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This hydraulic water cycle lesson integrates technology and is appropriate for special education students


Art, Language Arts, Science  



Title – Water Cycle
By – Murleen Coakley
Primary Subject – Science
Secondary Subjects – Art, Language Arts
Grade Level – 9th


    Hydraulic Water Cycle


  • Students will gain an understanding of how the water cycle works and the stages of the water cycle.
  • Students will evaluate common water monitoring techniques and processes.
  • Students will collect, interpret, and summarize water monitoring data.
  • Students will evaluate how human activities affect the water cycle.


    Standard E4.P1B: Analyze the flow of water between the elements of a watershed, including surface features (lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands and ground water).

Learning Resources and Materials:

  • poster boards
  • markers
  • water monitoring kits
  • litmus paper
  • books on the water cycle
  • sample water qualities (melted snow, rain water, muddy water, distilled water, tap water, water from local river)
  • eye-droppers
  • student science journals
  • overhead projector

Development of Lesson:



      • Students have already studied the scientific process and have practiced collecting / recording data.
      • Students will select group members, assign jobs within the group and create data tables.
      • Students who have become proficient with Excel and creating spreadsheets will create the class tables on the computers.
      • Students interested in creating artistic designs will draw models and create computer designs of the water cycle for the class displays.
      • Students interested in journalism will write poems about the water cycle and how human activities affect the water cycle.




      • Students and teachers will create a project rubric to evaluate each individual task and the project as a whole.
      • Students will prepare poster size colored diagrams of the water cycle and present them to the class. Students will identify human activities that degrade water quality (fertilizer and manure runoff, erosion, burning fossil fuels, garbage and pollution thrown in water). These brainstorm activities will be added to Water Cycle Diagrams in red.
      • Teacher led discussion/lecture on substances that are commonly tested for in water and what human activity this substance indicates.
      • Students will take turns within their groups testing different water samples and recording data.
      • Students will report back to the class comparing water monitoring data and preparing summary of results of different samples.
      • Class will create Hydraulic Water Cycle display board.




        Since my classes consist of cross-categorical specialized education students, groups will be formed based on student’s needs and comfort level. Students who have artistic abilities will work on the drawings. Students who love the computer and computer generated activities will create the tables and data charts for the groups. Students who need information given in small chunks and work best with their hands will help with the water quality testing. Although we are breaking up into smaller teams, the lab / investigation will be completed as a class assignment with all participants adding to the end display.




        Students will be assessed on their abilities to work as a cooperative group member and their contribution to the task. Each student will be assessed orally on their ability to explain their understanding of the water cycle. Students who are more proficient writers will complete a written summary of their understanding of the water cycle. Since my students’ spelling abilities and phonics levels are significantly low, students will also complete a spelling assessment of key concept words.




      By the end of this lesson, students will be able to discuss and explain what water quality is and how humans affect the water cycle. Students will also be able to describe a watershed. Students are also expected to be able to describe the water cycle and give information about each step of the cycle.

Teacher Reflection:

    This section is to be completed after teaching the lesson. Since I have taught the water cycle in the past, I can reflect on my experiences. This lesson generally works well when it has a rich technology support base. I have learned that I have to collect my own water samples, because sometimes you can’t trust what the students say the water really is. I had alcohol brought in once (laugh). I use the class project, because it helps to include everyone. Having the investigation set up in this manner has actually increased participation to 100%. Each student walks away from the task being able to explain their understanding of the water cycle. I have not mastered time management of this task. We generally run over the 55-minute class time and we can never get this done in one week. The students really get into the water testing, and the collection and recording of data takes a while with my students because of their special learning styles.


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