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Higher Order Thinking in a Geography Classroom

Subject Geography
Level: Year 1
Name of teacher Lucille Yap
Topic Climate and Weather: Factors Influencing Temperature
Macro-concept System


Enduring Understanding The well-being of an ecosystem hinges on the understanding of the processes that determine weather and climate as it helps humans (better) predict, prepare and mitigate the risks from climate variability and change.
Essential Question Does the study of weather/ climate matter?
Curricular or Pedagogical Focus / Lens Higher Order Thinking

Prior Knowledge

  • the difference between weather and climate (elements of weather)
  • the structure of the atmosphere, its layers (mean temperature and temperature range)
  • earth’s heat budget (including heat transfer – radiation, conduction and convection)

Lesson Delivery

At the start of lesson, students were shown a map on Climatic Zones of the World. Next they were asked to describe what they saw – different climatic types. Teacher then posed the question, “Why do different places experience different temperatures?” Teacher shared the lesson focus, “Factors That Influence Earth’s Temperature”and learner outcomes with class.

A set of 4 diagrams on ”Factors Influencing Temperatures” was distributed to students. The 4 factors include latitude, altitude, continentality and cloud cover. Students examined the set of diagrams first before the teacher discussed the influencing factors, one by one, through questioning. Teacher systematically posed the leading questions (as seen below) and guided the students in answering the questions. Teacher also clarified when the students were in doubt.

Factor 1: Latitude

Key Question:

Why are places nearer the equator are warmer than places further away?

Leading Questions:

  1. Would the intensity of sunlight be the same at all latitudes on Earth? Explain.
  2. Does the angle at which sunlight strikes a surface affect the intensity of the light energy felt by that surface?
  3. Would sunlight have to go through the same thickness of atmosphere to reach the equator as it would to reach the poles?

Factor 2: Altitude

Key Question:

Why are places at higher altitudes colder than places at lower altitudes?

Leading Questions:

  1. What is the atmospheric pressure/air density at high or low altitudes? Explain.
  2. How does atmospheric pressure/air density affect temperatures at high or low altitudes?
  3. Would increased distance from the earth surface lead to a lowering of temperature at higher altitudes?

Factor 3: Continentality

Key Question:

Why do places in the interior location experience extreme climate whereas coastal areas experience equable climate.” Explain.                                                      

Leading Questions:

  1. What is the difference between extreme climate and equable climate?
  2. Is the rate of heating and cooling over the land and sea the same? Explain.
  3. How can nearness to water affect the weather or climate of a place?
  4. How would differential rates of heating and cooling over the land and sea affect the annual temperature range and temperatures of interior and coastal locations?

 Factor 4: Cloud Cover

Key Question:

Why do places with thick cloud cover experience a more uniform temperature compared with places with thin cloud cover?              

Leading Question:

How and why would changes in Earth’s cloud cover affect the planetary temperature?

Teacher summarised the factors that influenced temperature variance among different regions of the world At the end of the lesson, students were given Practice Paper 1 to work on.


Posted by: Mrs Lucille Yap

Head of Consultancy, Centre for Pedagogical Research and Learning

Raffles Girls’ School


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