Enriching Student Inquiry into Endangered Animals
- Grades: 6–8
- Unit Plan:
- Complete individual projects related to their interest.
- Prepare a persuasive writing piece.
- Compare and contrast two endangered animals.
- Computers or library for research
- Hoot by Carl Hiassen for whole class read-aloud
Some of the lesson ideas listed below are ongoing while others are meant for a day or two. The order in which the lessons are taught will depend on the overarching goal of the unit. My team focuses on the impact human choices have on the sustainability of living things. All lessons then lead to the understanding of your main idea.
Ongoing Projects for the Duration of the Unit:
Inquiry Projects (ongoing): Students will choose an endangered animal to research and create a presentation that includes where the animal is found naturally and the main cause(s) of its endangered status. Incorporate technology by having students create a multimedia presentation.
Read Aloud: Read Hoot by Carl Hiassen. There are great points for discussion in this novel. Join Flashlight Readers, an online club for kids who love books. Access the book Hoot on the desk or from the bookcase. Use author extras to spark further discussion including: "About Hoot," "Carl Hiaasen on Writing," and "Meet the Author."
Individual Lessons that Enrich Student Understanding of Endangered Animals:
Writing - A persuasive writing piece that answers the question, "Should there be zoos?", creates lively discussion during the research phase of the writing process. Provide a guided approach to persuasive writing with the activity "Write for Change" in the Hoot installment of Flashlight Readers.
Guest speakers: Invite someone from the local raptor center or zoo to talk with the students about how their work affects endangered species.
A Case Study: A case study on the manatee is interesting when considering endangered species because they have virtually no natural enemies.
Species: Examine plants that are extinct or endangered. What impact will the extinction of certain plants have on its home environment?
Explore: Have students join Flashlight Readers and access Hoot from the desk or the bookshelf. Encourage them to investigate the activities and author extras.
Supporting All Learners
Differentiate the inquiry projects, not only by content (through student choice) but also by product. This will allow students to present their learning in a way that is appropriate for their learning style or academic level. Support for your learners in their inquiry projects from colleagues in the Special Education, English Language Learner, and the Gifted and Talented departments can increase student understanding.
At the end of the unit, invite the families in to look at the students' inquiry projects.
- Students will complete a graphic organizer comparing and contrasting two endangered animals.
- Students complete a case study on the manatee.
- Students will write a persuasive essay answering the question, "Should there be zoos?"
- What could you have done differently in order to increase student understanding?
- What went well?
- Were there any questions the students generated that you will want to use as guiding questions the next time you teach the unit?
Student-created rubrics are an excellent way to assess the major projects. If you use portfolio assessments, having students take photos of their projects and reflect on the unit as a whole serves as an end-of-the-unit reflection.