Last year when I worked with the teachers on this in our main campus, we decided to skype and email with schools around the world to ask them how the weather was affecting them. This is the process we went through:
- We found 16 schools who wanted to help us with our inquiries.
- The students connected with students and asked them questions.
- They exchanged ideas and photographs.
- They shared their learning using VoiceThread.
This year I have started this unit of inquiry with the students on our smaller campus. They decided that instead of contacting other schools, they would contact family members in other countries to ask them how the weather affects them. One of the boys in the class has an uncle in Australia who is a farmer so we skyped with him and asked him about the current weather in Australia and how this has affected farmers. He talked to us about the financial impact - how the price of vegetables has gone up because of the recent floods destroying crops and making them more scarce, the fact that topsoil has been washed away by the floods, the type of crops that he is able to grow and how many animals he is able to keep. He explained that when it is too dry or too wet the grass doesn't grow very well and therefore he has to buy in hay and grain for his animals. Another of the boys has grandparents who live in Florida. He talked to us about La Nina and how this has affected weather in the USA, giving Florida warmer summers and colder winters. He talked about how people in Florida wear cooler clothing and spend more time outdoors than people in other parts of the United States, and how many people leave Florida in summer to get away from the heat and humidity. Next week we are going to skype with relatives of one of the girls from Singapore.
Last year when we skyped with schools we set it up that a small group of students would skype with each school and would become "experts" on the weather in that particular part of the world. This year we have set it up in a different way so that all students participated in each call and that for each skype call every student had a job to do. This could involve being a greeter, a questioner, a recorder, a camera person to take still photos and a camera person to take video. It was very useful to be able to put the movie onto YouTube so that the students could look back on it later. I like the way this unit has evolved this year, and the way that the students are more involved in all the skype calls the class is making as they inquire into how we adapt to the weather.
Photo Credit: Sky Palette by Nicholas T