Summer Storms - Individual Experience

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Students will discuss observations of summer weather, focusing on temperature and precipitation.

Big Idea

Intense summer storms provide an immediate, interesting natural content for analyzing and interpreting seasonal precipitation.


4 minutes

I like to play a video or images such as this,  "Tucson Lightning" by Sam Rua, as we transition into this lesson.  I leave it up while they get their science materials and move to different groups, if needed.  It's mesmerizing, and a natural stimulus for the discussions we will have in this lesson. Here is an 8 second clip of lightning from over Saguaro National Park East at the edge of Tucson, Arizona.


10 minutes

As this is the first week of school,  I am spending longer with all the sections and retaining more teacher control.  As I get to know my students and they learn the routines of our classroom, they will be gradually released until about 85-90% of the time they are working actively and I am facilitating.

I introduce the students to the vocabulary for Summer Storms by:

  • sounding out the words together as they write them in their science journals
  • creating oral and written sentences that use the word and provide details





Guided Discussion

20 minutes

In Tucson, our summers are distinguished not only by extremely high temperatures but also by what locals call "the monsoon" - a period of intense, short-duration thunderstorms.  As summer storms are typical in many locations throughout the United States, I chose to make them the lens through which students examine summer precipitation patterns for their location.  

Science is about making specific, quantifiable observations, but as we train young children to do this I also think we need to allow room for their subjective experiences with the content.  In this example, their personal experiences with intense summer storms can nourish a curiosity to learn more about what causes them.

I ask students to close their eyes and Imagine a Summer Storm. Then we share as a class and I record them on a piece of paper that I project using the document camera.

Active Engagement

25 minutes

 Now that we have discussed students’ subjective experiences with summer storms, I can talk to them about the difference between the descriptive language we use in personal narratives and the specific, quantitative data we use to describe weather scientifically.

I tell them that today and in the next lesson we are going to focus on 3 measurable qualities associated with summer storms, temperature, humidity, and precipitation.

Today we're going to write down subjective observations of summer storms.  I do use the words subjective and objective with my students.







3 minutes

I ask students if they have specific questions about humidity, precipitation or temperature (in the context of summer storms) that they'd like answered.  We record them on a chart and save them for tomorrow, when we will look at real data for these weather measurements.