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HEART Force Colorado Drought - Middle School

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder

In this lesson, students build an understanding of drought in Colorado through exploring case studies, authentic data, and online resources. After completing this lesson, students will be able to understand the basic causes and impacts of droughts, analyze a case study and current drought data in Colorado, and summarize the main preparedness steps and response strategies for drought events.

This activity takes 135 minutes.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • It will be helpful for the teacher to review the graphs and videos ahead of time.
  • Also note the student hand-outs, teacher slides, and resource folder provided to go along with this lesson.
  • The different jigsaw station questions vary in difficulty and higher order thinking. Students may be grouped according to level, or teachers may hybridize groups to encourage peer mentoring.
  • It may be interesting for the teacher to revisit the drought monitoring visualization at different points throughout the year such that students get an idea how drought changes through the season (or why it doesn't).
  • This activity encourages students to start thinking about the "experience" of drought.
  • This lesson can also be connected to a drought game that is linked on the lesson website.

About the Science

  • This lesson explores the causes and impacts of drought, and students analyze data from the National Drought National Integration System, NOAA's Climate.gov, and the CoCoRaHS Condition Monitoring Map to analyze drought history, conditions, levels, and impacts, and to think about drought preparation and response. Students then synthesize this information to create a news story for their community about drought.
  • A wide variety of background information and resources are provided for students and teachers to dig deep into the topic.
  • Resource developed in collaboration with expert scientists - no CLEAN expert science review was needed.

About the Pedagogy

  • The lesson follows the 5E learning model, and encourages students to develop their own understandings from the scientific data that they analyze. Most of the lesson is accomplished using online resources and could be facilitated in a virtual format, and will likely appeal to students who enjoy utilizing online resources.
  • Students will need some previous experience in being able to interpret and understand scientific graphs.
  • The teacher guide is organized clearly, and links to external resources and data. Websites are all provided in the lesson, making it easy for a teacher to navigate. Student worksheets, teacher slides, materials lists, standards alignment, learning goals, guiding questions, and key vocabulary are all provided.
  • This resource engages different methods of learning by including graphics, videos, and requires students to make a newscast.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • All links are active and current. No software is needed other than access to the internet.
  • Lesson materials (student worksheets, slides, videos, graphs, etc.) are either provided or are website links.
  • Lots of background information and resources are provided. Because links to online resources are also provided in the student worksheets, prep time on the teacher's part should be minimal.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN

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