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.


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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.

World Ocean Day

The Ocean Project, a network of aquariums, science museums, and conservation organizations, has designated June 8 as World Ocean Day. The network’s web site offers resources for these institutions to use in making the public aware of the significance of the ocean. In the resources below, you’ll find background information and lesson plans to help your students understand the importance of the ocean.

Ocean Explorer
This National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration site provides standards-based lesson plans, multimedia presentations and learning activities, descriptions of careers, professional development resources, the history of ocean exploration, and much more.

NOVA Online: Into the Abyss
This site chronicles the ambitious expedition that occurred in June and July 1998 a mile and a half beneath the sea off the Pacific Northwest coast where scientists attempted to retrieve several black smoker chimneys from the seafloor. These chimneys are home to bizarre life forms that thrive far beyond the reach of the sun’s light.

International Year of the Ocean
Created for the 1998 Year of the Ocean, this site has a wealth of features in the Kids’ and Teachers’ Corner. Included are an educator’s guide, fact sheets, unit plans, and poster.

Visit to an Ocean Planet – Classroom Activities
More than 40 classroom activities from this web version of the Visit to an Ocean Planet CD-ROM are grouped under climate, oceanography, and life in our oceans. Each activity is correlated to the national standards. Among the topics are properties of fresh water and sea water, deep ocean circulations, wind-driven currents and bioluminescence.


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 4/19/2012.

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.