Shark Attack
Lesson

Subject: Language Arts, Science
Grade Level
: 6-8

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In this lesson students will learn about a complex and often-misunderstood animal, the white shark. Students will think critically about a set of shark facts and predict whether the statements are true or false, describe a year in the life of a white shark living in the Red Triangle, and create a public service announcement promoting either the protection of humans from sharks or the protection of sharks from humans.

Overview

Learning Objectives

Students will be able to:

  • synthesize information from a variety of sources.
  • interpret facts and express meaning through writing activities.

Materials:

  • A copy of NATURE’S White Shark/Red Triangle program
  • Internet access
  • Paper

Bookmark the following sites:

Florida Museum of Natural History: White Shark
http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/Whiteshark/whiteshark.html

University of Michigan: Carcharodon carcharias
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/carcharodon/c._carcharias$narrative.html

Oceanic Research Group: Sharks: Top Predators With a Purpose
http://www.oceanicresearch.org/sharks.html

University of California, Berkeley: The Great White Shark
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/vertebrates/Doug/shark.html

Google
http://www.google.com
Resource for photographs of white sharks.

Shark Research Committee
http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/90s_table.htm
List of Shark Attacks Along the Pacific Coast

Standards
http://www.mcrel.org/compendium/search.asp

Science, Standard 6, Level III
Understands relationships among organisms and their physical environment.

Reading, Standard 5, Level III
Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process.

Reading, Standard 6, Level III
Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts.

Writing, Standard 1, Level III
Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process.

Procedures for Teachers

Background Activities

Activity One

Before students watch the WHITE SHARK/RED TRIANGLE program, they will demonstrate their background knowledge by predicting answers to true or false questions about sharks.

    1. Divide students into small groups and give each group a copy of the “Truth and Lies About Sharks” handout. 

    2. Explain to students that it doesn’t matter if they answer the questions correctly. The object of the activity is to think critically about sharks and access their background knowledge on this subject.

    3. Tell students that they will discuss the statements as a group and agree on a final answer together. For every answer they give, they will write a brief explanation of their reasoning.

    4. After students have finished, share the groups’ predictions and the correct answers with the entire class.

Answer Key for Truth and Lies About Sharks

Fact One
Sharks have spare teeth that move to the front of their mouths to replace a front tooth that falls out.
True

Fact Two
Great white sharks have to eat every hour.
False – Great white sharks may go up to three months without eating anything substantial.

Fact Three
White sharks can swim over 40 miles an hour for short distances.
True

Fact Four
For the first three months of their lives, baby sharks stay close to their mothers.
False – Baby sharks leave their mothers as soon as they are born.

Fact Five
More people are killed each year by deer than by sharks.
True

Fact Six
White sharks will not eat a seal otter.
True – Sea otters are related to the skunk and sharks do not like the way they taste.

Fact Seven
A surfer riding a long, thin surfboard is less likely to be attacked by a shark than a surfer riding a shorter, wider board.
True – Shark attacks on surfers increased in 1972 after a shorter surfboard was introduced on the market.

Fact Eight
Female sharks generally give birth to only one shark per year.
False – Sharks may give birth to as many as fourteen babies at a time.

Steps

Activity One

In this activity, students will write a non-fiction story that chronicles a year in the life of a white shark living in the Red Triangle

Teacher Note – This activity may be completed with or without watching the White Shark/Red Triangle program. If you are going to watch the program, ask students to divide a large piece of paper into 12 sections and label each section with a month of the year. Tell students to record information about what the white shark does during each month of the year. If your students are not going to watch the program, they may gather information from books, magazines, and the Web sites listed below to research sharks and write a non-fiction story about white sharks.

  •  
    • Habitat
    • Behavior
    • Food
    • Reproduction
    • Social behaior
    • Danger to humans
    • Sharks and the media
    • Map of Red Triangle
    • Labeled diagram of a shark
    • Shark photographs of drawings
  • 1. Explain to students that they are going to write a non-fiction story that chronicles a year in the life of a white shark living in the Red Triangle. Tell students that their stories should include as many as possible of the following elements in relation to white sharks: 

    2. Have students gather information about sharks. Students may use a variety of resources, including their notes from the WHITE SHARK/RED TRIANGLE program. The Web sites listed below contain information on white sharks:

    3. Students may use the “Shark Information Organizer” to gather information for their story.

    4. After the students have completed their stories, bind the books and have a class book party.

Activity Two

In this activity, students will research the impact white sharks have on an ecosystem and create a public service announcement in response to an imaginary movement to lift the protection on white sharks in California.

  •  
    • Why do humans capture sharks and what do they do with them?
    • What dangers do sharks pose to humans?
    • What are some of the reasons that the shark population should be conserved?
  • 1. Divide the class into groups of 2-4 students for this activity. 

    2. Send students to the Shark Research Committee Web site.
    http://www.sharkresearchcommittee.com/90s_table.htm
    Tell students to scroll down until they see the “Case Histories of Unprovoked White Shark Attacks:” button and select one of the four choices (diver, kayaker, surfer, or swimmer) that are listed below the button. Make sure that at least one group chooses each of the categories so that all of the topics are covered.

    3. Ask students to choose one story from the site to share with the entire class.

    4. Provide time for groups to share their stories with the class.

    5. Send students to the Florida Museum of Natural History Web site at http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/fish/Gallery/Descript/Whiteshark/whiteshark.html and tell them to use this site to answer the following questions:

    Teacher Note – Students may use the “Shark Questions” handout to record their answers.

    6. Explain to students that they are to imagine that a young girl has recently been killed by a shark in the Red Triangle, and her family has begun a campaign to allow the killing of white sharks in the Red Triangle. Ask each group to take a position on this campaign and create a short community service announcement that states its opinion on the subject.

    7. If possible, videotape or tape record the groups’ announcements and play them for the class. If you don’t have access to a video or tape recorder, have students read their announcements out loud to the class.

Extension Activity

Activity One

Create a pamphlet to educate the public about the role of sharks in the ecosystem.

Organizers for Students

The following link will open a new window. Each new window will contain a Student Organizer or Activity sheet for you to print out. Close the new window to return to this page.

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