ALEX Lesson Plan


Masters of Disaster (Middle Grades)

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Keith George
System: College/University
School: Auburn University at Montgomery
Author:Paige Craig
System: Madison County
School: Buckhorn High School
Author:Davina Mann
System: Madison County
School: Owens Cross Roads School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 32629


Masters of Disaster (Middle Grades)


Students will research natural disasters and their impact on people.  They will work in teams to design a disaster preparedness guide to share with the community to reduce the impact of a natural disaster utilizing various creativity apps on the iPad.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 6
Earth and Space Science
12 ) Integrate qualitative scientific and technical information (e.g., weather maps; diagrams; other visualizations, including radar and computer simulations) to support the claim that motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.

a. Use various instruments (e.g., thermometers, barometers, anemometers, wet bulbs) to monitor local weather and examine weather patterns to predict various weather events, especially the impact of severe weather (e.g., fronts, hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, ice storms, droughts).

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information; Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Support the claim that motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions using qualitative scientific and technical information.
  • Monitor local weather using a variety of instruments.
  • Examine weather patterns to predict various weather events, especially the impact of severe weather.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Integrate
  • Qualitative scientific information
  • Technical information
  • Weather map
  • Radar
  • Visualization
  • Weather
  • Air mass
  • Temperature
  • Pressure
  • Humidity
  • Precipitation
  • Wind
  • Uniform
  • Temperature
  • Moisture
  • Landform
  • Current
  • Probability
  • Atmosphere
  • Monitor
  • Instruments
  • Predict
  • Weather patterns
  • Severe weather
  • Temperature
  • Moisture
  • Pressure
  • Humidity
  • Precipitation
  • Wind
  • Atmosphere
Students know:
  • Qualitative scientific and technical information may include weather maps, diagrams, and visualizations, including radar and computer simulations.
  • Qualitative scientific information may be obtained through laboratory experiments.
  • Weather is the condition of the atmosphere as defined by temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation, and wind.
  • An air mass is a large body of air with uniform temperature, moisture, and pressure.
  • Air masses flow from regions of high pressure to low pressure, causing weather at a fixed location to change over time.
  • Sudden changes in weather can result when different air masses collide.
  • The distribution and movement of air masses can be affected by landforms, ocean temperatures, and currents.
  • Relationships exist between observed, large-scale weather patterns and the location or movement of air masses, including patterns that develop between air masses (e.g., cold fronts may be characterized by thunderstorms).
  • Due to the complexity and multiple causes of weather patterns, probability must be used to predict the weather.*Local atmospheric conditions (weather) may be monitored by collecting data on temperature, pressure, humidity, precipitation, and wind.
  • Instruments may be used to measure local weather conditions. These instruments may include, but are not limited to, thermometers, barometers, and anemometers.
  • Weather events, specifically severe weather, can be predicted based on weather patterns.
  • Severe weather may include, but is not limited to, fronts, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, ice storms, and droughts.
Students are able to:
  • Make a claim, to be supported by evidence, to support or refute an explanation or model for a given phenomenon, including the idea that motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.
  • Identify evidence to support the claim from the given materials including qualitative scientific and technical information.
  • Evaluate the evidence for its necessity and sufficiency for supporting the claim.
  • Determine whether the evidence is sufficient to determine causal relationships between the motions and complex interactions of air masses and changes in weather conditions.
  • Consider alternative interpretations of the evidence and describe why the evidence supports the claim they are making, as opposed to any alternative claims.
  • Use reasoning to connect the evidence and evaluation to the claim that motions and complex interactions of air masses result in changes in weather conditions.
  • Use instruments to collect local weather data.
  • Monitor local weather data.
  • Use patterns observed from collected data to provide causal accounts for weather events and make predictions.
Students understand that:
  • The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns. Because these patterns are so complex, weather can only be predicted based on probability.
  • Instruments may be used to monitor local weather.
  • Weather patterns can be used to predict weather events.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Understanding Weather and Climate (for both 12 and 12a)

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.6.12- Recognize interactions of air masses as the cause of changes in weather.
SCI.AAS.6.12a- Distinguish which scientific instrument would be used to measure weather conditions (i.e., temperature, wind speed, and air pressure); identify weather conditions including sunshine, clouds, rain, ice storms, and blizzards.

Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 6
R5) Locate and curate information from digital sources to answer research questions.

Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • locate and curate information from digital sources to answer given research questions.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • curate
Students know:
  • how to find valid sources to answer a given research topic.
  • how to cite sources.
Students are able to:
  • locate valid digital resources to answer given research questions.
Students understand that:
  • a great deal of information is available, so it is important to validate the information and to cite the source of the information.
Digital Literacy and Computer Science
DLIT (2018)
Grade: 6
R6) Produce, review, and revise authentic artifacts that include multimedia using appropriate digital tools.

Unpacked Content
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
Students will:
  • produce a multimedia artifact.
  • review artifacts created by others.
  • revise an artifact based on peer or teacher feedback.
Students know:
  • feedback is important in a design process.
Students are able to:
  • create a multimedia artifact.
  • critique the work of others.
  • revise their work based on feedback received.
Students understand that:
  • much like the writing process, design of a multimedia artifact nets the best results when creators have the opportunity to be given feedback and revise as needed.

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will:

  1. collaborate with others to complete a project.
  2. use critical thinking skills to solve real world problems.
  3. communicate effectively with others.
  4. be able to describe the factors that cause changes in the Earth's surface.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

Essential Question:

How can we plan and prepare to minimize the impact on people in the unfortunate event of a natural disaster?

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

Greater than 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Masters of Disaster Product Rubric (attached)

Technology Resources Needed:


Teacher should be familiar with a recent disaster that occurred either near enough, or was newsworthy enough, to use as a point of reference for the students (Remember when. . .)

Students and teacher should be familiar with the process of uploading or taking pictures with the iPad and/or locating copyright-free images on the Internet and saving them to the iPad.

Students and teacher should be familiar with the iPad app Animoto.


1.  The teacher will introduce the unit by showing a short video clip related to a type of disaster. An example video is the video "Extreme Weather: Tornadoes 101". If other types of disasters are more common or have occurred more recently, consider one of the following:

2.  Follow the video with a teacher-led discussion that explores the experiences of the students related to disasters.

  • What disasters have occurred in the lives of the students?
  • What were the results and effects of the disaster?
  • Were there any injuries?

3.  Wrap up the discussion with the introduction of the essential question: How can we plan and prepare to minimize the impact on people in the unfortunate event of a natural disaster?

4.  Challenge students to create a product to be shared with the entire community that will educate residents on what to do in advance of a disaster to minimize the effects.  Inform them that they will need to create a product that can be shared easily and one that will work on a variety of devices.

5.  Introduce (or reintroduce) the Animoto App.  Remind students of the processes of getting pictures into the iPad both by using the camera and saving copyright-free images from the web.  For a brief, but step-by-step tutorial on the app, go to

6.  Allow students to select a type of disaster, in which they wish to educate others.  Provide them with the Masters of Disaster Product Rubric (attached), as well as, the requirements outlined below.

7.  Students will utilize print and electronic sources to gather and evaluate the latest information regarding the possible effects on their community in the event of a disaster of the type selected.  Students will outline these possibilities and research the best preventative measures and identify all possible preparations that could be made to reduce the negative effects. Students will use Popplet Lite to create an organizer to plan the topics to be included in their final product.  A tutorial for Popplet can be found here.

8.  Students will contact and interview an expert in a field related to their chosen topic.  The interview could be related to background information, or could be included as part of the preparedness efforts.  The research gathered will be converted into a script that could be included in a video portion of the Animoto App, or used in the text content that accompanies the still photos of the Animoto project.

9.  Students will use the iPad to create, gather and organize all video, photo, text, and audio elements of the project.

10.  Students will use the Animoto App and the resources gathered to create a project that includes the following:

  • The end product will be a minimum of four minutes and a maximum of six minutes in length.
  • The product will include a minimum of twenty still photos, at least thirty seconds of video (may be divided), and text.
  • The content of the product must be up-to-date, accurate, and informative.
  • The purpose of the product is to inform the community of the possibility of the disaster, the negative effects of the disaster, and the preparation efforts that could be completed in advance to minimize these negative effects.
  • The sources of information contained in the product must be cited and available as a print resource to accompany the product.

11.  Students will share the product with one other team for peer review, and evaluate the feedback provided to make improvements and/or changes.

12.  Students will produce a final copy of the product in Animoto format and share it with the teacher for electronic distribution to the community.

13.  Students will create a short survey using Google Forms that will be provided electronically to the community members to complete.  This survey should include no more than five questions designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the product just as might occur in the workplace. (A tutorial on creating Goole Forms can be found here.)

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Assessment Strategies

Students will be assessed throughout the project on their ability to work well together and to effectively solve the presented problem.  

The product will be reviewed by a peer group during the creation process with each group having the opportunity to make additions, deletions and/or corrections.

The final product will be evaluated by the teacher using the Masters of Disaster Product Rubric (attached).

After presentation to the community, the community members will be asked to complete a short survey on the effectiveness of the product.


Students that display mastery of any aspect of the project will be encouraged to extend the project by incorporating additional resources or providing the end product in additional formats (create a podcast based on the product, create additional print materials, etc.).


Teams will be determined by the teacher taking into account the strengths and weaknesses of each student.

Tutorials are available for the Animoto App, Google Forms, and Popplet.

Project timeline may be extended.

View the Special Education resources for instructional guidance in providing modifications and adaptations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who qualify for the Alabama Alternate Assessment.