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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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How's the Weather?

Whens the last time one of your students got to spray water intheir classmates faceand not go to the principals office?

Well, they may have that chance if you give my Live Weather Report project a try.

During this blog, I am going to share a weather-related lesson that has worked fabulously for me, and I think it can do the same for you. Not only is it an effective and engaging way to teach kids about weather, it also serves as a great display during parent nights.

However, before going any further, I have to give credit for this idea to Mike Flynn. He is a former Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, who shared this lesson with me years ago. Since then, I tweaked the lesson to fit my needs, but the essence of the project comes from Flynns genius.

In brief, students work in teams to create live weather reports, which are taped and played at a later date. During the reports, students must explain the causes of weather, including extreme weather, while wearing costumes and using props to enhance the performance. The project sets up a number of learning experiences: First, to teach others about the principles of weather, you have to know your stuff. Research shows we retain about 95 percent of what we teach others. Secondly, the kids have a blast since they get to wear raincoats and suits and ties, bring in super soakers, and throw fake snow around the classroom. Finally, the students get to watch and evaluate their own performance as well as their peers.

The following is step-by-step plan for conducting the project:

(In terms of creativity, I have had students wear raincoats and pretend to be on scene during hurricanes, while fans are blowing wind from the side and students offset are shooting the reporter with squirt guns. Another idea is to find actual footage of weather events and play that on a backdrop screen as the kids are talking. My students have also sprinkled fake snow (you can find at a crafts store) and used soft foam objects to throw across the screen to simulate flying debris highly suggest that if you are going to allow students to use some of the above ideas that you lay out a tarp or floor covering to protect your classroom carpet or tile.)

  • * First, cover the unit on weather in your science curriculum. You want your students to be well-versed in concepts such as fronts, air masses, etc. Also teach them about extreme weather events, including hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards, and the emergency procedures for those events. Its up to you whether you want to provide a formal assessment at this point or take the grade from the project itself, or possibly you want to use both as grades.
  • * Introduce the project. This becomes easier overtime as you can show videos of reports completed by former students (make sure to save the videos from previous years). I also provide students with a scoring guide and go over exactly how the project will be graded.
  • * Next, break students up into teams and allow them to choose an extreme weather event to base their report around. For example, students may choose to center their report on an unexpected blizzard. You also want them to assume one of the following roles: new anchor (s), field reporter (s), meteorologist (s)
  • * Then, provide students with time to develop a script, design costumes, select props and backgrounds for the report. You can structure this in a number of ways. I find its best to give groups some kind of checklist that helps them stay on track. I also conference with groups to make sure they have covered all the requirements.
  • * Have students rehearse their reports. You might want to give them a time limit and have students time themselves. Rehearsing is important before you actually allow groups to film.
  • * Showtime! Using a video recorder or phone, I record each weather report while the other students watch. I allow groups to takes, meaning if they mess up on the first take I will film the again. I save the videos to my computer. You can also burn them to a disk and send them home. I then show the weather reports during parent nights while the students and parents munch on popcorn.

There you have it--an engaging way to teach your students about weather while also learning about teamwork, presentations, and other skills. To share your thoughts on the project or similar projects, please visit the Innovative Teaching group athttp://community.educationworld.comcontent/hows-weather?gid=NTEyMQ==