main page - projects page - lesson plans - unit plans

Weather Forcasting Unit

Middle level

By Lisa Bailey, Oswego, NY

Imagine if you turned on the radio or television and the forecast called for either clear skies, rain, snow showers, or thunder and lightening. What would you think? What would your life be like if there were no ways to predict the daily weather patterns in your area, as well as all around the world?

Understanding what type of weather that is coming into your area can be very helpful when planning a class trip, going on a mountain hike, or simply deciding what to wear for the next day. Even though students do not have the use of computers like meteorologists do when predicting the weather, they still can learn how to forecast the weather and better understand it. Therefore, I have decided that students need to be able to go outside and evaluate their surroundings in order to determine what weather might be coming into the area. To do this, they need to have a basic understanding of how the water cycle works, as well as know about the different types of clouds, fronts and storms that come in and out of their areas. I also feel that they should understand the symbols on a weather map in order to make it easier for them to comprehend the complex weather systems that they may see meteorologists describe on television. Because I believe that it is important for everyone to understand this information, I decided to have the students do a unit on weather. In this unit, we will learn about water in the air, clouds, weather maps and storms.

In order to adequately prepare my students for this unit, I have made a list of ten behavioral objectives that are labeled with the Bloom's taxonomy levels. They are as follows:

The Student will be able to:

1. Explain how water moves through the water cycle by referring to the diagram given in class. (Comprehension)

2. Define warm and cold fronts while associating the different types of weather with each. (Knowledge/Comprehension)

3. Relate rising air to the cooling and condensation that occurs in order to form clouds. (Application)

4. Use pictures of the four different cloud types to identify them and list their characteristics. (Knowledge)

5. Classify each type of cloud by the weather it produces. (Comprehension/Evaluate)

6. Using a weather map, label the symbols that describe the weather. (Knowledge)

7. Decide what the weather will be a day or two ahead of time by using a weather map. (Evaluate)

8. Using pictures of the four different kinds of violent storms, compare and contrast their characteristics. (Comprehension)

9. Examine the different kinds of weather caused by each violent storm. (Analyze)

10. Using examples, offer different ways to keep safe from the four types of violent storms. (Knowledge)


In order to achieve these objectives, I would design my lesson plans with lots of hands on activities. I'd begin this unit by making a simple model of the water cycle for the class so that they can observe evaporation, condensation and precipitation taking place. After a discussion regarding the new vocabulary terms and concepts, I would have the students fill out a worksheet that demonstrated the steps in the cycle. We would also discuss fronts and the different types that would allow us to determine what the weather might be. This would be done through an experiment that would show what happens when a cold air mass meets a warm air mass. We would then discuss the concepts learned.

Since the formation of clouds is a result of the water cycle in the atmosphere, I'd then have the students perform an experiment that would have them make a cloud in a bottle. This activity's purpose is to demonstrate what has to take place in order for a cloud to be formed. Once the students understand these concepts, they would then learn about the different cloud types, their characteristics and the weather patterns that accompany them by recovering information in groups from the internet ( The detailed pictures and characteristics printed by the students would then be used to make booklets that would be used as reference materials. Then on a daily basis the students would go outside and in their journals keep a record of the clouds they observed, the date, the temperature, types of precipitation, their weather predictions for the following day, and then the actual weather that occurred the following day. All this is based on the types of clouds they see.

Next, students would be expected to bring in newspapers that include a weather map of the entire country. By viewing these maps, students would be introduced to the symbols that are used to describe weather patterns. After a discussion on reading these symbols the students would learn how to use them to decide what the weather would be in a certain area in a day or two. They would then have to predict the weather for the following day, based on their maps.

Finally, students would be asked to look through pictures from old magazines where they could find examples of violent storms. We would then discuss what they think their choices were named and then learn about the characteristics and weather patterns that were associated with each. To conclude this lesson, the students would talk about particular storms they might have been in, the weather that accompanied them and how they stayed safe during them.

To assess the students during this unit, I would use a variety of techniques. When I begin the lesson on the water cycle, I would ask the students to raise their hands and discuss what they already know about the water cycle and then have them make predictions as to what they thought would happen. Once the experiment was completed, we would enter into a question and answer period where the students could give their observations and discuss what they did and did not understand. Based on these informal talks, I would learn if the students understood the new vocabulary terms and the concepts that were involved. Then, I would have the students fill out a worksheet that I would collect and assess. This sheet would allow me to determine if they understood the order of the water cycle and if they understood that it occurred repeatedly. Once I believed the students understood this, I would move on to the next topic: fronts. From the textbook, we would learn about warm and cold fronts. Once they had mastered the basic concepts, we would do an experiment within groups. While the students were performing this task, I would walk around the classroom and observe. On a clipboard, I would record which students were participating and which students weren't. I would also talk to the students to see what their thoughts and observations were and what they understood about fronts. I would then ask them to predict what they thought would happen when the warm and cold fronts mixed. Their answers, along with the informal questions I ask, would help me determine what I needed to reteach because they didn't understand, as well as, which concepts were understood.

When the children begin the section on clouds, they will be performing an experiment first. I would, therefore, once again, walk around and see which students were cooperating and which ones weren't. I'd casually observe, take notes, and assess by talking with the students. Students would also need to answer questions on a worksheet that would let me know if they comprehended how the clouds were formed. I would collect this assignment and grade each student's answers accordingly. Once the students have completed this experiment, we would begin a group discussion on what took place. The Internet activity would provide me with a packet from each group, which contained pictures of the four different types of clouds, as well as their descriptions, characteristics and weather patterns. I would assess the finished product according to the quality, length, description, and clarity of the information gathered. They would receive a group grade that would also incorporate their participation in the project. Finally, the 'weather forecasting' activity would be collected via their journals. I would grade according to the care and accuracy expressed in their charts. I would also watch them as they go to the window or as we were all outside doing our observations. I would use a checklist as to record who was actively participating in the assignment.

When the students bring in newspapers that include a weather map, I would record which students participated in the homework assignment and which ones didn't. The assessment for this section would be informal since I would mainly walk around and determine if the students were attaching the correct symbols to the correct weather descriptions within their groups. Once they finished looking at each other's maps, they would individually have to record in their journals what their weather predictions were for a certain city for the following day. They would also have to record how they came to that conclusion. The next day, the students would determine if their predictions were correct and record their reactions in their journals. If they were incorrect, they would have to try and determine what went wrong in their forecasting techniques. I would then collect the journals to see if they understood the concepts involved. In reading the thought process that they used to determine their predictions, I could easily assess their knowledge and comprehension. Finally, as a daily activity, I would privately read a brief weather forecast to one or two students. They would be responsible for attaching large poster sized weather symbols to our classroom map, according to the description I read. They would then have to give a weather forecast to the class, as a meteorologist would do on television. I would then see if they used the correct terms and symbols and grade accordingly.

When beginning the 'storm' lesson plans, I would once again record which students brought in samples of the different kinds of violent storms and which students did not. Our casual discussion about the pictures and the storms would lead into a lesson about their characteristics and weather patterns. I would once again observe which students were participating in the discussion, ask specific questions of each student, and have students compare and contrast the storms. This casual assessment would help me to determine which students comprehended the lesson and which students did not. Finally, when the students were having a discussion on specific storms that they were in, they would need to discuss what type of weather occurred, as well ask how they stayed safe. I could determine if they actually took appropriate precautions and if their answers to the questions I posed were correct and appropriate.

Once this unit was completed, I would test them with a selected response exam and two essay questions. I believe that this well-rounded exam would help me to determine if the students understood this unit or not.



Table of Specifications


Weather Unit

Knowledge Apply Infer Total

Water in the Air 2 1 1 4

Clouds 1 4 1 6

Weather maps 1 2 3

Storms 2 1 3

Total 6 6 4 16


For each question below, decide what kind of cloud is talking and on each answer line, write its name.


1. When you see me, I look like feathers way up in the sky. I form in patches that when seen, indicate sunny, dry weather. Who am I? Cirrus____

2. I might look heaps of white and fluffy cotton, but I'm really not. I float in blue skies and in groups that bring sunny weather. What type of a cloud am I? Cumulus___

3. I am a low, gray cloud, which covers the sky like sheets. Watch out because I may be loaded with rain! Who am I? Stratus___

4. Most people don't like me because I am dark and dense and usually bring heavy storms. What type of cloud am I? Cumulonimbus____


Determine if each statement below is either completely true or false. Fill in your answer on the line provided.

5. A cloud forms when water vapor in rising air condenses. ___T___

6. The places where cold and warm air masses meet are called streams.


7. The symbol on a weather map usually means that there will probably be a storm in the area. __T__

8. When lightening occurs, a good place to keep safe is in a car. ___T___


Read each question below and then determine the best answer from the list provided. Write the letter of your choice on the line provided.

9. When a cumulus cloud gets larger and thicker, what will probably happen to the weather? ___c___

a. it will become colder

b. it will become hotter

c. it will rain

d. it will become foggy

10. Which of the following shows the correct order of the water cycle? ___c___

a. condensation, evaporation, precipitation

b. precipitation, condensation, evaporation

c. evaporation, condensation, precipitation

d. evaporation, precipitation, condensation

11. When cumulus clouds follow cirrus clouds in a warm front, what type of weather does not occur? ___a___

a. sunshine

b. rain

c. thunder

d. lightning




Look at the map above. What type of weather will be expected in Texas tomorrow? __c__

a. warm weather

b. snow

c. rain

d. clouds


13. Match each weather symbol below with what it represents on a map.


a. __4__ 1. thunderstorms

b. __1__ 2. Cold front

c. __6__ 3. Snow

d. __2__ 4. High pressure center

e. __5__ 5. Warm front

6. Rain


14. Match each storm below with the statement that best describes it.

a. Hurricane __4__ 1. Formed when moist air rises quickly

b. Thunderstorm __1__ 2. Form along cold fronts that twists the air

c. Tornado __2__ 3. Fronts move north with freezing temperature

d. Blizzard __3__ 4. Form over the warm oceans near the equator

5. Formed during the zone of mixing


15. The water cycle describes the way water circulates on earth. In a well-written essay, explain how water vapor gets into the air. Include the three stages in the water cycle while using the following terms: river, ocean, clouds, land, rain, evaporation, precipitation, condensation and water vapor. Also, describe a time in which you have seen the water cycle happening.

16. The types of storms that occur across the United States can be extremely powerful and harmful to people and their property. Choose one type of storm and write a letter to a friend describing that storm. In your essay include: three characteristics of that storm; list two weather patterns that you saw; the time of year that it occurred and describe what you did in order to stay safe during it.

main page - projects page - lesson plans - unit plans