We have been studying seasonal weather and talking about how temperature, humidity, precipitation and wind change from day to day. Now we are going to switch gears and look at larger patterns.
What kind of predictions do you think meteorologists can make about regions?
For example, instead of making predictions about the weather in Tucson, do you think that meteorologists can make predictions (based on observed patterns) about seasonal weather in all of southern Arizona?
all of the desert southwest?
all arid/ desert climates?
What would be the point of making these predictions?
How reliable is a regional prediction compared to a local one? Benefits? Drawbacks?
My focus in today's lesson is to develop students' ability to use specific scientific vocabulary and their ability to take meaningful notes using graphic organizers.
In this section of the lesson, I guide students through a brief overview of climate. We discuss how the concept of climate is different from the concept of weather. It's a concept many adults struggle with and is it is worth spending time on.
First, to help students switch their thinking over from local weather and seasonal weather, I show them this short, excellent video, How Does the Climate System Work? When using high-level video content, I like to show the video in its entirety prior to stopping repeatedly. This allows students a chance to hear fluent language and get the gist of the content prior to the close examination. I think this strategy is an analogous to previewing a chapter prior to reading it closely. I remind the students that they are not expected or required to understand everything they hear, and that I want them just to get an overall general sense of what climate might mean from the fluent language and excellent visual aids. The second time through, I pause and encourage them to write down 2 or 3 ideas that that they think might be important or about which they are curious. I also clarify key vocabulary for them. Some of them drew tiny diagrams.
I am continually taking steps to increase my students us of appropriate and precise scientific vocabulary, just as we work towards specificity in our creative and expository writing. As students add to their graphic organizer about the tundra, I emphasize words related to climate, which often overlap with weather words, of course. Prior to providing them with sentence frames, I look over the notes students free wrote on their own, as well as what they jotted down when I asked them to note one observation. Here is an example of what student wrote and how it evolved:
In order to assist students in working towards more specific writing, I either project these sentence stems or I print them and provide students with either individual or table copies. I ask them to be prepared to add on to what they have already written, using these sentence stems/frames as a guide, and let them know that they will be asked to share, either with peers or with the whole group. Here are some examples of Possible Sentence Frames and Sentence Stems.