarified about the Big Bang Theory is …
· Two things I know about how to evaluate a possible research source are…
· As this course continues, I am going to ask by to help me …
· Overall my feelings on this project are…

-Inquiry Lesson Comparison & Growth from Novice to Expert
Inquiry Skill – search for sources, process information, ask new questions, synthesize information
Students show maturation in the following Standards for the 21st Century Learner Skills:
1.1.2 Use prior and background knowledge as context for new learning
1.1.4 Find, evaluate, and select appropriate sources to answer questions.
1.1.5 Evaluate information found in selected sources on the basis of accuracy, validity, appropriateness for needs, importance, and social and cultural context.
2.1.1 Continue an inquiry-based research process by applying critical-thinking skills (analysis, synthesis, evaluation, organization) to information and knowledge in order to construct new understandings, draw conclusions, and create new knowledge.
2.1.3 Use strategies to draw conclusions from information and apply knowledge to curricular areas, real-world situations, and further investigations.
2.1.6 Use the writing process, media and visual literacy, and technology skills to create products that express new understandings.
3.1.1** Conclude an inquiry-based research process by sharing new understandings and reflecting on the learning.
In both lessons my goal was to have students take responsibility for locating their own sources of information, taking hold of that information and applying it to an authentic task. As stated in Callison and Preddy, “In the Information Age, technology use skills have become essential for efficient means of search and retrieval. Technology tools can also play an important role in effective analysis, synthesis, and presentation of information.” The sixth grade class is new to locating their own information outside their textbook, so that lesson focused on guiding them through the initial steps of how to search for information. As a group they brainstormed possible search terms and together located appropriate sites for their task. This modeling by the Media Specialist is a great way for students to begin to understand the process and make it their own. Daniel Callison explains, “Maturation in such skills can be enriched by instructional media specialists, who include teachers from all subject areas as well as school library media specialists who model inquiry”. The sixth graders collaborated on searching for appropriate sources and recorded their information in a prepared table. As they mature, and move into high school, they are expected to be able to locate sources on their own and record their new information in a format that suits them. Instead of telling them where to search, how to search and how to record information, their lesson was based on evaluating their sources. At the high school level students should be able to locate their own sources, but not always are those sources good. Often they are the first to appear on a results list. So, the search process was taken one step further and in addition to locating sources they were required to evaluate them for validity. As they take the next step to college, the checklist for evaluating sources will continue to be important at their advanced research level. This progress from simply finding sources to evaluating those sources shows maturation in this inquiry skill. As noted by Callison and Preddy, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Research and Improvement (1995) rated skills necessary for students to be successful in college. I whole heartedly agree with Callison when he states, “These skill sets also place analysis, synthesis, and evaluation on a higher level. The student becomes a critical thinker, based not so much on information location, but on abilities in analysis of arguments, meaningful communication, and cultivation of an inquiring mind. Accomplished skills in critical thinking take information literacy and inquiry to the higher levels toward which instruction should strive. We may not reach these levels in all Information Inquiry lessons nor a each grade, but these should be the standards toward which we construct any scope and sequence curriculum in the Information Age.”

Callison, Daniel, and Leslie Preddy. The Blue Book on Information Age Inquiry,
Instruction, and Literacy. Westport, Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2006.

Indiana Department of Education. Indiana's Academic Standards and Resources. 29 October 2009<>.

Standards for the 21st Century Learner in Action.Chicago: American Association of School
Librarians, 2009.