Learning Resource Type

Lesson Plan

Exploring Nonfiction Texts to Determine How Climate Impacts Different Weather Phenomenon

Subject Area

English Language Arts




The lesson will begin with students accessing their prior knowledge of weather and climates by completing a warm-up writing prompt. Students will then move to reading texts on the subjects of tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, and droughts to determine if and how climate affects these weather phenomena. In groups, students will create a half-poster that describes their findings in text and pictures. At the end of the lesson, students will view a graph to extend their learning about tornadoes and hint at a future lesson while also completing an "exit ticket" as a means of summative assessment. 

This unit was created as part of the ALEX Interdisciplinary Resource Development Summit.

    Science (2015) Grade(s): 3


    Collect information from a variety of sources to describe climates in different regions of the world.

    Unpacked Content



    • Evaluate
    • Climates
    • Regions
    • Reliable media
    • Sources


    Students know:
    • Climate describes a range of an area's typical weather conditions and the extent to which those condition change over the years.
    • Books and other reliable media provide information that can be used to describe climates in different regions of the world.
    • Variations in climates within different regions of the world.


    Students are able to:
    • Identify reliable resources for gathering information.
    • Identify the different regions of the world and their climates.
    • Evaluate information in the resources.
    • Use information to describe the climates in different regions and their patterns.


    Students understand that:
    • Patterns in climate can be used to make predictions about typical weather conditions in a region.

    Scientific and Engineering Practices

    Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

    Crosscutting Concepts

    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


    Expand background knowledge and build vocabulary through discussion, reading, and writing.

    Unpacked Content



    • Background knowledge
    • Vocabulary
    • Discussion


    Students know:
    • Relating experiences through discussions, reading, and writing will help build background knowledge and improve vocabulary.


    Students are able to:
    • Connect new concepts to prior experiences to increase background knowledge through discussions, reading, and writing.
    • Construct the meaning of words through discussions, reading, and writing.


    Students understand that:
    • Background knowledge can increase by relating experiences to new ideas, topics, and words while participating in discussions, reading, and writing.
    • Vocabulary will increase by constructing the meaning of words while participating in discussions, reading, and writing.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


    Demonstrate content knowledge built during independent reading of informational and literary texts by participating in content-specific discussions with peers and/or through writing.

    Unpacked Content



    • Demonstrate
    • Content knowledge
    • Independent reading
    • Informational text
    • Literary text
    • Content-specific discussions


    Students know:
    • Content knowledge is information learned about a specific subject.
    • Content knowledge can be learned by independently reading text.
    • Informational text is nonfiction text, and literary text is fictional.
    • Active listening skills.
    • Writing skills.


    Students are able to:
    • Build content knowledge from independently reading informational or literary text.
    • Use content knowledge learned from independent reading in content-specific discussions with peers.
    • Use content knowledge learned from independent reading in writing.


    Students understand that:
    • Content-specific discussions with peers can demonstrate the content knowledge they learned through independent reading.
    • They can produce writings that demonstrate knowledge of content-specific information.
    English Language Arts (2021) Grade(s): 3


    Gather and evaluate information about a topic from a variety of sources, including digital sources, and utilize it to create a project, report, or presentation.

    Unpacked Content



    • Gather
    • Evaluate
    • Information
    • Topic
    • Sources
    • Digital sources
    • Utilize
    • Project
    • Report
    • Presentation


    Students know:
    • Information can be gathered from print or digital sources.
    • Strategies to gather and evaluate information.
    • Relevant information about a topic should be added to a project, report, or presentation.


    Students are able to:
    • Gather information about a topic from a variety of print and digital sources.
    • Evaluate the relevance of the information to the topic.
    • Use information to create a project, report, or presentation.


    Students understand that:
    • The first step in creating a project, report, or presentation is gathering and evaluating information from a variety of sources.

    Primary Learning Objectives

    • Students will analyze nonfiction texts that explore how different climates influence weather. 
    • Students will interpret the information from the nonfiction texts to complete a group activity in order to discuss the impact of different climates on weather with the class.
    • Students will interpret data in order to understand how the weather is directly related to the climate of an area and the impact that the weather phenomena can have on an area. 


    Before Strategy/Engage: 20 minutes

    1. As students enter the room, a question is posted on the board: Do you think that climate can affect the type of weather phenomenon that an area of the world has? Students will be given five minutes to think of an answer and write a response to the question on their paper. This builds on the students' current background knowledge. 

    2. The teacher should ask students to share their thoughts in 2-3 minutes. The teacher will tell students that they are going to watch a video clip from a United Kingdom news station: Channel 4 that explores the topic. 

    3. The teacher will show the students the video clip "How Does Climate Change Affect Our Weather?" from Channel 4 News on YouTube. (3 minutes 17 seconds)

    4. The teacher will ask students to revisit the question they saw at the beginning of class and ask the students to add to their first answer. Allow 3-5 minutes for students to add to their initial answers.

    5. The teacher will ask students the following questions, allowing students to look at their papers if needed as a reference:

    • Do you think El Niño can directly affect where we live in Alabama?
    • How can a pattern of warmer and wetter weather affect the type of weather phenomenon that an area might have?

    6. The teacher should explain that the class is going to investigate different weather phenomena and how the climate can affect each by moving into a jigsaw activity.

    During Strategy/ Explore & Explain: 60 minutes

    1. The teacher will divide students into collaborative groups of six students each with each group being given the topic of ice storms, flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes. Each group will be given the books on their topic and the Internet articles for each group listed in the materials and resources section of this lesson. These articles may be printed if technological devices aren't available. 

    2. Students will create a half-sized poster. On the left side of the poster, the students will describe through text and drawings the climate of an area that produces that type of weather phenomenon. On the right side of the poster, the students will explain through text and drawings the weather phenomenon that occurs and why it occurs in that climate. A checklist for students for the poster is included in the attachments.

    Note: Depending on your classroom management during group activities, you may want to assign each student in the group a certain role, such as Lead Researcher, Note Taker, or Poster Creator. Explain that all students will assist in all areas, but this may help make sure that group participation is distributed.

    3. The teacher should show students the Avalanche Example poster and discuss with students that the information came from the texts.

    4. Allow students twenty minutes to read the texts and take notes on the Graphic Organizer. This may be completed individually, in paired groups, or in small groups. The graphic organizer is complete when students have found a minimum of 3 facts about a climate of an area, a minimum of 3 facts about the weather phenomenon that the climate produces, and cites the source in the correct blank. 

    5. After students have read the assigned texts, students will discuss their findings by looking over their graphic organizers with each other. Allow ten minutes for students to share their findings and plan their posters. 

    6. After ten minutes of sharing their graphic organizers with each other, students will then be given a half sheet of poster board and crayons. Students are to use the model as an example. Allow students 15 minutes to complete their group's poster.

    After Strategy/ Explain & Elaborate: 20 minutes

    1. The students should choose one group representative of each weather phenomenon to share with the class. Allow each group 2-3 minutes to present their half-poster.

    2. The teacher should show students the chart from Historical Records and Trends from the NCDC titled "Average Tornado Frequency By Month of Year: 1991-2010".

    3. The teacher should ask students the following questions:

    • Which months had the highest amounts of tornadoes in the United States? Which months had the least?
    • How many more tornadoes have there been on average in May than in January?
    • Based on what the tornado group discussed from their findings on climate and tornadoes, why would tornadoes be more prevalent in certain months and certain regions of the United States?

    4. The students should respond to the following question on an "exit slip" writing prompt. Knowing that climate can and does affect weather phenomena, how can scientists use this knowledge to make people more aware of and prepare for natural disasters? The teacher should encourage students to use evidence discussed today as they predict how public safety can be increased through our knowledge of natural disasters.   

    Note: This prompt will begin the next class as the students move from learning about how climates affect various natural disasters to how public safety can be increased to help civilians during a specific natural disaster, the tornado.

    Assessment Strategies

    Formative Assessment: The teacher should informally assess students through questioning and answering during the lesson. The teacher should circulate the room and assist students as they work on their graphic organizers, ensuring the students are finding the correct information and recording it correctly on their graphic organizers. The graphic organizer is complete when students have found a minimum of 3 facts about a climate of an area, a minimum of 3 facts about the weather phenomenon that the climate produces, and cites the source in the correct blank. The teacher should also circulate the room during group time as students share their information and create their posters. 

    Summative Assessment: The teacher should formally assess students by reviewing each student's graphic organizer and group poster at the end of the lesson. A checklist is provided in the attachments to score the students' posters. The teacher should review each student's "exit slip" and be prepared to return these "exit slips" to the students at the beginning of the next lesson.


    Students can expand their understanding of weather by looking into how citizens prepare for natural disasters by researching weather patterns and by looking at how scientists have observed weather in order to learn more about how we can increase public awareness by reading "Research Tools: Observation" from The National Severe Storms Laboratory. 

    Approximate Duration

    Total Duration

    91 to 120 Minutes

    Background and Preparation


    Student Background Information: 

    Prior to teaching this lesson, students will need to be familiar with the terms climate and weather phenomena. Students will also need to know how to read a bar graph. If the students need a review on how to read a bar graph, Khan Academy has a tutorial on the topic: Reading Bar Graphs.

    During this lesson, students will be using technology devices and should be familiar with how to navigate the device. Students should be familiar with procedures for interacting with others in a group activity. The teacher will put students in four groups.

    Teacher Background Information:

    Climates directly affect weather.

    Hurricanes are formed by the combination of warm, moist air above the water and an area of low pressure (rising air) underneath the water.

    Tornadoes occur when warm, moist air meets cool, dry air, creating instability in the atmosphere. El Niño and La Niña are weather events that can directly affect weather patterns that produce tornadoes. To read more about El Niño and La Niña, read "What are El Niño and La Niña?" from the National Ocean Service.

    Earthquakes occur when one tectonic plate runs into another tectonic plate, causing trouble in the Earth's crust. According to an article in The Guardian entitled "How Climate Change Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes", "It has been known for some time that rainfall also influences the pattern of earthquake activity in the Himalayas, where the 2015 Nepal earthquake took close to 9,000 lives, and where the threat of future devastating quakes is very high. During the summer monsoon season, prodigious quantities of rain soak into the lowlands of the Indo-Gangetic plain, immediately to the south of the mountain range, which then slowly drains away over the next few months. This annual rainwater loading and unloading of the crust is mirrored by the level of earthquake activity, which is significantly lower during the summer months than during the winter."

    Droughts occur when there is a long period with below-normal amounts of rain or snow. Read "Where Do Droughts Occur in the World?" for more information from Reference.com. 

    Sign up for a free ReadWorks.org account to access articles:

    ReadWorks is a website that provides K-12 teachers with free literacy resources (About ReadWorks). ReadWorks has literary and informational texts on a variety of subjects and reading skills. You may narrow your search using grade level or Lexile level, making this website a wonderful tool for differentiation. Students will complete their work digitally, and you will provide their score and feedback digitally. This makes it easy to go paperless for this activity.

    Prior to implementing this activity, you will need to sign up for an Educator Account on ReadWorks. After setting up an account, create a class from the Class Admin tab, this will provide you with a Class Code to give to students. Next, use the provided links or search by the article's title. After navigating to the article, click on the blue Assign button to assign it to your class.

    Each student will need access to a digital device, such as a tablet or laptop. The first time students enter the website they will need to enter the Class Code that is listed on your Class Admin page. Alternatively, you can print the article and corresponding questions for students, if digital devices are not available. 

    Materials and Resources

    Materials and Resources

    Student materials (per student)

    Notebook paper

    Pencil or pen

    1/2 sheet of Posterboard

    Crayons or markers

    Access to articles (can be printed or digitally assigned)

    Graphic Organizer

    Weather Poster Checklist

    Student Materials (per group):

    Group 1: Flooding

    "Reducing the Impact of Flooding" from ReadWorks.org

    Group 2: Ice Storms

    "Ice Storms" from ReadWorks.org

    Group 3: Hurricanes

    "The Power of Hurricanes" from ReadWorks.org

    Group 4:

    "Protecting Against Tornadoes" from ReadWorks.org

    Video for before strategy

     "How Does Climate Change Affect Our Weather?" from Channel 4 News on YouTube

    Websites for Acceleration Activities

    "Research Tools: Observation" from The National Severe Storms Laboratory

    Chart for after strategy:

    National Centers for Environmental Information Climate Monitoring

    Teacher Materials

    Weather Poster Checklist for summative assessment

    Avalanche Example

    Technology Resources Needed

    Internet-capable technology devices (iPads, Chromebooks, laptops, etc.)