Saturday, December 20, 2014

Storm Stories - Severe Weather 10-Day PBL Unit

Looking for an authentic way to teach severe weather?  This Storm Stories project is a 10-Day Project-Based Learning unit that allows students to research the formation of four storms: tornadoes, hurricanes, thunderstorms, and lake effect snow and is found in my TeachersPayTeachers store here

The first part of the project is for students to research how these various storms are formed.  The research compiled by the students is organized into a Storm Recipe Book.  Then, the students work together to create an informational newscast as if they are reporters live on the scene of the storm.  The students must incorporate the information they gathered in the recipe books and weave that knowledge into their broadcast.

This project includes QR codes on the handouts, which allows students to easily be directed to the websites for research as long as the devices they are using has a camera function because a free QR code reader can be installed.  The students simply open the QR code reader and hold the worksheet up to the camera on the device to be scanned.  The QR code reader will then open up to the website the student needs - no "www...." typing to worry about!

The final newscasts can be filmed with an iPad or a video camera - that is completely optional.  We've experimented so much with this over the years and tried to figure out what works best as our technology and expertise has improved.  You can have the kids make back drops by hand with paint and/or bulletin board paper, stand in front of a screen that has a clip of their storm playing in the background, or even try to use "green screen technology" to later go back and edit in a video clip of the storm to really make it seem like they were live on the scene of the storm.  It's never going to be perfect the first time around, but don't be afraid of experimenting!  The kids are really excited to participate in this project regardless of the high-tech editing and are even more excited to show you what THEY know about this area.

Here's a video edited together from the first year we tried this project out.  You can see that the green screen needed tweaked for it to work properly, so we just left the green background without the editing this year.  The students still thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and loved to watch their peers' newscasts as well!

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