Reading and Writing Connections for this selection:

Lagoon Tour: Whale Watching at
Laguna Ojo de Liebre

Reading Strategies:

  • Build vocabulary
  • Ask questions to generate ideas for writing
  • Use sensory details to create vivid pictures
  • Draft ideas
  • Revise text for meaning
  • Edit text for accuracy.
  • Publish writing in a creative way
  • (About Reading Strategies)

    Peninsula, rugged, arid, parallel, biosphere, reserve, panga, barnacles, crustaceans, dunes, lagoon, humanity?s heritage, ecotourism




Lagoon Tour: Whale Watching
Read about Jane Duden?s visit to Baja California: Lagoon Tour: Whale Watching at Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Invite students to imagine embarking on a whale watching tour as they click on each of the photos. Encourage them to share their responses to the photographs and captions. Choose from a menu of activities to help students learn key vocabulary included in the reading selection: Building Vocabulary with Journey North.

Use the reading selection as a springboard for writing. Choose from the following ideas to help students generate and draft ideas. Encourage them to revise and edit their writing for meaning and accuracy. Invite them to choose from the menu of writing projects described below to present their ideas to an audience.

Prewriting Strategies:

Questions for Details
After viewing the photos from Jane?s journey, help students generate ideas for writing using a strategy called Questions for Details: Have students work with a partner or in small groups to brainstorm a list of questions they would ask Jane about her lagoon tour. Encourage them to list a variety of questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? After several minutes of brainstorming have students list questions they would ask a travel agent or tour guide if they were planning a whale watching tour. The answers to the brainstormed questions become details for writing.

Rules! Rules! Rules!
Download the photo (enlarged version) from Jane?s lagoon tour that features Rules for Whale Watching. Post the rules on chart paper or make an overhead transparency. Invite students to read the list of rules. Ask questions to generate a discussion: "Why are rules important? Why do you think these rules are posted for visitors? How do you think the rules were established? What do you think of each of the rules listed on the sign? How do each of the rules help humans and gray whales live in harmony? What could happen if someone ignored one of the rules? How does the sign educate tourists who come to see the whales? How would you inspire tourists to respect the whales and the lagoon during their visit?"

Sensory Details
Revisit the photographs from Jane?s trip to Baja. Invite students to click on each photo to enlarge the image. Have students collect sensory details for each photograph by asking the following questions: "As you look at each photograph, what so you see? How would you describe what an observer would see? What sensory details would help paint a descriptive picture? How would you describe the colors? Objects? Interesting details? What sounds do you imagine could be heard? What words and phrases would you use to describe wading in the shallow waters? How would you describe a panga based on what you see in the photographs? What words and phrases describe the weather? How would it feel to pet a gray whale? What physical characteristics do you notice in the photographs of the whales?

Writing Projects: Menu of Choices

  • Scrapbook
    Invite students to use the sensory details collected in the prewriting activity to write snapshot sentences. Snapshot sentences contain descriptive details that paint a vivid picture for readers. Encourage students to write snapshot sentence captions for each photograph. Create a scrapbook with the photographs and snapshot sentences.
  • Tourist Brochure
    Invite students to create travel brochures that describe the lagoon tour. Have students use the ideas collected during prewriting activities in their brochure. Ask the following questions to help students connect the prewriting ideas to the writing project: "How will your brochure inspire someone to plan a lagoon tour? How will you describe feature attractions? How will you include the rules for whale watching in the brochure to ensure that tourists show respect for the whales and the lagoon? Which sensory details will you use to help your readers imagine a wondrous adventure?"
  • Songs for Whales
    Invite students to write songs that inspire listeners to care about whales. Encourage them to include ideas from the prewriting activities as they write songs. Ask the following questions to spark students? creativity: "How will your song inspire humans to live in harmony with whales? How could you use the Rules for Whale Watching in your song? What pictures would you like your audience to imagine as they listen to your song? How could you incorporate actual whale sounds/songs into the music? What lyrics would you write if you imagined a mother gray whale singing a lullaby to her calf? What lyrics do you imagine a gray whale would write to visitors of the lagoon?"
  • Travel Journal
    Have students imagine a trip to Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Invite them to write a travel journal that describes their adventures. Encourage them to use the sensory details collected in the prewriting activity for journal entries. Ask the following questions to spark their creativity: "What was your daily itinerary? What was the trip to the lagoon like? How was the weather? What feelings and thoughts about seeing gray whales will you capture in your journal? What was the most significant moment of your trip? What thoughts linger in your mind after you returned home? What message would you like to share with the world after experiencing life at the lagoon?"
  • Poetry
    Dive into poetry to explore the wonders of whales. Invite students to express their thoughts and feelings about the wonders of whales in poetry. Encourage students to research types of poems (cinquain, haiku, free verse) to create a variety of poems.

    Write a list poem about mother gray whales and their calves using the descriptive words and phrases you collected from the reading selection. Each line of the poem includes one-to-three words. For example: Whale haven?Warm, salty lagoon?Nature?s nursery?Spyhopping grays?Splish, splash?Breaching beauties?Dimpled darlings frolic?Playing around pangas?Mystical marvels?See them...Save them. Ask questions to spark their creativity.
  • Travel Guide
    Ask students to write a list of whale words: baleen, spout, spyhopping, breeding, lagoon, ecosystem, marine mammal, etc. Invite them to collect definitions for each word using a variety of resource materials: dictionaries, reading selections, encyclopedias, etc. Have them create a guide for tourists that includes whale words and definitions. Ask students the following questions: "What information would be helpful to tourists visiting Laguna Ojo de Liebre? What questions might a whale watcher ask an expert? What words do visitors need to understand the world of whales?"

  • Magazine Article
    Not everyone has an opportunity to visit gray whales. Write a magazine article that helps readers experience life at the lagoon. Use detailed descriptions to help readers imagine what it would be like to embark on a whale watching tour. Encourage students to research facts about the nursery lagoons to collect details for writing the article: contact a travel agency for information, interview someone who has been on a whale watching tour, or visit websites for facts.