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Teaching Suggestions
Gray Whales: Navigating the Way
(Back to Slideshow Overview)

Introduction

Gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth. Their journey from the warm birthing lagoons of Mexico to the frigid feeding grounds in the Arctic is more than 5,000 miles! Use the facts and photos in this slideshow to explore this essential question:

Essential Question:
How do gray whales find their way from Mexico's lagoons to arctic seas?
Set the Stage for Learning

1. Display the cover. Ask questions to assess prior knowledge:

  • Where and when do gray whales migrate?
  • How many miles do they travel each way?
  • How do you think gray whales find their way from the lagoons of Mexico to the arctic seas?
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2. Preview images in the Photo Gallery. On large chart paper, post the essential question: How do gray whales find their way from Mexico's lagoons to arctic seas? Have students make pre-reading predictions based on details they see in the photos.

3. Preview vocabulary using Word Cards. Have students work with a partner to read aloud each word. Have them predict how the words may be related to the essential question: How do gray whales find their way from Mexico's lagoons to arctic seas?

Viewing the Slideshow

As a class, read through the pages of the slideshow together. Stop occasionally to spotlight key words and ideas or ask questions. Encourage students to share their own questions sparked by the information and images.

Optional printed booklet of slideshow can be copied and assembled for partner or at-home reading.

Revisit for Understanding

1. Reread the selection. Place students in small groups and have them reread the slideshow's text together. Challenge them to "mark up the text" with codes indicating fact statements (F), questions (?), and quotes (QT). Encourage them to jot notes in the margin to capture their own thoughts, questions, and connections with the information they read. Provide time for a class discussion in which each group shares their discoveries, questions, and overall responses.

2. Pair words and images. Place students in small groups. Print out images from the photo gallery. Have students match pre-reading word cards to the images. Encourage them to share how they paired the words and images.

3. Read with fluency and expression. Pair students. Provide a copy of the text-only page. Invite them to read aloud the text together in a variety of ways. This text page can also be used as an oral reading assessment.

4. Ask Assessment and Reflection Questions. Encourage readers to summarize their learning and think beyond the text with questions like these:

  • Where and when do gray whales migrate?
  • How many miles do they travel each way?
  • How do scientists think gray whales find their way from Mexico's lagoons to the arctic seas? What hypotheses are being studied?
  • How do you think scientists collect evidence to prove or disprove hypotheses about gray whale migration and navigation?
  • What questions do you have about the gray whale's annual cycle? If you were a whale researcher, what mysteries would you like to solve?
Wrap Up

1. Observe and Wonder! Revisit the images from the Photo Gallery. What questions do the images inspire? What questions would you ask a gray whale expert? Write and share your wonder-filled questions about gray whale migration and navigation.

2. Track Gray Whale Migration With Journey North
As gray whales migrate, predict when and where they will travel.

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