I started off by reviewing climate (the usual weather of a place) and explained, again, that even though it sometimes rains even in Phoenix, the climate is sunny and warm. If you had to guess the weather on any given day, you'd have a pretty good chance of being right because meteorologists have been keeping track of the daily weather for a really long time.
I projected from my computer how I would search for climate data about Phoenix. I thought aloud to explain how I would choose key words and avoid asking Google questions to stay out of forums. I talked through my search results about whether I would trust the results, gravitating towards .gov's, Wikipedia (I know it is controversial, but there is strong research to support the legitimacy of Wikipedia) and weather sites I had used before. I compared data from several websites and chose a middle number when there was a discrepancy. I also used "find on this page" so that I didn't have to read the whole article.
By modeling this process, I provided my students an example of how they could find their data quickly and efficiently.
I printed three copies of List of Arizona Cities and cut them apart prior to the lesson and placed them in a paper bag. I also saved one copy to place under the document camera to choose from.
Next I had my students choose two city names randomly from the bag. The third city was their choice from the list. This ensured that all of the cities were researched, as well as increased student motivation through allowing a choice. I gave students the Student City Research Form to record their data.
As students finish, I had them add the data from one city to the Arizona Cities Data Table. Students that didn't finish were able to continue working, and the class still had the data from other students.
There were differences between in data students found, but there really wasn't a "right" answer. Even among trusted sources, there is considerable variation in official elevation, precipitation, and temperatures, so I allowed them to post their data even when there was disagreement.
Students will use the data they have collected in Plotting Climate Data. For each set of data, student will look for minimum and maximum values, determine an appropriate scale, color each city to match the scale, and, finally, look for patterns in data to identify regions.