Who Would Win? Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark Storia Teaching Guide
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
The killer whale and the great white shark are two of the most powerful predators in the oceans. Which would win a match-up? Against the backdrop of an impending battle between the animals, the book compares and contrasts their physical features.
Readers learn that the whale is a mammal, while the great white shark is a huge fish. The book compares their teeth, their fins, their eating habits, their size, their agility, and their speed in the water. The crucial comparison turns out to be the size of their brains. The great white shark’s brain is no match for the killer whale’s which is three times larger than a human’s brain.
When the two animals meet up for a fight, the whale’s bigger brain wins the day. The competition lasts only three seconds. The book leaves readers with another question: Can the ferocious great white shark ever overcome the whale’s superior intelligence?
Teaching the Book
What would happen if a killer whale met up with a great white shark? Author Jerry Pallotta answers this question with fascinating facts about the two ocean animals. The book provides an opportunity to teach compare and contrast, content area vocabulary, and the topic of predators and prey in nature. Activities will engage students in creating their own “Who Would Win?” contest and writing a compare and contrast essay.
Topic Focus: Predators and Prey
Comprehension Focus: Make Predictions, Cause & Effect
Language Focus: Content Area Vocabulary
Get Ready to Read
Predators or Prey?
Engage students’ interest and build background with a discussion about nature’s food chain. Explain that an animal that hunts and kills another animal is called a predator. The animal being hunted and killed is called the prey. Write these pairs of animals on chart paper or the whiteboard. If possible, show photographs of each animal. Ask students to identify which is the predator and which is the prey. Challenge them to describe why one would win out over the other.
- owl vs. mouse (predator: owl; prey: mouse)
- snake vs. alligator (predator: alligator; prey: snake)
- lion vs. zebra (predator: lion; prey: zebra)
- rabbit vs. fox (predator: fox; prey: rabbit)
- snake vs. frog (predator: snake; prey: frog)
Tell students that the same predator/prey relationship exists in the oceans. They’ll be reading about a match-up between two of the ocean’s fiercest animals.
Preview and Predict
Have students study the cover of Who Would Win? Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark. Ask them to predict which animal would win.
Content Area Words
The book includes many content area words related to animals or the ocean. Encourage students to look for clues in the text and the illustrations to figure out the meaning of unfamiliar words or have them check a dictionary definition. Use Resource #1: Vocabulary Cards and distribute copies to students.
Words to Know
Read aloud the following descriptions for the vocabulary words. Ask students to hold up the vocabulary card that matches each description. Then ask them to point to an illustration on the page that helps them understand each word.
- Whales use them to breathe, just like humans do. (lungs, p. 4)
- Sharks use them to get oxygen from water. (gills, p. 5)
- These stick out of the top of a whale and shark. (fins, p. 8-9; dorsal means toward the back of an animal)
- This is the set of bones that supports a whale’s body. (skeleton, p. 12)
- Sharks have this strong, elastic tissue instead of bones. (cartilage, p. 13)
- Whales have this kind of flat, parallel-to-the-ground tail. (horizontal, p. 16)
- Sharks have this kind of tail that is straight up and down. (vertical, p. 17)
- Whales use this to navigate by bouncing sounds off things in the ocean. (sonar, p. 18)
As You Read
Reading the Book
Read aloud several spreads of the book with students following along. Point out that the left-hand page always talks about the whale, while the right-hand pages talks about the shark. Explain that the main text on a page provides the important information while the illustrations, captions, and fact boxes give additional information.
Encourage partners to reread the book together. One student can read the text about the whale while the other reads the text about the shark. Remind students to study the illustrations and sidebars that help explain the text in greater detail.
Big Question: Critical Thinking
Ask students to think about this question as they read and be ready to answer it when they’ve finished the book. Write the question on chart paper or have students write it in their reading journals. Who would win in a match-up between the killer whale and the great white shark—and why?
Compare and Contrast
Explain to students that Who Will Win? is written as a comparison and contrast book. When you compare, you tell how two things are the same. When you contrast, you tell how they are different. Recognizing comparisons and contrasts help readers understand the meaning of a text.
Use the graphic organizer on Resource #2: Compare and Contrast to model for students how to identify comparisons and contrasts. Project the page on a whiteboard or pass out copies to students. Then model how to identify how whales and sharks are alike and different on pp. 4-5 of the book.
Whales and sharks both live in the ocean. However, they are very different animals. The text says that the killer whale is a sea mammal. It breathes air using a blowhole connected to its lungs. I’ll write sea mammal with lungs under the heading for the killer whale. On the next page, the text explains that the great white shark is a fish that gets oxygen from the water that flows through its gills. I’ll write fish with gills under the heading for the great white shark. In the last column, I’ll write different.
Have students fill in the rest of the comparison and contrast entries on the organizer.
After You Read
Questions to Discuss
Lead students in a discussion of these focus story elements.
1. Predators and Prey
Why are the killer whale and the great white shark a good match-up for Who Would Win? (Sample answer: They are both at the top of the food chain in the ocean; both are fierce predators with strength and speed.)
2. Compare and Contrast
How are the killer whale and the great white shark alike? (Sample answers: They both live in the ocean; they are both top predators; they can both jump out of the water.) How are the killer whale and the great white shark different? (Sample answers: The whale is a mammal; the shark is a fish. The whale uses sonar; the shark uses smell.)
3. Content Area Vocabulary
Use the text and the illustrations on p. 23 to figure out the meaning of the word denticles. (like little tiny teeth on a great white shark’s skin)
Questions to Share
Encourage students to share their responses with a partner or small group.
1. Text to Self
What is the most amazing fact that you learned in the book? How did the book change your ideas about killer whales and great white sharks?
2. Text to World
Do you think it is right for killer whales to be captives in aquariums? Is it safe for humans to perform tricks with killer whales for an audience?
3. Text to Text
The author of this book has written several other books in the Who Would Win? series. They include Lion vs. Tiger, Polar Bear vs. Grizzly Bear, and Komodo Dragon vs. King Cobra. Which title sounds most interesting to you? Who do you think would win?
Content Area Connections
Graph the Whale and Shark
On pp. 12-13, the book shows the relative sizes of a male and female killer whale and a male and female great white shark. Guide students to create a bar graph that shows how all four animals compare with each other in size.
Sharks in Danger
Share with students this video of sharks. Then read the accompanying article “Sharks in Hot Water.” Discuss with students the dangers of sharks to humans and the dangers of humans to sharks.
Ask students to dive into the ocean and learn more about another whale or shark. Encourage them to find appropriate online resources for the animal they choose. The outcome of their research can be a Five Fascinating Facts sheet about a whale or a shark.
Diagram a Whale or Shark
Ask students to choose either a killer whale or a great white shark to draw and label with call-outs. The book has many excellent illustrations for them to use as models for their drawing. Have students label five parts of the animal’s body with lines drawn to the area being described. Encourage students to compare their drawings.
Compare and Contrast
Assign students to write a compare and contrast paragraph on the killer whale and the great white shark. Ask them to choose three or four characteristics and describe how the animals are the same or different. For example, they might write about the animals’ size, speed, and brains. Remind students that the words both, same, also, and too are used to describe comparisons. The words but, rather, different, and however are used to describe contrasts.
Don't Forget the Big Question
Give each student an opportunity to answer the big question. Encourage students to support their answers with details and evidence from the text. Tell them there is no one right answer. Who would win in a match-up between the killer whale and the great white shark—and why?
Who Would Win?
Assign students to research two animals to compare in a “who would win” match-up. They might choose animals they are already familiar with or do further research to learn more about two unfamiliar animals. Make copies of the Big Activity: Who Would Win and distribute to students. Read the directions and answer questions to clarify the activity.
This Storia ebook has the following enrichments to enhance students’ comprehension of the book.
- Picture Starter
- Multiple Choice with Pictures
- Touch the Page
- Multiple Choice with Text (2)
- Word Search
- Scratch and See
- Word Bird
About the Author
Jerry Pallotta became interested in writing while reading alphabet books to his young children. He decided to write a different kind of alphabet book, one about the Atlantic Ocean. The rest is history. Pallotta has written 20 alphabet books, 20 math books, and several nonfiction series including the Who Would Win? series. Read more about the author at his website.
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