Forecast the Weather
Will it be an earthquake, a blizzard, or a hurricane? In this multi-day group project, students act as weather reporters to relay information about severe conditions.
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
- Unit Plan:
Students analyze different weather conditions before creating their very own first-person report from the eye of a storm.
- Draw conclusions about the effects of weather
- Compare and contrast different weather forecasts
- Use maps to analyze different weather conditions
- Complete and record an online weather script
- Write a first-person report from the center of a storm
- Weather Watch Activities
- Props students have brought from home
- Video camera(s) and VCR
- Assess students' prior knowledge by discussing television weather forecasts. Questions or prompts you may want to use include:
What does a TV weather reporter do?
Where does weather information come from?
How is a news story about the weather different from a weather forecast?
Is reporting the weather a science?
What types of weather cause weather alerts to be issued?
- Either show a video of a weather forecast, or have students come to this session prepared to discuss report they had previously watched.
- Discuss the information the reporter focused on (air temperature, wind speed, humidity, etc.).
- Tell students they will now have the opportunity to try their hand at being a weather reporter. First have them choose an area to report on: hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms, or droughts.
- Provide time for students to use the Weather Watch resources to research the weather conditions they will be forecasting.
- Direct students back to Analyze: Forecast the Weather where they should select the topic they will be analyzing, study the maps provided, answer the questions and generate a script.
- Older students can work in small groups to videotape each other's forecasts. With younger students, you may want to involve parent volunteers to help students record their work.
- Have students share their tapes with the class over the next few days.
- Before class begins write a list of different types of extreme weather and natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, and earthquakes on the board.
- Explain to students that while they were fortunate to do their forecasts from nice dry and warm "studios," many reporters actually conduct their forecasts from the middle of the action — outdoors. Discuss why reporters might be outside. What are the advantages of these reports? What are the downsides?
- Inform students that they are now going to be working with a small group to give a live report from the center of one of the storms, just like the pros. Point to the list of extreme weather conditions you have written on the board.
- Assign students to groups of three. One person will act as a news anchor in the studio, the second will be reporting from the center of a storm, and the third will be a cameraman. All three will collaborate writing their script. Have students select their roles before they start working.
- Using the computers, allow students to visit the extreme weather site appropriate for the type of weather they will be reporting about. Referring to the in-depth areas and first-person accounts, especially, have student take notes about conditions they would encounter if they were standing in the middle of that weather system.
- Discuss the components that should go into an eyewitness account of weather stories. If necessary, prompt students on the importance of including sensory information such as what they see, feel, or hear.
- Have students draft, revise, and complete their weather report. Before they begin writing, however, clearly define the roles of each person in the group. With older students you might discuss the fact that one newsperson, usually a veteran, is safe and warm in the newsroom while another, often a less experienced reporter, is in the center of severe conditions.
- News Anchor: The person in the studio introduces the story by telling the viewers about the Storm of the Century. This portion of the script should include background information and an introduction of the reporter on the scene.
- Reporter on the Scene: This person is trying to give a serious report on the dangerous conditions while they are in the center of the storm. Obstacles this reporter may face include being blown around by gale force winds, the ground shaking during an earthquake, or snow piling up in front of him during a blizzard.
- Camera Person: This person will be responsible for taping both the news anchor and the reporter.
- Let students rehearse their scripts and gather props (from school or brought in from home) for special effects. Props might include microphones, umbrellas, winter wear, a fan for wind, Styrofoam peanuts for snow, or a hard hat for an earthquake.
- During rehearsals, advise students how someone might react to different weather conditions (e.g., how he might stand in a hurricane or what she might do during blinding snowfalls).
- Have students videotape their weather reports in small groups.
- Finally, students will share their videotaped presentations with the class.
Supporting All Learners
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 technology tools to collaborate, publish, and interact with peers, experts, and other audiences
- 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
- Students can work individually to create their own scripts and videotape a report at home with the help of family members or friends.
- Invite a local television meteorologist to visit your school to speak about how the science of weather forecasting is meshed with the logistics of television.
- Were students able to analyze the maps of different weather conditions to create a weather forecast?
- Were the students able to effectively navigate the site in order to complete their online weather forecast?
- Was the extreme outdoor weather report written in first person?
- Did students incorporate appropriate weather conditions in their first-person report?
- Did the students in the small groups work well together? Was the work shared equally?
- What else could have been done to make this a more successful experience for the students?