ALEX Lesson Plan


Storming The Earth With Tornadoes and Hurricanes

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  This lesson provided by:  
Author:Arlinda Davis
System: Birmingham City
School: Birmingham City Board Of Education
Author:Christie Orr
System: College/University
School: University of Alabama at Birmingham
The event this resource created for:NASA
  General Lesson Information  
Lesson Plan ID: 34203


Storming The Earth With Tornadoes and Hurricanes


"Storming The Earth" is a hands on, technology based, inquiry lesson that is designed to help students obtain information about weather events that happen over a short period of time. It will provide information via media about tornadoes and hurricanes. 

This lesson was created as part of the 2016 NASA STEM Standards of Practice Project, a collaboration between the Alabama State Department of Education and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.

 Associated Standards and Objectives 
Content Standard(s):
SC2015 (2015)
Grade: 2
8 ) Make observations from media to obtain information about Earth's events that happen over a short period of time (e.g., tornados, volcanic explosions, earthquakes) or over a time period longer than one can observe (e.g., erosion of rocks, melting of glaciers).

NAEP Framework
NAEP Statement::
E4.3: The surface of Earth changes. Some changes are due to slow processes such as erosion and weathering, and some changes are due to rapid processes such as landslides, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes.

Unpacked Content
Scientific And Engineering Practices:
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information
Crosscutting Concepts: Stability and Change
Disciplinary Core Idea: Earth's Systems
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Use information from several sources to determine patterns and provide evidence that Earth events can occur quickly or slowly.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • Earth events/natural phenomena
  • Earthquake
  • Flood
  • Tornado
  • Volcanic explosions
  • Glaciers
  • Erosion
  • Landslides
  • Weathering
Students know:
  • Earth events and the results of those events may occur slowly or rapidly.
  • Some events are much longer than can be observed.
Students are able to:
  • Make observations and obtain information from multiple sources to provide evidence about Earth events.
Students understand that:
  • Eart's events may change the Earth slowly or rapidly.
AMSTI Resources:
AMSTI Module:
Soils and Shores
Pebbles, Sand, and Silt, FOSS
Shrinking Shore, ETA/hand2mind

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SCI.AAS.2.8- Participate in multimedia activities (i.e., reading and video) that show Earth events happening over the short term or long term (e.g., volcano, earthquake, erosion, glacier).

Local/National Standards:


Primary Learning Objective(s):

Students will be able to distinguish between tornadoes and hurricanes based on observations and information obtained from media.

Students will be able to identify patterns and components of tornado and hurricane formation.

Additional Learning Objective(s):

 Preparation Information 

Total Duration:

31 to 60 Minutes

Materials and Resources:

"Formation of a hurricane" demonstration cards (cut for sorting purposes)

Formation of tornado cards (cut for sorting purposes) 




Concept map (graphic organizer)

picture cards/matching cards

Information books

Technology Resources Needed:



Use a KWL chart to assess student's knowledge of tornadoes and hurricane prior to starting lesson. 

In order to engage students show the video and have students create and discuss a class essential question.  An example question is "How can you use what you learn from observing tornadoes and hurricanes to create something to help keep people safe?" or "How do tornadoes and hurricanes affect the earth and people?"

After discussion, students will participate in learning stations.

Students will rotate to 20 minutes learning stations designed for 3-4 students to explore media and text resources that will enhance their understanding of tornado and hurricanes. Students will record their learning on a concept map as they rotate.

These learning stations will include an brain storming station using a graphic organizer, two interactive simulator games on an electronic device, content literacy station and sequencing card station.

The content literacy station will include books for students to read and reference about tornadoes and hurricanes.

The sequencing station includes cards that show the progression of each type storm. Students will identify characteristics for each stage, discuss these characteristics and put cards in correct order.



Assessment Strategies

Students will demonstrate knowledge of tornado and hurricane formation and specific behaviors by completing an overlapping Venn Diagram. It will serve as an individualized assessment to provide evidence of the student's ability to recognize similarities and differences of both hurricanes and tornadoes.




Vary reading levels of informational text for students.

Assign group captain to provide essential support for members in the group.

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.