ALEX Lesson Plan


Is My State at Risk for a Tornado?

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:elisa harris
System: Hartselle City
School: Hartselle City Board Of Education
Author:Stephanie Roden
System: Hartselle City
School: Crestline Elementary School
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 35492


Is My State at Risk for a Tornado?


This is a third-grade math lesson on the topic of tornadoes and natural disasters. Students will enter data from an internet search on the number of tornadoes occurring in each state into a spreadsheet. Students will analyze and determine which states are the most active in tornado occurrences and create bar graphs and a scaled picture graph from the data collected. 

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

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
8 ) Collect information from a variety of digital sources.

Examples: online libraries, multimedia dictionaries

•  Using technology tools to organize information
•  Demonstrating efficient Internet search strategies
Example: keyword search

•  Evaluating electronic resources for reliability based on publication date, bias, accuracy, and source credibility
Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
9 ) Use technology tools to organize, interpret, and display data.

Examples: spreadsheets, databases, electronic graphing tools

Technology Education
TC2 (2009)
Grade: 3-5
11 ) Use digital tools to analyze authentic problems.

Examples: electronic graphing tools, concept-mapping software

MA2015 (2015)
Grade: 3
18 ) Draw a scaled picture graph and a scaled bar graph to represent a data set with several categories. Solve one- and two-step "how many more" and "how many less" problems using information presented in scaled bar graphs. [3-MD3]

Example: Draw a bar graph in which each square in the bar graph might represent 5 pets.

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

Insight 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

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

The students will determine the number of tornadoes recorded for each state over the last five years.  

The students will record the states and the number of tornadoes occurring from 2011 - 2015 into an electronic spreadsheet (such as Excel or Google Sheets).

The students will calculate the average number of tornadoes during this time frame for each state.

The students will rank states according to the average number of tornadoes (greatest to least) using the spreadsheet sorting options.

The students will create bar graphs and picture graphs for the top ten states with the most tornadoes which will assist in interpreting data of tornado occurrences. 


Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

61 to 90 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

Technology devices for students

Science journal



Graph Paper


Crayons, colored pencils, or markers

Poster board

Technology Resources Needed:

Chromebooks, iPad, Computers for research

Spreadsheet program (Excel, Google Sheets, etc.)


Projector (teacher)


The teacher should ensure that Lessons 1, 2, and 3 from this Tornadoes unit have been taught prior to this lesson. During the previous lessons, students have had direct instruction on creating a spreadsheet and creating a graph using spreadsheet programs. In addition, students have received direct math instruction on calculating averages, creating bar graphs, and picture graphs to represent data. Students have previously been taught how to sort data in a spreadsheet.

The teacher may need to review with students how to use the calculator to calculate averages in order to check averages from the spreadsheet.



Before the Activity:

1.  The teacher will model how to use the calculator to compute averages.

2.  The teacher will provide an example of a spreadsheet format for students to view. An example spreadsheet can be downloaded in the attachments section. 

3.  Students will predict which state they think will have the most tornadoes in their science journal.  They will also predict where they believe their state (Alabama) will be ranked.  

During the Activity:

1.  Explain to students that tornadoes are possible in all of the 50 states.  

2.  Students will work in pairs.

3.  They will be reviewing information from the following two websites to record the number of tornadoes that have occurred in each state from 2011 - 2015.

4.  Students will create a new spreadsheet document following the sample spreadsheet format provided via teacher projector. A link to a spreadsheet template can be accessed using the attached document.

5.  Students will enter data collected into the spreadsheet.

6.  Students will enter a formula provided by the teacher to calculate the average number of tornadoes for each state into the seventh column of the spreadsheet.  

7.  Students will sort the spreadsheet from greatest to smallest average.

8.  Using the spreadsheet data, students will determine the top ten states with the highest average of tornado occurrences during the time frame.  

9.  Students will create a bar graph and a picture graph for the top ten states using the poster board, graph paper, colored pencils, pencils, and rulers.

10. Students will select the data for the top ten states and generate a bar graph using the spreadsheet program. 

10.  Students will print the graphs.

After the Lesson:

1.  In their science journals, students will compare the graphs they created with the computer generated graphs. Were the graphs similar? If not, what was the problem?

2. Students will address the following questions in their science journals: a) Did their data match their predictions about the state with the most tornadoes?  b)Was their prediction concerning their home state correct? Were they close to their predictions?

**Some files will display in a new window. Others will prompt you to download.

Assessment Strategies

Formative Assessment:

Science journal entries

Summative Assessments:

Group Posters created

Digitally generated graphs

Spreadsheets generated (correct information included)


Students can conduct more internet research to gather 2016 tornado data.

Students can look for geographic patterns in the top 10-12 states with most tornadoes.

Students can create a tornado safety brochure for people in these high risk states.


Students who need intervention strategies:

  • may be paired with a student with advanced technology skills.
  • may be provided with a table of tornado data and asked to put these in order from greatest to least occurrence.



Each area below is a direct link to general teaching strategies/classroom accommodations for students with identified learning and/or behavior problems such as: reading or math performance below grade level; test or classroom assignments/quizzes at a failing level; failure to complete assignments independently; difficulty with short-term memory, abstract concepts, staying on task, or following directions; poor peer interaction or temper tantrums, and other learning or behavior problems.

Presentation of Material Environment
Time Demands Materials
Attention Using Groups and Peers
Assisting the Reluctant Starter Dealing with Inappropriate Behavior
Be sure to check the student's IEP for specific accommodations.