ELL Lesson

Subject: Science

Grade level: 1

Prerequisite knowledge: Students should know what a thunderstorm is, they should know some safety information about staying indoors and away from water, telephones, and computers, students should know how to find the area of their brochure to write in for their project

Approximate time: 50 minutes

Student Objectives:

1. Students will add new safety tips to their brochures

2. Students will write the 4 steps of the development of a thunderstorm and make illustrations

Language Objectives:

The vocabulary that may need to be addressed is as follows:






A. Know and apply the concepts, principles and processes of scientific inquiry.

11.A.1a Describe an observed event.

E. Know and apply concepts that describe the features and processes of the Earth and its resources.

12.E.1a Identify components and describe diverse features of the Earth’s land, water and atmospheric systems.

12.E.1b Identify and describe patterns of weather and seasonal change.

Writing Standards:

1. Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.

Materials/resources/technology: Overhead projector, transparency with simple model of how thunderstorms form, large sheets of plain white paper for each student, markers for students to share at their tables, handouts for each student with written directions, sheets with pictures of vocabulary words with the terms next to them to help ELL students, all the students’ brochures


Opening of Lesson:

The teacher will start the lesson by asking the students what they think might cause a thunderstorm.  Ask them to think about things in the sky and in the air and to think about what happens that makes a thunderstorm form.  Let students think about how a thunderstorm might form, let them give some ideas, and then prompt them with questions and hints to lead them in the right direction.  After students are able to give their ideas, the teacher will explain to them that thunderstorms are caused by moisture and warm air that is rising up quickly.  Explain that the moisture forms the clouds and rain and when that mixes with the warm air, thunderstorms form.  The teacher will show this in a picture on the overhead. 

Then the teacher will help the students break this down into steps.  Explaining moisture in the air, then warm air rising, then clouds and rain form, and then the whole thunderstorm forms.  This will be told to the students verbally, it will be written on the overhead in 4 simple steps, and the vocabulary words will be explicitly the taught.  The teacher will go over what moisture is, what is means for air to rise, what clouds and rain are, and what a thunderstorm is.  This way, all of the ELL students can have some background knowledge. 


After the students have some understanding of how the steps work, they are going to get handed a large piece of blank white paper.  They are going to be told to write the 4 steps on the paper (they can copy the words right from the overhead) and they are going to draw pictures on it.  Each student will get a written set of directions on a handout, there will be verbal directions, and there will be a teacher’s sample of a finished product for students to look at.  This allows ELL students to receive directions in many ways.  If they struggle with both written and oral directions, the picture should help them.  Also, the teacher can encourage the ELL students to make their poster in their native language if that helps them.  The teacher will be walking around the room monitoring this activity and answering questions for any students.  If there are any ELL students or other students having difficulty, the teacher can write down the steps on a sticky note for the students and have them cross off each letter as they write or the teacher can modify their steps to include simpler words and/or fewer words to write. 

After students have finished their posters, the teacher will draw 3 names randomly to share their posters with the class, if they so choose to say yes, and explain the steps and the pictures they drew.  If any ELL students get picked and they are nervous about having to read the words to the class but still want to present, the teacher will allow them to bring up a friend to help them out and to explain the pictures the best they could.  The teacher would help the students out with any vocabulary words that they might be confused about. 

Next the teacher will ask the students to remind her of some things they should not do during a thunderstorm.  Ask for quiet volunteers and take a few ideas.  The students should mention things like staying indoors, staying away from water, and staying off of the phones and computers.  Tell the students that we are going to talk about a few more things that are important to be safe.  Explain to the students that sometimes they might be outside when a thunderstorm is going on and trying to get inside.  Ask them what is something they might wear if there’s a storm going on.  The teacher will call on quiet students. The teacher will guide students to answers such as wearing a rain coat, wearing something to block the wind, and not holding up an umbrella because metal can conduct electricity.  The teacher here will clarify vocabulary words such as umbrella, rain coat, conducting electricity, and any other words that ELL students may have questions about.  The teacher should also come with pictures of these things with the words next to them to help these students get a better understanding. 


After the students have a discussion about more safety tips, they will be asked to sit with their table groups and work together to fill out some more safety tips about what to wear and what to carry during a thunderstorm in their brochures.  During this time, the teacher will be walking around answering questions and helping students.  The ELL students will already have some basic information filled out for them in their brochure where they just need to fill in a few simple words and then draw their pictures.  The teacher should also encourage other group members to help those ELL students in their group. 

When students are finishing up, the teacher will ask a student to remind her some of the steps are in forming a thunderstorm.  Tell the students to look at their posters to help remind them.  Then ask for volunteers for some safety tips.  After all the students have answered, the teacher will collect the brochures and look through them later in the day to make sure that everyone has a basic understanding. 


1. The teacher will look at what the students wrote in their brochures

2. The teacher will observe how the students write, illustrate, and present their posters about how a thunderstorm develops

Possible Extension:


Kids can use this weather maker.