Appendix E: Differentiation
Throughout the lesson, teachers can differentiate through content, process, product and learning environment according to students' readiness, interest and learning profile. Teachers may incorporate a variety of differentiation strategies to accommodate diverse learning styles.
Personal Weather Narrative (Engineering Portfolio page 1)
Be flexible with time in terms of students’ needs. Your students may benefit from collaboration with family members to recall details of the severe weather event that they experienced. Consider assigning the Severe Weather Personal Narrative prewriting activity as a homework assignment. Then, the next day students can complete the composition during class.
Alternate Weather Assignment (Engineering Portfolio page 3)
Students with no prior experience with a severe weather event may need help visualizing. Those who choose to complete the Alternative Weather Assignment brainstorming activity may be better able to imagine a severe weather event after viewing severe weather video segments.
Weather Brainstorm (Engineering Portfolio page 5)
Once students have shared their Severe Weather Narratives, use your knowledge about the depth of their prior experience with severe weather to help you form STEM teams. (Link to Appendix C: Working with STEM Teams). Forming teams with a mix of experiences may be the best option for your students. However, also consider grouping students by level of experience so that each group has the opportunity to work at their own readiness level.
You may determine that some students or groups will need additional support to complete the Weather Brainstorm. Use graphic organizers to scaffold learning. Provide partially completed graphic organizers for groups or individuals who could use the extra support.
Interactive Activity 5: Explore Severe Weather
Exploring the websites will strengthen some students’ understanding of the cause and effects of severe weather. Gather a small group for a close reading of one of the website pages. Project the website for the small group. Remind students that the purpose of reading the information is to determine the cause and effect. Explore the various sections of the webpage, focusing only on causes and effects. Have students add information to their Cause and Effect Chart.
Next, model for the small group a close reading of the same webpage with a different purpose. For example, students could do a close reading to determine what they would need to have in their home to be prepared for the severe weather event. (On the FEMA pages this information can be found under BUILD A KIT, although it is best if you allow students to discover that for themselves.) To record what they learn, students can make a shopping list.
While you are working with the small group, other students may be ready to move right to the second purpose for reading instead of adding to their Cause/Effect charts. Allow students to choose which severe weather event will be their focus. Once everyone has chosen their severe weather event, students can work with partners or in small groups to create shopping lists of needed supplies.
Have students compare their shopping lists. Are there similarities in what is needed for each event?
Maryland Weather (Engineering Portfolio page 9)
Before students begin Maryland Weather (Interactive Activity 6/Engineering Portfolio 9), have students examine the Maryland Weather chart. Ask, “What is the purpose of this chart? What questions do you have? What do we NOT know yet?”
Listen for students to determine that some of the years do not have numbers completed.
Then, take students further into a discussion. Prompt students to ask, “How do we determine what a MAJOR snowstorm is? What is the temperature when we consider it a heat WAVE?” The importance is that students realize those are questions that need to be asked. Discuss the importance of tracking severe weather. Refer to the teacher notes to answer students’ questions about major snowstorms and heat waves.
Maryland Weather (Engineering Portfolio page 9)
Scaffold the discussion of patterns and trends in the Maryland Weather chart with the following questions:
- Do any of the severe weather events repeat in some way? Is there a pattern to how the weather event repeats?
- How could you describe the major snowstorm pattern? (One major snowstorm every three years with the exception of 2009-2010 when there were 3 snowstorms. Then, the pattern continued.)
- What could you say about the pattern of tornadoes? (Tornadoes are the most variable severe weather event.)
- What is the difference between a pattern and a trend? (A trend is the general direction over a period of time.)
- Which of the weather events occur the least over the 11 year period? (Maryland experiences fewer hurricanes and major snowstorms than other weather events.)
While some students may be able to provide a summary of all the severe weather events for Engineering Portfolio question 1, other students may find greater success by focusing on only one of the severe weather events across the 11-year span.
For the final project, allow students to show their learning in a variety of ways.
For each of the options below consider allowing students to work in groups of three, with each member focusing on one severe weather event.
- Develop a weatherproofing guide for families who live in Maryland.
Rubric: Provide at least 3 severe weather events that occur in Maryland. For each event, suggest 2 weatherproofing actions or materials that will protect a home.
Total possible points: 10.
Option A: Pamphlet
Create a pamphlet with each panel of the pamphlet focusing on one severe weather event.
Option B: Step By Step Guide
Create a step-by-step guide for identifying two areas of the home that need weatherproofing, a list of materials to purchase and how to install the weatherproofing.
- Sandra is a third-grade student who recently moved from Alaska to Maryland. Right after she moved, the region had heavy rain, strong winds, and flood and hurricane warnings. She is nervous about Maryland's severe weather.
Rubric: Give 2-3 examples of potential hurricane damage. Recommend at least 3 weatherproofing actions or materials to protect Sandra's home from weather damage. Total possible points: 10.
Option A: Write a letter to Sandra explaining what the impact of a hurricane could be like, and give her some advice about what she and her family can do to protect their home.
Option B: Develop a skit with three characters
Sandra who explains her fears about hurricanes
A newscaster who announces that a hurricane is imminent and describes the type of damage that may occur
A friend who recommends at least 3 weatherproofing actions or materials
Option C: Text Your Friend
Write a series of texts from Sandra and her friend. What type of hurricane damage does Sandra expect? What recommendations does her friend suggest for weatherproofing?
- Encourage homebuilders to use weatherproofing materials that will keep them safe from severe weather conditions.
Rubric: Provide at least 3 possible severe weather events. For each of these events, recommend 2 weatherproofing materials or actions that can protect a home. Total possible points: 10.
Option A: Create a video or audio infomercial about weatherproofing materials. For each material describe the severe weather event that it can be used for, and how it can help protect the home.
Option B: Create a poster or Glog displaying weatherproofing materials organized by severe weather event.
For more ideas on differentiation, read these tips: Working With Readers at Different Levels (PDF)