Thursday, April 24, 2014

Common-Core-Aligned Classroom Activities for Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder

Are your middle school students studying weather? Then Storm Watcher by Maria V. Snyder is the perfect complement to your curriculum. Below are classroom activities, aligned with common core standards, that you could integrate into your language arts or science classroom.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Analyze the interactions between individuals, events, and ideas in a text (e.g., how ideas influence individuals or events, or how individuals influence ideas or events).
Follow precisely a multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks.
Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


1. Have students work in groups to research different weather instruments mentioned in Storm Watcher. Their research should include what the instrument is, how to make one, how meterologists use the data from it to predict the weather, and why such predictions are important.
2. Student should then make the instruments and set up a weather station in the school yard.
3. Students should collect data from the weather station and graph it to look for trends and make predictions.
4. Students should make write scripts for a weather report that can be shown on the morning announcements.

Note: While all of these activities can be conducted in a language arts or science classroom, if teachers are teamed it would be more efficient to share the tasks, such that #1 and #4 are completed in a language arts classroom, #2 is completed in the science classroom, and #3 is completed in a math classroom.

Possible extension: Have a meterologist come speak to the students about his/her job and take a field trip to a weather station.


Other possible research extensions when reading Storm Watcher are mental health issues. In Storm Watcher, the main character, Luke, struggles with Severe Weather Phobia. Current events indicate that our mental health system is inadequate and educating our students about some mental health issues could be a step toward positive change.


·       CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.2
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
Include multimedia components and visual displays in presentations to clarify claims and findings and emphasize salient points.
Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.


1.     Students should choose a mental illness to research. Questions they should try to answer include what it is, symptoms, and treatment. When possible their research should attempt to determine the quality of the treatment available and any current event stories linked to the illness.
2.     Students should work in groups to put together public service announcements on various mental health issues. This might include writing press releases, creating a class blog, making videos for YouTube, creating Prezis, or recording podcasts.

Other possible research topics include: dogs and rescues

Look for my blog post here next month with possible discussion questions to use with Storm Watcher.


Mary Helen Sheriff lives in Richmond, VA with her husband, two children, and two cats. She has an MFA in children’s literature from Hollins University and is an experienced teacher of elementary, middle grade, and college students. Her most recent publishing credits include four middle grade short stories for a reading comprehension website and a YA short story for an anthology written for Ethiopians learning English. She is currently writing a novel and maintaining a blog where you can read her thoughts on writing and education. 

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