Reading and Writing Connections for this selection:

Gray Whales:
Hitchhikers: Free Rides on Gray Whales

Reading Strategies:

  • Ask Questions and Make Predictions to Set a Purpose for Reading
  • Identify Main Ideas and Details
  • Build and Extend Students? Understanding of Vocabulary Introduced in the Text
  • Use Context Clues to Decipher Unfamiliar Words
  • Compare and Contrast Details Described in the Text
  • Make Inferences and Draw Conclusions
  • Make Text-to-the-World Connections
  • Examine Author?s Craft: How do authors make nonfiction texts "reader-friendly"?
  • (About Reading Strategies)

    Cetacean, parasites, infested, barnacles, nutrient-rich, larvae, reproduction, nursery lagoons, host-specific, crustacean, plankton, colonies, tail flukes, whale lice, topsmelt, marine plants, school, miniscule, groom, groomers, protein-rich, drag, resistance




Set the Stage for Reading
Read aloud the title of the selection, Hitchhikers: Free Rides on Gray Whales. Read aloud the first paragraph and the two subheadings: Big Batches of Barnacles and A Look at Lice. Model pre-reading strategies by thinking aloud your predictions and questions: "After reading the title, subheadings, and lead paragraph, I predict that? The questions that pop into my mind are?" Invite students to ask questions and make predictions: "What words and/or phrases do you predict we?ll find in this article based on the title, subheadings, and lead paragraph? What kinds of facts do you think the author will reveal in this article? What questions do you think a reader might have about this topic?" Encourage students to list Who, Where, What, Why, When, and How questions to set a purpose for reading. (Asking Questions and Making Predictions to Set a Purpose for Reading)

First Reading
Give each student a copy of the reading selection. Encourage students to examine the photo on the page. Read aloud the article. Invite students to circle unfamiliar words as you are reading. Let them know that new words will be examined during a revisit activity. (Listening for Main Ideas and Details, Building Vocabulary)

See Mark Up the Text/Comprehension Codes for additional ways students can record their ideas during the first reading of this selection.

Second Reading
Have students read the article silently. Encourage them to "mark up the text" by underlining key words and phrases, and writing notes in the margins. Have them list questions they have after reading the article. Encourage students to check a variety of resources to find answers.

Research Extension
Visit the FAQ pages featured in Journey North for frequently asked questions. The answers reveal many facts about gray whales. Link: FAQ pages for Gray Whales.

Vocabulary Visit
Revisit the text to examine the vocabulary words. Choose from the ideas described in Building Vocabulary Skills with Journey North to extend students? understanding of the vocabulary words. (Building and Extending Vocabulary: Exploring Various Meanings of Words)

Compare and Contrast
Have students compare and contrast barnacles and whale lice using ideas described in the reading selection. Encourage students to underline phrases and sentences that describe similarities and differences. (Comparing and Contrasting Details Described in the Text)

Journaling Questions: (Making Inferences and Drawing Conclusions)

1. Why do you think gray whales have more hitchhikers than other whales? (Look for a clue in the reading selection.)

2. If you were a gray whale biologist trying to figure out which whale is which, how good would you be? Would you be able to spot differences in the unique clusters of barnacles on each whale? Dr. William Megill gives you step-by-step help, with lots of photos for practice in Who is That Whale? Gray Whale Photo ID Matching.

Making Connections: Text-to-the-World Connections
1. What purpose do parasites have? Some animals/organisms are categorized as "pests" and people find ways to "combat" them. Why do you think it is important to research parasites and the roles they have in nature? Invite students to explore the concept of interdependence: "If parasites (or other organisms) are viewed as pests and humans decide to develop ways to eliminate them, what are some possible results?" Help students make connections by studying the use of pesticides. Explore possible cause and effect relationships to help students understand the delicate balance of nature through effects on both target and non-target organisms. (Making Text-to-the-World Connections)

2. Invite students to research various barnacle species. Cryptolepas rhachianecti is a species of barnacle found only on Gray Whale skin. This barnacle is a filter feeder, sticking its feathery legs out of its shell to gather plankton from the water. This whale barnacle does not have to expend a lot of energy filtering the water because the whale provides the movement. Have students compare and contrast this species to other barnacles that attach themselves to solid, stationary places. Encourage them to find answers to the following questions: "Where do barnacles find homes? How do they attach themselves to whales or other ?homes?? What do they look like? Are all barnacles ?attached for life? or do they move to a variety of places?" (Making Text-to-the-World Connections)

Evaluate: (Readers Examine Author?s Craft)
Have students identify strategies the author used to make the nonfiction article "reader-friendly." Ask the following questions to guide students? thinking: "Nonfiction articles often contain specific vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to readers. How did the author of this article help readers learn new words? What clues were provided in the text? Which words were specifically defined? How did the author organize the information to make the article "reader-friendly"? Which sentences contained descriptive details that helped a reader visualize ideas?" Encourage students to provide specific examples from the text to support their responses.

Writers Workshop

  • Descriptive/Expressive
    "I am called Cryptolepas rhachianecti. I am a whale barnacle?" Have students write a personification paragraph in which a whale barnacle describes its life aboard a gray whale. Encourage them to include details from the reading selection in the descriptive paragraph.
  • Expository
    List vocabulary words from the reading selection on the board. Invite students to select from the words to create a page for a class book entitled Gray Whale Glossary. Encourage them to include the word, a definition, and a context-rich sentence on the page they create for the glossary.
  • Descriptive/Persuasive
    Have students write a "Plea from Parasites." In the plea, barnacles and whale lice convince humans that they are important and should not be labeled as "pests." Encourage students to use details from the reading selection to create a persuasive plea.
  • Expressive
    How did students feel about parasites such as lice before reading the nonfiction article? How did their thoughts or feelings about these organisms change after reading the article? Invite students to write a paragraph to express their thoughts about barnacles, whale lice, and/or other parasites.