5. The Perfect Storm...Effects of Severe Weather

34 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT identify the causes and effects of severe weather.

Big Idea

Students distinguish causes and effects of four types of severe weather. Then they pretend to be a storm chaser by selecting one type of severe weather and create a poster illustrating safety precautions.

Lesson Overview

5e Lesson Plan Model

Many of my science lessons are based upon and taught using the 5E lesson plan model: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. This lesson plan model allows me to incorporate a variety of learning opportunities and strategies for students.  With multiple learning experiences, students can gain new ideas, demonstrate thinking, draw conclusions, develop critical thinking skills, and interact with peers through discussions and hands-on activities.  With each stage in this lesson model, I select strategies that will serve students best for the concepts and content being delivered to them.  These strategies were selected for this lesson to facilitate peer discussions, participation in a group activity, reflective learning practices, and accountability for learning.

Lesson Synopsis

The Perfect Storm...Effects of Severe Weather lesson provides students the opportunity to distinguish the cause and effects of four types of severe weather. They develop an understanding of conditions that cause each one to form and the effects of the storms on life by reading an interactive nonfiction passage, and writing write key facts on a cause and effect graphic organizer. Students select one storm to further elaborate on by pretending to become a storm chaser.  They show their understanding by creating a poster displaying information about the storm and safety tips for people.


Why do I teach this lesson?

Many of my students have limited science background as they have not had formal science instruction prior to entering middle school; therefore I incorporated interactive reading in this lesson that required students obtain information on four types of severe weather to develop their background.  Since the overall question throughout this unit is how weather happens and why it changes, the passages on severe weather distinguish how changes in temperature within the atmosphere create specific ones. Students develop an understanding of each kind in relation to certain interactions within the atmosphere and hydrosphere. This knowledge is needed for other lessons within this unit and to further investigate how weather happens and why it changes.

Next Generation Science Standards  

This lesson addresses the following NGSS Standard(s): 

5-ESS-2 Develop a model using an example to describe ways the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and/or atmosphere interact.

Science & Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering practices.

2.)    Developing and Using Models: Students use illustrations and images to activate prior knowledge of severe weather storms. The create a poster displaying a model and information about a storm  

6.)    Constructing explanations: Students will use evidence from reading passages on the four types of severe weather to examine the cause and effect of each one.

8.)    Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information:  Using their cause and effect graphic organizer and nonfiction reading passage, students pretend they are a storm chaser and display information about a storm on a poster.

Crosscutting Concepts

The lesson "Severe Weather" will correlate to other interdisciplinary areas.  These Crosscutting Concepts include

1.) Patterns: Severe weather can be predicted based on conditions in the air.

2.) Cause and Effect: Understanding how air temperature impacts the formation of severe weather and the effects the severe weather has on life.

4.) Systems and Models: When conditions in the air change, weather patterns are impacted creating severe weather to form.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Disciplinary Core Ideas within this lesson include:

ESS2.D Weather and Climate: Climate describes patterns of typical weather conditions over different scales and variations.  Weather patterns can be predicted, observed, and analyzed.


Classroom Management

Modeling to Develop Student Responsibility, Accountability, and Independence 

Depending upon the time of year, this lesson is taught, teachers should consider modeling how groups should work together; establish group norms for activities, class discussions, and partner talks.  In addition, it is important to model think aloud strategies.  This will set up students to be more expressive and develop thinking skills during the activity.  The first half of the year, I model what group work and/or talks “look like and sound like.”  I intervene the moment students are off task with reminders and redirecting.  By the second and last half of the year, I am able to ask students, “Who can give of three reminders for group activities to be successful?” Who can tell us two reminders for partner talks?”  Students take responsibility for becoming successful learners.  Again before teaching this lesson, consider the time of year, it may be necessary to do a lot of front loading to get students to eventually become more independent and transition through the lessons in a timely manner.




10 minutes

I begin today's lesson by connecting our previous concepts that have brought us up this point in the lesson. Once, I have recapped the main concepts I start off by stating "at times, weather is considered severe like these situations here" and bring their attention to the board projecting four severe weather pictures on the board. (The images I have displayed are relevant to students because we have experienced each one in our area.)

Then I say, "Raise your hand if you have experienced at least one of these types of storms." (I notice all hands are raised which indicates students are very familiar with these severe weather storms.) Since I notice most hands are raised, I instruct students to turn and talk following are already established turn and talk norms with their elbow partner. "Please discuss with your partner what you both know about each of these types of severe weather and come up with at least two questions you and your partner have about these storms."  

During this time I am walking around listening to discussions including a tornado thunderstorm blizzardAfter discussing, I select four students to share the questions generated with their partner about the storms.  I write them on the board, one for each severe weather storm.

  • How is the thunder sound created?
  • What causes a tornadoes to form and have a funnel shape?
  • How does a hurricane start and move?
  • Why is the snow storm called a blizzard?  What makes it different from other snow storms?

I collect remaining questions to organize on a chart and display throughout the lesson. I explain to students that they will use what we have studied about the air and atmosphere and further investigate how their interaction forms four types of extreme weather: thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards. These storms are relevant to students as these are the most common forms experienced in our area of the United States.


25 minutes

After examining the images, I launch off our lesson by stating, "We have experienced each of these storms-thunderstorm, hurricane, tornado, and blizzard at least once in our lives." Then, to set the goal for today, I direct students to the standards board and have a student volunteer read it to the class:

"Today we will research how certain conditions of the atmosphere cause wind, moisture, varying temperatures to interact and cause severe storms to form.  These storms effect living organisms in the troposphere."

I hand out the interactive reading passages and a highlighter. I tell students this is interactive reading a so they can mark the text with a highlighter or underline key details with a pencil. I review the directions with them and instruct them to record facts on the severe weather cause and effect graphic organizer. 

During this assignment, I allow students seat choice where they can find a spot in the room to focus and be on task. After a few students move, I direct the students to begin. While students are working, I am walking around the room, monitoring their work habits, and clarifying any questions that arise or if I notice inaccuracies in details they noted on their severe weather cause and effect graphic organizer. I check in and ask a student about her interactive reading notes she has learned so far and another student about their severe weather note taking.

Students work for the remainder of the class time. I check in after some time and note how much work students have completed.  While most have completed their interactive reading and are recording details on their graphic organizer, I notice a few others are still working. I check in with these students and work with them to complete their interactive reading and graphic organizer. 

As everyone finishes up, I inform students we are going to move forward and view these storms in action to get a real sense of their impact on our lives.


15 minutes

At this point in the lesson, I direct students attention to projector and say "we are going to view a video on each storm:  thunderstorm    hurricane    tornado   blizzard to get a real sense, visually, of how each one impacts our lives."  I selected these quick clips for students to view because they bring the information they read about to life which keeps them engaged. Each video clip is two minutes long and presents a visual and audio synopsis of each type of severe weather storm. 

During each video, I ask the students to write down additional facts, words, or images from the clip on the severe weather video notes. By providing this task for the videos, I am preparing the students to be an active participate while viewing the videos. While each video plays, I observe student reactions. 

Following the videos, students share the facts recorded on the severe weather cause and effect graphic organizer during our interactive reading using the document camera and additional notes from the videos.  I am looking for students to have details that indicate conditions causing the storm to form, effects, and safety precautions people should follow. 

As a follow up explanation, I place a list of student questions presented at the start of the lesson. We enter into a discussion as a whole class using the questions generated from students at the start of the lesson.  I ask students to share aloud and other students to comment.  This discussion reveals students understanding of each storm and how it forms and possible desctruction it can cause on an area


15 minutes

At this point I want students to apply what they have learned about the four severe weather storms. I inform them they have been hired as a storm chaser by the National Severe Storms Laboratory. First, I ask students, "What is a Storm Chaser?"  Several students raise their hand and I call on a few to share. With that I turn students attention to the board by using the projector to display the term storm chaser and define.

After defining what a storm chaser is, I use a video clip to give the students a real life experience of how they do their job.  This video brings a storm chaser's job to life by showing them in action. While the video is playing, I observe students and note. Many seemed intrigued as they are wide eyed in amazement and hear whispers of "oh cool!" "Wow! That looks scary but fun."

I continue explaining that they are applying what they learned from their reading and notes task on different storms earlier in the lesson to complete the storm chaser assignment. I go on, and outline the assignment with the class by telling them the storm chaser graphic organizer template is for them to organize and design a storm chaser poster which is graded according to this rubric