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Teaching Ideas
“Exploring Sawfish” - Ideas for English

Literature-based approach

Activities linked to grade levels 4 - 7

• Read the poem “A wondrous world - The Sea” with the class.

A wondrous world - The Sea

Part 1 - Finding Out

Our class’ trip to the sea
When I was in grade one,
Was something very special
And loads and loads of fun!

We learnt so much all through the day
Of creatures great and small,
Of how our very special sea
Is there for one and all.

Since that time five years ago
I’ve got so much more to share,
And that’s why I write about the sea
In case you can’t get there

To visit and experience
This amazing world at sea,
Lying there just off our coast
A place for you and me.

After our visit to the sea
I had to find out more,
So I logged onto websites;
It’s amazing, that’s for sure!

But when my family took me
On a day trip to the sea,
What I saw and what I did
Was almost beyond belief.

Part 2 – My Poem

It’s enormous and it’s beautiful
It’s strange and it’s alive,
Lying there just below the sea
Trying to survive.

It’s bigger than Victoria
And Tasmania joined together.
It’s the largest place in the world
And sees all types of ocean weather.

The sea has many living things
Of different colours, size and shape;
Orange, pinks, greens and blues
Or purple like a grape.
They swarm, they float, and they quiver,
Some just lay asleep.
Others dart and dive around
Like playing hide and seek.

Some fish are big, some are small,
Some are wide and flat.
Some are very long and thin,
Others short and fat.

Some creatures have arms they slowly wave
Or legs on which to crawl around
Or tails to push them through the sea
While others just can’t be found.

They like to hide amongst the reefs
Coming out at night;
While others need to live by day,
The Sun providing light.

Light goes through the water
To where these creatures live;
They need the light to stay alive
And the energy it gives.

That’s why the waters must be clean
To let the light shine through.
Like plants on land, creatures at sea
Need light just like me and you.

The sea is a giant home
With a family living there.
Crabs and coral, plants and fish
All must do their share,

Providing food and shelter
For each to stay alive.
If they didn’t work together
Little would survive.

But, we too must also do our part
To help the family and the sea.
We must help it the best we can;
That is my belief.

I want children of tomorrow
To see what I have seen,
To wonder at its beauty,
To know what it all means.

To watch the rays glide gracefully by,
The star-fish crawl, oh so slow,
The coral polyps wave at them,
The sea grasses ebb and flow,

The turtles cruise around slowly,
The shells seem to sit and stare,
The fish skim and others dart,
Moving here and there.

If we’re the ones to let it down
And don’t protect this place,
Slowly parts will disappear;
Disappear without a trace.

Imagine no more turtles,
Not something I would wish;
No more giant clamshells,
Manta rays or sawfish.

Coral turned to dull old dust
Crumbling on the sand.
It’s much too sad to think about;
We must all lend a hand.

Treat the sea just like a friend
And help it to be there
For others to enjoy and use
For years and years and years.

We can look and wonder,
We can dive and play
But we must protect the environment
Each and every day.

Talk to teachers, family and friends
To find out more and more
About this wondrous, giant sea
That lies just off our shore.

• Discuss the poem, its characters, the setting, the problem and the solution. (4 – 7)
• Exchange information about the poem’s problem, and how it might be solved. (4 – 7)
• Make predictions halfway through the poem. (6 – 7)
• Glean new words, use as a basis for spelling and word knowledge activities. (4 – 7)
• Read to an audience and test reactions. (6 – 7)
• Create a cartoon strip about there characters mentioned. (6 – 7)
• Discuss values that arise from the poem. (5 – 7)
• Write a character description for the animals cited in the poem. (5 – 7)
• Brainstorm new storylines and adventures. (5 – 7)
• Build models, sculptures or constructions relevant to the poem and explain them. (4 – 7)
• Write a poem review. (6 – 7)
• Brainstorm a list of questions about the sea and its animals to ask a friend. (5 – 7)
• Set up a promotional display about the sea for Seaweek 2008. Compose snappy titles, design posters, and illustrate characters in their habitat. (4 – 7)
• Write letters to book publishers requesting more texts featuring the sea. (5 – 7)


Activities linked to grade levels 3 - 10

Design a T-shirt, logo, bumper sticker, poster, or newspaper headline, promoting the protection of the sea and its animals. (5 – 10)
Design badges and fridge magnets promoting awareness of the threats affecting the animals of the sea. (5 – 10)

Design a poster promoting awareness of the sea’s threatened species. (3 – 10)

Design material for an advertising campaign that promotes the sawfish as a threatened species. (5 - 10)

Make a class book about the sawfish. (3 – 7)

Make a big-book to be shared across the school about the sawfish. (3 – 7)

Create a pamphlet to inform people about why they need to get involved in protecting the sawfish. (5 – 10)

Using Media Releases

Activities linked to grade levels 5 - 10

Allow students to read a range of Media Releases available on the MESA website Let them absorb the news and to read up on stories that are of interest to them.

Use the media releases to highlight local issues affecting the sawfish. (6 – 10)

Keep scrapbooks to follow issues. (6 – 9)

Allocate an issue to a group of students. Ask students to write out the main points of the article or share a verbal explanation in their own words to others. (6 – 10)

Use Blooms Taxonomy levels and:

Knowledge (5 – 10)
• Define 10 words found within the media releases.
• Draw a map of the places where sawfish are found inclusive of the area mentioned in the media release.
• Devise a list of words that relate to the issue on the sawfish.
• Write an acrostic poem about the sawfish and the issue featured in the media release.

Comprehension (5 – 10)
• Write a letter to someone using vocabulary from the list of words.
• Explain a media release about the sawfish to a younger student.
• Identify the issue in the media release.
• Prepare a one-minute talk. Use any information from the media releases.
Analysis (7 – 10)
• Compare the sawfish with a threatened fish species from another country.
• Design a flow chart that shows why the community needs the sawfish.
Synthesis (7 – 10)
• Devise a centrespread, multimedia presentation, a report or a brochure that conveys detailed information about the sawfish.
• Market the sawfish, what it provides and how it is managed to an audience. Some possible forms of expression include a web page, a brochure, segment for a television show or radio program, case study for a journal or piece of art.
Evaluation (5 – 10)
• Write an editorial for your local newspaper to discuss the issues affecting the sawfish. Consider what our responsibility is towards this species and what we can all do to help it. Reflect on who/what might benefit from our actions.
Application (5 – 10)
• Act on the information that has been discovered in the course of the media investigation and communicate conclusions to other classes, community members, members of relevant organisations.

Write a Centre-spread feature on the Sawfish

Activities linked to grade levels (6 – 10)


• Include an interesting and eye-catching headline.
• The opening paragraph should draw the reader into the story and include who, what, when, where and why.
• Use sub-headings to break up the text.
• Include a by-line on the page.
• Use short paragraphs.
• Include photographs or illustrations you have drawn or find some pictures from travel brochures.
• Include a mention of the resources you have used.
• Decide whether it will be a background piece or an analytical piece.
• The centrespread should be planned out well. Plan your centrespread with headlines, sub-headings, text, illustrations/photographs and resources.
• The feature should be 1000 words to 1200 words long.

A guide to feature writing
A feature story is sometimes about a particular topic that is currently in the news. One aim can be to provide background information or it might be an analytical piece explaining what has happened and what might occur in the future.

A good feature should contain clear and concise facts. It must be easy for the reader to understand. Instead of including specialist terminology, rewrite it in simple terms.

A checklist:

• Have you researched the topic?
• Have you selected sub-headings that will be of interest to the reader?
• List what you would like to find out about the topic.
• List some of the questions that you want answered.
• Have you checked the spelling, grammar and punctuation?
• Are your sentences too long?
• Has anyone else read your story for errors?
• Have you included illustrations/ pictures/ photographs to break up the slab of information?
• Have you asked your library for copies of centrespreads that have been written in papers? This might give an indication of layout.

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