It being pretty early in the summer, I know you’re not really thinking about developing that perfect lesson plan. However, in mid-September, when you’re frazzled from start of school madness, parents’ night, and you realize you don’t have a lesson for tomorrow, you’ll want to refer back to this website, Science with NOAA Research.
The purpose of this site is “to provide middle school science students and teachers with research and investigation experiences using on-line resources.” In teacher language, this means ready-made and well-developed online learning activities that require very little preparation on your part. The site offers modules on various NOAA research topics. The general categories are: Storms, El Niño, Atmosphere, Fisheries, Ocean, and Great Lakes. Within each of those categories, there are one or more modules on topics related to the category. Within each module, students go through something similar to an inquiry process in which they get background content, gather data, then apply their knowledge. Each module also comes with a downloadable teacher’s guide and student booklet for work completion.
One example module on Hurricanes — a timely topic if you’re panicking in September — has students interpret data on wind speed, pressure, and storm surge, among other factors. Another way I’ve used this website in my classroom is to offer it as a component to a compacting unit for students who are in need of independent and more-advanced work. The self-directed nature of these modules makes it perfect for this type of application.
A word of caution — this site isn’t the newest, and on some of the modules I’ve found broken links, so a little preview of the module you intend to use would be wise. However, the ones that work are well designed and really easy to implement in a classroom. They’re great for an emergency, or for a lesson you have time to plan.