SCOOL Banner
FOR TEACHERS  »    • Teacher Resources     • S'COOL Materials     • News and Reviews     • FAQ     • Online Tutorials     • Glossary    


Grade Level: Grade 1-4

Estimated Time for Completing Activity: 1 hour

Learning Outcomes: The students will
  • make observations concerning current weather conditions
  • observe the clouds
  • use a basic dichotomous key to differentiate cloud types
  • record and track changes in weather over time
National Standards:
  • Science Content D: Earth and Space Science
Virginia Standards of Learning:
  • Science 1.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 1.7 : The student will investigate and understand weather and seasonal changes.
  • Science 2.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 2.6 : The student will investigate and understand basic types, changes, and patterns of weather.
  • Science 3.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • Science 4.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of scientific reasoning, logic, and the nature of science by planning and conducting investigations.
  • English 1.1 : The student will continue to demonstrate growth in the use of oral language.
  • English 2.1 : The student will demonstrate an understanding of oral language structure.
Prerequisite: Knowledge of reading a thermometer and barometer would be helpful, but can also be part of the instruction during this lesson.

Materials:
  • Dichotomous Key handout
  • S'COOL Report Form
  • grade-appropriate weather book - Suggested titles
    • Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons
    • It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw
    • Little Cloud by Eric Carle
    • The Cloud Book by Tommie de Paolo
  • thermometers
  • barometers
  • graph paper
  • student self-assessment rubric (primary and intermediate versions available)
Vocabulary:
Lesson Links:
Background:

This lesson can be taught independently, or it can serve as a springboard for class participation in the S'COOL observations throughout the school year. Because clouds are used as a common predictor of weather patterns, it is important to be able to identify cloud types and the type of weather that may be associated with each. Three ingredients are required to form a cloud: moisture (water vapor), temperature change (cooling), and condensation (nuclei). If one or more of the ingredients changes, then the result is a change in cloud cover or type, and sometimes a change in the weather.

Procedure:
  1. Use a class warm-up to spark interest in cloud observation and the role it plays in weather forecasting. Choose from one of the suggested books in the materials list or one of your own.
  2. Using the cloud chart, introduce vocabulary. Feel free to edit the vocabulary list based on your students and their developmental level.
  3. Distribute the Dichotomous Key handout. Take the time to mention the meaning of dichotomy and explain that scientists use this type of tool in many different contexts. Field guides are often written in this format.
  4. Take the class outdoors to begin cloud observations and temperature and pressure measurements. Students in grades K-2 should work in teacher-guided groups or as a whole-class group to complete the Dichotomous Key and the S'COOL Report Form. Students in grades 3-4 should work in small groups to complete the two forms.
  5. Return to class and continue class discussion based on the observations. Allow students to question one another about the observation session.
  6. Have students check their own data sheets for accuracy and then complete the self-assessment rubric.
  7. The observation step of this lesson can be completed for several days in a row if you are interested in extending the activity and tracking data over time.
Extensions:
  1. Use the observation step to regularly make observations and report back to the S'COOL website.
  2. Create individual or whole-class graphs to display data recorded over time.
  3. Keep a weather journal to log weather data.
  4. Challenge students to create a dichotomous key to use in categorizing another situation (See an example by viewing the information within the Vocabulary link, "dichotomous key").
  5. Create class presentations that resemble television weather forecasts and share with other classes
Teacher Notes:
  • If you are a registered participant in S'COOL, you can use this lesson to help create a management plan for future observations.  You could divide your students into 5 equal groups.  Groups can be labeled S, C, O1, O2, and L.  Group S would be assigned to completing observations on Monday, Group C on Tuesday, and so on. This plan allows for ongoing observations and data collection in a concise format.  Refer to the S'COOL website Ideas for Classroom Management for additional management ideas.
  • Vocabulary Tip: When discussing the vocabulary with the younger students, point out similarities in the cloud words and their significance.  Discuss root and root-meaning of the words.  Use the cloud chart to make a point about cloud names and their location or appearance.  Help the students to understand that recognizing cloud type and knowing vocabulary are directly related.  Use it as a starting point for future cloud observation.
Assessment:
  • Teacher observations of class discussion (questioning), completion of the cloud observations, and recording of weather data
  • Self-assessment Rubrics
Reference: Lesson Plan submitted by Kara Houser, Holland, OH; and updated August 2008 by Kathy Gibbs, Hampton Public Schools, Hampton, VA.

go to NASA.gov
+ Visit NASA.gov

+ NASA Privacy, Security, Notices
+ USA.gov
+ Comments or Questions?

Page Curator: Tina M. Rogerson
NASA Official : Dr. Lin Chambers
Last updated: 
Contact S'COOL