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Teaching Ideas
“Exploring Sawfish” - Ideas for English

Ideas for poetry

Activities linked to grade levels (5 – 10)

Develop word relations and creative expression. Encourage students to view photographs, videos or multimedia programs about threatened species like the Sawfish. Model collaborative cinquain poems or use the nouning or acrostic technique and write class poems about sawfish and other threatene marine species.

For example:

Cinquain Poem
Title in two syllables The Reef
Description of title in four syllables Clear, warm water
Action in six syllables Moving, rippling, swirling
Expression of feeling in eight syllables Reaching out to the dugong pod
Another word for title in two syllables Unique

Nouning Poem
Noun title Wetland
Two adjectives Silent, shimmering
Three verbs Moving, swirling, splashing
Phrase Busy in its work
Repeat noun Wetland

Acrostic Poem
Write a word Slow
vertically then Elegant
describe using each And
letter as a beginning. Horse like

Shared-book approach

Activities linked to grade levels 2 – 5

Using “One Less Fish” by Kim Michelle Toft and Allan Sheather to introduce and explore the concept of a visit to the ocean.
Read the story and visualise the animals and their habitats and the impact that humans have on them. (2 – 5)

Word associations

Activities linked to grade levels 5 - 10

List key words, names, animals, plants, natural resources, lifestyle issues, natural environments, built environments, habitats, views of the coastal waters, uses of water, views of teamwork, environmental ethics, environmental management practices and make links between them. For example: (5 – 10)

  • Devise a flow chart
  • Design a concept map/mind map
  • Use key words as flashcards for a classroom game and quiz.

Learning log

Activities linked to grade levels 6 - 10

Begin a learning log where students record their understandings about sawfish and other threatened species that live in the ocean. This might form part of your assessment plan. The log is to be continued whenever practical. (6 – 10)
Introduce the learning log and model a procedure. The whole class might jointly construct an entry. Students can also make individual entries. Focus questions could be: (6 – 10)

• Write something you learnt about sawfish as a threatened species
• What questions do you have about sawfish as a threatened species at the moment?
• What would you like to know more about?

Concept maps

Activities linked to grade levels 5 - 9

Give each student ten small cards. On the first card they write the subject for the concept map ‘Sawfish as a threatened species. On the remaining cards each student writes or draws other words/images they think are important in relation to the topic.

Next, individually or in pairs, place cards on a big sheet of paper and move them around until students are satisfied with the arrangement.

Encourage them to link their ideas by drawing lines or arrows through related ideas. Encourage students to write words or connecting phrases on the arrows or lines to help convey meaning.

Share concept maps.

Questions for discussion might include:

• What words/drawings did students come up with?
• What words/drawings were used the most/least?
• Why?
• What images are shown? Are they mainly pessimistic or optimistic?
• What do the words/drawings reveal about students’ knowledge and
• perception of sawfish as a threatened species in coastal and marine environments?

Note: Concept maps may be kept and reconstructed throughout the unit. They are also useful for assessment purposes.

Listing and bundling

Activities linked to grade levels 6 - 10

In small groups or as a class, student’s list issues related to a threatened species. Group and label these. From the lists created, students select one issue and write about it in their learning log. They could discuss:

• Why they are interested in this issue?
• What they want to know?
• This issue in the past, present and future?
• Personal experiences of this issue.

Modelling an investigation

Activities linked to grade levels 2 - 7

Introduce students to the six stages of ‘action learning’, concentrating on the first two stages.


Stage 1. Deciding

Ask students:

• What is it I need to know about sawfish as a threatened species?
• What will I do with the information?
• What do I know already?
• What else do I need to find out?

Stage 2. Finding

Ask students to consider:

• The types of information required;
• Where this information might be found;
• The resources available from each person or place.

In groups decide upon places they might visit or speakers they need to invite to the school or communicate with, to find out more about sawfish and other threatened species

Each group might:

• Prepare questions to help them find out relevant information
• Prepare a record sheet for answers
• Check these with another group to ensure they are comprehensive
• Draft a letter or email or conduct telephone conversations to arrange
• Visits and/or guest speakers.

Signs, posters, television advertisements or web page

Activities linked to grade levels 6 - 10

Students can identify:

• Major value of sawfish.
• What the sawfish provides to natural ecosystems and societies.
• How the species is managed to supply a continuous supply.

They then use this information to produce signs, posters, television advertisement or web page to promote the plight of sawfish and other threatened species.


Activities linked to grade levels 5 - 9

Students complete a self-assessment and reflection activity using the following questions:

• What is the most important thing I have learned about sawfish and other threatened species?
• What is the one thing I have learned about myself and how I treat the coastal areas and the environment?
• What does this mean for me, my family, my school and my community as urban/country dwellers?
• What would I still like to find out about sawfish and other threatened species and how I can help protect them?
• What piece of work am I most satisfied with? Why?

Coastal memorabilia

Activities linked to grade levels P - 7

Ask students to bring the following to school:

• Photographs of visits to the beach or another coastal area with family and friends
• Items collected during a visit to the beach or coastal area
• Examples of items taken on these visits or associated with the beach, coastline or sea.
• Pictures and/or artefacts of things we eat or use from these environments.

Discuss and label items for a class display or create a coastal environment.

Shared reading

Activities linked to grade levels P - 5

Read and discuss picture books, fiction and non-fiction materials with a setting, such as Where the Forest Meets the Sea, A House for a Hermit Crab, A fish out of Water or use other titles from the reference list. Make a frieze of coastal or marine activities, including recreational, work-related and environmental ones. Students take turns to make statements about why these areas are an important place to them.


Promote the sawfish

Activities linked to grade levels P - 10

Discuss with the students what form of action they could take at school to promote the sawfish as a threatened species. Suggestions may include:

• Writing a song or poem;
• Producing a play;
• Displaying posters in community areas;
• Sending letters to others about the sawfish;
• Talking to students in other classes;
• Producing a small booklet and donating it to the school library.

PMI Brainstorm

Activities linked to grade levels 5 - 10

As a class compile all the actions individuals or groups may be able to take to help others understand more about marine areas, their fragile environment, and issues that affect them, so that we can be better equipped to meet some of the challenges in the future.
Once the list is compiled, do a PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting) on each proposed action to determine which are most appropriate.

Using popular culture

Activities linked to grade levels 6 - 10

In small groups, give students the task of marketing the sawfish as a threatened species to an audience. Some possible forms of expression include a:

• Web page
• Brochure
• Segment for a television show or radio program
• Case study for a journal or newspaper
• T-shirt, cap or bag with an appropriate slogan
• Piece of visual art.

Invite an audience to view students’ work. Encourage students to explain the nature of their piece and give a “behind the scenes” interview with an audience.

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