Grace has a passion for weather. While we have not done “formal lessons” this summer, I have considered her learning to be project based. Since June she has:
- listened to two audiobooks; Night of the Twisters and Escaping the Giant Wave
- she has made several blog entries about the local tornado (which involved much learning about blogging and computer skills)
- she read the Magic Tree House books Twister on Tuesday and Earthquake in the Early Morning.
- She has learned the difference between weather watches and warnings.
- She has a better understanding of doppler radar.
- She now knows the warning signs for severe weather and what to do to stay safe.
- She has watched several Weather Channel online videos about severe weather in addition to Storm Stories on their cable network. Just tonight she watched KATRINA: RIDING IT OUT which is part of Hurricane Week on The Weather Channel.
- She has begun to write and illustrate a book of weather facts.
- She wrote a realistic fiction story about two girls and a tornado. She offered clues to predict a storm was coming. She published it on her blog and asked her readers to tell how they knew a tornado was coming.
- She participated in a UCONN sponsored weather data collection event at a local park.
Since we now have an active hurricane in the Atlantic, we are learning to track it. I showed her how to look up coordinates and find them on a map. She will write down the coordinates daily, using the data collected at the same time each day (5:00pm) and plot the storm on a map. She knows the predicted path of the storm and is curious if the meteorologist’s prediction will match up with the storm's actual path. We will do this for every hurricane that develops this season. I would love to take her to a weather prediction center like the one on Long Island. Theresa over at Our Life in Words, told me of two weather classes being offered in February at The Liberty Science Center, which I hope to register her for this week.
I am not offering much in the way of curriculum for her to pursue this passion. I have thought long and hard over the choice to build a year long unit study around weather, or to let her navigate her own way. I think part of the excitement in this type of learning is that she meets each new opportunity with such JOY. She is searching for books at more than one library, having almost exhausted the books available at ours. She is thrilled when she learns of programming on tv and has naturally changed course from pre-teen mindless television, to documentary programming. The only thing I am making available to her is a purchased science curriculum: Weather Reporter, an earth and space science unit for high-ability learners in grade 2. Even though she is going into grade 5, this is a comprehensive unit and I believe she will gain much from it. It certainly will not take a full semester, so we will use it as a springboard into something else.
So when Grace is talking to her friends and family members and says “oh, we have not done real lessons this summer”, I just smile and say, “and look at all you learned!”.