Materials List: chart paper, Internet (optional), resource books on endangered species, Endangered Species Report Rubric BLM
This activity will take several days to complete
Have students complete a KWL chart (view literacy strategy descriptions) about endangered species to assess prior knowledge and create interest. Use this chart to record what students know or believe they know about what endangered means, what causes an animal or plant to be endangered, and any animals or plants they currently know to be endangered. This chart is divided into three sections. In the “K” section of the chart, the teacher records what students know or believe they know about endangered animals and plants. In the “W” section of the chart, the teacher records what the students would like to know or what they wonder about endangered animals and plants. The “L” section of the chart is completed at the end of the unit to record what the students feel they have learned during the study of these animals and plants. During the course of the unit, refer to the KWL chart to review, clarify, or modify student understanding.
Students can visit the Internet (see resource list) and look for sites on endangered animals and plants or gather information from LA Wildlife and Fisheries and/or the library to conduct research. For a listing of current endangered species in Louisiana, visit http://www.endangeredspecie.com and do a keyword search for Louisiana. Locate, share, and discuss several books and/or other resources such as the LPB Cyberchannel video clip, Beyond the Bars: Zoo and Zoo Animals (www.lpb.org/cyberchannel), about endangered species, the causes and effects of habitat loss and degradation, and how we can reduce the number of endangered species.
Engage students in a discussion about the meaning of “inherited characteristics” as it relates to animals. Inherited traits are characteristics that are passed from parent to offspring. Have students orally list and discuss inherited characteristics of the animal that allow them to survive. Students can also suggest ways they think they can help stop these animals from becoming endangered.
Discuss with students the role a zoo serves with regard to endangered animals. Discussion questions could include the following:
What is the main service of a zoo? (recreation, education, biodiversity)
What are some important facts you learned about the survival of an animal?
What can you do to help?
Have students work in pairs to select an endangered species to report about. Students will need to gather specific information about habitat requirements and the reasons for this species being endangered. Once students have gathered some information, ask them to demonstrate their understanding by completing a RAFTed writing (view literacy strategy descriptions). This form of writing gives students the freedom to project themselves into unique roles and look at content from unique perspectives. Some examples are writing from the point of view of the endangered animal or plant, a newspaper reporter, a concerned individual, or a children’s story. It’s the kind of writing that, when crafted appropriately, should be creative and informative.
Model how to use the RAFT using the following example or one of your own choosing:
R – Role (role of writer) – endangered animal
A – Audience (to whom the or what the RAFT is being written) – construction company
F - Form (the form the writing will take) – letter
T - Topic (the focus of the writing) – habitat loss due to the building of new subdivisions
Discuss with students how to take the RAFT and develop it into a completed piece of writing. Once writings are completed, student pairs can do oral presentations of their work.
Student work can be assessed using the Endangered Species Report Rubric BLM.