Friday, December 2, 2011

Unit Resource Portfolio: Weather Conditions and Phenomena

In Virginia, students in 4th grade are reintroduced to weather and all of its components. They build on their second grade background knowledge and begin to learn about what a meteorologist does, what air pressure is, and how fronts are formed. In this post you will find activities, foldables and assessments for teaching a ten-day unit on weather, as well as great books and websites to check out.

Vocabulary for Unit

Weather Vocab Print-out

Instructional Plan

Day 1: Intro - What is Weather?
Students Will:
  •  Recall the definition for weather, as well examples of it
On the first day of this unit, the students will come together to get a good general idea of what weather is and how it is forecast. We will ask questions and write up answers on the board before getting a good class consensus of questions such as: " What  is Weather?" "Where does it come from?", etc. Once this has been accomplished, I will split students into 6 teams of about 4 students or so to make weather maps that will be shared over the course of the unit. The teams will be in charge of a different type of weather map, and the list is as follows: 1) Temperature 2) Precipitation 3) Wind Speed 4)Satellite 5) Radar and 6) Fronts. In their groups, they will be asked to brainstorm the answers to a few targeted questions, found here. They will have about 15 minutes to start thinking about their maps.

Introduction of Projects:
Before moving on to the next subject of the day, I will introduce their final projects that will be handed in at the end of the unit (day 10) and will be presented. Here, they will be asked to work alone. Each student will be asked to pick a weather phenomenon to do a project on. They will be expected to turn in either a pamphlet/brochure or fact sheet about their chosen phenomena and will include the key factors as well as the meteorological tools needed to assess it. We will be learning more in depth about the tools and factors so this project will be an excellent way to assess their gained knowledge.
A website for this Project can be found here.

Day 2: Weather Maps
Students Will:
  • Discover and research weather maps
  • Work in a collaborative effort
The time for this session will partially  be spent in the computer lab gathering data and then the rest of the time we will be in our classroom making our maps. Students are encouraged to use color and will be assessed on their ability to work as a group as well as the final outcome. Throughout the unit, we will have each group's poster displayed in the classroom. On the day we explore the topic more in depth, the group who completed the matching map ill be asked to then briefly present the map and their findings to the class. These will be springboards for each day.

Note to add: As groups share their in-class projects, I will be using this form to assess their work and ability to work as a team. This will be one of the assessments for the unit.

Day 3: Temperature
Students will:
  • Correctly use a thermometer to tell temperature 
  • Graph temperatures in a cohesive way
On our first exploration day, we will have the Temperature map group present their map and answers to the questions found here before we get into our lesson.
In the class period, we will do Lesson One from this webpage, in which the students will work in pairs using a thermometer to take the temperature of different places outside. As a class, we will share our findings and graph the results.

Homework: Students will be given this worksheet that will be graded as an assessment. 

Day 4: Precipitation
Students will:
  •  Distinguish different types of precipitation
  •  Read and decipher a precipitation map
To begin our lesson for the day, the Precipitation group will share their map and answers to their questions to the class. 

Once the group has presented their map, the students will presented with the worksheet from this website (page 2) as a warm up to the lesson. Here, they will be able to use their new knowledge of precipitation maps  Before they complete it, we will go over key concepts of precipitation; such as rain, sleet, snow, thunderstorms, hail, etc. As well as check that students understand the symbols on the map. When students have completed their papers, we will go over the answers and clear up any confusions. In my lesson, this worksheet is not to be assessed, just used as a start-off point.

From here, students will do the first extension from the first part of the website mentioned earlier. In this extension, students will be asked to make a precipitation poem. Since this part of the lesson over laps with language arts, you are able to use up a little more science time than what is normally allocated. Students are to write a poem about how a certain type of precipitation feels, its effects, etc. Have the students illustrate their poems and share them with the class.

Homework: Students will make the following interactive foldable, after cutting out pictures and definitions from this handout.  This will be a great way for students to remember what the characteristics of each type of precipitation are.

Day 5: Wind Speed
Students Will:
  •  Develop a working model of an anemometer 
On Day 5 we begin as we have the last two sessions, with the Wind Speed group presenting both their map as well as their questions/answers with the entire class. 

Once the group has presented their map, I will have the students pair up to build their own anemometer using this activity. While they are putting together their anemometers, I will pass out this worksheet and instruct them on how to do the experiment.If the weather is cooperative, we may head outside to complete the measurement part of the experiment. If not, we will have to use small fans inside to measure wind speed. The worksheet above may be used as an assessment tool or to see if the student is in need of any guidance with this subject.

Day 6: Fronts and Air Masses
Students Will:
  • Identify a cold and warm front by a visual
  • Summarize what happens when warm and cold air mix
  • Replicate cold and warm fronts
This class session will start with the Fronts group briefly sharing their map and questions with the class. 

In this session, students will get the opportunity to learn about barometers, air pressure, and weather fronts (hot and cold). 

To teach the students about these topics, I chose to use a great lesson plan that I found here. (Note: only the section labeled the Highs and Lows of Weather) To complete the lesson plan, be sure that you have enough weather maps from newspapers or online for each student, or pairs, if you must. It would be a good idea to mix up the weather maps. After each student/group has had a chance to look over their map, give the students some time to tell you and the class what their thoughts are about the map. What do the symbols mean? How do meteorologists know what the weather will be? Why are maps like these in the newspaper each day? Continue with the lesson plan, explaining what all of the symbols are and clarifying any students questions. Introduce the following foldable activity:

Print out copies of this United States map for each student and hand them one of these sheets that has items for their fronts foldable.After the students have constructed their foldable and put the matching pictures where they belong, have them create a made up front system using red and blue markers on the US map. When the interactive is complete, the student will have a definition, top and side views of both cold and warm fronts.

As the students are completing their foldables, be sure to circle the room and show each table the barometer, and share with them what it is used for. Clarify any questions.

Day 7: Satellite and Radar
Students will:
  • Use information from radar and satellite images to make weather predictions for their area;
  • Check the accuracy of internet weather predictions;
  • Summarize important information and use written communication skills to inform and report;
  • use technological skills to share information with others
Normally we only have one group sharing their map, but on this "final share" day, we will combine both the Satellite and Radar groups, both sharing their maps and questions/answers with the entire class before proceeding to the lesson planned. 

Today, students will do their best to think like meteorologists. I have found an excellent lesson plan which will allow them to do just that. We will start the lesson by asking "How do meteorologists predict the weather?" and we will discuss how they use tools that we have learned about in past lessons to perform their job. From here, we will go to CNN's website where we can view both satellite (cloud cover) and radar (precipitation) weather maps for our area. Have students make predictions about they think the weather will be like. Visit their predictions briefly over the next few days to see how the weather actually turned out.

Day 8: Clouds 
Students Will:
  •  Classify clouds by their characteristics
To start this lesson off, it is important to discuss with your students the importance cloud observing is to predicting the weather.  Once you have spent a few minutes doing this, the students are to go outside with their science journals or scrap paper if they do not keep a journal. This lesson will only work if there is some cloud coverage outside, so if there is not, feel free to swap this "Cloud Lesson" for another, for it is not time sensitive in the curriculum. Once the students are outside, in a space that allows them to spread out, they are to make small sketches and written observations of the clouds they see in the sky. After 10 minutes or so of observation, have the students come back into the classroom and discuss what they saw. After a short discussion, have the students put together the following foldable:

Foldable: To reinforce their knowledge of clouds, I have put together a really wonderful foldable for the students to use. First you want to print off a copy of the clouds with no labels and one with their labels for each student. In addition, give each student a vocabulary sheet that has terms found from the Weather Wiz Kids Webpage. Then, show the students how to make a three-tiered foldable shown below, so that we can cut-out and paste the clouds where they belong on each level of the troposphere.  On the outside of the three flaps, you want to have the students paste the clouds WITHOUT labels, while underneath, they place the pictures of the clouds with their appropriate labels. This requires a lot of cutting to make them fit, so consider cutting them ahead of time. Once both pictures have been properly pasted, cut lines between each separate cloud on each level. That way, the student can lift each cloud up to see what its label is below, without peaking at its neighbors. When this step is completed, have the students cut out the vocabulary terms and paste them on the top of the underside of the flap.

Homework: For homework, have the students complete the worksheet here (page 2). The answer sheet can be found on page 3 of the pdf. Encourage students to use their foldable to find the answers to the questions. Use this homework assignment to assess the students' knowledge.

Day 9: Hurricanes
Students Will:
  • Demonstrate the ability to define key words pertaining to Hurricanes
  •  Verbally recall conditions that must be present for a hurricanes to form
 This lesson will be conducted in a computer lab, as a "virtual field trip". Before you begin, be sure to remind students of lab rules and encourage them to ask questions. If you feel it to be best, you may want to have students work in pairs so that they can learn with one another 
Students will log onto the Virtual Field Trip website, found here. Have a student read aloud the front page (or do so yourself) while the other students follow along. Show students where to click to begin the field trip. Walk around the lab to ensure students are staying on task and understanding what is being asked of them to do.  During their language arts block, have students write a 5 sentence reflection on the webquest and assess it for knowledge gained. 

Day 10: Final Projects and Weather Millionaire
Students Will:
  •  express their cumulative weather knowledge
  •   share their final projects
On the final day of the unit, we will spend a few minutes sharing our final projects. This will not be a presentation, rather the students will leave their pamphlet or brochure on their desk and students will walk around looking at what their peers have completed. At the end of the day, their projects will be displayed around the room or on a bulletin board. 

After students share their projects, we will get together to play Weather Millionaire as a way to review the unit. 

Hurricanes By: Seymour Simon. 2007. 32p. Collins, (9780061170720). Gr 2-4. 
This is an in-depth look at some of nature's most terrifying disasters: hurricanes. Students will be enthralled with the photographs and fascinating descriptions of these storms.  Read about how the storms develop, are predicted, and how they are categorized.

Lightning, Hurricanes,  and Blizzards: The Science of Storms By Paul Fleisher. 2010. 48p. Lerner Publications, (9780822575368). 
Here is a fascinating book from weatherwise. Students who get the opportunity to look at this book will get to explore an array of weather phenomena: storms, blizzards, lightning, and more. Readers will learn about the four Cs of weather: condensation, conversion, convection, and the coriolis effect. In addition to precipitation, topics such as air masses, air pressure, and fronts are also covered, making this an ideal book for this unit.

Oh Say Can You Say What's the Weather Today? By Tish Rabe Illus. By Aristioles Ruiz. 2004. 48p. Random House Books for Young Readers, (9780375822766).  Gr. K-4.
When searching for great weather literature for kids, your first thought may not Dr. Seuss. I personally found this book to be a delightful look into many of the topics covered in this unit. The intended audience is a little younger than fourth graders, which is why I feel it would be ideal to share it as an individual exploration or for a picture walk, definitely worth a look!

The Kids Book of Weather Forecasting By Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestaol. Illus. By Michael Kline. 2008. 144p. Ideals, (9780824968229). Gr 2-4.
I would recommend this book to the parents of your students who just can't get enough of the weather unit. Inside there are a number of great extensions from the information learned in this unit, as well as a handful of engaging experiments for students to try at home. 

The Man who Named the Clouds By Julie Hanna and Joan Holub. Illus. By Paige Billin-Frye. 2006. 40p. Albert Whitman & Company, (9780807549742), Gr 1-4. 
This book is unlike many picture books I have found in the past. Inside you will find the true story of meteorologist Luke Howard, the named "father of meteorology". Prior to reading the book, I took a lot of the knowledge inside for granted, I forgot that someone worked hard to discover it! Kids in your class will love reading about his scientific journey, looking at the beautiful pictures of different types of clouds, as well as learn about the different advances in meteorology throughout the last few centuries. 

The Science Spiders Investigate Air Pressure By Dr. Kain and Kathleen E. Kain. Illus. by the Author. 1999. 32p. Ranch Works, (9781892221056). Gr 2-4. 
I am so delighted to have found this science series. Dr. Kain clearly understands children; the only real way to get children to want to learn is to make the information meaningful to their own life. In this book, the science spiders guide you through small but fun science experiments that help to clarify air pressure. A perfect read, especially for your students who prefer a hands-on method to teaching. 

Tornado! The Story Behind these Twisting, Turning, Spinning, and Spiraling Storms By Judy and Dennis Fradin. 2011. 64 p. National Geographic Children's Book, (9781426307799). Gr 4-7. 
Here is a perfect book all about Tornadoes that is idea for your fourth grade (or upper elementary classroom). Since it was published by National Geographic, you know that there is an abundance of great photos inside.  The layout of this book is eye-catching, especially for your more reluctant readers. Students will learn about what causes tornadoes, the different categories, as well as some facts and records of the most notorious storms. 

Vapor, Rain, and Snow: The Science of Clouds and Precipitation By Paul Fleisher. 2010. 48p. Lerner Publication Group, (9780822575344). Gr 4-7. 
At nearly 50 pages, this book is chock full of information specifically about Clouds and precipitation, answered in a question-answer format. Inside students will be able to track the water cycle at every level, with plenty of descriptions and bold pictures along the way.

Weather (Eyewonder) By DK Publishing 2004. 48p. DK Children, (9780756603236). Gr 4-7. 
This is a great book to leave out at your reading station throughout the weather unit. There is great information about nearly every topic we cover in the ten days and students can use it as a jump-off point, or as a reference to complete some of their in-class tasks. The pictures inside are vibrant and definitely worth checking out. 

What Will the Weather Be? By Lynda DeWitt Illus. By Carolyn Croll. 1993. 32p. Collins, (9780064451130). Gr 1 -4. 
Here is a perfect example of how picture books can be a great educational tool, even in a fourth grade classroom. Although this text was intended for students of the 1st to 3rd grade ranges, many of the terms are more complex and probably wouldn't be understood until 4th. Throughout the unit, we discuss different weather tools and this book can be a great assistance to students who need further explanation of them.

Web Resources
Interactive Weather Maker
Students can play with three different variables to change the weather of a scene: Relative Humidity, Poleward Temperature, and Equatorward Temperature. Students will see that there are multiple factors into determining what the weather will ultimately be like. 

Tree House Weather Kids
Here is a site that your students will surely enjoy. They will be able to learn more about a variety of topics such as air pressure, seasonal changes, clouds and temperature. They also have great activities. I especially like the ID a Cloud Activity, which would be perfect for review. 

Weather Mazes (Click on both words - there is a maze under each link!)
The Weather Channel has put out two great weather mazes that students can guide their cursor through. They are actually quite challenging and offer some great information as students are trying to find their way through. 

Weather Science Projects
Due to time constraints, we are unable to make all of the different types of weather instruments during the unit. This is a great website for kids to go on with their parents so that they can learn to make instruments on their own such as a rain gauge and a coffee can barometer. 

Weather Wiz Kids
I love this website as a tool for students to complete both their group projects as well as their individual projects. Inside they will find a ton of great descriptions, definitions, pictures, experiments and much much more. This is a fantastic website for students and teachers to use!

Virginia Standards of Learning
4.6  The Student will investigate and understand how weather conditions and phenomena occur and can be predicted. Key concepts include:
a) weather phenomena
b) weather measurements and and meteorological tools; and
c) use of weather measurements and weather phenomena to make weather predictions

Curriculum Framework
  • Temperature is the measure of the amount of thermal energy in the atmosphere.
  • Air pressure is due to the weight of the air and is determined by several factors including the temperature of the air.
  • A front is the boundary between air masses of different temperature and humidity.
  • Cirrus, stratus, cumulus, and cumulonimbus clouds are associated with certain weather conditions.
  • Cumulus clouds are fluffy and white with flat bottoms. They usually indicate fair weather. However, when they get larger and darker on the bottom, they become cumulonimbus clouds.  Cumulonimbus clouds may produce thunderstorms.
  • Stratus clouds are smooth, gray clouds that cover the whole sky (block out direct sunlight). Light rain and drizzle are usually associated with stratus clouds.
  • Cirrus clouds are feathery clouds. They are associated with fair weather. Cirrus clouds often indicate that rain or snow will fall within several hours.
  • Extreme atmospheric conditions create various kinds of storms such as thunderstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes.
  • Different atmospheric conditions create different types of precipitation.
  • Meteorologists gather data by using a variety of instruments.
  • Meteorologists use data to predict weather patterns.
  • A barometer measures air pressure
  • An anemometer measures wind speed.
  • A rain gauge measures the amount of precipitation.
  • A thermometer measures the temperature of the air.

1 comment:

  1. How did you make the three-tiered foldable for the types of clouds?