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ELA GK:M2:U1

Learning to Read and Write Informational Texts: Becoming Meteorologists

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Unit 1 launches with the story of a young girl named Sofia, who is curious to know more about the weather. To help Sofia in her quest, students participate in focused read-alouds and close read-alouds of Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons and Weather (National Geographic Readers) to try to answer the question: “What is weather?” Specifically, students learn the components of weather and develop a rich bank of words and scientific concepts to describe the amount of sunlight, the force of the wind, precipitation, and temperature. They continue to engage with scientific concepts through Frayer Models and the Interactive Word Wall protocol. Students then use this vocabulary to record the local weather in an interactive class weather journal used throughout the unit.

Individually, students use a Meteorologist’s notebook to track their learning. The notebook includes weather fact pages, on which students create entries that include a weather word, picture, and definition and/or scientific fact about that word. For the Unit 1 Assessment, students create a fact page that includes a drawing of weather and a sentence telling a fact about weather. (W.K.2, L.K.1f, and L.K.6)

Students further develop an understanding of weather through interactive science experiences and structured discussions. Students track learning from these hands-on science experiences in their Meteorologist’s notebooks. Through all of these experiences, students develop a habit of character connected to responsibility as they consider the question: “How do I show responsibility as a learner?”

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What is weather?
  • The combination of sun, wind, and clouds make the weather.
  • How can I be prepared for any type of weather?
  • Weather has a great impact on the daily life of living things.
  • Weather affects the choices we make.

The Four T's

  • Topic: Weather in science
  • Task: Independent writing about weather
  • Targets: (standards explicitly taught and assessed): W.K.2, L.K.6, and L.K.1f
  • Text: Weather Words and What They Mean by Gail Gibbons; Weather (National Geographic Readers) by Kristin Baird Rattini

Assessment

  • Each unit in the K-2 Language Arts Curriculum has one  standards-based assessment built in. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize their understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

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Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the content-based literacy block of the school day. The module also intentionally incorporates social studies content that many teachers across the nation are expected to address in kindergarten. These intentional connections are described below. (Based on your state or district context, teachers may also choose to address additional specific social studies or science standards during other parts of the school day.)

Science (based on NGSS):

ESS2.D: Weather and Climate

Weather is a combination of sunlight, wind, snow or rain, and temperature in a particular region at a particular time. People measure these conditions to describe and record the weather and to notice patterns over time.

C3 Framework for Social Studies:

  • D2.Geo.4.K-2: Explain how weather, climate, and other environmental characteristics affect people’s lives in a place or region.

Habits of Character/Social-Emotional Learning Focus

Central to EL Education curriculum is a focus on “habits of character” and social-emotional learning. Students work to become effective learners, developing mindsets and skills for success in college, career and life (e.g., initiative, responsibility, perseverance, collaboration); work to become ethical people, treating others well and standing up for what is right (e.g., empathy, integrity, respect, compassion); and work to contribute to a better world, putting their learning to use to improve communities (e.g., citizenship, service).

In this module, students work to become effective learners: develop the mindsets and skills for success in college, career, and life. Throughout Unit 1, students practice responsibility (one specific habit of character) as they engage in a series of activities, discussions, and reflection.

Unit-at-a-Glance

Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Accountable Independent Reading

The ability to read and comprehend text is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed across all three components of this primary curriculum: module lessons, Labs, and the Reading Foundations Skills Block (see Module Overview).

For Unit 1, during the independent reading in the Skills block, reinforce the comprehension skills and standards that students are practicing during the Integrated Literacy block:

  • RI.K.1: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
    • Invite the students to point to a picture in an informational text that they have questions about.
    • Read aloud the first few pages of an informational text and ask, “What questions do you have? What are you wondering?” or ask a few comprehension questions.
  • RI.K.2: With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
    • Read aloud an excerpt of an informational text and ask the student to retell a few key details.
    • Invite the students to tell you what a text he or she is reading is about and one or two key details about the text.
  • RI.K.4: With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
    • Read aloud a page of an informational text and ask, “What questions do you have about the words you heard?” or ask a question about the meaning of a word.
  • RI.K.5: Identify the front cover, back cover, and title page of a book.
    • When conferencing with a student, have him or her identify these parts of the book.
  • RI.K.7: With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the text in which they appear.
    • Invite a student to explain what an illustration in an informational text is teaching.

Supporting English Language Learners

Whereas the Meeting Students’ Needs column in each lesson contains support for both ELLs and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), ELLs have unique needs that cannot always be met with UDL support. According to federal guidelines, ELLs must be given access to the curriculum with appropriate supports, such as those that are identified for ELLs in the Meeting Students’ Needs column.

  • Prioritizing lessons for classrooms with many ELLs: Consider prioritizing and expanding instruction in Lessons 2–10 in which students read, write, and talk about weather facts. This will reinforce content knowledge and prepare students for the assessment. If necessary, place less focus and condense instruction on rehearsing for presentations and writing about planning for the weather in Lessons 11–13.
  • Language Dives: All students participate in their first whole-class Language Dive in Lesson 7. ELLs can participate in an optional Language Dive in Lesson 10. Many lessons also include optional Mini Language Dives for ELLs. To maximize language practice and accommodate time, consider dividing or reviewing each Language Dive over multiple lessons. Beginning in module 2 and going forward, create a “Language Chunk Wall”—an area in the classroom where students can display and categorize the academic phrases discussed in the Language Dive. At the end of each Language Dive, students are invited to place the Language Dive sentence strip chunks on the Language Chunk Wall into corresponding categories, such as “Nouns and noun phrases” or “Linking language.” Consider color-coding each category. Examples: blue for nouns and subjects; purple for pronouns; red for predicates and verbs; yellow for adjectives; and green for adverbs. See each Language Dive for suggested categories. Students can then refer to the wall during subsequent speaking and writing tasks. For more information on Language Dives, refer to the Supporting English Language Learners Guidance and Tools page.
  • Goal 2 Conversation Cues: Continue to encourage productive and equitable conversation with Conversation Cues, which are questions teachers can ask students to help achieve four goals: (Goal 1) encourage all students to talk and be understood; (Goal 2) listen carefully to one another and seek to understand; (Goal 3) deepen thinking; and (Goal 4) think with others to expand the conversation (adapted from Michaels, Sarah and O’Connor, Cathy. Talk Science Primer. Cambridge, MA: TERC, 2012. Based on Chapin, S., O’Connor, C., and Anderson, N. [2009]. Classroom Discussions: Using Math Talk to Help Students Learn, Grades K–6. Second Edition. Sausalito, CA: Math Solutions Publications). Refer to the Tools page for the complete set of cues. Goal 2 Conversation Cues were introduced in Unit 3 of Module 1. Heightened language processing and development is a primary potential benefit for ELLs.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Investigate the routines, practices, rituals, beliefs, norms, and experiences that are important to ELLs and their families. Integrate this background into the classroom as students explore informational texts taking place across different cultures and countries. During this unit, students will discuss the weather and how they prepare for it. Be aware that they may have varying experiences with different climates and weather events. For example, students who come from South Asia may experience dry seasons and rain seasons, instead of intermittent rainy and sunny days. Be inclusive of all experiences and create a safe space for students to share their own experiences and assumptions about the weather. Consult with a guidance counselor, school social worker, or ESL teacher for further investigation of diversity and inclusion concerns.
  • Strategic grouping: As students are invited to pair up for various tasks and protocols, seriously consider matching ELLs to a partner who has greater language proficiency. The conversations that happen as a result of such strategic grouping will greatly serve the language development of both partners.
  • Language processing time: Give ELLs sufficient time to think about what they want to say before they share with other students or write.
  • Close reading and asking and answering questions: Students will participate in a series of close reading sessions during which they will hone their comprehension and interpretive skills by asking and answering questions about the weather. To process the information, students will participate in a series of interactive experiences to view the weather phenomena up close. Some of the technical information may still seem abstract to some students. Support students in recalling the interactive experiences when possible. Use alternative representations of the content, such as visuals and kinesthetic movement, to support academic language when possible.
  • Writing about weather facts: Students will write and draw about facts that they learn from informational text. This task is scaffolded with opportunities to process the information orally and to participate in interactive and shared writing experiences. If students grapple with the task, consider providing additional modeling and shared writing experiences to support them. Consider allowing students to draw heavily from a model writing at first, before releasing them to work independently.
  • Participating in a Science Talk: Students will be introduced to a protocol for sharing their scientific thinking and ideas. This will benefit ELLs greatly in supporting content knowledge and language development. Consider creating heterogeneous groups so that students with greater proficiency can serve as models and mentors.
  • Celebration: Celebrate the courage, enthusiasm, diversity, and bilingual skills that ELLs bring to the classroom.

Texts to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text Quantity ISBNs
Weather (National Geographic Readers)
by Kristin Baird Rattini
Six per Classroom
Weather Words and What They Mean
by Gail Gibbons
Six per Classroom

Materials

For basic lesson preparation, refer to the materials list and Teaching Notes in each lesson. The following are unusual materials that may take more time or effort to organize or prepare:

  • Lesson 1: Color copies of mystery weather photos for Picture Tea Party protocol; Set up meteorologist videos; Weather Word Wall words: weather, meteorologist
  • Lesson 2: Meteorologist’s notebooks; Weather Word Wall word: component
  • Lesson 3: Gather materials and set up temperature demonstration; Weather Word Wall words: temperature, thermometer
  • Lesson 4: Gather materials and set up temperature demonstration
  • Lesson 5: Gather materials and set up moisture demonstration; Weather Word Wall words: moisture, rain
  • Lesson 6: Gather materials and set up moisture demonstration; Weather Word Wall words: snow, freeze
  • Lesson 7: Weather Word Wall word: wind
  • Lesson 8: Color copies of mystery weather photos for Picture Tea Party protocol
  • Lesson 9: Color copies of mystery weather photos for Picture Tea Party protocol; Weather Word Wall words: droplet
  • Lesson 10: Color copies of mystery weather photos for Picture Tea Party protocol; Gather materials and set up rainbow interactive experience; Weather Word Wall word: rainbow
  • Lesson 13: Ensure that visitors are available for the end of unit celebration
  • Index cards for Weather Word Wall

Technology and Multimedia

  • Google Docs - Create writing products: Students complete their Meteorologist’s notebooks in Google Docs. Students complete their poem and poetry presentation in Google Docs. Students write their My Weather Story booklet in Google Docs.
  • Speech to TextTo create writing by speaking: Students create written work by speaking using speech-to-text technology. Dragon Dictation (many newer devices already have this capability. There are also free apps for this purpose, including Dragon Dictation.)
  • SeesawCreate student learning portfolios to share with other students, families, and the teacher: Consider audio/video recording students singing “What Makes Weather?” and “What’s the Weather like Today?” to share with families. Consider audio/video recording students reading the poems “Snowflakes” and “Clouds” to share with families.

Labs

Labs are 1 hour of instruction per day.  They are designed to promote student proficiency and growth.

There are 5 distinct Labs: Explore, Engineer, Create, Imagine, and Research. Each of the Labs unfolds across an entire module and takes place in four stages:  Launch, Practice, Extend, and Choice and Challenge.

During their Lab time, students break up into smaller Lab groups and go to separate workstations (tables or other work spaces around the classroom). This structure creates a small collaborative atmosphere in which students will work throughout their Labs experience. It also supports the management of materials (since each workstation has its own materials).

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions

Community:

  • Invite an older class of students (e.g., second grade) to visit the kindergarten class and assist kindergarten students in navigating a student-friendly weather website.
  • If there are students in your classroom with family living far away, invite them to contact their family members and interview them about how the weather is where they live.
  • Invite loved ones of students to visit and share a personal “weather story.”

Experts:

  • Invite a meteorologist to visit the classroom to share knowledge about the weather, weather reports he or she has made, and any sort of tools or devices he or she uses to observe, track, and report on the weather.
  • If living in a rural community in which agriculture is prominent, invite a farmer to visit the classroom and share about how the weather affects his or her work and life.
  • Invite a local author into the classroom to speak about his or her life as a professional writer.

Fieldwork:

  • Visit a local news station to meet a meteorologist.
  • Visit a local science museum or weather center to learn more about weather science.
  • Interview senior citizens living in the community about a major weather event that they encountered in their life.
  • Go to the local library or a bookstore to search for, read, and check out other stories about weather.

Service:

  • Share the class weather journal with other classes in the school.
  • Create a “Preparing for Recess” chart for the school. Create a large chart using weather and clothing icons and display it in a prominent place to help the school community be prepared for recess each day.
  • Work with the school administration to find a way for kindergarten students to share a daily weather report with the school (e.g., live morning assembly, email blast, or TV announcement).
  • Participate in a reading buddies program with another class (older or younger) and have students read their weather stories to their reading buddy.

Extensions:

  • As a class, create a rain gauge to measure the rain over the course of a few weeks.
  • Place a thermometer in an easily accessed outside location (e.g., near the recess area) and check the temperature daily.
  • Begin a class weather mural. As students learn, encourage them to add weather elements, characters, and other weather-related images to the mural.
  • Create a visual representation of a scene from the My Weather Story booklet. Examples include a shoebox diorama, a painting, or a paper collage.
  • Contact a local printing agency and inquire about publishing students’ weather stories into a bound class book.
  • Videotape students reading aloud their narrative weather stories to share with family and friends.

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