Total Solar Eclipse
— Using a Film Clip from Dolores Claiborne
Subject:Science & Technology — Astronomy; Solar Eclipse;
Ages: 10+: Midlle and High School Levels;
Length: Film Clip: 1 minute, 35 seconds; using this snippet and discussing it will add about 15 minutes to an existing lesson plan on solar eclipses.
Excerpts of the Complete Snippet Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes/Objectives: Students will be able see a faithful representation of a total solar eclipse showing Baily's beads, the diamond ring effect, and the solar corona.
Rationale: The solar eclipse shown in "Dolores Claiborne" faithfully reproduces the correct atmospheric and light conditions as well as the phases of a total solar eclipse. While there is nothing like being outside during a total solar eclipse, this snippet will allow students to vicariously participate in part of that experience.
Description of the Film Clip: Dolores Claiborne has recently discovered that her husband has been sexually abusing their 13-year-old daughter. She decides to murder the man by tricking him into falling down an old well-shaft while the people in the town are celebrating a total solar eclipse. The segment shows the man failing in his efforts to grab on to anything that will keep him from falling to his death. As the husband falls to his death, the Sun emerges from behind the Moon and a new day dawns for Dolores Claiborne. The clip ends with Dolores' voice-over, addressing her daughter many years after the murder.
[The complete Snippet Lesson Plan provides helpful background on the major phenomena of a total solar eclipse: Baileys Beeds, the solar carona, the diamond ring effect, and the path of the shadow of the moon across the earth's surface of the Earth.]
USING THE FILM CLIP IN THE CLASSROOM
1. Review the film clip and to make sure it is suitable for the class.
2. Review the links referenced in this Guide, pick those that are appropriate for the class and the lesson, and decide when to present them to the class.
3. Cue the DVD to the beginning of the Snippet and assemble all other matierials necessary for the class.
Step by Step
1. Provide an appropriate introduction to Baily's Beads, the Diamond Ring Effect and the corona of the Sun. See Helpful Background Section (available to subscribers).
2. Ask students whether anyone has ever witnessed a solar eclipse, particularly a total solar eclipse. If someone in the class actually has seen one in person, let them describe what they remember from that event.
3. Introduce the snippet describing the context in which the events to be watched are unfolding. See Description of the Snippet, above.
4. Play the snippet. As it is quite short and an eclipse is indeed beautiful to watch, you may want to show it once or twice more through the lesson on solar eclipses. It is a nice way to recap what has been learned. <
5. Ask students which aspects of a total solar eclipse they can identify in the snippet. You want them to name and describe at least: . . . .
6. TWM suggests that students be informed that in modern times, the woman in the snippet would not have had to kill her husband in order to stop the child abuse or to get justice. The police and child protective services have become good at identifying and jailing sexual predators. Students should also be cautioned that Dolores Claiborne would have done substantial damage to the retinas of her eyes if she had looked directly at the Sun, as is shown in the movie.
[The complete Snippet Lesson Plan provides supplemental materials, background information, assignments, and a comprehension test.]
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