The A–Z of Endangered Animals

Exploring the 2017 CBCA Short List: Information Books

A tiger on the cover of A-Z of endangered animals

Author: Jennifer Cossins

Red Parka Press

Themes:  Animals, Endangered Animals, Sustainability

Years: Australian Curriculum: English, Years 3 and 4; Science, Years 3 and 4 (NSW Stage 2)

From the publisher’s synopsis: From the Amur Tiger to the Zebra Duiker, this book is a beautiful anthology of 26 of the world's endangered animals, with full colour illustrations, information about each animal and quirky facts. 

Unit writer: Amanda Worlley

Building field knowledge

  • Explore the meaning of endangered and the other categories used to classify the conservation status of species.  Display the words endangered, vulnerable, extinct and have students brainstorm the meanings in small groups. Use paper, or digital tools such as iBrainstorm on iPads, or Web 2.0 tools such as Padlet online.  ACSIS060
  • Share the ‘more information’ section from the text and explore the conservation categories. On an interactive whiteboard use a tool that allows you to write the categories in separate text boxes and manipulate them to organise them from least to most severe, during your class discussion.  
  • Create a wall chart with the conservation status categories in order and as you explore the text, list the animals under relative conservation status category. Additional research of other animals undertaken can also be added. ACSIS057
  • Identify and categorise the reasons why animals have become endangered using a fishbone graphic organiser chart.  ACSIS071

Exploring the context of the text

  • Use a World map, or create a digital one using the My Maps feature in Google Maps, to plot the location of the animals in the text. Include the name of the animal, conservation status and reasons for their decline.
  • Choose a few of the animals from the text and locate videos on Splash, for example, Tasmanian Devil; Tigers or Elephants to compare and contrast the information found in these different sources. Splash have a collection of videos on Threatened Species which could be used for further research by students. ACELT1602 EN2-10C

Responding to the text

  • Text can be shared in multiple readings. Students could create a small fact card to be attached to the world map, or include as a digital fact card on the digital My Map.  
  • List the animals featured in the text on the interactive whiteboard and use a branching key (.docx 290 kB) to work with the students to identify the animal kingdom classification reptile, mammal, amphibian, bird, fish. Why did the author choose to include these animals in the book? Is there a fair representation of all animal species? Discuss why some animals would not have been included (for example, less appealing, feared, etc).  ACELT1596 EN2-11D ACELY1680 EN2-4A ACSSU044
  • Put students in small groups and give them a range of texts and websites on endangered and threatened species. Tell them that they have been given the responsibility of compiling a list of the top ten endangered animals. They must work together to create their list. Publish and compare these class lists and have teams present to the class their justification of their list. ACELA1476  ACELA1488  EN2-1A

Creating texts

  • Randomly assign each student a letter of the alphabet and have them research an endangered animal beginning with that letter using published lists from websites such as A - Z Animals; World Wildlife Organisation ; Australian Geographic encouraging them to choose an unusual or less well-known animal.  Using the text as a guide, create a short factual text of no more than 100 words about the animal. ACELT1601 ACELY1694  EN2-2A
  • Publish the factual text using a QR Code. Text is pasted into a website such as QR Stuff and QR Code can be downloaded and printed, attaching it to the World Map. QR Codes can be read using app such as QR Reader on the iPad.  ACTDIP009
  • Have students choose an animal from the text, or one that their classmates has researched. Use the information on the factual text to create a different text type. For example they may write a letter from the animal to the people of the world; or create a short narrative where they develop a character; or create a short animation using coding apps or Web 2.0 tools such as ScratchJr and Scratch. ACELT1794  ACELY1694  EN2-2A

Examining text structure and organisation

  • Read the ‘Introduction’ to the students. Display a copy of the text on the interactive whiteboard to have a closer examination of the first six paragraphs and how the content has been organised, particularly the topic sentences. Next read the last six paragraphs and compare the change to a more optimistic mood.  ACELA1479 ACELA1478 EN2-9B  
  • Flip through the text and stop at a random page and read this. Repeat this process. Explain that this type of text can be read in a non-linear fashion. During readings draw attention to the cohesive elements of the text structure. Have students identify these, for example, page titles; boxes for conservation status and population; interesting facts. How has this predictable organisation supported the reader to navigate the text and find information? ACELA1491 EN2-4A

Examining grammar

  • After reading the ‘Introduction’ draw students' attention to the use of different language to present information in a factual way, and also how the author has also used the language of opinion and feeling (‘I believe, I hope’) and how evaluative language can be used to be more or less forceful.  ACELA1489 EN2-11D ACELA1477 EN2-7B
  • Whilst the text appears relatively simple, it provides some opportunity for students to build an extended vocabulary. Display on a interactive whiteboard or provide students with a copy of the text, about the Vaquita. Examine the author's language choices (for example inconspicuous, elusive, aversion) and have students identify the meaning of this words. Read the sentence about the animal's movement and discuss the picture that is being created for the reader through the use of modal verbs and adverbs. ACELA1484  EN2-9B

Examining visual and multimodal features

  • Display three of pages of the text to examine the layout. Draw students' attention to the titles for each page that lead across with the ... (ellipses); the choice of font that appears handwritten and is used in both the title and interesting facts; and the call out boxes that list the status, population and interesting facts.
  • The author has chosen to include hand drawn images, instead of photos. Why do they think the author has done this? The illustrator has created a relationship with the reader by many of the characters having a direct gaze into the viewer’s eyes. This technique invites the viewer to be involved. Locate images of animals in more distanced images to compare, and discuss which is more engaging.  ACELA1483 EN2-8B

Additional and related resources and links to other texts: Find PETAA Units of Work: Find by Year Level or see also particular units of work for Phasmid, Saving Lord Howe Island Stick Insect and The Hairy Nosed Wombats Find a New Home.  Explore the supplementary resources of The Shape of Text to Come for ideas and information on multimodal texts.

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