Lower School students are studying everything from weather to the human body. Now that the school year is underway, students are fully immersed in memorable and engaging project-based learning units.
Hurricanes. Rain. Snow.
At only eight or nine years old, Episcopal third graders already have a range of experiences with weather. For Phase I of the third grade weather study, students wrote about their experiences and shared their stories with classmates. Teachers Amy Arceneaux, Lauren Bilskie and Shannon Pesson say the weather unit is always exciting to teach because students are naturally fascinated by all things weather. The project-based unit certainly has a range of topics and projects to spark their interests. Unit highlights include the following hands-on student activities:
In addition to these learning opportunities, students traveled to the Louisiana Art and Science Museum where they played Who Wants to be a Meteorologist? While there, they also sang the water cycle song and dressed up in weather-related costumes. Back at Episcopal, students had an opportunity to learn more about the weather from local expert Dr. Josh Eachus from WBRZ. Students asked about everything from the safety of being in a car during a thunderstorm to how strong the winds were in hurricane Katrina. To learn more about the impact of hurricane Katrina, students watched the documentary Hurricane on the Bayou, which tells the story of what Louisiana residents experienced as the system roared ashore in 2005.
While students are naturally fascinated by weather, the third grade teachers say the topic can also be scary for them. “We want students to be prepared for severe weather, but not scared,” says Pesson. Part of that focus on prep includes a discussion on the importance of first responders and even those who respond after a disaster, such as the Cajun Army and Cajun Navy.
The third grade weather study is a comprehensive look at weather from the water cycle to cloud formations. After the unit is complete, Arceneaux, Bilskie and Pesson hope students have gained the following weather knowledge:
Bilskie says in addition to the lesson objectives, students are also gaining library, research, computer and presentation skills as they work through the unit. Arceneaux points out that there is a connection and continuity with project-based learning as each lesson builds upon previous experiences over the course of the year. For example, third graders will next study the state of Louisiana. The unit will include a discussion of the state’s ecosystem and the impact previous weather events have had on the land.
Third grade students will showcase their weather knowledge with their final project – researching and producing their own weather forecast. Look for more on that as the school year progresses.
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