Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Weather + Data Tracking = Engaged Students!

This is Krista from The Knitted Apple and I am happy to be back with another blog post on Who’s Who!

We are experiencing quite interesting weather in North Texas today.  It has been raining nonstop for hours and last night there were several tornadoes in the area.  I’m one of those weather geeks who loves checking weather apps to see what the weather is like in different parts of the country.  Right now in North Texas the temperature is a wet and rainy 46 degrees but in my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska it is a frigid 14 degrees with a “real feel” of 4 below.  YIKES!

One science unit I teach every year is weather, which is taught in several grade levels with varying expectations for each grade.  Third graders in Texas are expected to track the weather occurring in different locations at the same time.  When I completed this unit for the first time, I was happily surprised at how engaged and excited students were.  We looked at weather in different locations in the United States and tracked the temperature, chance of precipitation, and wind speed for each.  To make it more exciting our data tracking just happened to include a week of intense weather across the U.S.  Students noted heavy snowfall, below freezing temps, winter storm warnings, and wind and flood advisories.  In other cities temperatures were mild and uneventful.  Students recorded data on a tracking sheet for five days, recording the weather from four cities at the same time.   Once I showed them where to find the weather data and we completed an example together, this tracking part ran itself.  Immediately when Science began students would partner up, grab a laptop or device, and go to one of the weather sites to record data.   They could not contain their excitement as they saw the changes that occurred from one day to the next.

Here are two student-friendly websites I use for tracking weather data: 

Choose 3-4 cities to use for tracking weather, and be consistent in recording data at approximately the same time every day. As students collect weather data there will be opportunities for meaningful discussions about these differences in weather from one city to the next.This is a perfect opportunity time to pull down that dusty map in your classroom and incorporate geography. 

You can track weather at national parks or landmarks for an interesting twist! Try tracking weather data for  Yosemite National Park in California and Big Bend National Park in Texas! Show these places to students on a map and have them discuss why there could be such an extreme difference in weather conditions. 

If you are interested in a complete weather unit you can use in your classroom, you can click on the image shown below.  This resource is in my TeachersPay Teachers store and includes a creative writing component in addition to weather tracking.  

I hope your students enjoy learning about weather!


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