How College and Career Ready Standards Prevented Blindness on August 21, 2017

eclipse-imgAs the 2017 solar eclipse approached, my students had more questions than a math book.  I realized this was an opportune time to leverage college and career ready standards to teach my high school science students reading, critical thinking, and application skills.

On Friday, August 18th I showed my students three sentences using the word ‘eclipse’ and asked them to use context clues to identify a one-word synonym for ‘eclipse’.  Here are the three sentences displayed on my dry erase board:

  1. Overheard at a football game, “Wow!  He really eclipsed that kick like no other!”
  2. Overheard in a business meeting, “The other company eclipsed our bid when they came in at a lower price.”
  3. Overheard at the mall, “I was going to ask that girl out but the other boy eclipsed me by asking her first.”

Using their learning partners, students quickly realized that the word eclipse means to block.

We were on a roll.  I had them reading and thinking, which is a required skill to teach when you use college and career ready standards in your classroom.

But there was much more to be done.

I still had to answer all of my students’ safety questions.  I passed out a copy of a NASA article that talked about safety during eclipses.  After students read the article, I posed the questions they had asked me but required they use the article as a resource in their answer.  For example, one question asked, “According to the article, how do you safely watch an eclipse if you wear eye glasses?”  My students had to return to the article to find the answer and provide a quote that supported their answer.  This is called using text evidence, which is when students have to find reasons for their answer in their reading.  This is also a great skill to teach if you are preparing your students for college and career.

Ultimately, I needed to be sure that on Monday when we went outside to view the eclipse that my students would do so safely.  But I used college and career ready standards to prepare them.

On Monday, August 21st my students had access to a telescope that projected the shadow onto a large piece of paper, 12-foot tubes that projected the shadow onto the sidewalk, welding masks, and eclipse glasses.  All of my students were enamored with the day sky and celestial phenomenon and enjoyed it safely.


Tara Dale is an Ecology Teacher at Desert Ridge High School in Arizona. She was Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador of Excellence in 2014.