Extreme Weather: Hurricanes
by Nicole Koonce, Jennifer Conlon
Hurricanes are often in the news as they wreak havoc in the United States. Where do they come from? How do they form? Teach your ELLs this timely information about hurricanes.
Lesson Topic: Hurricanes
Grade/Proficiency Level: Grades 4-8; Advanced Beginning and Intermediate ESL; Goals:
Content goals: Students will demonstrate the ability to define key words and verbally recall conditions that must be present for a hurricane to form.
Linguistic goals: Students will learn and use descriptive terms such as spiraling, cyclone, typhoon, humidity, and tropical to tell about hurricanes in oral and written formats.
Communicative goals: Students will use the English language to describe hurricanes;students will request and contribute information about hurricanes in a conversational exchange with a partner.
Vocabulary: Hurricane, typhoon, cyclone,spiraling, spiral, cyclonic, circling, spinning, humidity, humid, moisture, moist, tropical
- Introduce theme of lesson by activating students’ background knowledge about hurricanes. First show a video clip of a hurricane. Then assign student partners to draw or write what they know about hurricanes on a single piece of paper or sentence strips. One partner will be the recorder who will draw or write for the partnership, and the other partner will present the pair’s ideas by speaking. Their pictorial or written contributions will then be taped onto the KWL(Know, Want to Know, Learned) chart under the letter “K.”
- Explain that hurricanes are nature’s largest storm. They can be as large as 600 to 1,000 miles wide, which is roughly the distance from Rhode Island to Florida or from Florida to Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic . Use the map as a visual aid to show distance. Hurricanes are also the most violent storms on earth. The name hurricane is derived from the Mayan storm god Hunraken and the Arawak word hurican, which meant devil wind.
- Read aloud a short book about hurricanes or download a reading from WeatherWizkids or Weather Watch. Have students follow along in their own text. Ask them to highlight key ideas and vocabulary. Prior to reading , tell students to look and listen for three things that must be present for hurricanes to form. Use stress, intonation, and brief pausing to alert students to key facts and key words for the lesson. Stop during reading to elicit definitions to key words, write the key words on 4 x 6 index cards, and post them on the word wall (to the right of the chalkboard).
- Ask students what important facts about hurricanes were learned in the lesson. The students should orally respond to your questions and state at least two things learned about hurricanes from their reading selection. You can write responses under the “L” on the KWL chart next to the “W” that corresponds.
- Ask the students what else they might want to know about hurricanes based on the lesson and place the new responses under the “W” on the KWL chart. After learning that hurricanes form over warm oceans, for example, students might ask, “How warm must the water be for a hurricane to form? Record student responses for them on the KWL chart.
- Have students research the different names of hurricanes in other countries (hurricanes vs. typhoons vs. cyclones) and/or languages (any language – French, Spanish, Chinese, Hindi). The students will write their discoveries on a “Hurricanes Around the World” poster. Examples are: The term hurricane is used to refer to tropical cyclones in the Atlantic Ocean;the English word typhoon is used to refer to tropical cyclones in the western Pacific Ocean.
- Modifications and accommodations are built into the lesson through use of visuals aids (video) and leveling of text. Other accommodations include repeating directions/content instruction and preferential seating. Another modification is to simplify the level of language used by the teacher and expected from the student.
High Beginner ESL
- Listening:The students will select facts about hurricanes from visual representations such as a short video.
- Speaking: The students will describe hurricanes and what they know about hurricanes from prior knowledge, pictures, and the video with their group partners.
- Reading: The students will read facts about hurricanes and identify characteristics of a hurricane based on the text and pictures.
- Writing: The students will write draw pictures or write a simple complete sentence with their partner describing prior knowledge about hurricanes.
Intermediate English Language Learners
- Listening: The students will make observation about the properties of hurricanes (e.g., size, strength, effects) from visual representations (e.g., short video), teacher lecture, and reading of text.
- Speaking: The students will compare hurricanes to storms studied in previous units and share what they know about hurricanes from prior knowledge, pictures, and the video with their group partners.
- Reading: The students will identify characteristics of a hurricane and infer properties that drive the formation of a hurricane based on the text and pictures.
- Writing: The students will write two complete sentences with their partner describing prior knowledge about hurricanes.
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