Wonderful Weather Watchers by pengxiang


									                           Wonderful Weather Watchers
                                     By: Emily Morris

       The sirens blare throughout the school, and children rush to find a place against

the hallway walls in the “duck and cover” position. Teachers shush the gigglers as it is

determined that it is just a drill, although weather conditions are currently ripe for a

tornado. The children must impatiently remain in position until the threat has passed.

                             Rationale for Studying Weather

       Weather and weather forecasting are of great interest to school age children.

Violent storms like the recent 2004 tsunamis in Asia or the hurricanes that regularly

buffet the Atlantic coast fascinate them with the true power of nature1. Meteorologists on

TV become great favorites when the words “snow day” are heard. Moreover, everyone

wants to be assured that their school’s field day will be without rain.

       Libraries and school media specialists have lots to offer classroom teachers and

students about weather and personal / group inquiry. While the students pursue their

chosen topics, they will not only gain knowledge through action and reasoning, they will

also meet several academic standards and information literacy standards.

       Weather studies mainly fall under Indiana Academic Science Standard 3 “The

Physical Setting” under the sub-category “Earth and the processes that shape it.” Not

every grade’s curriculum covers the same weather topics, but some do overlap. The

school media specialist can collaborate with the different grades2 to design an appropriate
weather curriculum2 for each level and allocate the available resources so each level can

have what they need in a timely manner. Let these standards be a foundation but

certainly not a limit to the learning covered in a weather studies unit. In addition, as

students go through the inquiry process, they will pick up content from the Information

Literacy Standards.

                       Weather Related Indiana Academic Standards3

        Grade Level                  Standard Number                  Standard Content

         First grade                        1.3.1               3 phases of water

         First grade                        1.3.2               Evaporation

         First grade                        1.3.3               Temperature caused sun

       Second grade                         2.3.1               Seasons

        Third grade                         3.3.5               Weather patterns

        Third grade                         3.3.6               Adverse weather safety

        Third grade                         3.3.8               Energy from weather


        Fourth grade                        4.3.2               Wind, air

        Fourth grade                        4.3.4               Oceans and climate

         Fifth grade                        5.3.4               3 phases of water

         Fifth grade                        5.3.8               Temperature

        Sixth grade                        6.3.11               Oceans and climate

        Sixth grade                        6.3.12               Adverse weather safety

       Seventh grade                        7.3.5               Oceans and climate
                       Related Information Literacy Standards4

  Information Literacy Standard Number                        Standard Content

                Standard 1                     Access information efficiently and


                Standard 2                     Evaluate information critically and


                Standard 3                     Use information accurately and creatively.

                Standard 4                     Pursue information related to personal


                Standard 6                     Strive for excellence in information


                Standard 9                     Participate effectively in groups to pursue

                                               and generate information.

                               Planning the Weather Unit

       Classroom teachers should work with the school media specialist5 to design an

effective, well-rounded unit. Think of the media specialist as a team teacher6 instead a

resource room manager. Sharon Coatney in Curriculum Connections believes the

planning team should consider not only what will be read, but also the objectives to be

addressed, the questioning activities, the assessments, and the overall structure and

implementation (Stripling 160).

       Every unit must have specific goals and objectives to meet. What should the

specific grade level of students learn about weather? How should they learn it? What
attitude will you encourage them to have as they step into an inquiry-based project?

Barbara Stripling believes whenever science is the subject of inquiry, the driving question

should be “How?” It is important for the students to make a hypothesis7 as they study to

prove or disprove their theories8. Some important attributes of science study should be

accuracy, logic, reliability, replicability and clarity of presentation9 (Stripling 23).

Whatever observable and measurable objectives are set, let the students learn through

active, hands-on experiences. Start at the grade level standards for content and branch

out from there. Work to the teachers’ strengths and teaching styles as well as the

students’ learning needs10. Model the inquiry process11 as a key to a treasure or solving a

puzzle, not as drudgery or a required teaching unit for the semester.

                                     Attention Grabbers

        Students can be motivated to learn if the units are started off with something that

grabs their attention, according to Ruth Small, Professor at Syracuse University (Callison

243). Start off a study of weather with a local meteorologist like Kevin Gregory as a

guest speaker at your school12. How many children will want to become amateur

“weather watchers” after they meet someone who does it for a living13? Another idea is

to link with another classroom in a different region of the United States or another
country and have “weather pen pals14” through email15 to discuss how the two regions are

similar and different16.

                                Inquiry-Based Learning17

       After students are drawn into the idea of weather, get started on the inquiry

process. The purpose of the inquiry-based project will be to give the students

background knowledge for the weather jargon, the history of changing weather

technology18 and how to do their own weather watching19. They will be constructing

their own knowledge from the experiences they have throughout the unit20 (Callison

143). If your school has a selected research model, use that. If not, the Big 6 Model is

appropriate for elementary and middle school grades. Divide the class into small

groups21. To meet the needs of diverse learners22, teachers may choose to pair up weak

readers with stronger readers, strong talkers with shy ones, or hands-on children with

children with less dexterity. As a class, brainstorm23 the K (what do you know about

weather?) and W (what do I want to know about weather?) portions of a KWL chart24.

The classroom teacher may guide this discussion to find out how much is known about

his/her grade level standards content. Invite the small groups to choose their own topics

to study.

       Now the student groups will learn from the media specialist25 good searching and

data collecting strategies to find all manner of resources26. A good place to start

exploring may be the weather page at 42explore.com. The media specialist will give the

students evaluation tips27 to decide whether a website is a relevant and accurate source

for information. He or she will also help the students search Inspire databases28 with

appropriate keyword searches instead of the “hit or miss” Google-style internet searches.
Encourage the students to use books, magazines, newspapers, television, internet sites,

databases, interviews and data from their own school-provided or handmade weather

measurement tools29. Analyze30 the daily weather page of the newspaper to apply

weather jargon as the class learns it. Within this step, students can construct their own

“weather station31” and collect data daily32. As their knowledge of the weather terms and

forecasting grows, their ability to predict what weather is on the way will increase33.

                            Weather Watcher To Forecaster

       Once the data from the print, electronic34, human, and hands-on resources is

collected, students must now synthesize the new meaning into some kind of product.

Technology is a helpful way to allow the student groups to use teamwork skills35 to

communicate what they have learned (Stripling 173). Give the students the opportunity

to practice their new forecasting knowledge36 in front of a video camera37 and a large

United States map. It would be a good idea to watch several examples of weather reports

before the children start to plan their own. Have the student groups38 make removable

weather and numerical symbols39 on the map for different kinds of weather and produce a

weather report40 for the school’s morning announcements. The morning weather forecast

would also give the students a chance to practice public speaking.

       During and after the unit, teachers and the media specialist alike41 should be

concerned with the collection, analysis and recording of data gathered from the students

during the teaching (Stripling 157). As a good weather watcher, students should record

data in a science log book42. Science teachers can check for accuracy in ability to read

instruments. Perhaps more importantly, students should reflect43 on what the data they

recorded means. (Example: “I observed a clear sky, and the barometer says the pressure

is rising… so maybe the two are connected?”44) Teachers could conduct mid-unit

quizzes45 over keywords that the students should know in order to be successful with the

rest of the project such as temperature, air pressure, relative humidity, dew point,

precipitation, etc. Finally, classroom teachers and the media specialist can write a

rubric46 together for what should be measured when each group produces their weather

show. Perhaps specific measurements should be mentioned each day as well as the

groups’ predictions about what will happen next. To allow for creativity47, students

could be given a point for coming up with their own weather presentation format style.

Students could also highlight a weather jargon word on the “show” so the rest of the

school could learn some of the key weather words too. After all the groups have had a

chance to produce a show, do a post-unit assessment. As a class, brainstorm the L (What

did we learn?) in the KWL chart48 started earlier. Have the students journal about the

most valuable thing they learned about weather and about the way they learn.

       Teachers also need to assess their teaching during and after a unit. The media

specialist will want to be part of this process. Teachers and media specialists alike will

want to do informal conferencing49 with the groups to decide where they are in the

inquiry process, what they are thinking, where they are struggling50 and if re-teaching
needs to occur. Journal checks51 for the weather station data will help the teacher know if

the students do know how to use the weather measurement tools accurately52. Rubrics53

for the weather forecasting show will not only give the students an idea of what is

expected, but they will also give the teachers an objective way to “grade” the groups on

how they met the expectations. After the unit is finished, teachers and media specialists

alike can decide what were the strengths and weaknesses and determine how to improve

for the following year.

                             Beyond the Structured Learning

       Let’s go beyond the inquiry process for a moment. As a part of the library time,

incorporate some pleasure reading54 into the weather unit. Set up a display of weather-

related materials for students to check out. Booktalk related nonfiction, and fiction

books. Stock related audio books for low-level readers and videos for the visual

learners55. Try some of the resources suggested by Dea Borneman and J. B. Petty in their

article “Whether the Weather” Library Talk 2001. Let students review the materials for a

newsletter to be distributed to the school and parents56. Even after the weather watcher

unit is finished, it is very likely for these books to continue going off the shelves as

students want to revisit that interesting topic. Libraries are not only places for specific

learning, but they also encourage the habit of life-long learning57!


Borneman, Dea and J.B. Petty. “Whether the Weather.” Library Talk.
      May/June 2001: 20-21.
Callison, Daniel. Key Words, Concepts and Methods for Information Age Instruction:
       A Guide to Teaching Information Inquiry. LMS, 1996 – 2002.

Information Power: Building Partnerships for Learning. ALA, 1998.

Kahl, Jonathan D. W. Weather Watch: Forecasting the Weather. Minneapolis, MN :
       Learner Publications Co, 1996.

Stripling, Barbara. Curriculum Connections: Through the Library. Westport, Conn:
        Libraries Unlimited, 2003.


Big 6 research model

“The Indy Channel.com – Weather – Kevin Gregory”

Indianapolis Star Online Version – Weather

Inspire Home Page

“Key Ideas for Information Age Instruction”

NASA’s Observatorium – click on “Planet Earth”


Surfnet for Kids: Pen Pals

Weather – 42explore

Footnotes associated with the
Learning and Teaching Principles of School Media Programs

Principle #1 – curriculum integration
Footnotes: 3

Principle #2 – information literacy standards are integrated
Footnotes: 4

Principle #3 – collaborative planning and curriculum development
Footnotes: 2, 5, 35, 41

Principle #4 – creative, effective and collaborative teaching
Footnotes: 6, 25

Principle #5 – access to the full range of information resources
Footnotes: 26, 29

Principle #6 – reading, viewing, and listening for understanding and enjoyment
Footnotes: 54, 57

Principle #7 - diverse learning needs
Footnotes: 10, 22, 55

Principle #8 – individual and collaborative inquiry
Footnotes: 4, 11, 17, 21, 38

Principle #9 – technology integration
Footnotes: 15, 28, 34, 37

Principle #10 – link to larger learning community
Footnotes: 12, 14, 56

Footnotes associated with
Key Ideas for Information Age Instruction

Key Idea #1 – Assessment
Footnotes: 24, 42, 45, 46, 48, 49, 51, 53

Key Idea #2 – Constructivism
Footnotes: 8, 20, 32, 36, 43

Key Idea #3 – Cooperative Learning
Footnotes: 21, 38

Key Idea #4 – Creative and Inventive Thinking
Footnotes: 23, 31, 39, 40, 47

Key Idea #5 – Critical Thinking
Footnotes: 7, 9, 16, 27, 30, 33

Key Idea #6 – Individual Differences
Footnotes: 10, 22, 55

Key Idea #7 – Meaningfulness and Motivation
Footnotes: 1, 13

Key Idea #8 – Problem and Project-based Learning
Footnotes: 19, 31, 40

Key Idea #9 – Questioning
Footnotes: 23, 44, 50

Key Idea #10 – Technology
Footnotes: 15, 18, 28, 29, 37, 52

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