Saturday, January 14, 2012

Time for a showdown!

What if two animals that would never naturally meet in our world actually went face-to-face in a fictional encounter?  What if we read about each predator?  Compared each predator and declared a winner...that is Predator Showdown!  Predator Showdown is a new addition to my inquiry workshop inspired by a Scholastic Bookfair book titled (you guessed it)...Predator Showdown!  Not the most warm and fuzzy cover! :)

When developing my inquiry workshop, I had planned out a routine in my mind for the three days.  Day one would focus on a particular non-fiction reading strategy that I was noticing the students needed.  The first quarter of the year I spent a lot of time on stimulating background knowledge, asking questions, wondering, asking questions off of new knowledge, locating information, writing while reading, and finding details that would answer our questions.  Wonderopolis was an amazing tool for all of this!  As we moved into second quarter, the focus started to shift to structure.  I continued to use Wonderopolis as one of my main sources.  We focused on the main idea of sections that had headings and those that did not, a fact that was nice to know vs. a fact that had importance, integrating technology into our inquiry process and inquiry buddies, and synthesizing information when a text does not give you the exact information you are looking for.  Whew!  Well, now it is third quarter and through listening (OLW of the year for me!)...I was hearing a lot of curiosity and connections in the form of comparing.  Students were using all of their experiences and were now comparing and connecting information.  The need for some comparing mini-lessons and a great book combined to make our Predator Showdown!

Here's how it works...

The student's thinking...
1.  I announce the opponents and show a picture of each opponent.
2.  The students sketch each opponent quickly and write down their prediction of who would win.
3.  I show a quick 1-2 minute video clip of each animal in their habitat.  After watching the video clip, the students predict again...they can keep their prediction the same or they can change it based on the new information they learned.
The two page spread...
The venn diagram and the scientist's thinking...
4.  Then we use the book's two page spread.  We examine all of the non-fiction text features...the maps of where they live, the table (listing their size, location, predator style, etc...), the bar graphs that rank their strength, defense, attack, and more on a 1-10 rating scale, we read each individual paragraph on each animal, and we read the showdown paragraph about how their meeting would play out in the real world.
5.  We organize some of our thoughts into a venn diagram.
6.  Each student then writes their final prediction but with justification.
7.  To declare the read the winner that they announce in the back of the book!

Our version of Predator Showdown has really brought a spark to our inquiry workshop.  Students now want to not only do this with animals that they choose but now....want to compare transportation vehicles, tools, places, and even compare prey!

You might be wondering about video clips. A MUST: Previewing videos is a must since all of the showdowns involve predators and "eating":) .   I found the first video for saltwater crocodile vs. great white shark on the Animal Planet website.  It was actually a showdown clip that matched exactly!  After reading many blogs on using digital media for a mentor text, this video has a great lead and would be fun to examine in writing workshop.  Animal Planet has many more showdown videos but they do not match the showdowns in the book.  There are about 8 showdowns in the book that you can find a short clip on each animal at National Geographic for Kids website.

It is a small twist to my inquiry workshop that has developed a spark of curiosity!


  1. Wow this an amazing connection with all aspects of Non Fiction and I am sure the students love the idea of the showdown. Such a creative way to use Wonderopolis as well as other websites. Love all the pictures of students work. Great thinking!!

  2. I can just imagine how much your kids loved this! I am tracking down this book:)