Wacky Weather-Olympic Track Star-Tracking Weather

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Students will create a graph to describe and track weather to observe it's effects.

Big Idea

Why do people need to track weather over time?


5 minutes

This is a lesson that will take several days to complete.  Since the implementation (weather graph) takes place over the course of a week, it’s fine to insert one or two of the other weather lessons during this time because they all work together to provide a deeper explanation of the phenomena we are targeting.

I rang my chime to get the class’s attention.  I announced that we were about to begin the fifth Science lesson in our unit about weather.  I asked them to return to the carpet squares and ‘Show Five’.  Once seated, I begin a pattern motion and touch my knees..hands..head.  I do this specific pattern two more times.  The fourth time, I do knees, hands..then stop.  “What was supposed to come next?”, I asked the class.  “The head!”  “Why do we need to know what’s coming next?  Why does it matter?”  “So we know what to do next.”  Simple movements like this can go a long way to scaffold more complicated concepts for English Learners and help them better understand the material.  "Yes, so we’re going to take a look at ways scientists track weather so they can better prepare what could come next.”  

Whole Group Instruction

15 minutes

In the last lesson, we talked about the tilt of the earth.  It creates what we call…..”  “Seasons”.  As you may notice, I often stop my lessons and ask the students to fill in certain Science terms.  This works to both assess prior knowledge and practice new vocabulary words in context.  I then showed them our calendar.  “Look at the numbers.  Today is….”  “Monday”  “January…”  “10!”  “So today is Monday, January 10thWhat was supposed to come next?”, I asked the class.   “The 11th!”  “Why do we need to know what’s coming next?  Why does it matter?”  “So we know what to do next.”  “That’s a thoughtful answer.  Scientists work to help us understand the weather so we can prepare for it and be safe and comfortable, like drive safer or even wear the right clothes.  We’re going to take a look at ways scientists track weather so they can better prepare what's coming.” 

Where does most weather start?  By that, I mean it’s origin.  Where does weather originate?”  In the first lesson of this unit, we talked about how air pressure originates in the atmosphere, so I took their attention that direction with this question. "Weather originates in the atmosphere, the sky. Weather conditions for places often develop patterns over long periods of time.  We learned that’s called climate.  The climate affects all kinds of living things, people, plants, and animals, in that region- area of the world.  Temperature and conditions will change over the course of the year so it really helps to know what’s to expectThat’s why we track weather for both short and long periods.  It’s helps us know what will happen soon and plan to prepare for the future.  The great thing is tracking weather is very easy to do.  It just takes careful observation and recording.

I display the weather chart that each student will get to fill out.  “The first thing we need to do is observe the weather outside.  Most of the time, it’s very easy because we do it with our eyes.  What’s that called again?”  “Observation.”  “Right, so we look outside and check for the common conditions- cloudy, sunny, windy, rainy- listed on the chart.”  The second thing to do is find the day that you are recording the weather.  The third thing to do is find the symbol- the picture- that represents the weather you observed.  Last, fill in the square where the day meets the picture." 

Individual Instruction

10 minutes

To move on to the next step, I dismissed the students back to their tables.  I began the activity explanation, “To track weather, you first, you need to go outside to look up at the sky.  That’s the best place to see what the weather conditions, right?”  “Right!”  “Who would like to demonstrate how to do this?”  “Me!”  “ME”  “Me”  “OK, let’s choose a Daily Helper.  The first thing they need to do is go…”  “Outside”  “And look at the..”  “Sky”  “Go ahead, do that, and report back to us about what you observed.”  We waited until the student reported back, “I saw sun in the sky.”  “So we need to look at the sky to confirm this information.  Once we do that, we can record our observation on our chart and color in the square next to the Sun label and picture.  As soon as I call on you, everyone can take a minute to do that.”   I dismissed them one table at at time to look outside the door to confirm the weather observation of the Daily Helper.  When they were done with their own observation, I guided them back to their table to record it.

As they color, I let them know that since the purpose is to create a weather graph, the color isn’t as important as keeping the coloring to the specific space in order to accurately represent data from one day only.  I gave the students a minute to finish before I asked the Daily Helpers to collect the weather graph papers so we'd have them in one place to use in the next lesson about Forecasting.  I then rang the chime to signal the students to return to their carpet squares. 

Wrap Up

5 minutes

To act as a whole class recap, we gathered on our carpet squares to share out the weather observations.  Knowing we all observed the same weather, I was interested to see if there was any variations.  “What were some of the weather we observed?”  “I saw sun.”  “I saw sun and wind, so I marked both.”.  “Since our purpose is to track weather so we can plan activities, we're going to choose only conditions that changes the weather.  If the wind wasn't enough to really blow the trees and bend them, it probably doesn't change weather, does it.  "No, pretty much not."  "If we are going to be scientists, we need parameters like that to focus our data.”  I included this instruction (using academic vocabulary) so they’d understand that data is often dependent on the target of the activity.  "We'll check the weather each day this week to record the weather conditions and decide the best choices for the conditions we observed."  With this lesson, the product gives them a long term way to revisit the lesson on tracking, along with being a fun way to check their work.