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6-8 > Animals
Grade level: 6-8 Subject: Animals Duration: Two class periods
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Objectives | Materials | Procedures | Adaptations | Discussion Questions | Evaluation | Extensions | Suggested Readings | Links | Vocabulary | Academic Standards | Credit
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Objectives
 



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Find a video description, video clip, and discussion questions.
 
Ultimate Guide: Sharks




Students will understand the following:
1. Sharks exhibit a wide variety of adaptations that help them survive in their habitats.
Materials

For this lesson, you will need:
Research materials on sharks, including photographs and/or illustrations
Computer with Internet access
Index cards
Drawing and/or modeling materials
Procedures

1. In advance, get ready for this activity by preparing shark-adaptation cards in five categories as follows (each adaptation card should be labeled with its category; cards in each category should be stacked separately):
  1. Category: Teeth
    Adaptations: thin, pointed, serrated, wedge-shaped, small, conical
  2. Category: Body Shape
    Adaptations: torpedo, blunt head, long snout, head flat and rectangular
  3. Category: Coloration
    Adaptations: light-colored belly, gray topside, blue topside, dark brown with spots, mottled
  4. Category: Tail and Fins
    Adaptations: crescent-shaped tail, long pectoral fin, tail fin same length as body
  5. Category: Eye
    Adaptations: small, black, green
You may add other categories or adaptations or both, if you wish.
2. Have students prepare for the activity by reading up on sharks. Divide the class into research teams, and allocate time for them to use the Internet, materials you have provided, or materials in the library. They should concentrate their research on specific adaptations that help different kinds of sharks survive in their particular habitats.
3. In class discussion, invite students to share their research findings. Guide the discussion so that students see that each adaptive feature helps the shark survive successfully in a specific habitat.
4. Tell students that they are going to work in pairs to draw or make models of sharks they create themselves. Each shark must exhibit adaptations to be determined by cards students will pick. Students should know that they will be expected to describe the habitats where their sharks live and eat, show how their sharks’ adaptive features help them survive in their habitats, and make up appropriate names for their sharks.
5. Divide your class into pairs or small groups to work on shark models. Each group should pick one card from each adaptation category, write down the adaptations they have picked, and then replace the cards.
6. Students should create their sharks so that they exhibit all the adaptations the group has picked.
7. If necessary, allow time for students to do further research to discover the adaptive qualities of their sharks’ features.
8. Have each group present its shark to the class, naming the shark according to at least one of its adaptive features and explaining where it eats and lives. Each presentation should make clear how all the adaptive features the shark exhibits help it to survive in its habitat.
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Adaptations

Have each student choose a particular kind of shark to research. Students should write reports on their sharks, describing adaptive features that make the sharks successful survivors in their particular habitats.
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Discussion Questions

1. Discuss how each of the shark’s five senses function in their search for prey.
2. Different species of sharks have unique attributes that allow them to survive in their specific habitat. Explain the usefulness of some of the adaptations described in this program. Characteristics to consider are the shark’s eyes, teeth, diet, body patterns, and tails.
3. In this program sharks are called an “evolutionary hit.” What does the narrator mean by that description?
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Evaluation

You can evaluate your students on their drawings/models and presentations using the following three-point rubric:
 
Three points:all chosen adaptive features exhibited by drawing or model; shark aptly named; all adaptive features logically explained in presentation
 
Two points:most chosen adaptive features exhibited by drawing or model; shark named; most adaptive features adequately explained in presentation
 
One point:few chosen adaptive features exhibited by drawing or model; shark inappropriately named; few adaptive features explained; explanations lacking in logic
 
You can ask your students to contribute to the assessment rubric by determining criteria for a logical explanation of a shark’s adaptive features.
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Extensions

Interview a Shark
There are 370 species of sharks. Divide your class into pairs, and have each pair choose one of the species to interview. Before starting their research, students should decide what questions they want to ask their shark. Then, using the many resources available online or in the library, they should find out the answers to their questions. When it’s time to conduct the interview, one partner in each pair should role-play the interviewer and the other, the shark. Partners can switch roles, if they like. Students can enact their interviews live or videotape their interviews and play them for the class later. Some shark species to interview: angel, bamboo, basking, cat, epaulet, great white, thresher, whale, swell, dusky, gray, leopard, tiger, great blue, black-tipped reef, mako, gray nurse, cookie cutter, hammerhead, sawfish.

Shark Lap-Sit
Sharks are an important part of the ocean ecosystem. Use this activity to demonstrate what would happen if they disappeared. Ask students to stand in a circle and count off by fours. All theonesare sharks,twosare shark prey,threesare shark space, andfoursare shark shelter. Ask all students to turn to their right and take one step toward the center of the circle. They should be standing close together, with each student looking at the back of the head of the student in front of him or her. Everyone should hold the waist of the person in front. At the count of three all students should sit down on the knees of the person behind. After all students are sitting and relatively stable, tell them that all the components (sharks, prey, space, shelter) are necessary for a stable ecosystem. Then ask the sharks (theones) to “collapse.” Discuss with students the effect on the stable ecosystem when sharks are lost.

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Suggested Readings

Great White Shark
Richard Ellis and John E. McCosker. With photos by Al Giddings and others, New York: HarperCollins Publishers in collaboration w
Read the fascinating and scientific aspects of the feared great white shark, the Carcharodon carcharias.

Shadows in the Sea: The Sharks, Skates and Rays
Thomas B. Allen, New York: Lyons & Burford Publishers, 1996
Learn about the world of sharks, their natural history and their attacks on humans. This book also includes information about their cousin-species, the skates and the rays.

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Links

Discovery Online, Nature—Shark Realities
This DCOL site has a narrative of a shark expedition, connections to a shark tank, and more shark links.

Fiona’s Shark Mania
This site provides shark information, graphics, stories and links.

Class Chondrichthyes
This site, which is part of the Animal Diversity Web, lists several species of sharks and gives specific info about each.

Shark Pages
This site describes the shark research being done at the Mote Marine Laboratory and provides scientific information about sharks.

NOVA Online/Shark Attack!/Hot Science: Shark Bytes/Diagram
This site, part of the NOVA “Shark Attack” resource page, includes an interactive diagram of the shark to describe how a shark uses its senses.

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Vocabulary

Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    species
Definition:A fundamental category of taxonomic classification, consisting of related organisms capable of interbreeding.
Context:Of all these creatures, a unique 370 species are among the top links of the food chain.

speaker    serrated
Definition:Notched like the edge of a saw.
Context:The serrated and hooked teeth of a tiger shark are highly efficient shearing and tearing tools.

speaker    adapt
Definition:To make suitable or fit for a specific use or situation.
Context:Nurse sharks, on the other hand, are adapted to a much more specialized diet.

speaker    dorsal fin
Definition:The main fin located on the back of fishes and certain marine mammals.
Context:This first sight of a live specimen caught on film reveals a huge sail-like dorsal fin and body designed quite different than the usual sleek contours of sharks.

speaker    pectoral fin
Definition:Either of the anterior pair of fins attached to the pectoral girdle of fishes, corresponding to the forelimbs of higher vertebrates.
Context:But because of their streamlining, sharks' pectoral fins are less flexible and don’t rotate like those of a bony fish.

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Standards

This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
 
Grade level:6-8
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Knows about the diversity and unity that characterize life.
Benchmarks:
Knows that organisms can be classified according to the function they serve in a food chain (producer, consumer and/or decomposer of organic matter) and by the details of their internal and external features.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Knows the general structure and functions of cells in organisms.
Benchmarks:
Knows that each plant or animal has different structures that serve different functions in growth, survival, and reproduction (e.g., humans have distinct structures of the body for walking, holding, seeing and talking).

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks:
Knows that an organism’s patterns of behavior are related to the nature of that organism’s environment, including the kinds and numbers of other organisms present, the availability of food and resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment.

Grade level:6-8
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks:
Knows that all organisms must be able to obtain and use resources, grow, reproduce and maintain a relatively stable internal environment while living in a constantly changing external environment; regulation of an organism’s internal environment involves sensing external changes and changing physiological activities to keep within the range required to survive.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Understands how species depend on one another and on the environment for survival.
Benchmarks:
Knows that organisms both cooperate and compete in ecosystems; the interrelationships and interdependencies of these organisms may generate ecosystems that are stable for hundreds or thousands of years.

Grade level:3-5
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Understands the basic concepts of the evolution of species.
Benchmarks:
Knows that fossils provide evidence that some organisms living long ago are now extinct, and fossils can be compared to one another and to living organisms to observe their similarities and differences.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Understands the basic concepts of the evolution of species.
Benchmarks:
Knows that natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms; the millions of different species that live on the Earth today are related by descent from common ancestors.

Grade level:9-12
Subject area:life science
Standard:
Understands the basic concepts of the evolution of species.
Benchmarks:
Knows that natural selection and its evolutionary consequences provide a scientific explanation for the fossil record of ancient life forms, as well as for the striking molecular similarities observed among the diverse species of living organisms; the millions of different species that live on the Earth today are related by descent from common ancestors.

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Credit

Sue Mealiea, natural science teacher, Woodbridge Senior High School, Woodbridge, Virginia.
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