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Reading and Writing Connections for this selection:

Adaptations that Are Unique to Manatees

Reading Strategies:

Photo Credit: FWC

adaptations, physical and behavioral characteristics, accommodate, generalists, specialists


Recommended Pre-Reading Selection: Adaptations: Fit for Survival.

Prior to reading the selection, activate students’ prior knowledge: Write the words general and special on the board. Ask students to describe the meanings of each word. Invite them to use a dictionary or thesaurus to find definitions. Ask questions: "What would you rather be: A generalist or a specialist? Why?" Have students make a Two-Column Chart to brainstorm ideas for "Generalists" and "Specialists."

Introduce the selection with these fact statements: "Some species are generalists." "Some species are specialists." "Some species are generalists and specialists." Ask students to make predictions about what physical and/or behavioral characteristics would place a species in the Generalist or Specialist category. "Which species do you think scientists have labeled as generalists?" "Which species are specialists?" "Which species do you think are both generalists and specialists?" "Are manatees generalists, specialists, or both?" Encourage students to give reasons to support their predictions.

Read aloud the title and the first sentence. Use the Stop and Share strategy to help students identify the main idea and to confirm or revise predictions. Ask students to paraphrase the first sentence: using their own words to list the main ideas described. Invite them to reassess their predictions based on the details revealed in the title and lead.

Read Adaptations that are Unique to Manatees.

Related Reading Selections: "Adaptations: Changing to Survive," "Manatee Adaptations: The Organs," "Manatee Adaptations: The Head," and "Manatee Adaptations: Skeleton, Flippers, and Fat."

Library Lookout

Revisit the selection to collect facts revealed in the text. Have students work with a partner to create a Three-Column Chart where key ideas from the article can be listed: Generalists, Specialists, and Both. Encourage students to record facts from the text in the appropriate columns. Invite students to use the chart for questions the text does not answer.

Use the Jigsaw strategy to research the "Head-to-Flipper Facts" that place the manatee in the specialist category. Have students work in small groups. Each group reads a different article about Manatee Adaptations. The three articles include: "The Organs," "The Head," and "Skeleton, Flippers, and Fat."

Jigsaw Procedure: Divide the class into small "Home Base" groups. Each student in each group is assigned a number: 1, 2, or 3. Have students with the same number reassemble into "Expert" groups. Expert group #1 studies the organs of the manatee. Expert group #2 studies the head of the manatee. Expert group #3 studies the skeletons, flippers, and fat of the manatee. The students should gather in their "expert groups" to read the informational selections specific to their assigned topic. Encourage students to read, recall, reread, take notes, construct graphic organizers for the main ideas/details, and create any visuals they could use to teach others about the topic. After the expert groups have read, summarized, and illustrated the information, they return to their "Home Base" group. The #1 Experts teach the"Home Base" group about the organs of the manatee. The #2, and #3 Experts teach the group about the topics they researched. Variation: Rather than returning to "Home Base" groups, each Expert group could make a presentation to the class on the topic they researched.

Jigsaw Information Sheets: Link to the Related Reading Selections:
#1 Fact Sheet: Manatee Adaptations: The Organs
#2 Fact Sheet: Manatee Adaptations: The Head
#3 Fact Sheet: Manatee Adaptations: Skeleton, Flippers, and Fat

Journaling Questions
1. The most important part of the human body is the brain, which allows us to solve a lot of problems and to survive in many different environments without changing our whole body. Is a human's use of her/his brain to adjust in different environments the same as an adaptation?What are examples of human adaptations?
2. How do humans adapt to changing weather conditions?
3. How do humans move around the world? Is this the same as animal migration?Why?
4. What tools help humans fly like birds or swim underwater like manatees?

Making Connections
Think about your preferences regarding geography, climate, and food. What is your favorite place to live? What is your favorite season? What are your favorite foods? Would you classify yourself as a generalist or a specialist? What physical or behavioral characteristics determined your choice? Are manatees able to actually "choose" the geography and climate where they live in the same way a human does?

Evaluate(Readers examine author's strategies.)
If you were an author, how would you create an interesting book for young readers about Manatee Adaptations? How would you help readers learn about the physical and behavioral characteristics that help manatees survive in the wild? What text features would you use to engage readers' attention? How would you organize the information in a "reader-friendly" format? Which words would need context clues to help young readers understand the facts about manatee adaptations? What techniques did you learn from the author of the Adaptation reading selections? Give examples from the text to support your answer.

Writer’s Workshop
  • Creative/Narrative
    Write a fictional story about a stubborn manatee that wants to migrate too far north. Incorporate facts collected from your Manatee Adaptations research.
  • Descriptive
    Compare and contrast human and manatee adaptations. Create a Venn Diagram and Summary Paragraph to describe similarities and differences.
  • Expository
    Write a condensed report about Manatee Adaptations: Introductory Paragraph, Bulleted List of Facts, and a Concluding Paragraph.
  • Persuasive
    Write an editorial that reminds humans that manatees need protection. Despite the physical and behavioral characteristics that have helped these gentle giants survive in wild places, manatees are endangered. Despite the fact that manatees have no natural enemies, the species is at risk. "How will your Letter to the Editor bring attention to the plight of manatees?" Related Reading Selection: Why Manatees Need Protection

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