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Reading and Writing Connections for this selection:

Satellites and Caribou:
The Why and How of Satellite Collaring Caribou


  • Identifying Main Idea and Details
  • Visualizing Details
  • Drawing Conclusions/Identifying Generalizations
  • Asking Questions and Making Predictions to Set a Purpose for Reading
  • Connecting to Prior Knowledge/Building Background Knowledge
  • Building Vocabulary: Nouns and Verbs
  • (About Reading Strategies)

    conventional collars, satellites, satellite collaring, orbit, scan, programmed, transmit, propel, net gun


To introduce the selection, read aloud the title. Invite students to generate a list of questions that they think will be addressed in the selection. Organize their ideas in a class chart using the following words to sort the types of questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
Activate students’ prior knowledge by asking the following questions:

  • “Where are satellites located?”
  • “How do satellites work?”
  • “Why do you think scientists use satellites to track caribou?”
  • “What other technology helps scientists collect data about wildlife?”
  • “What kinds of information are collected?”

Use the Clue Collector strategy to focus students’ attention on the upcoming reading selection: Write the following verbs on a handout: send, orbit, scan, locate, register, programmed, transmit, costs, captured, swim, armed, drawn, propel, tied and kick. Ask students to predict how these words could be used by an author writing an article about satellites and caribou. Elicit students’ personal knowledge and experiences as they think about the clue words. Encourage students to pair or group clues together. Ask them to share how the clue words could be connected or related. Invite students to write statements that use the clues. Assist students through demonstrations and think alouds to understand the process of looking for relationships.
Repeat this activity with nouns and noun phrases from the reading selection: locations, blizzards, darkness, plane, earth, computers, space, signal, power, weight, method, gun, measurements, and samples. Ask students to work with a partner to discuss how the words might be used in the article. Encourage students to connect the nouns with the verbs to generate ideas. Invite students to share their predictions with the class. Encourage them to share reasons to support their ideas.

Read the nonfiction article, Satellites and Caribou: The Why and How of Satellite Collaring Caribou” aloud along with other nonfiction selections that describe satellite tracking of migratory species.
Related Reading Selection: “Confused about Collars? Conventional and Satellite Collars.

Revisit the selection to confirm and revise predictions generated prior to reading. Highlight the verbs from the Clue Collector. Ask:

  • “How did the author use each of these verbs to reveal facts about satellites and caribou?”
  • “What synonyms could be used in place of these verbs?”

Highlight the nouns and noun phrases in the selection. Ask students:

  • “How were these words used in the selection?”
  • “How are the words related to the topic of the article?”

Post the Pre-reading Questions:

  • “Where are satellites located?”
  • “How do satellites work?”
  • “Why do you think scientists use satellites to track caribou?”
  • “What other technology helps scientists collect data about wildlife?”
  • “What kinds of information are collected?”

Have students work in groups to reread the article and use details from the text to answer the questions. Invite students to research questions that were not answered by the information in the selection.
Have each group summarize the main ideas and details of the text by composing a condensed version of the article: Introductory Paragraph that presents the topic, Bulleted List of key facts, Concluding Paragraph that restates the topic.
As a class write questions that could be used as headings for each paragraph in the selection. Discuss how these headings might help readers scan for information, before, during, or after reading the text.
Ask students to reread the text and share sentences that helped them visualize details as they read. Explore how authors write descriptive details to help readers see pictures in their minds as they read. Ask students how the photographs also helped them imagine the scenes described in the text.
Revisit the selection to identify clue words that signal generalization statements:

  • “As a general rule, the collar’s total weight should be no more than 4% of the caribou’s weight.”
  • “Sometimes the animals are captured while they swim across rivers during migration.”

Ask students what conclusions can be made based on these statements. What questions may be generated from these generalizations? For example, how do researchers ensure that the collar is appropriate for each caribou? What details could the author include with the generalization statements to give readers more specific information?

Journaling Questions:

  1. Why are the collars important for research?
  2. What are the benefits?
  3. What are potential costs or disadvantages?

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.

Evaluation (Examine Author’s Strategies)
Reread the lead sentence of this article. Evaluate its effectiveness as a lead sentence. What information did the author include to help readers compare and contrast conventional caribou collars with those programmed for satellite tracking?

Writer’s Workshop
  • Descriptive
    Research how satellites are built. Write a descriptive essay for interested readers. As a class, brainstorm ideas for questions readers might have about satellites. Visit the NASA website to locate possible resources that students can access to find information about the technology of satellites. (NASA Website)
  • Expository
    Invite students to write informational pieces for the theme: “We Have the Technology.” As a class, brainstorm ideas for a variety of texts relevant to the theme. Encourage students to incorporate information collected from Journey North selections and the “Age of Technology” survey described above.
  • Expressive
    Write a journal entry to express thoughts about living in a high-tech world.
  • Narrative
    Write a fictional story about a family from history who travels through time. Imagine what it would be like for a family from the past to encounter some of today’s high-tech tools for the first time. What would a family from colonial times think of cell phones, television, DVD players, satellites, and other technological advances?