PRISMS: Phenomena & Representation for Instruction of Science in Middle School

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This is a representation reviewed for the following learning goal:

The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere is a significant aspect of the weather patterns on Earth.

Summary

The introductory slide of this resource is an animation of the water cycle.  It addresses the key idea that water moves in and out of the atmosphere in a continuous cycle. It is likely to be comprehensible to middle school students.

Limitations: The simplification of the cycle gives the impression that precipitation only occurs on land and evapotranspiration only occurs near a body of water. Red lines depicting movement of water through the atmosphere do not clearly show differences in phases water goes through while cycling through the atmosphere.

Suggestions to improve effectiveness: Point out that water vapor is invisible in the atmosphere and that clouds are condensed water droplets.  Note the dynamic nature of the water cycle and the critical role of the atmosphere in this process. Discuss the ubiquity of the water cycle processes; they do not occur in a "circle".

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Detailed Review

Description

The representation is an animation depicting the water cycle. The first page is an introduction with links to pages on condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff and evapotranspiration. This analysis reviews the introduction slide.

  • Resource Copyright Owner: Teachers' Domain WGBH
  • Type of Resource: application/x-shockwave-flash


Content alignment

The resource addresses the actual substance of the learning goal rather than just the topic.

Explanation

The introduction slide to this resource shows water moving in and out of the atmosphere in a continuous cycle.

Scope

The resource addresses the indicated part of the learning goal:

Explanation

[The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere] is a significant aspect of the weather patterns on Earth.

Sophistication

The resource correctly reflects the level of sophistication of the learning goal.

Explanation

Although the resource contains many vocabulary terms, they do not interfere with the idea that water moves in and out of the atmosphere in a continuous cycle.

Notes for Teachers

Place emphasis on the process rather than the terminology.

Quality of instructional support

Does the representation accurately represent relevant aspects of the learning goal and/or brings out limitations that are not accurate?

Partial—The representation accurately represents most, but not all of the relevant aspects of the learning goals. It may or may not bring out inaccuracies.

The animation clearly shows movement of water through atmosphere, but the simplification of the cycle gives the impression that precipitation only occurs on land and evapotranspiration only occurs near a body of water.

Is the representation likely to be comprehensible to students?

Partial—The representation might make the learning goal comprehensible to students.

The introduction slide shows water moving in and out of the atmosphere, but some vocabulary (e.g. evapotranspiration) may distract from understanding the idea that water vapor is cycling through the atmosphere.

Does the representation make clear which aspects of the real thing are represented and which are not?

Partial—The representation usually, but not always, makes clear which aspects of the real thing are represented and which are not.

Red lines depicting movement of water through the atmosphere do not clearly show differences in phases water goes through while cycling through the atmosphere.

Summary Judgment

Useful with modification

Notes to teachers

Point out that water vapor is invisible in the atmosphere and that clouds are condensed water droplets. Note the dynamic nature of the water cycle and the critical role of the atmosphere in this process.

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