Case Study: Weather Brings the Whole Community Together; Thomas School, Carbondale, IL
Thomas School in Carbondale Illinois has been a member of the WeatherBug Schools Program since 1999. Janis Schafer, a second and third grade Title 1 teacher, first heard about the program from her local TV meteorologist. She immediately realized it was an ideal way to encourage parent participation and presented the program to school administrators. Janis is one of the thousands of teachers across the country integrating the WeatherBug Schools Program into their curriculum to create fun learning activities that engage students with standards-based, real world instruction.
"Weather Night," the Most Popular Parent-Student Evening
In Janis' case, she saw unique opportunities for using the WeatherBug Schools Program in non-traditional subject areas as well. For four years, the teachers at Thomas School have organized student-and-parent evenings called" Weather Night."
"Traditionally we have a lot of parent involvement nights throughout the year, and Weather Night is definitely one of the most popular. It is also a great fundraiser for other school projects," said Janis.
Weather Night allows students to show their parents what they've been studying in school. Math, science, reading and weather concepts are performed at activities stations around the school. One popular activity for second graders is making light intensity graphs. Weather information from their tracking station gives them the tools to present mathematical information on a graph and perfect their coloring skills at the same time! "The kids get really excited about Weather Night because of the hands-on activities and the teachers love it because it's a centralized way to cover every facet of the curriculum," Janis added.
Weather for Reading and Writing.and Dancing
The teachers at Thomas School also use their tracking station to teach reading and writing skills. After exploring the different properties of clouds with her students, Janis put together a "witty weather activity." Her students wrote stories and poems about what it would be like to be "trapped" on a cloud and displayed them on a school bulletin board. When local meteorologist, Jim Rasor from WSIL-TV, comes to visit the school, he reads the stories. One year he even featured the students' specially choreographed "Stormy Weather Ribbon Dance," on this live television broadcast.
Many WeatherBug Schools are visited by local TV meteorologists who use live data from their school for on-air weathercasts.
By actively engaging parents, the community, and other teachers at her school, the WeatherBug Schools Program has been very successful at Thomas School. Janis' colleagues were so thrilled about their school's WeatherBug Tracking Station and how easy it was to use in multiple subject areas, that two years later they purchased a camera to further enhance student interest in the classroom.
Weather plays a large part in the every day lives of Thomas School students because of a new closed circuit TV system for morning announcements. Every day one third grade student steps in front of the camera -- just like a real meteorologist -- and broadcasts weather information taken from the school tracking station to the entire school.