The Weather House: Collaborative Presentation and Individual Writing

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SWBAT present and justify how their house is built to survive local weather conditions and they will critique the reasoning of others.

Big Idea

Science is a process of constant examination and revision based on new information.


5 minutes

I review rules for courteous and on-topic scientific discourse.  Students are instructed to listen to each group’s presentation and to be prepared to offer specific feedback.

  • What do they think will work well, and why?
  • What is a possible design flaw?  Why?  Can there be suggestive remedies?
  • What unanswered questions do they have about the design?




Explain - Writing About Our House

25 minutes

Students work collaboratively in their groups to produce a written presentation document, either in paragraph form or a speaking outline (depending on ability level and time constraints).  They need address the following questions:

  1. What materials did you use?  Why?
  2. What materials did you avoid?  Why?
  3. What materials do you wish that you could have used?  Why?
  4. How is your house designed to withstand extreme heat and aridity?
  5. How is your house designed to withstand torrential rains during the monsoon?
  6. How is your house designed to endure heavy wind?
  7. What did you do to make your house aesthetically pleasing?  Did this detract from its ability to withstand weather conditions?  *Is this a worthwhile tradeoff?  (Link to real world content - houses built in flood zone from hurricane, for example).

I provided them with this document, Student Guidelines for Weather House Presentation, as a planning tool.  I also posted it as an outline on the board.  The students were to write up their explanation of their weather house in paragraph form.  The first 3 questions were mandatory and the rest were presented as optional but anyone who finished the first 3 within the given time constraint was asked by me to move on to the additional questions.  Some students split their presentation up into different components assigned to each child and others wanted to each go through the entire explanation.  I let them choose how to do this, as a component of this activity was also beginning of the year team-building.  



Explain- Presentations

25 minutes

Almost all of the students in my class were able to write out their presentations in paragraph form. 

This student was the first speaker to explain how his group's house was designed to withstand the severe weather of Tucson's summer rainy season.  In addition to learning about his ability to speak in specific, complete sentences, I also learned about the kindness of his group in the way they supported him in being the first speaker.

This student explains how her group designed a house to withstand Tucson's heavy summer rains and wind.

 This student explains how her group designed a house to withstand Tucson's heavy summer rains and wind.


This student, part of the same group, lists reasons he believes that his group's house will withstand extreme heat and wind. He has gotten very strong in his skill of answering and explaining in complete sentences.  His next area for growth will be using more specific language.

 This student also lists thorough explanations in response to the prompts.



Elaborate -Wrap-up

5 minutes

This lesson took over an hour.  I suggest extending it over two days.  I provide students with this Weather House Project Student Reflection to guide their thinking (and keep them accountable) during the presentations.  We review the questions at the end and then they are asked to work on it at home for about 15 minutes tonight and then finish it in class the following day.  

Taking this extra step is a critical part of developing students' ability to extend their thinking.  It is an easy part to overlook, because it's at the end, but it's integral to developing within the students the habit of mind of continually questioning and revising.