Assess students’ background knowledge by asking them to share facts
about pollutants and toxic substances. “What are pollutants?” “What
are toxic substances?” “What do you know about pollutants
and toxic substances?” “How do you think pollutants and toxic
substances connect with caribou studies?” “What materials
might bring pollutants and toxic substances into caribou habitats?” “How
might pollutants/toxic substances affect caribou and the people living
in the same Arctic region?”
During the discussion, introduce a question about nuclear power plants
and their potential threats. Ask students to share what they remember
about the nuclear power plant explosion in Chernobyl. Invite students
to search the Internet to research Chernobyl and collect background facts
that will help them understand information in the upcoming article.
Introduce the selection by making anticipatory predictions. “As
you think about the title and the subtitle of this article, what facts
do you think the author will include in the article?” “What
questions do you think a reader will find answers to in this article?”
Read the nonfiction article, “Cesium,
Cadium, and Caribou: Some Facts about Heavy Metals and the Food Chain” as
students follow along with their own copy of the text.
Revisit the article to circle the words: some, only, always, many, and
most. Reread the sentences that contain the circled words. Ask students:
does a reader need to think about when an author uses words
and phrases to generalize ideas?”
would the meanings change if the author used more specific
language in place of the circled
students work in small groups to generate challenge questions
based on the information in the selection.
Invite the groups to
exchange and answer each other’s set of questions. Decide
whether students can refer to the selection or not to answer the
exchanged set of challenge questions.
Examine the article for how the author included context clues and descriptive
details to help readers understand complex words and ideas. Have students
give specific examples from the text to support their responses.
Ask students the following questions:
- What ideas from this article were difficult to understand?
- What would you change or add to the article to help other students
read and understand the information?
This article described cause and effect relationships.
- What were the potentially dangerous events described in the
- What were the causes or reasons the potential threats existed?
- What thoughts do you have about the information you learned
from reading this article?
- What actions do you think need to be taken to prevent potential
threats from impacting caribou in the future?
Making Connections: The Age of Technology
- How is technology used to help people and animals?
- What are the benefits of living in a high-tech world?
- What are possible disadvantages?
Invite students to conduct a survey using
these Connection Questions. Encourage them to
interview people of different ages to get a broad sample of information
to analyze. Have them inventory the technological tools that they
use in their everyday life. Have them share predictions about how
their life would be different without the technology.
How do we prevent toxic substances finding their way into the foods we
eat? What precautions help prevent potentially toxic substances from
invading our bodies? Encourage students to discuss food storage, preparation,
and consumption. Depending on the age of students, discuss how food is
grown, chemicals used in farming and food production, chemicals used
to clean household surfaces, insecticides, and other ideas that help
them examine this important issue.
(Examine Author’s Strategies)
Why do you think the author started the article with a question?
Reread and evaluate the title, subtitle, headings, and other text features.
How did these elements help readers understand the information in this
The author refers to research studies and testing within the article.
What details did the author provide to readers about the testing and
research studies? What questions do you still have after reading the