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September 30, 2021

Daily News Lesson: Here’s what contributed to the extinction of ivory-billed woodpecker, 22 other species

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Some students may find it easier to read along with the transcript or turn on closed captions/CC.

Summary: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed moving 23 animals and plants off the endangered species list, declaring them extinct. Perhaps the most well-known of the species deemed gone forever is the ivory-billed woodpecker. These extinctions are part of an accelerating crisis driven by human actions. John Yang and Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, discuss.

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who determines whether or not species have gone extinct, and how?
  • What are some of the causes or contributions toward extinction for species as described in this piece?
  • When were some of the last recorded sightings of some of these species?
  • Why are “a million” species at risk of extinction?
  • How can human behavior change to help protect species from extinction?

Focus questions: 

  1. Based on the causes of extinction mentioned here, including invasive species, pollution, climate change and habitat destruction, which do you think can be best addressed by national governments taking more action?
  2. Which can best be addressed by individuals, private organizations and local communities?

Media literacy: What is your understanding of the Endangered Species List and what it tracks? How do you think this piece could have done a better job explaining the list? (For more information on the Endangered Species Act and Endangered Species List, see below.)

Additional resources:

  • You can watch this video from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for an explanation of the Endangered Species Act:


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