I am currently a first grade teacher at John C. Daniels School in New Haven, Connecticut. John C. Daniels was the first dual language program implemented in the city. Being a dual language school means we teach every child English as well as Spanish. For the first two years, grades kindergarten and first, children learn their academic foundational skills in their dominant language of English or Spanish. They are exposed to the opposite language as a second language, where they begin to learn the very basics of that language. Beginning in the second grade, children learn all of their academic skills in both languages. There is only one other school like ours in New Haven, which makes our programs stand apart from the other schools in the city.
Our school is located in the Hill section of the city, which is one of the poorest areas in New Haven. As a result, the majority of our students come from a low income household. All of the children in the school are provided with a free breakfast as well as lunch. Home life can be difficult for most of the children. They come from single parent homes or a two parent home and some are in the care of DCF or are living with relatives because their parents, for one reason or another, cannot care for them at this time. Our school community is racially diverse, which allows the children to interact with many different types of people on a daily basis.
With these children in mind, I developed a science unit titled, Severe Weather Trackers, to utilize in my classroom. Through this five week unit, the children will learn about different types of severe weather. Along with the study of severe weather, the children will learn about choosing meteorology as a career and what it takes to get there. Bringing the idea of a career to children in this community would be beneficial because they may never realize this could be an option for their future. This unit will help them get excited about science and weather and possibly a future career to consider.
This unit will fulfill the weather portion of the district's first grade science curriculum. The standards that will be addressed are:
1. Children will address, describe, question, classify and experiment (1.2s)
2. Children will understand that tools help scientists make better observations, measurements and are the equipment for investigations (5.2s).
Overall, my goals for this unit are to get the children excited and engaged in scientific inquiry. The children will be learning about severe weather through hands-on experiments, video clips and pictures. The more children are able to do and see, the more impact their learning is going to have on them. I also want the children to learn how meteorologists contribute to the field of science and our society. I want them to see what an interesting job they have, but also how difficult it can be. Most of all, I want the children to gain an interest in weather and have fun! Severe weather is a very interesting topic with plenty of excitement to keep the children's' attention and participation.
The first two weeks, the topic of severe weather will be introduced. I will explain to the children what severe weather is and what will happen in the next five weeks in the classroom. The children will then begin to learn about the different types of severe weather that they will experience living in the northeast. Children will learn the basic facts of how these events occur and what damage they have caused or could cause. I will concentrate on hurricanes, thunderstorms and nor'easters. I will use stories, videos, and the children's own personal experiences as my means of teaching the topics. One activity the children will participate in is exploring coloring books that describe severe weather storms in kid friendly terms.
The third week of the unit, I will begin to broaden our experience with severe weather by introducing events that do not happen near us but around the world. Children will learn about how these events occur and what types of damage they have or could have caused. We will primarily discuss tornadoes. Children will learn about tornadoes through books, videos and hands-on experiences. For example, the child will be making their own tornadoes as a class activity.
The fourth week, children will review the topics that have been discussed as well as begin to discuss the careers of severe weather meteorologists and storm chasers. Children will learn what a meteorologist is and what he/she actually does at work. Storm chasers will also be introduced. The children will find out what happens in a typical day of storm chasing. Children will watch clips from the National Weather Channel as well as other video clips of meteorologists. Children will also study the different types of equipment that meteorologists use to help them predict the weather. Finally, the road to becoming a meteorologist will be discussed. At the end of the week, children will practice giving a forecast on one of the severe weather events that have been discussed throughout the unit.
The fifth and final week will be spent tying all of the elements together. Children will become meteorologists, as they give forecast on a severe weather event that they put together, with help from their parents and teachers. They will use the information they have learned over the last four weeks to describe a couple of facts that they have learned about their event. The forecasts will be taped and at the end of the week, the class will watch them.
After the five weeks, my hope is that the children will have a better understanding of the different types of severe weather that are going to be covered in the unit. I hope the children will walk away from the unit with the ability to share the knowledge they learned with their classmates as well as any adults at home. Lastly, I hope that they have a better understanding of the job a meteorologist does and what types of tools and education help them forecast the weather. Most importantly though, I hope the children have fun while learning and begin to take an interest in the weather not only in our area, but around the world.