• <More on Intel.com

Storm Watch

Storm Watch

Unit Summary

People often wonder what causes the different weather conditions they experience. This unit helps students understand the many factors that determine what the weather is like in a particular location, such as the angle of the sun’s light rays, the tilt of the Earth’s axis, and the proximity to water, winds, and elevation. Students conduct many scientific investigations to understand the complexities of weather systems and to answer Content Questions, such as, What are weather systems, How does air pressure affect our weather, and What causes change in our weather? Throughout the unit, students are asked to ponder the Essential and Unit Questions, How do people respond to change? and, How does weather affect our lives? In a final presentation, students take on the role of weather forecasters and report on weather conditions in a city they would like to visit. They demonstrate their understanding about the factors contributing to weather that people throughout the world experience each day.

Curriculum-Framing Questions

  • Essential Question
    How do people respond to change?
  • Unit Questions   
    How does weather affect our lives?
  • Content Questions 
    What are the reasons for the seasons?
    What are weather systems?
    What causes change in our weather?
    How does air pressure affect our weather?

Assessment Plan

Assessment Timeline 
This timeline shows in chronological order the different types of formal and informal assessments that occur during the unit. The table below explains how each assessment is used and who uses it for what purpose.

Assessment Timeline

Before project
work begins
Students work on projects
and complete tasks
After project work
is complete

  • T- Chart
  • K-W-L Chart
  • Science Journal
  • Science
  • Journal Conferences
  • Line Graph Rubric
  • Research Checklist
  • Multimedia Rubric
  • Peer Feedback
  • Visual Ranking Comments
  • Group Process Rubric
  • Oral Presentation Rubric
  • K-W-L-Chart
  • K-W-L Chart
  • Science Journal
  • Oral Presentation Rubric
  • Reflections
  • District Test


Assessment Process and Purpose for Assessment
Students create a T-Chart to compare and contrast fact from fiction in a story. The teacher uses it as a pre-assessment to determine readiness for studying weather.
K-W-L Chart Students develop a class K-W-L chart about weather and then create an individual K-W-L in their journals. Students return to these throughout the unit to add additional questions and new learnings. The teacher reviews for understanding and to monitor progress.
Science Journal Students make observations and keep notes in their science journal as they investigate weather systems. Students complete specific observations and reflections prompted by the teacher at key times during the unit. The teacher reviews during conferences to provide feedback, clarify misunderstandings, and provide additional lessons if necessary. The teacher reviews at the end of the unit to assess scientific understanding.
The teacher schedules conferences to assess the students’ scientific understanding and the research process and allow for feedback, clarifying misunderstandings, or providing additional lessons if necessary. Pre-planned questions and notes provide documentation for project assessment.
Line Graph Rubric(doc)
Students use the rubric to help them complete a line graph with data from their investigations. The teacher uses the rubric to assess their final line graph.
Research Checklist(doc)
Students use the checklist to guide them through the research process. Teachers ask students to bring the checklist to conferences to monitor progress and allow students to ask questions. Teachers use the checklist to assess student’s research skills.
Multimedia Rubric(doc)
Students use the rubric to ensure they’ve met the expectations as they research a weather system and present their findings. Peers use the rubric to provide feedback to the presenters.
Visual Ranking Comments Students rank the steps to take in a severe weather system. The teacher probes student understanding and reasoning through questioning, reviewing comments, and providing feedback.
Group Process Rubric(doc)
Students use the rubric to monitor their collaboration skills as they work together in groups on the Visual Ranking activity. The teacher reminds students to refer to the rubric when there are disagreements or issues about group process skills.
Oral Presentation Rubric(doc)
Students use the rubric to guide them through the research and presentation phases of the project. The teacher uses the rubric to assess content integration and oral presentation skills.
Students reflect on areas of strength and areas needing improvement after the oral presentation. They also reflect on the Curriculum-Framing Questions throughout the unit. The teacher reviews the reflections to analyze student understanding and to gauge student’s metacognitive abilities.
Test The teacher uses the test results to assess student’s science content knowledge.


Jeanne Shirley participated in the Intel® Teach Program, which resulted in this idea for an assessment plan. A team of teachers expanded the plan into the example you see here.

Storm Watch

At a Glance

Grade Level: 4-6

Subjects: Science, Math, Language Arts

Topics: Earth Systems, Data Analysis, Writing and Speaking

Higher-Order Thinking Skills: Cause and Effect, Analysis

Key Learnings: Measurement, Weather Changes, Patterns, Public Speaking

Time Needed: 6 weeks, 45 min/day