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Engagement,  Science

Teaching the “Why” Behind the Lesson: Student Weather Journals

As a student, I often wondered why I was learning something. When I am I ever going to use this in the real world? As an adult, I now see the value of many of the things I learned, and wish I knew more about those things!

The problem we run into when kids don’t see the why behind what they’re learning is they never buy into it. They don’t engage, because they don’t think it’s important. Any time we can bring a real world application into our teaching is SO valuable! Our students will immediately understand why this is important to know, and that’s all it will take for some students to be all in!

We recently started our meteorology/weather unit in science, and — having been an awful science teacher last year who rarely did anything hands-on — I really wanted to get my students involved in seeing the importance of what we are learning and make it more interactive for them.

Of course, we talked about why it can be helpful to know what the weather is – to know what to wear, to help us make plans, and to keep us safe. But, I also wanted to get them involved in figuring out the weather for themselves, instead of their parents telling them or checking an app on their mom’s phone.

So, I created these weather journals for students to track weather patterns and make educated predictions on what the weather will be like tomorrow. These journals are now in my TpT store for just $2!

Each journal includes up to 10 days of daily logs to track temperature, type of weather, cloud formations, and make a prediction for tomorrow.

Journals include a beautiful cover page, of course you can just use the individual logs instead if you don’t want to turn it into a journal!

Each day includes four sections for students to fill out.

  • Temperature: I don’t have thermometer and didn’t want to get too complicated for my 2nd graders, but I did want them to understand how thermometers work and how to read them. So, I divided the thermometer in 4 sections for them to color up to the line describing the temperature each day. I did give them guidelines for how to determine which line to color up to so that they would all be coloring to the same place.
  • Weather: Students will circle the picture that best describes the weather for the day: sunny, rainy, cloudy/partly cloudy, and snowy/icy.
  • Clouds: To keep things simple, only the 3 main types of clouds are included (cumulus, cirrus, and stratus). Students will circle the picture that BEST illustrates what the clouds look like that day.
  • Predictions: Students will use their observations of weather patterns and cloud formations to make an educated guess on what they think the weather will be like tomorrow. They will also explain why they think that, so that they are not just putting whatever they want and actually thinking about what it could be.

There are two days included per page, and 10 days are included. Of course, you certainly do not have to use all the days! Do it for two days, a week, or all ten – whatever your class needs!

Also included in the journal is a cloud reference sheet. It features the same cloud pictures as the daily log, but they are bigger and include names and descriptions. This can be helpful to students as they are determining what clouds they are seeing and what weather changes that could possibly mean. Blow it up and hang it as a poster in your room, or include it in the back of the journals for easy reference.

I don’t have windows in my room, so I start my science block by going outside for about 5 minutes so students can fill out their journals. It also helps to break up the day and gives a nice change of environment! It’s great to get out of the classroom for a few minutes while still doing something meaningful and educational.

Whatever lesson you’re teaching, remember the why behind it, and get creative! How can you incorporate a real-world application into this lesson? What activities can you do that will really get students to buy in to what they’re learning? The more it applies to them, the better!

If you have any questions about my weather journals, drop them below! You can download this resource here.

How do you teach your students the why behind the lesson?

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