The proposed thematic unit is designed for a general education classroom at the second grade level. The suggested time frame is three weeks, but the unit could be either shortened slightly or extended by adjusting the number of activities. Reading activities include shared reading and self-selected reading from a variety of books provided by the teacher. The book selection should include multiple genres and multiple reading levels. A suggested list is included. Writing activities engage students in the five stages of the writing process. Students will create a weather journal that includes their writing and a reading log. Students may also include notes about weather observations.
Instructional Focus: Grade 2
Literacy and Writing Standards for Pennsylvania
Met in this unit:
Reading Informational Text: Students read, understand, and respond to informational text -- with emphasis on comprehension, making connections among ideas and between texts with focus on textual evidence.
1.3 -- Reading Literature: Students read and respond to works of literature - with emphasis on comprehension, making connections among ideas and between texts with focus on textual evidence.
1.4 -- Writing: Students write for different purposes and audiences. Students write clear and focused text to convey a well-defined perspective and appropriate content.
1.5 -- Speaking and Listening: Students present appropriately in formal speaking situations, listen critically, and respond intelligently as individuals or in group discussions.
Science Standards for Pennsylvania
Met in this unit:
3.1.4.C.1. Identify observable patterns (e.g., growth patterns in plants, crystal shapes in minerals, climate, structural patterns in bird feathers). 34
3.1.4.C.2. Use knowledge of natural patterns to predict next occurrences (e.g., seasons, leaf patterns, lunar phases). 47
3.1.4.E.2. Examine and explain change by using time and measurement. 29
3.2.4.B.2. Use observations to develop a descriptive vocabulary. 49
3.2.4.C.2. Design an investigation. 12
3.5.4.C.1. Identify cloud types. 43
3.5.4.C.2. Identify weather patterns from data charts (including temperature, wind direction and speed, precipitation) and graphs of the data. 45
3.5.4.C.3. Explain how the different seasons effect plants, animals, food availability and daily human life. 46.
Time Frame: Three Weeks
Outline of Activities
Literature Experiences for the Five Reading Stages
The teacher activates students' prior knowledge in a discussion of weather before reading Curious George: Rain or Shine. The class creates a K-W-L chart on the extra chalkboard in the classroom; the chart, which shows what students know, what they want to know, and what they have learned, remains visible for the duration of the unit. The class can add to the chart when they have new questions and when they learn new information. Students are encouraged to refer to it frequently to see how they have added to their body of knowledge. Students may also create their own K-W-L charts in personal weather journals.
The teacher selects weather-related books from the school library and/or public library appropriate for the range of reading levels in the classroom. Students will have access to this content-specific library and enjoy self-selected reading. Some of the titles will be reserved for read-alouds and added to the collection for classroom circulation afterwards.
Students will maintain a reading log of the weather books they have read. At the beginning of the unit, they will spend a class period decorating the covers of their weather journals. Students will be encouraged to write at least three sentences telling about the book. They should also include a sentence that tells whether or not they liked the book, and why. At the end of the unit, students can share orally with the whole class about their favorite book.
Students create a graphic organizer after hearing a reading of What Will the Weather Be? If students do not have prior experience using graphic organizers, the lesson should include direct instruction and guided practice for graphic organizers. The teacher may want to create a graphic organizer as a whole class project to clarify understanding before students create individual organizers.
Students prepare weather reports based on what they have learned during the unit. They have the option to present their weather reports orally to the class or in written form. Students may include drawings or photos showing cloud types, weather events (e.g., thunderstorm, hurricane) and maps.
Writing Activities for the Five Writing Stages
Students will formulate an idea after hearing a read aloud of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Following a reading to the whole class, the students will discuss the book's main idea.
Students will create their own fanciful weather stories. At this stage, students are encouraged to put their ideas on paper and not worry about spelling or mechanics.
Working with a partner, students will revise their writing to make it clearer. Students will have had instruction and practice in an earlier unit on how to be a good "writing buddy." Each student should be encouraged to make at least one positive comment about the writing and one helpful comment for improvement. Students can also be taught to ask constructive questions about the writing, such as "Can you give more details about this?" "Can you use a describing word here?"
In a conference with the teacher, students will check for mistakes in their work and make corrections. The teacher may have the student re-write the story on "good" paper, or the edited version could be typed directly onto a computer (or device) in preparation for publishing.
Students will share their writing by creating their own books. The teacher can type (or have children type) the text; the children will then illustrate their work. Students can be invited to read their books aloud to the class. If everyone wants to share, it may be more time-efficient to have students share with reading buddies (perhaps at another grade level) or in small groups. Students might read their books to family members at an Authors' Tea or Open House.
Picturing Writing: Fostering Literacy through Art is an art-and-literature based approach to writing developed by Beth Olshansky to meet the needs of students with diverse learning styles (Olshansky, 2003). Students use crayon resist techniques and literature in a series of mini-lessons. Olshansky has developed a list of books that combine descriptive language with rich illustrations so children can see how they work together to develop a story. After students create their own artwork, they "read their pictures," a process that "supports the creation of descriptive passages, poetry, personal narrative, fiction, research-based stories, and descriptive report writing" (Olshansky). For the second grade weather unit, students each create five pictures that depict different types of weather. The Picturing Writing approach (http://picturingwriting.org) suggests that students paint pictures no larger than five inches by seven inches so they can concentrate on the details rather than worrying about filling a large space. Students use their pictures to inspire their writing of poems and prose. By creating the pictures and writing about them, students gain an increased understanding of different types of weather and how the weather events make them feel. They can reflect on what they can do (or cannot do) because of the weather.
Repetend: It is important to know what the weather is going to be so we know how to dress and how to plan our activities and routines.
The K-W-L chart and reading log both serve as instruments for self-assessment. Students can see how much they have learned with the chart, which is featured prominently in the classroom. The reading log is a record of how many books they have read. Neither of these assessment tools should put students in competition with one another; they are tools so students can measure their individual progress.
The writing project and multigenre project measure student achievement at the end of the unit.…