ALEX Lesson Plan


Exploring Nonfiction Texts to Determine How Climate Impacts Different Weather Phenomenon

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Stephanie Roden
System: Hartselle City
School: Crestline Elementary School
Author:elisa harris
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35425


Exploring Nonfiction Texts to Determine How Climate Impacts Different Weather Phenomenon


The lesson will begin by students accessing their prior knowledge of weather and climates by completing a warm-up writing prompt. Students will then move to reading texts on the subjects of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and droughts to determine if and how climate affects these weather phenomena. In groups, students will create a half-poster that describes their findings in text and pictures. At the end of the lesson, students will view a graph to extend their learning about tornadoes and hint at a future lesson while also completing an "exit ticket" as a means of summative assessment. 

This unit was created as part of the ALEX Interdisciplinary Resource Development Summit.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
11 ) Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea. [RI.3.2]

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
ELA.AAS.3.11- Identify the main idea of an informational text; identify details in an informational text that support the main idea.

SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
14 ) Collect information from a variety of sources to describe climates in different regions of the world.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Crosscutting Concepts: Patterns
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Use books and other reliable media to gather information about climates in different regions of the world.
  • Evaluate the information in the resources to describe the climates in different regions.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Evaluate
  • Climates
  • Regions
  • Reliable media
  • Sources
Students know:
  • Climate describes a range of an area's typical weather conditions and the extent to which those condition change over the years.
  • Books and other reliable media provide information that can be used to describe climates in different regions of the world.
  • Variations in climates within different regions of the world.
Students are able to:
  • Identify reliable resources for gathering information.
  • Identify the different regions of the world and their climates.
  • Evaluate information in the resources.
  • Use information to describe the climates in different regions and their patterns.
Students understand that:
  • Patterns in climate can be used to make predictions about typical weather conditions in a region.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Weather and Climate

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.3.14- Identify differences in climate regions (e.g., desert, oceans).

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will analyze nonfiction texts that explore how different climates influence weather. 
  • Students will interpret the information from the nonfiction texts to complete a group activity in order to discuss the impact of different climates on weather with the class.
  • Students will interpret data in order to understand how the weather is directly related to the climate of an area and the impact that the weather phenomena can have on an area. 

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

91 to 120 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Student materials (per student)

Notebook paper

Pencil or pen

1/2 sheet of Poster board

Crayons or markers

Free Newsela accounts for students

Graphic Organizer (attached) 

Weather Poster Checklist

Student Materials (per group):

Group 1:

"Great Shakes! Six-Story Building Withstands Quake Test in San Francisco" from

Drohan, M.I. (1999). Earthquakes. New York: PowerKids Press. (Tab pages 8, 20, and 22 for student use.)

Group 2:

"Farmer Faces Historic Drought in Utah and, Worse, an Insect Infestation" from

Woods, M., & Woods, M.B. (2007). Droughts. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company. (Tab pages 14-18 for student use.)

Group 3:

"New Technology May Mean Hurricanes Bring Less Surprises" from

"What is a Hurricane?" from

Woods, M., & Woods, M.B. (2007). Hurricanes. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Company. (Tab pages 14-20 for student use.)

Group 4:

"Weather Warnings Save Lives As Tornadoes Flatten Midwest Towns" from

"What is a Tornado?" from

Gibbons. G. (2009). Tornadoes. New York: Holiday House.

Video for before strategy

 "How Does Climate Change Affect Our Weather?" from Channel 4 News on YouTube

Websites for Acceleration Activities

"Extreme Weather" from the Department of Ecology: State of Washington

"Research Tools: Observation" from The National Severe Storms Laboratory

Chart for after strategy:

"Historical Records and Trends" from National Centers for Environmental Information

Teacher Materials

Weather Poster Checklist for summative assessment (see attached document)

Avalanche Example (see attachment)


Technology Resources Needed:

Internet-capable technology devices (iPads, Chromebooks, laptops, etc.)


Student Background Information: 

Prior to teaching this lesson, students will need to be familiar with the terms climate and weather phenomena. If students do not possess this background knowledge, Weather, Climate, and Water from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will provide background information. Students will also need to know how to read a bar graph. If the students need a review on how to read a bar graph, Khan Academy has a tutorial on the topic: Reading Bar Graphs.

During this lesson, students will be using technology devices and should be familiar with how to navigate the device. Students should be familiar with procedures for interacting with others in a group activity. The teacher will put students in four groups.

Teacher Background Information:

Climates directly affect weather.

Hurricanes are formed by the combination of warm, moist air above the water and an area of low pressure (rising air) underneath the water.

Tornadoes occur when warm, moist air meets cool, dry air, creating instability in the atmosphere. El Niño and La Niña are weather events that can directly affect weather patterns that produce tornadoes. To read more about El Niño and La Niña, read "What are El Niño and La Niña?" from the National Ocean Service.

Earthquakes occur when one tectonic plate runs into another tectonic plate, causing trouble in the Earth's crust. According to an article in The Guardian entitled "How Climate Change Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes", "It has been known for some time that rainfall also influences the pattern of earthquake activity in the Himalayas, where the 2015 Nepal earthquake took close to 9,000 lives, and where the threat of future devastating quakes is very high. During the summer monsoon season, prodigious quantities of rain soak into the lowlands of the Indo-Gangetic plain, immediately to the south of the mountain range, which then slowly drains away over the next few months. This annual rainwater loading and unloading of the crust is mirrored by the level of earthquake activity, which is significantly lower during the summer months than during the winter."

Droughts occur when there is a long period with below-normal amounts of rain or snow. Read "Where Do Droughts Occur in the World?" for more information from 


Before Strategy/Engage: 20 minutes

1. As students enter the room, a question is posted on the board: Do you think that climate can affect the type of weather phenomenon that an area of the world has? Students will be given five minutes to think of an answer and write a response to the question on their paper. This builds on the students' current background knowledge. 

2. The teacher should ask students to share their thoughts in 2-3 minutes. The teacher will tell students that they are going to watch a video clip from a United Kingdom news station: Channel 4 that explores the topic. 

3. The teacher will show the students the video clip "How Does Climate Change Affect Our Weather?" from Channel 4 News on YouTube. (3 minutes 17 seconds)

4. The teacher will ask students to revisit the question they saw at the beginning of class and ask the students to add to their first answer. Allow 3-5 minutes for students add to their initial answers.

5. The teacher will ask students the following questions, allowing students to look at their papers if needed as a reference:

  • Do you think El Niño can directly affect where we live in Alabama?
  • How can a pattern of warmer and wetter weather affect the type of weather phenomenon that an area might have?

6. The teacher should explain that the class is going to investigate different weather phenomena and how the climate can affect each by moving into a jigsaw activity.

During Strategy/ Explore & Explain: 60 minutes

1. The teacher will divide students into collaborative groups of six students each with each group being given the topic of either tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts, or earthquakes. Each group will be given the books on their topic and the Internet articles for each group listed in the materials and resources section of this lesson. These articles may be printed if technological devices aren't available. 

2. Students will create a half sized poster. On the left side of the poster, the students will describe through text and drawings the climate of an area that produces that type of weather phenomenon. On the right side of the poster, the students will explain through text and drawings the weather phenomenon that occurs and why it occurs in that climate. A checklist for students for the poster is included in the attachments.

Note: Depending on your classroom management during group activities, you may want to assign each student in the group with a certain role, such as Lead Researcher, Note Taker, or Poster Creator. Explain that all students will assist in all areas, but this may help make sure that group participation is distributed.

3. The teacher should show students a sample poster on Avalanches (see attachment) and discuss with students that the information came from the texts.

4. Allow students twenty minutes to read the texts and take notes on the graphic organizer (attached). The texts are the websites listed for each group and the books for each group. Students will only need to read the excerpts or tabbed pages of the books. This may be completed individually, in paired groups, or in the group of six. The graphic organizer is complete when students have found a minimum of 3 facts about a climate of an area, a minimum of 3 facts about the weather phenomenon that the climate produces, and cites the source in the correct blank. 

5. After students have read the Internet texts and the tabbed pages in the books, students will discuss their findings by looking over their graphic organizers with each other. Allow ten minutes for students to share their findings and plan their poster. 

6. After ten minutes of sharing their graphic organizers with each other, students will then be given the half sheet of poster board and crayons. Students are to use the model as an example. Allow students 15 minutes to complete their group's poster.

After Strategy/ Explain & Elaborate: 20 minutes

1. The students should choose one group representative of each weather phenomenon to share with the class. Allow each group 2-3 minutes to present their half poster.

2. The teacher should show students the chart from Historical Records and Trends from the NCDC titled "Average Tornado Frequency By Month of Year: 1991-2010".

3. The teacher should ask students the following questions:

  • Which months had the highest amounts of tornadoes in the United States? Which months had the least?
  • How many more tornadoes have there been on average in May than in January?
  • Based on what the tornado group discussed from their findings on climate and tornadoes, why would tornadoes be more prevalent in certain months and certain regions of the United States?

4. The students should respond to the following question on an "exit slip" writing prompt. Knowing that climate can and does affect weather phenomenon, how can scientists use this knowledge to make people more aware of and prepare for natural disasters? The teacher should encourage students to use evidence discussed today as they predict how public safety can be increased through our knowledge of natural disasters.   

Note: This prompt will begin the next class as the students move from learning about how climates affect various natural disasters to how public safety can be increased to help civilians during a specific natural disaster, the tornado.

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Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment: The teacher should informally assess students through questioning and answering during the lesson. The teacher should circulate the room and assist students as they work on their graphic organizers, ensuring the students are finding the correct information and recording it correctly on their graphic organizers. The graphic organizer is complete when students have found a minimum of 3 facts about a climate of an area, a minimum of 3 facts about the weather phenomenon that the climate produces, and cites the source in the correct blank. The teacher should also circulate the room during the group time as students share their information and create their posters. 

Summative Assessment: The teacher should formally assess students by reviewing each student's graphic organizer and group poster at the end of the lesson. A checklist is provided in the attachments to score the students' poster. The teacher should review each student's "exit slip" and be prepared to return these "exit slips" to the students at the beginning of the next lesson.


Students can expand their understanding of weather by looking into how citizens prepare for natural disasters by researching weather patterns at "Extreme Weather" from the Department of Ecology: State of Washington and by looking at how scientists have observed weather in order to learn more about how we can increase public awareness by reading "Research Tools: Observation" from The National Severe Storms Laboratory. 


Students who require additional preparation before the lesson can watch a presentation on "Weather and Climate" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.   

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.