Posted in Science

Shadow Tracking

Today the students went outside to learn how their shadow changes throughout the day. In the morning students traced their shadow and four hours later they returned to the identical spot to make another tracing. Students then explained how their shadow changed based on the orientation of the sun.


I am a 5th grade teacher at Roy Gomm Elementary in Reno, Nevada. I started working with elementary students as part of the Montana Reads program and AmeriCorps. In 2001, after graduating from the University of Montana and moving to Reno, Nevada, I student taught at Rita Cannan Elementary before receiving a 6th grade position at Veterans Elementary. I moved out of the classroom to be a Literacy Coordinator, then an Instructional Coach, and finally a School Improvement Program Coordinator. In 2011, I began working on the Nevada Academic Content Standards in the district’s Curriculum & Instruction Department. I returned to the classroom for the 2015-2016 school year to teach 4th grade at Huffaker Elementary. Before returning to the classroom, I helped develop the Core Task Project that has been featured by National Public Radio, the Gates Foundation, American Radio Works, Eduwonk, the Fordham Institute, Vox, and the Center for American Progress. In 2014, I received the Leader to Learn From Award for my teacher-centered initiative and work to bring college, career, and civics ready outcomes into Northern Nevada classrooms (here). In 2015, I was appointed by Governor Sandoval serve on the Statewide RPDP Council. The same year, Nevada’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Steve Canavero placed me on the state’s State Improvement Team. This year I will be part of the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Teacher Advisory Group. I am Google Certified Educator and a Nevada Teacher Ambassador. I believe strongly that teaching content is teaching reading and I make sure my students have ample opportunities to work with social studies, history, science and art outcomes. I do what I can to blend the learning for my students and this blog is part of that effort. You can contact me at

3 thoughts on “Shadow Tracking

  1. I love that you did this with 5th graders. This activity will be a great way to help make connections to the Earth/space NGSS. You might not believe me but I also did this activity, but with second graders. They rocked it by the way!!! We traced our shadows outside, marked our spots (discussing why this was important), wrote down the time (again discussing importance). Then we went inside and students wrote predictions (not claims) about what they thought would happen to the shadows after lunch. I took all answers with no judgements and wrote them in chart paper. I did not as children to justify or defend their prediction with evidence as that would make it a claim. After recording the classes predictions I read the book Bears Shadow. Afterwards asking students to discuss in small groups the class predictions and to decide which predictions were confirmed by the information in the book and which were not. Groups were expected to back it up with proof: I know because______. Other teams could add on to their argument if they wanted or they could absolutely disagree.
    After lunch student went back out drew the shadows. It was awesome to hear students confirming their predictions. It was really a amazing to listen to those prediction now become claims because students were naturally providing evidence with each other as the carried out their investigation. I had thestudents take photos of their drawings and write the time of the second outline. We wrapped up the lesson by having a whole group discussion. I modeled a quick science notebook entry ( students have been recording the whole time) demonstrating a strategy called LOL: Line of Learning. We basically wrote a short science conclusion using a claim and our observations and actions as evidence. Overall, it was a great lesson that intergrated so many content areas (engineering practices, cross cutting concepts, writing standards, reading informational text standards, listening and speaking standards) which was ultimately how I believe the NVACS are suppose to be taught. Well I hope you enjoyed my lengthy narrative. I have been told I am long winded. Thank you for all you have done and all you will continue to do!!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I work just south of you in a little district known as Clark County. I am sure you have hear district called Clark. I am sure you have never heard of it though…..right? Lol!!
        Love the Core Task Project! It has been a great foundation for so many other websites with complex text and high quality intergrated lessons. Focusing on a multitude of skills applied through independent practiced strengthened through discourse and in depth questioning that is purposeful. .


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