This lesson continues our unit on endangered animals. To open the lesson, we complete a concept map on endangered animals. During this brainstorming session, students share types of endangered animals they have learned about, different reasons animals are being killed (i.e., ivory tusks of elephants, meat and oil of whales, prized trophies, etc.), and effects the extinction of animals has on the ecosystem. I tell students in this lesson, we will explore "The Ivory War" or how the illegal ivory trade is threatening the survival of African elephants. I selected this lesson topic because we have several students from African descent who attend our school. I view this lesson as a way to bridge the cultural gap between our African students and students of other cultural backgrounds. This lesson will allow our African students to share their own personal experiences with "The Ivory War" and endangered animals.
Close reading has been proven to advance struggling and advanced readers to significant gains in reading proficiency, and college and career readiness. It is primarily for this reason, that I have chosen a close read for the crux of this lesson. Not only do I allow students to read a passage of complex text (Scholastic News article, "The Ivory War" by Lisa M. Herrington), discuss Tier 2 vocabulary as encountered in context, and answer teacher-generated text-based questions, but I also allow them an opportunity to first read the text independently and write student-generated questions to guide our discussion, as well. My students composed very insightful questions such as "What will happen to our world if the ecosystem is changed because of animal extinction?" and "How can the problem of endangered animals be solved?."
To close this lesson, I have students do a quick write to reflect on what they have learned about endangered animals. Reflective writing gets students to independently think about their own thinking, build upon the ideas of others that are heard during the close read, and decide how the information learned will affect their actions in the future.