7. Forecasting Weather

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SWBAT write a weather forecast after observing weather conditions, symbols on weather maps, and analyzing collected data.

Big Idea

Students will analyze weather maps and forecast weather conditions in specific areas. They will use observation, collected data, and weather map symbols to write a weather report about one area in the United States.

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 "Forecasting Weather" lesson provides students the opportunity to analyze six different weather maps displaying a variety of weather symbols correlating to specific weather systems. They develop an understanding of forecasting weather by interpreting the data on each map to make predictions about future weather by participating in a gallery walk. During the gallery walk, students are writing key facts on the weather map gallery walk graphic organizer provided for them.  Through this activity, students realize how weather forecasting is an important part of our daily lives and use their acquired understanding to write a weather forecast using data and weather symbols displayed on a map.

 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 a gallery walk of weather maps throughout this lesson that required students obtain information about weather in a certain area according weather symbols present on the map.  Since the overall question throughout this unit is how weather happens and why it changes, these stations displayed a variety of symbols on maps to indicate weather systems present or incoming. Students develop an understanding of how weather forecasters use these symbols to convey information to people in relation to certain interactions within atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere. This knowledge that is needed in a later lesson on distinguishing weather and climate 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.

In connection with this lesson, students develop an understanding of how weather is forecasted based on interactions between the atmosphere and hydrosphere and create a mock weather forecast using data collected from a weather map. By understanding, how weather is forecasted, students recognize the components and interactions within the atmosphere that cause weather systems to occur and change in certain areas.

Science Engineering Practices

Students are engaged in the following scientific and engineering Practices.

2.)    Developing and Using Models: Students analyze data on weather maps to describe weather in a certain area and then predict future weather events.   

4.)     Analyze and Interpret Data:  Students analyze weather data displayed on a map to make sense of weather predictions and patterns.

6.)    Constructing explanations: Students construct a written weather forecast based upon observed weather symbols on a map to support predicted weather for a specific area. 

Crosscutting Concepts

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

1.) Patterns: Parts that make up a weather system includes temperature, moisture, clouds, precipitation, air pressure, wind speed, and wind direction are used to make weather forecasts.

2.) Cause and Effect: Understanding how changes in weather systems impact weather observed and experienced.

4.) Systems and Models: When parts of a weather system change it will be reflected in the data collected by weather instruments and impact weather patterns and forecasts.

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 start off by asking the students to think back to all concepts they have been learning throughout our weather unit.  I remind them these concepts and ideas contribute to weather occurrences and changes in our troposhere layer of the atmosphere.  

I hand out quick write notebooks for students to engage in a quick write activity to jump start our lesson on weather forecasting.  I ask students open it to the next clean page and write today's date.  

I remind them in our Air Mass and Fronts Meet in the Sky lesson, they started looking at weather maps to predict incoming fronts. I tell them I you to continue thinking about meteorology by responding to the following question: Explain what meteorologists do and how they get their information, in your quick write notebook. I use this question in conjunction with the quick write strategy to activate their prior knowledge on weather forecasting and engage them in thinking about weather predictions.

Following quick write,  I reiterate our class turn and talk norms and ask my students to turn and talk with their elbow partner about their responses.   With their partner, they share their perception of a meteorologist and understanding of weather predictions. Meanwhile, I walk around the room listening to student conversations. 

I get the quick pick bucket and select 2 students to share aloud one response he or she discussed with his or her partner.  I combine responses and display on the board:

A meteorologist is a person whose job it is to forecast the weather using many tools and scientific knowledge about weather patterns.Forecasts are predict what what the weather be like a day or two, tomorrow, or the following week.

After our shares, I ask students to places their quick write journal in center of the table and direct their attention to the projector board to begin our next activity. 


35 minutes

As students focus their attention on the projector board I ask, "How do scientists gather data about weather?"  I ask this question because we have already studied weather instruments; therefore, I am listening for students to respond with names of instruments studied in our last lesson. 

After listening to students' responses, I explain that weather is different all over and that people rely on meteorologists or forecasters to inform them about weather in their area at a certain time and day. I restate how meteorologists collect and analyze data on weather patterns and changes, and explain how present weather symbols tell predicted weather for a particular area.

I hand out the meteorology weather symbols reference chart.  

meteorology symbols

I tell them these symbols represent specific and current weather happening in an area and possible incoming weather.  I remind them we have already practiced using the warm and cold front symbols when we learned about air masses moving into a particular area.  I want them to be familiar with weather symbols correlating with topics we have covered including warm and cold fronts, temperatures, precipitation, and high and low pressure.

I use the projector and display a weather forecast from the local news channel, WCVB channel five.  I selected this newscast because it reports local weather and uses the academic language we have studied in throughout this unit. We discuss the information the reporter focused on. I reiterate to my students that forecasters use maps to display current weather in our area and provide us with forecasts which are weather predictions based on the data they collect using weather instruments, similar to ones we learned about last lesson.

With that understanding, I tell the students we are exploring a variety of weather maps by participating in a gallery walk within the room. I selected these particular maps because they illustrate previously learned weather concepts about temperature, movement of wind, precipitation, warm and cold fronts, and amount of moisture in the air.  At each gallery of weather maps, they examine the map, identify weather occurrences at particular places by using their meteorology weather symbols reference chart and predict types of weather systems for other areas in the country.  As students rotate through the gallery of weather maps, they record on the weather map gallery walk graphic organizer.  

While students are participating in the gallery walk, I am moving throughout the gallery, stopping randomly to listen to students observe and discuss with their groups.  I am looking for students to accurately locate Massachusetts, as it is the state we live in, and examine responses to determine if maps are analyzed correctly.

At the end of the first station, I ask for a student to model how we transition from one station to the next. The gallery walk continues until all 6 galleries have been completed. Once the gallery is completed, I direct students back to their seats so we can discuss what we have discovered.


20 minutes

After students come back to their seats to prepare for class share. I use the quick pick bucket and call on 6 students to share. There are 6 galleries of maps, so each share reflects one of the maps displayed.

Then I initiate a class discussion using today's forecast.  Following quick reports about today's weather, I display an actual weather forecast from the morning news and ask: Based on the weather we are experiencing and looking back at the predicted weather forecast, how accurate is this report?

Next, I pose the question: Why is having an accurate report important to people? Let's think about what you wore today.  Did knowing the weather impact your decision on how you dressed today?  I tell them to keep these questions in mind as they use the  walk, talk, decide, strategy.  Students walk and talk with a partner and decide answers to record on the walk talk decide recording sheet.  I selected this strategy because is lets students think together and gets them moving.  I find allowing students to move at different points of a lesson, can keep students engaged longer.

While students are in discussions, I move about the room monitoring conversation.   I see all pairs talking and writing, indicating students are engaged in the assigned task.

At the end the task, I ask student to freeze and be ready to share out one response they recorded as we whip share. While students share their responses, I record quick details on the board. I encourage students to add details they did not have on their paper but shared with their classmates on their walk talk decide recording sheet.  

When we finish sharing, I ask students to return to their seats to prepare for our forecasting assignment.


15 minutes

I reiterate how weather impacts our daily lives and how much we rely on forecasts to plan our day.  I pose the question, "So how do meteorologists communicate the weather so we can prepare each day?"  I want them think about how much knowing the weather impacts our daily choices.

I continue by talking about people like farmers, pilots, or sailors who rely on knowing the forecast to get their work done. Farmers need to know how much precipitation will take place, so they can grow crops; pilots need to know if storms will impact their flight plan; and sailors need consider how weather could impact the ocean and hinder their travel.

I direct them to take the forecast assignment and motivate them by saying they have been hired by the local news station, WCVB Channel 5, as a guest meteorologist for the weekend newscast.  

I explain, "you are applying what you have learned about the components of weather and how it changes from one place to another to write a weather forecast.  Your forecast is be based on data and weather symbols displayed on a pre-selected map I am giving each of you.  While I have pre-selected this map for you to base your forecast on, you can select the state to base your forecast on." By allowing student to have a choice in the assignment, I am indirectly motivating them to feel empowered and engaged.  I hand out the forecast assignment with a data collection graphic organizer and review the directions for each part  

I selected these tasks for students to apply what they have been learning about weather throughout this unit to write a weather forecast. I am looking for each forecast to use collected data to predict weather in the location the student selected.   

Students begin assignment and is finish over the course of the next three to four days.