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Reading and Writing Connections for this selection:

Satellite Tracking and Manatees
Tie a Belt Around Your Peduncle!

Reading Strategies:

Photo Courtesy
USGS, BRD, Sirenia Project

peduncle, radio tags, radio transmitters, nylon tether, weak link, sonic beacons, location coordinates, hydrophone, diameter, orbiting, satellite, GPS (Global Positioning System), VHF, Argos, PTT


Prior to reading the selection, model how readers ask questions based on the title to anticipate what facts may be found in the text. Write questions that students generate on a class chart. Have students work with a partner to sort the questions into categories. Invite students to write the questions from the class chart on a page in their notebooks using the 5 W's and H categories: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

Sample questions may include: Who tracks manatees? What data is collected? Where is the tag attached to a manatee? When are manatees tagged? Why is tracking important to manatee research? How are manatees tracked by satellite? How does satellite tracking work? How has satellite tracking helped manatees? What are the costs and benefits of tracking manatees? What have scientists learned from data collected from manatee tags? (Asking Questions to Set a Purpose for Reading)

Variation: Use the Carousel Brainstorming technique to collect pre-reading questions. Set up six large sheets of chart paper (one for each kind of question) in separate areas in the classroom. Label each chart: 1. Who? 2. What? 3. Where? 4. When? 5. Why? 6. How? You may add another chart labeled "Other," for questions that begin with other lead words, such as "Does...?" "Did...?" "Is...?" Put students into small groups. Give each group a few minutes to talk about questions that the title of the reading selection evokes. Ask each group to visit the charts to write questions about satellite tracking of manatees. When a group arrives at a chart, encourage them to read questions other groups have written to avoid repetitions. (Asking Questions to Set a Purpose for Reading)

Read "Satellite Tracking and Manatees." Invite students to read the text independently. Encourage them to "mark up the text" by circling unfamiliar words, underlining key ideas, and writing questions in the margins.

Library Lookout:
Darling, Kathy. Manatee: On Location
Reading Level: Ages 9-12
Published by Lothrop Lee & Shepard, 1991
ISBN: 0-688-09030
This book introduces readers to people dedicated to protecting and saving manatees.


Revisit the selection to collect answers to the questions students generated prior to reading. Encourage students to check other resources to research questions not answered by the text. (Identifying Main Ideas and Details)

Reread the first paragraph of the selection. Ask students to respond to the following questions: "What makes an effective lead paragraph for a nonfiction article?" "What is the author's goal when writing the first few lines of a selection?" "How did the author engage your attention with the opening paragraph of this selection?" "How effective was this article’s lead?" "Why do you think the author chose questions rather than facts to lead the reading selection?" "Which questions in the opening paragraph did we brainstorm prior to reading the text?" "Why do questions make effective leads for nonfiction articles?" (Examining Author’s Craft; Analyzing Writing Strategies)

Reread the last paragraph of the selection that describes the differences between radio tags and GPS (Global Positioning System) tags. Have students use the facts in the paragraph to create a Venn Diagram that charts the tags’ similarities and differences. (Compare/Contrast) Ask questions that help students draw conclusions about radio and GPS tags based on the facts in the selection. Invite them to discuss ideas that could be added to their comparison charts based on their conclusions. (Inferring Ideas Not Explicitly Stated in the Text.)

Highlight the three headlines the author used in the selection: "Tie a Belt Around Your Peduncle!" "Radio Waves" and "Beeping or Listening: The Difference Between Radio-Tags and GPS Tags." Ask students the following questions: "How do boldface headlines help readers collect information from nonfiction texts?" "What headlines could be added to this article to help future readers find facts?" Have students work with a partner to reread the selection and add headlines to paragraphs in the article. Invite students to share their ideas with the class. (Examining Text Structure)

Journaling Questions
1. What do you think are the benefits of animal tracking?
2. What do you think are the potential risks or costs?
3. What are the possible advantages and disadvantages of radio tracking? Satellite tracking? (Drawing Conclusions)

Making Connections
We live in the "Age of Technology." How do we use technology in ways that benefit the world? What are possible misuses of technology? What would happen if someone decided to use satellite-tracking devices on humans? How would you feel about being tagged and tracked? What are possible advantages and disadvantages to utilizing satellite technology to tag and track humans? (Making Text-to-Self and Text-to-the-World Connections)

Evaluate (Examining author's strategies.)
1. How did the author help readers visualize the tagging/tracking objects and processes described in the text? Collect words/phrases that describe the manatee's peduncle belt, nylon tether, and radio transmitter cylinders. Sort the words/phrases into categories: specific nouns, powerful verbs, descriptive adjectives, comparisons, and other. Discuss strategies authors use to help readers picture ideas. (Visualizing Details from Text)

2. This article describes the sequence of events involved in tagging and tracking manatees. What words and phrases did the author use to help readers track the sequence of events from start to finish? To locate a manatee, scientists will begin with ..., the next step is..., then..., At this point... Invite students to create a timeline of the tagging and tracking events from start to finish. (Sequencing Events)

Writer’s Workshop
  • Narrative
    Write a fictional story that describes the events of a tagged manatee on its migratory journey. Include facts described in the reading selection.
  • Descriptive
    Write a paragraph that describes what a manatee tag looks like.
  • Expository
    Write a list of the benefits of tagging and tracking manatees.
  • Expressive
    Think about the topic of tagging and tracking manatees from different perspectives: a wildlife researcher, a land developer planning to open a new coastal resort for tourists? a fisherman? a boater? a concerned citizen? a student? a manatee? Write journal entries that express possible thoughts about tagging/tracking from different viewpoints.
  • Persuasive
    The research department at the wildlife organization has just received news about potential budget cuts. Less funding may lead to the end of satellite tracking of manatees. Write a letter to the "Budget Director" about why it is important for satellite tracking to continue. Use the facts you've learned in your research to persuade the budget director to continue allocating sufficient funds for satellite tracking of manatees.

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