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Lessons & Units

A database of lessons and units searchable by content and cultural standards, cultural region and grade level. More units will be available soon. You can use Acrobat Reader to look at the PDF version of the Cover Sheet for the Units and Self-Assessment for Cultural Standards in Practice.


by Jonas Ramoth and Sidney Stephens

Activity 5 - Conducting and Analyzing Local Studies


Summary Students carry out the class weather study: recording, organizing and discussing data daily and keeping track of this work in their journals. Once sufficient data have been collected, students look for patterns and relationships in data, link these with what they know and with traditional knowledge, and ask questions related to the investigations. By so doing, student knowledge of local weather patterns as well as student analysis, inference and prediction skills are improved over time.


Daily Observation Sheets (compiled in binder)

Class Weather Log summaries (compiled in binder)

Class Weather Log overhead

Any other materials needed to make observations

Conducting and Analyzing Local Studies, Student Scoring Guide

Student journals/folders




1. Once all students are familiar with each of the observations, the weather study can rotate between one or two designated weather watchers per day. Let them create a schedule for this (or you can) but also remind them that their own personal observations are to be continued and shared.

2. Tell students that they are now beginning the second phase of their study in which they will collect and analyze their data. Provide them with a copy of the Conducting and Analyzing Local Studies Student Scoring Guide and discuss/clarify expectations. Let them know that their work will be self-assessed and teacher-assessed using this guide and that the TF will also review their work.

Conducting and Analyzing Local Studies

Student Scoring Guide*






Carries out procedures of a plan to collect and organize data

I recorded some observations and/or measurements as I carried out weather studies.


I clearly recorded all necessary observations and/or measurements.

I clearly and completely recorded all necessary observations and measurements and added detailed observations when appropriate.



Assembles and explains ideas through reflection, analysis and interpretation for application and / or further meaning.

I missed important patterns or relationships in the data.

I had trouble connecting what I knew when I started with what I learned in this study.

I did not use my observations or data to give reasons for my thinking.

I did not ask questions about ideas or applications related to this study.


I recognized important patterns and relationships in my data.

I explained how what I learned from this investigation fit in with what I already knew and with traditional knowledge.

I referred to my observations and data to support my conclusions.

I wondered about ideas related to this study and asked interesting questions.


I explored important patterns and relationships in my data.

I discussed similarities and differences between traditional knowledge, what I knew when I started and what I found out.

I explored reasons for my conclusions by using my observations and data as evidence.

I posed questions for further investigations.


Provides oral, graphic, and or written support of the investigation. Presentation appropriate for audience

My presentation was somewhat clear and organized but needed more detail

I chose narrative, graphs, charts, tables and or pictures that required the reader to infer in order to understand my ideas and thoughts.


I presented a clear, organized and detailed description of my work.

I chose narrative, graphs, charts, tables, and/or pictures that clearly communicated my ideas.

My presentation was appropriate for my audience

My presentation was focussed and purposeful.

I chose narrative, graphs, charts, tables and / or pictures that enhanced and strengthened the communication of my ideas

My presentation took into account the various interests and needs of my audience.



2. The weather watchers will make the observations at the designated time(s) and record their observations on the Daily Observation Sheet.

Many variables complicate the task of analyzing weather data. Sometimes more than one weather-influencing agent is operating at the same time, making it hard to decide which of the data are most important/related. And sometimes, the time scale for predicted change may be delayed by days or take place in a matter of hours. e.g. a ring around the moon is predictive of very cold weather in winter, but that cold weather may not arrive for several days after the halo itself. Or, a predicted weather change may happen very quickly and then change again all within a few hours and thus be missed by class data. This makes analysis of data difficult but also reinforces the need for both frequent and long term observation and analysis.

3. Upon return to class, the weather watchers will transfer their data to both the Class Weather Log binder and the overhead. They will store their Daily Observation Sheet in their folder for later assessment using the Investigating portion of the scoring guide.

4. Using Class Weather Log overhead, help class analyze changes from yesterday by asking questions such as: Is it warmer/colder? Windier/less windy? Cloudier/clearer? Has the wind direction changed? According to the TF, do any of these observations indicate that a change in weather might occur? What are your ideas about why changes occurred or didn't occur? Ask students to record these discussions in the Constructing Meaning portion of their journal. (EA - communication, inference, using data to construct an explanation)

5. Once students are comfortable comparing daily weather changes, have them review a month of data for the purpose of analyzing trends and patterns. If students are experienced at analyzing raw data, you might have them work in groups of 3 or 4 to create a table, pictures or some other kind of graphic organizer to make analysis easier. If they are not experienced, you might want to guide them through the analysis as described below. Again, such analysis should be recorded/saved in the Constructing Meaning portion of their journal or folder.

Provide student groups with copies of 4 weeks of the Class Weather Log summaries (20 entries). Have them cut the Weather Log apart on the horizontal lines so that each day's weather (including analysis of change) is on a separate strip of paper. Have students divide these strips within their group so that each student has 5 or 6 strips.



Sample Weather Log






Wind Direction & Effect on Visible Things

Cloud Cover & Movement

Snow &

Temp. in F° and notes



Weather change predicted?



















Ask if there is a dominant wind direction in Selawik and instruct student groups to sort their strips into piles according to wind direction only (e.g. all strips with north winds prevailing would be put into one pile, all strips with south winds into another and so forth)

Ask students to count the number of instances of each type of wind direction and have each group report its findings. Help them think mathematically about the findings and their significance (e.g. if east winds were recorded 12 of the 20 days, is it fair to say east winds prevailed? How about 8 of 20 days? How do these findings compare with their knowledge/expectations? With those of the TF?)

Continue with single sorts such as dominant temperature, cloud cover, wind speed etc.

Once students are adept at analyzing single factors have them look for relationships such as wind direction/temperature; wind direction/cloud cover; cloud cover/ temperature etc. Again, they would sort by one factor such as wind direction and then sort again to see if there was an accompanying trend in temperature associated with that wind direction. (See sidebar previous page.)

Such analysis should continue looking both at daily trends (e.g. winds picking up in the afternoon, clouds settling in at night, clouds or wind coming from a dominant direction etc.) and at signs or clusters of signs predictive of change.


7. Students compile a list of their findings to date and share it with another class. Also have them share it with the TF and their families, asking for input/revising as necessary.

8. Students take turns giving their weather forecasts over the P.A. system daily.

9. Students create pictures, posters, poems etc. to communicate their understanding of traditional weather knowledge to younger students.

10. Read or provide students with another weather scenario like the following:

Pretend that it is January and that a prominent halo was seen around the moon for 2 nights, 3 days ago. The temperature has been around 0· for the past several days, there are a few clouds and a light breeze is blowing from E/NE. You would like to take the snow machine to visit your family in Buckland. Would this be a good time to travel there? Why or why not?

Ask students to write their response in their journals. Encourage them to use evidence from their own weather journals as well as the class weather log to justify their answer.


Embedded assessment as indicated in lesson text

Traditional Forecaster reviews analyses and presentations

Teacher and student completion Conducting and Analyzing Local Studies Scoring Guides and conference

Performance Event, Daily Changes (see Appendix B)



* Adapted from Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (1999), Science Inquiry Scoring Guide



Section I - Observing Locally

Section II - Understanding Wind

Section III - Connecting Globally

Appendix A - Selawik Weather Information from Jonas Ramoth

Appendix B - Assessment

Appendix C - Weather Resource List

Appendix D - Interdisciplinary Integration



Whouy Sze Kuinalth
"Teaching Our Many Grandchildren"
Tauhna Cauyalitahtug
(To Make a Drum)
Math Story Problems
St. Lawrence Island Rain Parka Winds and Weather Willow
Driftwood Snowshoes Moose
Plants of the Tundra Animal Classification for Yup'ik Region Rabbit Snaring
The Right Tool for the Job
Fishing Tools and Technology
Blackfish Family Tree
Medicinal Plants of the Kodiak Alutiiq Archipelago Beaver in Interior Alaska Digging and Preparing Spruce Roots
Moose in Interior Alaska Birds Around the Village  


Handbook for Culturally Responsive Science Curriculum by Sidney Stephens
Excerpt: "The information and insights contained in this document will be of interest to anyone involved in bringing local knowledge to bear in school curriculum. Drawing upon the efforts of many people over a period of several years, Sidney Stephens has managed to distill and synthesize the critical ingredients for making the teaching of science relevant and meaningful in culturally adaptable ways."



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Last modified August 18, 2006