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Teaching Ideas
“Exploring Sawfish” - Ideas for English

Activities linked to year levels P - 10

View a sawfish graphics for information about them. Ask students to:

• Use and interpret illustrations
• Talk about what is happening and where it is happening
• Ask questions about animals
• Tell their own stories using picture clues
• Talk about sawfish
• Make labelled charts, friezes, models, or drawings illustrating sawfish biodiversity and talk about the students’ creations describing the biodiversity in them. (3 - 7)

Using Readers Theatre, dramatise a sawfish story using puppets. Paint scenes for backdrops. Talk about biodiversity in the scenes and story line. (3 - 7)

Encourage students to think of ways to present information about sawfish e.g. web pages, brochure, pamphlet, cartoon, poster, badge, sticker, postcard, etc. (3 - 7)

Use the sawfish graphics to stimulate creative expression. Model collaborative cinquain poems, or use the nouning or acrostic technique and write a class description about sawfish and why they are endangered. (3 - 7)

Write factual pieces describing sawfish. Describe features that make them unique. (3 - 7)

Write about personal experiences that have occurred whilst fishing and seeing or inadvertently catching a sawfish. (3 - 7)

Make shape-cards for these significant creatures. (P -5)

Read stories about endangered species like sawfish that live in Australian waters, and respond personally by:

• Recreating stories about the sawfish and their unique features (P - 6)
• Acting out the story (P - 5)
• Making individual books (P - 7)
• Illustrating the story. (3 - 6)

Find Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories related to local sawfish. Invite local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents or Education Officers to come and work with students in this area. (4 - 8)

Design a T-shirt, slogan, logo, bumper sticker, poster, or newspaper headline promoting the protection of sawfish. (3 - 7)

Design material for an advertising campaign that uses the sawfish as a symbol for Seaweek 2008 and Biodiversity Month (September each year). (5 - 8)

Write a letter to an alien about the sawfish as an animal species. (5 - 7)

Publish an open letter in the school newsletter about sawfish and why it is important. (6 - 10)

Collect state and local newspapers. Find articles relating to sawfish, threatened plant and animal species, or similar topics. Create a file and keep a journal documenting thoughts and ideas. (5 - 8)

Interview a variety of people and ask about their involvement with or awareness of any of the sawfish species listed as rare or threatened within the waters of Australia. Using the interviews, make a display for Seaweek 2008 or Threatened Species Month in September each year. Display in the school or local community library. (3 - 8)

Write a creative story depicting class members as threatened marine species. Describe how human activities such as coastal development, pollution, agriculture, fishing, and tourism have affected marine plant and animal species. (5 - 8)

Write articles about Australian waters without a particular species. Might the extinction of one species affect other species? Discuss. (6 - 10)

Design a game-board in which penalty and bonus squares address some of the issues faced by threatened species within the waters of Australia and the ways in which they can be protected. (6 - 8)

Watch a video about sawfish, their status and environment. Write a film review about the video’s contents and the way it got its message across. (5 - 8)

Use starting points such as photographs, poems, or stories about marine species, to, and ask students to express their ideas and feelings about them. (3 - 6)

Discuss why a person might want to make a film, radio or television program, take photographs or write newspaper articles about the sawfish and threatened species. What techniques would they use to interest their audiences? In small groups, draft scripts for these different mediums and present them to the class. (6 – 10)

Using Literature

Activities linked to grade levels 2 - 10

There are many good reasons for using stories and poems as key resources when teaching about threatened species.

• Place settings are one-way students encounter places. Places and environments in stories and poems are inevitably distant to students in that they cannot have first-hand experiences of them, yet they can draw on their own familiarity with, and knowledge of, places and environments to make sense of them. This takes students beyond their current experience. (2 – 5)

• Through their vocabulary, use of language and illustrations, stories and poems can evoke a strong sense of place. Describing landscapes and environments can help students develop new knowledge or involve them in applying their knowledge and understandings they have. Students will encounter vocabulary in contexts in which it is used effectively and thus make sense to them, as well as illustrations that give them informative and striking visual images. (3 – 7)

• Students can encounter many different types of places, environments and situations, some familiar to them, others very different from their own. Place settings provide opportunities for students for students to explore a variety of environments, both in urban, rural and natural Australia, and in other parts of the world, which in turn provides opportunities for finding out about where these places are and what they are like. Places in stories and poems can provide information for comparison with the students’ own locality. (5 – 10)

• Through learning about people and events students have an opportunity to consider, through imagining and empathizing, what it might be like to live or be in the particular places in which the stories or poems are set. (2 – 7)

• Stories and poems can lead to discussions about threatened species, stimulating further research using information from other sources. They can raise environmental awareness, engage students in considering their own views and values about species that are threatened, raise questions about how they perceive the species to be and the people who rely on it, and challenge them to think about their own behaviour with and towards it. (2 – 10)

• Special aspects can be sketched, mapped and modelled, such as the nature of Australian waters and features of them that can be based on or compared with the original illustrations in a book. Many stories have enough information in their illustrations and descriptive language provided to gain a visual sense of the area. (5 – 10)

When using literature consider asking questions like: (2 – 10):

• Does it have an obvious setting in waters of Australia?
• Is it focused on a threatened species issue or theme?
• Does it contain vivid verbal or pictorial descriptions of a threatened species or a sea environment?
• Does it provide a basis for challenging stereotypical images of the waters of Australia and people who interact with it?

Using viewing opportunities

Activities linked to grade levels 3 - 10

Visit the MESA website. Access images of Sawfish from the Image Collection for Seaweek 2008 and ask the following types of questions: (3 – 10)

• What is it?
• What is it like?
• Why is it there?
• How should it be treated or managed?

Identify features on photographs and pictures. Interpret information conveyed in a photograph or picture. Ask questions such as: (3 – 10)

• What title would be appropriate for the photograph?
• What catches the eye?
• What can you see in the background?
• What are the significant details?
• What type of aquatic environment is it?
• What season so you think it is?
• What do you think is outside the photo frame?
• What might happen in the future to this scene?

Encourage questioning and analysis of photographs by asking questions like: (3 – 10)

• What do you see?
• How does the picture make you feel?
• What are the issues?
• What are the connections with other places?
• What else could the photographer have shown, but didn’t, and why didn’t he/she?
• What different options might there be?
• Why did the photographer take the photograph and why did he/she take it in such a way?
• What are the key questions that the photograph raises?

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