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Weather Makers: Secondary

Secondary, Middle


“Weather makers” is a comprehensive teaching unit on climate change.  Its 15 lessons are organized into 3 sections.

Tuning in:  With the help of engaging video shorts and stunning images students work in pairs and small groups to identify their existing understanding of  climate change and other current environmental issues.

Finding Out:  Students gather and synthesize information about climate science, climate change causes and consequences and future climate trends from a variety of sources and formats including video shorts, assigned readings and internet research.   A number of simulations, experiments and hands-on activities are provided to help students explore and understand complex principles and issues.   Topics explored in depth include extreme weather, the greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases, sea level rise, ocean acidification, the carbon cycle, carbon sinks, energy sources and our climate future.

Taking Action: Students are given opportunities to apply their learning in real situations in their school, home or community.  

While designed to be implemented in its entirety, teachers may choose to select individual or groups of lessons from the compilation.  All the materials and tools required are provided and teachers will be impressed with the organization, teaching tips and background information that accompany each of the lessons.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

  • Consensus building
  • Evaluating the reliability/validity of internet reports
  • Working in a variety of media/presentation formats
  • Using computer simulations to generate and analyze data


In its entirety the resource will provide students with an understanding of climate change science, the role humans are playing and the climate-related challenges we now face. Individual lessons do an excellent job in helping students explain complex phenomena relating to climate. 

Teachers and students will appreciate the organization, clarity and quality of materials and tools that comprise each lesson.

The resource is current and relevant to students in all jurisdictions.

Recommendation of how and where to use it

Whether implemented in whole or lesson by lesson, the compilation has much to offer teachers and students studying climate change in Science and Geography courses in grades 7 to 10.

Individual lessons will also be of interest to teachers of Language Arts, Media Literacy, and middle school level chemistry/physical science.

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
        • Knowledge and Employability Science: Environmental Chemistry (Social and Environmental Contexts Emphasis)
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 7: Earth and its climate have changed over geological time
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Chemistry in Action
        • Senior 2 Science: Weather Dynamics
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Weather Dynamics
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Chemical Reactions
        • Science 1206: Weather Dynamics
  • Northwest Territories
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Chemistry
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Climatology and Meteorology
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geography 10: Ocean Environment
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Weather Dynamics
        • Science 10:Chemical Reactions
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Chemistry and the Environment
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 7
    • Grade 8
    • Grade 9
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems
        • Science (Applied): Biology: Sustainable Ecosystems and Human Activity
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science (Academic):Chemistry: Chemical Reactions
        • Science (Academic):Earth and Space Science: Climate Change
        • Science (Applied)::Chemistry: Chemical Reactions and Their Practical Applications
        • Science (Applied)::Earth and Space Science: Earth's Dynamic Climate
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Weather Dynamics
        • Science 431A: Earth and Space Science, Weather Systems
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics

Themes Addressed

  • Air, Atmosphere & Climate (3)

    • Climate Change
    • Ozone Depletion
    • Weather
  • Citizenship (1)

    • Media
  • Energy (1)

    • Energy Generation

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

While the resource focus is on climate science, 3 lessons (Sink or Swim, Can You Trust the Internet and Water Worries) explicitly require students to consider different points of view in the process of forming their own position.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Very Good

The resource takes a systems-thinking approach throughout.  The lessons Sink or Swim and Water Worries specifically examine the interplay of the 3 dimensions of sustainable development.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Very Good

A strength of the resource is an emphasis on helping students appreciate and understand the complexity of climate change phenomena.  This is especially evident in lessons dealing with  the greenhouse effect, ocean acidification and the carbon cycle.

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Good

An action component is included as one of the core lessons of the resource. However, most of the emphasis and support is given to action planning as opposed to implementation.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

All student lessons conclude with a reflection exercise.  Many of the lessons require students communicate what they have learned in writing or through a variety of media formats.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Poor/Not considered

While a number of opportunities exist within the activities to build empathy for some of the world's poorest people due to climate change impacts, they have not been acted upon.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Good

Several activities (Tuning In, Oceans and Sinks, Ocean Acidification, Water Worries) connect students to the natural world through learning activities that foster both appreciation and concern

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

The frequent and effective use of current events, real data, hands-on inquiry and the students' own media presentations all contribute to more meaningful learning about climate change.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Very Good

The compilation does an excellent job in meeting all three elements of this criterion.  As part of the culminating activity, students apply their knowledge and understanding of climate change to articulate their own visions of the future. 

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Very Good

The emphasis is on teaching students how to evaluate the validity of information as opposed to just accepting what they read or hear as evidence.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Satisfactory

The resource has obvious applications in science and geography.  There are individual lessons that address outcomes in Math, Media Studies, Visual and Language Arts.

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good
Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.


Differentiated Instruction Good

Present within the 15 lessons is a variety of activity types that will meet the needs of students with different learning styles.  Specific suggestions and activities for those with learning difficulties are absent.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Satisfactory

Several of the lessons involve students in simulations, scientific inquiry and media projects representing their own views.

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Satisfactory
Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Good

Reflection and/or Assessment suggestions accompany the teaching notes and student directions in each lesson.  Student lessons include checklists, question exercises and/or summary sheets in pdf format that can be submitted to the teacher electronically or in hard copy.  Many lessons require students to produce paper or media artifacts.  Rubrics are not included.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Satisfactory

With the exception of the action component (Creating a Shared Vision) in which students are empowered to share their visions for the future with the broader community, much of the student-led instruction is incidental.

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Many of the lessons feature activities built on real situations (Is the Ozone Layer a Good News Story), events (Extreme Weather), and data (Sink or Swim).  The instructional video clips used prominently in the resource all feature current events.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

While the lessons appear heavily scripted, students are given a good deal of choice and how they proceed. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.