Raising Rhino Awareness

Although once on the brink of extinction, with help, the dwindling rhinoceros population is on the rise. In this lesson, students will begin by examining the characteristics of rhinoceros and create a poem about them. Next, students will research facts and myths about rhinoceros poaching, which was a major contributor to the decline in the rhino population. Using this information, students will create an informative pamphlet on the impact of poaching. Finally, students will look at other animals that have been threatened and create a poster to raise awareness about the fragile population of endangered animals.
Grade Level: Grades 6-8
Subject Areas: Language Arts, Science, Social Studies
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to do the following:

  • create an original poem.
  • discriminate between facts and myths.
  • create an informative pamphlet on the impact of poaching on the rhinoceros.
  • research animals near extinction or extinct and use the information to create a poster.


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Level III [Grade 6-8]
Language Arts
Standard 1. Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process

    Benchmark 6. Writes expository compositions (e.g., states a thesis or purpose; presents information that reflects knowledge about the topic of the report; organizes and presents information in a logical manner, including an introduction and conclusion; uses own words to develop ideas; uses common expository structures and features, such as compare-contrast or problem-solution)8. Writes for different purposes (e.g., to entertain, inform, learn, communicate ideas)

    Benchmark 7. Writes narrative accounts, such as short stories (e.g., engages the reader by establishing a context and otherwise developing reader interest; establishes a situation, plot, persona, point of view, setting, conflict, and resolution; develops complex characters; creates an organizational structure that balances and unifies all narrative aspects of the story; uses a range of strategies and literary devices such as dialogue, tension, suspense, figurative language, and specific narrative action such as movement, gestures, and expressions; reveals a specific theme)
    Benchmark 10. Writes persuasive compositions (e.g., engages the reader by establishing a context, creating a persona, and otherwise developing reader interest; develops a controlling idea that conveys a judgment; creates and organizes a structure appropriate to the needs and interests of a specific audience; arranges details, reasons, examples, and/or anecdotes persuasively; excludes information and arguments that are irrelevant; anticipates and addresses reader concerns and counter arguments; supports arguments with detailed evidence, citing sources of information as appropriate)

Standard 7. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

    Benchmark 1. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (e.g., electronic texts; textbooks; biographical sketches; directions; essays; primary source historical documents, including letters and diaries; print media, including editorials, news stories, periodicals, and magazines; consumer, workplace, and public documents, including catalogs, technical directions, procedures, and bus routes)

Behavorial Studies
Standard 1. Understands that group and cultural influences contribute to human development, identity, and behavior

    Benchmark 2. Understands that usually within any society there is broad general agreement on what behavior is “unacceptable,” but that the standards used to judge behavior vary for different settings and different subgroups and may change with time and in response to different political and economic conditions

Life Sciences

Standard 6. Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment

    Benchmark 2. Knows factors that affect the number and types of organisms an ecosystem can support (e.g., available resources; abiotic factors such as quantity of light and water, range of temperatures, and soil composition; disease; competition from other organisms within the ecosystem; predation)

Nature of Science
Standard 11: Understand the nature of scientific knowledge.

    Benchmark 2. Understands the nature of scientific explanations (e.g., use of logically consistent arguments; emphasis on evidence; use of scientific principles, models, and theories; acceptance or displacement of explanations based on new scientific evidence)

Procedures for Teachers
Introductory Activity
Time for Completion: Thirty minutes.
The purpose of this activity is to activate background knowledge of rhinoceros and introduce students to terminology relating to rhinoceros.

  1. Write the following terms in a place visible to all students:Pachyderm – thick skinned

    Vegetarian – not meat eating

    Endangered – in danger of becoming extinct

    Herbivore – eats only plants

    Predator – an animal or other organism that hunts and kills other organisms, called prey, for food

    Extinction- the cessation of existence of a species

    Poaching – illegal hunting or fishing

  2. Ask students to use the terms to create a poem about rhinos that is creative, as well as factual. Students should be instructed to include at least one of the provided terms, accurately defined, as part of the final product. Provide students with a copy of the “Rhinoceros Poem” rubric.
  3. Students may use the following site to learn about different types of poems:
  4. Allow time for students to share their poems with the class or in small groups. Poems may then be bound into a book for use as a classroom resource.

Activity One
Time for completion: One hour for viewing of the movie. One class period for research and group collaboration; one week for homework assignment; one class period for sharing of final project.
In this activity, students will work in small groups to create an informational pamphlet that details the facts and myths regarding the poaching of rhinoceros.

  1. Divide the class into small groups. Remind students of the rules for working in a group.
  2. Provide each group with the “Poaching KWL” chart. Ask students to fill in what they know about poaching.
  3. Next, ask students to fill in what they want to know about poaching.
  4. Watch the “Rhinoceros” Nature program. Ask students to record information related to poaching on their chart.
  5. After viewing the program, involve students in a discussion about poaching, including the specific reasons for the poaching of rhinos. Ask students to consider the cultural influences of poaching rhinos.
  6. Ask groups to continue researching poaching and create a pamphlet that examines the facts and issues of poaching. The following websites may be used as a resource for this activity:

Activity Two
Time for completion: One class period for research; two or three days as a homework assignment; and one-half of a class period to share posters.
The purpose of this activity is to raise awareness about extinct animals and/or animals nearing extinction by creating a poster.

  1. Using the Internet or other resources, ask students to identify animals that have become extinct and/or are nearing extinction.
  2. Explain to students that the United Nations has joined with Animal Planet to raise awareness about the importance of protecting endangered species and their habitat. Send students to the United Nations website
    http://www.un.org/works/OLD/environment/animalplanet/rhino.html. Tell students to collect information from this site regarding what can be done to help protect endangered animals.
  3. Using the information gathered from the “Rhinoceros” program and the United Nations’ website, ask students to create a poster that raises awareness of the issue of extinction for a particular animal. The Rhino Information organizer may be used for recording and gathering information.
  4. Allow time for students to share posters with classmates.

Assessment Suggestions
Rhinoceros poem may be assessed using the “Rhinoceros Poem” rubric. Pamphlets and awareness posters may be assessed using the “Awareness” rubric.
Extension Activity
Ask students to look at poaching in the United States. What kinds of poaching take place? What laws are in place? What are the consequences for breaking these laws? Ask students to look at poaching in their state and write a newspaper article summarizing their findings.
About the Author
This lesson was prepared by Rebecca Walters, an associate of Digital Narratives llc. Rebecca is a graduate of Northern Michigan University and currently holds an education degree in chemistry and math. Rebecca has worked as both a public school educator and as an education consultant over the past fifteen years.

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