Reviewed - The Moon’s Phases and the Self Shadow
Professor Young and Professor Guy have composed a well-organized, practical, interactive, and concise article regarding teaching the Moon phases. They propose a novel method to instruct the ... See More
Professor Young and Professor Guy have composed a well-organized, practical, interactive, and concise article regarding teaching the Moon phases. They propose a novel method to instruct the phases of the Moon, notably via a “self shadow,” in which learners’ comprehension of the Moon’s phases is informed by the difference between shadows that produce eclipses, and shadows that pertain to Moon phases.
They explain that a “self shadow” (a shadow on an object) obstructs the light, forming on the light source’s opposite side — the self shadow is literally connected to the object impeding the light; this, in contrast to a “cast shadow,” which is distinct from an object. Young and Guy describe how self shadows can be recognized in the classroom “by turning on a bright light source and making the distinction between the cast shadow that is responsible for causing the eclipses and identifying the shadow on the surface of the object as the self shadow and responsible for causing the phases.” Therefore, the phases (conceptually) are detached from an eclipse.
These professors understand and focus upon their audience deftly — teachers in grades 5-8 — by conveying their methodology in ways relevant to elementary teachers actually practicing their craft in the field. For instance, they convey two straightforward “demonstrations” that assist students apprehend the “patterns of lightness and darkness in the Moon’s phases.” I appreciate that the authors structure these demonstrations succinctly, suggesting a simple objective, teacher preparation, exploration, discussion, and assessment. They also include five “figures” (a photo, a worksheet, a diagram, a moon ring view, and an assessment rubric). . . all are uncomplicated and simplified; in fact, 5th graders (and up) could competently ascertain the information contained therein.
I also appreciate the humor that the authors intersperse throughout the article. This is not an academic discourse, rather, it’s a pragmatic approach that enhances student learning of a too frequently complex scientific topic.
This article also address standards, however, the citation stems from NRC (1996). If plausible, I’d suggest that Young and Guy revisit this article and update it for Common Core (2018). Additionally, it would be wonderful for the authors to adapt this strategy for K – 2 children as well.
Kudos to the authors. I concur that their approach simplifies this curriculum while helping young learners heighten their scientific thinking through hands-on learning, especially by comparing day-to-day objects and their two shadows.