Learning to Protect the Environment Is the First Step to Climate Literacy According to Newest Issue of Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle

Teachers of young children have the difficult task of taking the first steps to prepare children for a climate-literate adulthood while not overwhelming them with complex science concepts and a sense of helplessness. The latest issue of the professional online magazine for K-5 teachers Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle advocates providing an engaging look at our environment along with everyday steps all of us can take to protect the world we live in.

Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle bases its bimonthly themes on the seven Essential Principles of the Climate Sciences, developed by science, government, and nongovernment agencies for learners of all ages.

The theme of the sixth issue is the essential principle “We Change Earth’s Climate.” Two professional development articles, Humans: A Force of Nature and Essential Principle 6: Correlation to Standards and Curriculum Connections, give teachers a wide-ranging discussion of the generally accepted causes of climate change globally and show how the concepts align with K-5 national science education standards. In addition, the articles identify appropriate classroom resources and assessment strategies.

The magazine emphasizes integrating science and literacy teaching with an article on the reading strategy Making Connections and other features. The original story, Life in the Greenhouse, is presented at two reading levels and in a variety of formats, including electronic book, for differentiated instruction. The virtual bookshelf describes children’s trade books for further reading about the environment.

Teachers will also find suggestions for using lessons and activities from selected web sites in unit plans for K-2 and 3-5 grades. A feature called Take Action! offers specific conservation steps young people can take in the classroom and the home.

Harnessing social media for instruction is the subject of an article about collaboration with the school librarian. Another article highlights interactive resources for the elementary classroom.

Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). It is modeled on an award-winning NSF-funded project Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Integrating Literacy and Science in K-5 Classrooms.

The project is produced at the School of Teaching and Learning, College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University (OSU). Kimberly Lightle, director of digital libraries in the college, is the principal investigator for the project and a feature writer for the online magazine. Jessica Fries-Gaither, an educational resource specialist at OSU, is the project director. For more information about the project, email fries-gaither.1@osu.edu.

Newest Issue of Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle Highlights the Science of Climate Study

Scientists recording data on Sperry Glacier. Photo courtesy of glaciernps, Flickr.

The just-published issue of the free, online magazine Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle gives K-5 school teachers a unique opportunity to introduce the science behind weather and climate change to young students with engaging lessons and proven reading strategies.

Each issue of the magazine takes its theme from one of the widely accepted principles of the climate sciences. The theme of the September 2011 issue is “We Study Earth’s Climate.”

Designed to integrate science and literacy instruction for educators in K- grade 5 classrooms, this and earlier issues provide background articles on the related science and literacy topics and their connections to the elementary curriculum. Science and literacy lessons to use in the classroom become a part of unit plans for grades K-2 and 3-5 and are aligned with the national standards for science education and English language arts.

An original story, titled  How Do We Study Climate?, gives young listeners and readers chances to use their comprehension skills on informational text. The story is available at two reading levels and in three different formats.  Selected children’s books on climate and weather are highlighted in a bookshelf feature.

Two articles are devoted to teaching young people to evaluate information from web sites and to use video clips from agencies that work with weather satellites, balloons, and buoys to learn about data collection.

Readers are welcome to add their ideas and suggestions on articles by leaving comments. They can also easily share and bookmark content by using the embedded AddThis buttons.

Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and produced on the campus of The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus, Ohio.  All past issues of the magazine are available from the homepage of the magazine.

Kimberly Lightle, director of digital libraries in OSU’s College of Education and Human Ecology, School of Teaching and Learning is the principal investigator of the project as well as a contributing writer. Jessica Fries-Gaither is the project director of Beyond Weather and the Water Cycle as well as the award-winning sister publication, Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post
updated 12/07/2011.

Inside the Tuscaloosa Twisters

As the nation mourns the many lives lost and altered by the recent supercell tornadoes, the NYT Learning Network and NOAA’s National Several Storms Laboratory are two excellent resources to help your students gain a better understanding of this deadly weather phenomenon.

The NYT Learning Network offers this comprehensive lesson plan entitled Inside Twisters that includes information on tornado basics, a warm-up slideshow for students to watch, discussion questions and a set of group activities. The lesson is correlated to McREL (and can be correlated to the new Common Core).  NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory also provides a wealth of resources and teaching aids including information on weather safety and weather careers.

Don’t forget to check out the MSP2 Resource Guide on Oceans, Climate and Weather, and the corresponding Weather student virtual learning experience on the SMARTR student site that includes videos, games and simulations on the topic.

Teaching Climate Survey

Take an online survey about your needs around teaching about climate and earn a $5 gift certificate for your time!

This survey will help the CIRES Education and Outreach Group at the University of Colorado at Boulder design a set of NASA-funded professional development experiences for teachers about climate and climate change. GLOBE and the National Science Digital Library are partners in this project.

They need 200 middle and high school STEM teachers to participate by December 15, 2009. Log on now as the gift certificates will go fast!

It will take you about 10 minutes to complete the survey.

If you are interested, please email Susan Lynds for the survey link at susan.lynds@colorado.edu.

Thanks in advance for taking the time to help us design our professional development to meet your needs! For more information about the project, see http://cires.colorado.edu/education/k12/ICEE/index.html.

El Niño and His Sister La Niña

El Niño and La Niña are disruptions of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific that have important consequences for weather around the globe. A major goal of science in the middle grades, according to the National Science Education Standards, is for students to develop an understanding of earth’s oceans and the effect they have on climate. Investigating the global effects of La Niña and El Niño will help students understand this relationship.

Today’s El Niño/La Niña Information
Daily updates on the tropical Pacific as well as links to news articles and more.

El Niño—Southern Oscillation
This Wikipedia entry provides background information on El Niño and La Niña.

The Return of El Niño
This site describes El Niño’s effects on the oceans, climate, and ocean life. It includes a data activity in which students track some of the common climate changes caused by El Niño, paying close attention to wintertime changes such as temperature, precipitation, and incidence of hurricanes.

Eye on the Ocean
This site describes how the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s TOPEX/Poseidon satellite was used to monitor sea level changes in the Eastern Pacific Ocean and the amount of heat stored in the water. Sea level and temperature data were used to successfully predict the 1997-98 El Niño event earlier than ever before.

Howling for Snow
Visitors to this site can view satellite imagery and read articles about on a recent La Niña event, which produced less-than-normal snowfalls in western North America. A discussion of the uncertainties of long-range climate prediction and links to related sites are included.

We Need Your Help

We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. This post was updated 3/27/2012.