Extreme Research Report: Weather Watch Lesson for Grades 6-8
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
Older students focus on researching the causes and effects of extreme weather.
- Manipulate virtual temperatures and humidity to create specific weather conditions
- Use reading strategies to gather information
- Organize information on a graphic organizer
- Use proper writing conventions to complete an informative research report
- Share what they have learned with the class through an oral presentation
Step 1: Have the class share types of extreme weather that they've experienced or read about; list these on a board or chart paper. (Save this list for Day 2.)
Step 2: Inform students they will be creating their own extreme weather along with calm non-extreme weather. In pairs, have students visit the Weather Maker section of Weather Watch.
Step 3: Allow students to explore creating different weather conditions, directing them to observe the effects of certain changes. Students should pay particular attention to air pressure, temperature, wind, and humidity.
Step 4: After students are familiar with how the machine works, ask them to manipulate the Weather Maker to create specific conditions such as a blizzard, a warm calm sunny day, or melting snow.
Step 1: Revisit the list of extreme weather conditions students generated. Tell the class they will soon be choosing their own extreme weather conditions to research and report in.
Step 2: Review the Weather Facts (PDF) as a class. Discuss how each term can be related to an extreme weather condition. As a class, write a simplified and clear definition for each word. Have students record these meanings in their notebooks.
Step 3: Have students read through the recommended research topics in the Weather Watch Research Starter. Remind students to visit as many of the links as possible in order to generate a comprehensive list of possible topics. Advise students to star one or two topics that that they would be interested in learning more about.
Research topics include:
- What happens when masses of air collide?
- Hurricanes and typhoons
- Weather Forecasting
- Flying into the eye of a hurricane
- Thunderstorms and how they form
- The birth and life of a tornado
Step 4: Come together as a class and have students share their research topic ideas. Once all the ideas are on the board, have each student pick one research topic.
Step 1: If possible, arrange for each student to have computer access for at least one entire class period to do the necessary research. Also direct students to resources available in the classroom or school library.
Step 2: Once students have completed their research, they should outline their research paper, focusing on causes and effects of their extreme weather condition. Students can use the Organizational Outline (PDF) to record their information. Refer your class to the guidelines for Writing Workshops: Writing a Research Paper beginning with the "Draft" section.
Step 1: Have students continue following the steps of Writing Workshop as they edit, revise, and review.
Step 1: Have students share their reports with classmates through oral presentations.
There are many possible ways that students can present their research findings. Students can:
- Use poster board or tri-fold display board to present information with graphic aids
- Create a PowerPoint presentation to share what they have learned
- Videotape their presentation to show during class
This Weather Watch activity meets national standards by providing students with opportunities in the following areas.
National Council for Teachers of Mathematics:
- Selects and uses appropriate instruments and technology to measure in real-world situations
- Generalizes a pattern, relation, or function to explain how a change in one quantity results in a change in another
- Analyzes real-world data to recognize relationships using graphic models generated by technology
Reading and Language Arts
International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE):
- Collects data, facts, and ideas
- Uses knowledge from oral, written, and electronic sources
- Compares, synthesizes, interprets, and analyzes information from different sources
- Selects, organizes, and categorizes information using a wide variety of strategies
- Relates new information to prior knowledge and experience
- Uses text features that make information accessible and usable
- Establishes authoritative stance on a subject
- Develops information using facts and details
- Analyzes interprets, and evaluates information, ideas, organization, and language from text
- Listens attentively to others and builds on others' ideas in discussions
National Science Teachers Association (NSTA):
- Plans and implements investigative procedures
- Uses equipment and technology
- Collects data by observing and measuring
- Analyzes and interprets information to construct reasonable explanations from direct and indirect evidence
- Communicates valid conclusions
- Constructs graphic structures of information using tools including computers to organize, examine, and evaluate data
- Analyzes and reviews scientific explanations
- Represents the natural world using models and identifies their limitations
Technology Foundation Standards for Students:
- Use technology tools to enhance learning, increase productivity, and promote creativity
- Use a variety of media and formats to communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences
- Use technology to locate, evaluate, and collect information from a variety of sources
- Use technology tools to process data and report results
- Employ technology in the development of strategies for solving problems in the real world
- Were students able to navigate through the online activities successfully?
- Did students narrow possible topics to one appropriate for classroom research?
- Were students able to meet teacher expectations on the Research Paper Assessment Rubric?
- Did students clearly present their information in written form?
- Were students able to effectively communicate their findings during their oral presentation?