“I have taught second grade standards for several years now, and I’ve done it before where they just learn about each type of severe weather, and then they tell me safety precautions. I think if I went and asked some of my previous second graders…do you remember when we talked about this, they’d be like, “No.” But I guarantee through this unit…these kids will remember it, because this was something that really they came up with all by themselves. So that’s something important to keep in mind. What’s the lasting effect going to be from the lessons?” -Second Grade Teacher Philippa Haynes
In the Weather Inquiry Unit, Ms. Haynes combines science, social studies, and English/Language Arts through research into staying safe in severe weather. Each group builds expertise through reading and evaluating multiple resources, then writes and acts out its own video on appropriate safety precautions. Collaboration is at the heart of this unit. Children learn from each other, compromise, and provide constructive criticism to create entertaining and effective culminating projects that synthesize their research.
The unit proceeds as follows:
Phase of Inquiry
Video Clips and Supporting Documents
Before the Unit
From the beginning of the year, the students learned strategies to comprehend informational text, including using text features, asking and answering their own questions, and making meaningful responses to new learning.
Introduction to Inquiry, Preparation – Ms. Haynes discusses how she prepared the students for inquiry, and Artifacts from lessons earlier in the school year.
Students explored a variety of resources on severe weather (e-books, videos on iPads, websites, books, and articles.) They identified weather in a particular region of the US and “wow” facts about each region’s weather.
They asked “thick” and “thin” questions about their findings, and then chose a type of severe weather as their focus for the rest of the unit.