Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

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Using Multimedia to Communicate Weather Hazards

Danny Mattox, William Thompson, Keiana Cross | Published: November 16th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 10th, 11th, 12th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course
  • Duration More 3-5 class periods


In this lesson, students will analyze and create multimedia messages to communicate the risks to life and property associated with severe weather and natural disasters. Students will analyze informational graphics made by meteorologists to identify critical information and actions residents need to take in response to the potentially hazardous weather. Students will play the AWARE severe weather video game and create their own multimedia communications based on the gameplay. In the game, players can hire STEM professionals to unlock additional features like storm sirens, advanced radar, weather stations, etc. to help protect their communities. Given the strong focus on careers, this lesson also aligns with ICAP standards.

Essential Question(s)

How are risks communicated? Why are some messages more persuasive than others?



Students share how weather events have impacted their lives and discuss where they get weather information.


Students work in small groups to review and analyze information from multiple sources about real weather events.


Students discuss graphics and information about weather events to determine the threat, the author’s intent, and which messages were more effective or persuasive and why.


Students play the AWARE video game over 2–3 class periods and gather information from their experience.


Students create a multimedia presentation to inform or persuade a specific audience to take specific actions (e.g., seek shelter, be prepared for hazardous weather, etc.)


  • Lesson Slides (attached)

  • Magnetic Statements Signs (attached; one set)

  • AWARE Graphic Organizer handout (attached; one per pair student or group)

  • K20 Game Portal Account (access is free but must be requested beforehand at

  • Desktop or laptop for each student (the AWARE game does not support mobile devices)

  • Internet access

  • Headphones for each student

  • Video recording device (optional; most laptops have a video recording feature)

  • Google folder with AWARE visual resources that students can use for their weather communications


20 Minute(s)

Introduce the lesson using the attached Lesson Slides. Display slides 2–4 to share the lesson’s essential questions and objectives.

The lesson starts with the Magnetic Statements strategy. Inform students that they will move around the room toward statement signs that “attract” or “repel” them the most in response to prompts about the weather. Inform students that several signs have been distributed around the room, each representing “tornado,” “flood,” “fire,” “hail,” “lighting,” “drought,” and “wind."

Display slide 5 and introduce the first prompt: “Which hazard has had the greatest impact on your life?” Oklahomans typically share intense weather experiences as a part of living in the state—students, too, will probably have stories about their experiences with the weather.

Ask students to stand next to the sign that “attracts” them the most when thinking about the prompt. For example, a student’s family may own a livestock business that has been drastically impacted by drought in the past (perhaps they even had to sell off an entire herd). Another student might have lost a house during a tornado or fire event.

After students choose their signs, have students share their thoughts about their chosen weather hazard with others around them. Then, have them share their thoughts with the whole class.

Next, display slide 6 and ask students to move to the hazard that “repels” them the most (as in which one has impacted their life the least). Have students share their thoughts with others around them, and then the whole class.

Next, display slide 7 and ask them where they and their families get information about weather hazards like the ones they just talked about. Answers will probably range from TV news, social media, to friends. Generally speaking, the National Weather Service (NWS) is the most credible source of weather information, but students will unlikely mention NWS.

Share with students that, in this information age, an abundance of weather information is available from multiple sources. Inform them that, in this lesson, they will analyze several weather communications before creating their own.


30 Minute(s)

Students will now analyze up to four weather communication scenarios. The scenarios contain various communication techniques from real-life events. The goal of this activity is to get students to think about common methods and media used to convey hazardous weather. For each scenario, students will also identify the author’s intent and purpose.

The presented weather communication scenarios range in complexity, from the first with the least amount of media resources, to the last with the most complex combination of media resources.

Depending on your class dynamic, you may have students complete this activity individually or in groups. You may also choose to either present all four scenarios to all students or use the Jigsaw Strategy to assign different scenarios to different groups. Either way, the class will debrief together later to help students process and reflect on their learning.

Display slide 8 and have students access the links to the scenarios embedded in the slide using their electronic devices. For your reference, here are the scenarios:

Once students have navigated to the scenario links, display slide 9 and ask them to consider the following questions as they comb through the information:

  1. What weather hazards are the authors concerned about?

  2. What information is being shared, and why?

  3. What is the author's intent? Is it to persuade, inform, or entertain?

  4. Who is the intended audience?

  5. What types of media are being used? (E.g., graphics, text, videos, etc.)

You may want to tell students that, at the end of the lesson, they will construct a hazardous weather communication of their own, so they may draw inspiration from these weather communication messages.


45 Minute(s)

Once students finish reading the scenarios, use the five questions on slide 9 to guide a class discussion about each scenario.

After the class discussion, display slides 10–16 and explain the details of each event.

Scenario 1: Large, damaging hail (from May 15, 2022)

Display slide 10 and play the “Hail Storm Oklahoma City” video embedded in the slide. Note that the dramatic video is not from the hail storm on May 15, 2022, but from a similar one in 2010. The hail dramatically intensifies at about 90 seconds into the video.

Display slide 11 and share that, during this event, multiple locations in central and eastern Oklahoma experienced large hail. The small town of Gore was hit the worst with hail damages estimated to be over $100,000.

Scenario 2: Flood (from May 5, 2022)

Display slide 12 and play the “First Responders Help Bixby Families Find Shelter After Flooding” video embedded in the slide. A TV report of Bixby’s flooding event was included in scenario 2 from the previous activity. However, this video specifically shows the human impact of the flooding event.

Display slide 13 and share that the flooding damages in Bixby were estimated to be around $2 million dollars.

Scenario 3: Fire (from March 7–8, 2020)

Display slide 14 and play the “Beaver County homes destroyed in fire” video embedded in the slide.

Then, display slide 15 and share that the Oklahoma panhandle experienced a catastrophic wildfire as a result of high winds, low humidity, and drought.

Scenario 4: Tornado (from May 4, 2022)

Display slide 16 and play the ”Tornado causes widespread damage in Seminole” video embedded in the slide. The short video shows live coverage just after the tornado went through the town. The on-air meteorologist and helicopter pilot talk about how important weather coverage is in saving lives.

Display slide 17 and share that on May 4, 2022, Oklahoma had a tornado outbreak with 13 confirmed tornadoes. The town of Seminole suffered the most damage. Luckily, no one was killed or even injured. This is thanks in large part to the accurate and understandable weather information residents received from many sources. The National Weather Service has provided a detailed analysis of the events that day.


100 Minute(s)

Display slide 18 and play the video embedded in the slide. In the video, Dr. Makenzie Krocak, a research scientist at the OU Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis, discusses factors that influence the communication of potential weather-related hazards, how those messages are tailored to each audience, and how to build trust in the community.

Now it’s time to play the AWARE game!

Students will take the role of emergency managers responsible for the safety of the communities in their area. This activity will take about two class periods to complete. Some students will complete the game in its entirety, while others may not—that is okay.

The game takes place in five different time eras, and each era consists of 10 turns. Each student will be given a specific era and turn to focus on. They will then record the weather information from their turns on a graphic organizer. They will then create a weather communication based on their collected data. Their communication message will be in similar formats to the four weather communication scenarios presented earlier in the lesson.

Each era and turn has a unique weather threat, so students’ communication messages will look different from one another. For their communication, students need to consider their audience, the threats, and the actions they want the audience to take, as well as the reasoning behind their forecasts.

Display slide 19 and pass out a copy of the AWARE Graphic Organizer handout to each student or group (depending on how you want to facilitate the activity).

Display slide 20 and go over the assignment. Each student or group only needs to play through their assigned era and turn, but they should continue to play the game as long as time allows or until they finish the game.

Display slide 21 and go over the graphic organizer with the class.

Then, display slide 22 and assign each student or group one of these listed turns from either Era 1 or Era 2:

  • Era 2, Turn 1

  • Era 2, Turn 3

  • Era 2, Turn 5

  • Era 2, Turn 10

  • Era 3 Turn 2

  • Era 3, Turn 5

  • Era 3, Turn 7

  • Era 3, Turn 8

Note that each student or group should only be assigned one of the turns. Once they receive their assigned turns, have them fill in the “Era ___, Turn ___” blank spaces with the numbers of their assigned era and turn on the first page of their AWARE Graphic Organizer handout.

Display slide 23 and have students play the game. Remind students to record data from their turns in their graphic organizer as they play their turns. The teacher dashboard on the game will tell you how far each student has progressed.

Once students complete the game, have students use the information they recorded on their graphic organizers to construct a weather communication. The goal of their weather communication is to protect their residents.


100 Minute(s)

To wrap this lesson up, display slide 24 and ask each student to create a communication message for the hazardous weather in their assigned era. Remind students to draw inspiration from the weather communication scenarios they reviewed earlier in the lesson.

For their communication messages, have students utilize various forms of media to deliver their data. Ask students to also include any other pertinent information they think the audience needs to know in order to protect themselves.

This activity can be somewhat open-ended. However, if students need more direction, you may use the Bento Box strategy to guide their work. Students who are interested in making videos using iPads or Chromebooks may use tech tools like:

Some graphic design tools include:

It is completely possible to complete this activity without using any technology. If students wish to create their communication without technology, have them prepare a poster and a verbal presentation.

Collect students’ work once they are done with their communication messages. If time permits, have students share their communication messages with the class.