Launching an Inquiry into Endangered Animals
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
- Access prior knowledge about threatened, endangered, and extinct species.
- Categorize photos of living things onto a continuum with the main points (extinct, endangered, threatened, and safe) for use as a formative assessment.
- Generate a list of questions about endangered species.
- Pictures of a variety of animals that are safe, threatened, endangered, and extinct
- Glue and construction paper
Set Up and Prepare
- Identify animals you want to use for the pre-assessment.
- Copy the pictures so students have one of each animal.
Write the objectives on the board and read them with the students. Access prior knowledge by asking students to individually think about the words "safe, threatened, endangered, and extinct" by putting them on the board in random order.
Students will create a continuum using the words "safe, threatened, endangered, and extinct" (again, you present them in random order). The teacher should be taking notes on students who created the correct continuum during this activity and who did not so it can also be used as a formative pre-assessment.
In partners or small groups, have the students share their continuums with each other and make any changes they deem necessary.
Give students the correct order and have them write the words vertically on a piece of construction paper.
Pass out copies of the pictures to the students. Have them sort and paste each picture next to the proper category (safe, threatened, endangered, extinct). As you walk around make sure to ask them why they put the animals in the categories they did.
After they have completed their sort, students should choose one animal from each category and write a few sentences explaining why they placed that animal in that category.
Post students' sorts around the room. Have students do a gallery walk, looking for people who had the same ideas that they did and ones that were different. As they complete their gallery walk, encourage them to record questions they have for each other or questions they want answered later in the unit.
Have students stand by their posters and share one of their animals and the reason they put the animal in the category they did. At this time students can ask their peers any questions they had about their work.
Revisit the objectives. Ask the students to think about the lesson and the objectives. Have them reflect on which lesson activity helped them to reach the objectives. Have them share their thinking with a partner.
Supporting All Learners
Students who need more of a challenge should write one question from each level of Bloom's Taxonomy.
Instruct students to share the activity with their families and record their questions to share with a partner in class the next day.
- Students will create a continuum of the words "safe, threatened, endangered, and extinct."
- Students will complete an animal sort.
- Students will record their questions on Post-it Notes.
- Were your students able to generate questions?
- What worked well?
- What didn't?
- If you taught the same lesson again, what would you do differently?
Look over the questions that the students wrote and plan lessons to help students answer those questions.