Weather Map Symbols

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SWBAT interpret weather map symbols and create a station model given specific weather conditions

Big Idea

In this lab, students work together to interpret the weather based on weather station models, and then have the chance to do the reverse - create station models given specific weather conditions

Lesson Introduction

[Note: For embedded comments, checks for understanding (CFUs), and key additional information on transitions and key parts of the lesson not necessarily included in the below narrative, please go to the comments in the following document: 5.16 - Station Models (Whole Lesson w/comments). Additionally, if you would like all of the resources together in a PDF document, that can be accessed as a complete resource here: 5.16 - Station Models (Whole Lesson)[PDF]. Finally, students may need their Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] for parts of the lesson (a document used widely in the New York State Earth Science Regents course) as well.]

One of my favorite lessons of the year! For whatever reason, I really like teaching station models - maybe it's because the teaching in this lesson is so direct. No texts, images, or fancy ideas - just "here's the information you need." This is a laboratory based lesson that have students approach the information in two primary ways. In one part of the lesson, they're given the station models and asked to interpret the weather, while in the other, they're tasked with creating the station models given specific weather conditions. Both are great, and for whatever reason, my students have really enjoyed this lesson every time I've taught it - hopefully yours do as well!

Note: There are no special materials required for this lesson beyond the attached materials here and below!

Do Now & Objective(s)

10 minutes

Students come in silently and complete the (attached) Do Now. In this case, the Do Now is a review of material and some "hot standards" from Unit 3 (Geologic History) in addition to some needed review on material from the current unit on Meteorology. After time expires (anywhere from 2-4 minutes depending on the type of Do Now and number of questions), we collectively go over the responses (usually involving a series of cold calls and/or volunteers), before I call on a student and ask them to read the objective out loud to start the lesson.

As a general note, the Do Now serves a few purposes:

  1. It serves as a general review of the previous day's material;
  2. It is a re-activation of student knowledge to get them back into "student mode" and get them thinking about science after transitioning from another content area or alternate class;
  3. as a strategy for reviewing material students have struggled with (for example, using this as a focused review for material that they have struggled with on unit assessments or recent quizzes); and,
  4. It is an efficient and established routine for entering the classroom that is repeated each day with fidelity (I never let students enter the classroom talking. While it may seem potentially severe to have students enter silently each day, this is both a school wide expectation and a key component of my classroom. In many respects, I find that students readily enjoy the focus that starting with a quiet classrooms brings each day).


10 minutes

After the Do Now, the lesson begins at the Station Models section, where students first learn what station models are and how to interpret them. On the first page of the resource, students get to see what station models look like for the first time (Note: They can also consult page 13 of their Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] for a similar model). Once we get to this section, I actually ask them to find the image of the station model in their reference tables, and give them a few seconds to hunt for it. 

After we locate it (again, Page 13), I go over how to solve for air pressure with students, which is always listed as the three consecutive digits on their station models in the top right hand corner. Using the steps in the Station Models resource, I give them a few minutes to read over the air pressure section and complete the Quick Check section on the opposite page. After 2-3 minutes of reading and solving, we collectively go over their responses (I am circulating during this time - generally honing in on my highest-needs students). 

The rest of the information on the Station Models is more or less self-explanatory (see Reflection for more information and context). For the precipitation and specific weather types, make sure that students appropriately reference the key on Page 13 of their Earth Science Reference Tables. Additionally, just to prevent any misunderstandings, I usually do a few random (similar to the Quick Check above) questions about wind speed. For example, I'll draw various wind speed indicators and ask students to tell me the correct wind speed, or I'll give a wind speed (i.e. 25 knots) and ask students to tell me how to draw them. 

Again, the key is that students right the information in the correct spot on their station models in the correct way. To do this, I reinforce the Earth Science Reference Tables [ESRT] as a key reference tool that they can and should refer to throughout the lab. 

Lab - Part I

20 minutes

Lab - Part I is very similar to the subsequent second part, although the information is reversed. In this section, students are given station models at the top of the page and asked to represent those weather conditions in a data table on the bottom of the Lab - Part I resource. While they're doing that, I circulate and try, once I'm aware everyone is on task and working, to make sure that students understand some of the more complex parts about station models. For instance, one thing they tend to struggle a bit with is the previous pressure designation. In that, they need to perform the inverse operation of the barometric trend to determine the pressure from a few hours ago. That, of course, is in addition to helping students figure out how to sort out the barometric pressure utilizing the key on the station model. If they get stuck here, I try to refer them to lean on each other for support, and/or to check their notes to re-has their learning on how to perform the steps to writing out the pressure from the station model "code". 

Lab - Part II

15 minutes

The Part II is effectively the inverse of the first laboratory section. In this part of the lesson, which I encourage students to jump into as soon as they're finished with the first section, they take the given weather conditions at the top of the Part II lab resource and create the requisite station models to match the given weather patterns. Again, my duties as an instructor are the same in this section as in section 1. I think, similar to the first laboratory section, that air pressure happens to be the biggest stopping point. In this case, they have to reverse engineer the process - given the actual air pressure, they need to convert it to a triple digit code that matches up with the station model. 


5 minutes

Unlike most of my other lessons, there is no exit ticket associated with this lesson. In the last few minutes of class, I definitely want to have the room ready for either my next period, or an alternate class that might be using the room (I share a room with another science teacher, which makes clean up all the more important at the end of the period). I make sure they're aware of the attached Analysis & Rubric, as the (brief) Analysis contains some important Regents-based work for them to tackle, while the Rubric contains the information on how they'll be assessed and graded. 

I generally say this in all my lab-based lessons, but I think it's always important to: 1.) save more time than you think you need and 2.) have a hard stop at the end of a lab. Once that time is reached, no lab should continue. If you're a student in the room, you immediately have to begin the process of cleaning up your work space. Since, as mentioned above, I also share a classroom, I also give them some time to make sure they're all prepared for transitioning out of the room.  

In the last minute or so, I utilize the same procedure I do on non-lab days, which is to ask the students time to think about their self-mastery of the objective (which is posted on the whiteboard), through some guided questions:

  1. Do you feel that you mastered the objective for the day?
  2. Can you reiterate one thing you learned about ____________ (in this case, something like "Which was easier - creating the station model or determining the weather?" or a procedural question like "How was it working together today?", etc.)

Once I take 2-3 individual responses (sometimes I'll ask for a binary "thumbs up/thumbs down" or something similar), I have students leave once the bell rings.