Learning from Experts

Since 1995, experts have answered students' questions about each Journey North species. These questions and answers are archived in our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. (To submit your own questions, see this spring's schedule.)

In the Classroom...
You can use these questions and answers in the following ways:

Create a Reference Book
Create a reference book for students to use throughout their Journey North adventure. Print out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) and place them in a three-ring binder. Display the reference book at a learning center. Encourage students to create additional pages of questions and answers for the reference book.

Help Students Paraphrase Facts
Help students paraphrase facts revealed on the pages. Students build understanding by putting the facts in their own words. Be sure to check the paraphrased sentences for clarity and accuracy.

Assess Students' Knowledge
Assess students prior knowledge about a species by listing questions from the FAQ's on chart paper. (Do not include the answers.) Invite students to make predictions about each question. Encourage students to add their own questions to the list. Revisit the questions as students learn facts throughout the unit.

For the following activities, print out the FAQ pages for the species your class is studying. Cut the pages into strips so that each slip of paper contains a question and its answer.

Conduct an Ask the Expert discussion.
Give each student 3-5 of the fact strips. Each student is responsible for the facts described on the strips he or she receives. Ask questions about the species you are studying. The student with the strip that answers the question responds as the expert.

Group Related Questions: Invite students to sort the strips into groups of related questions. For example, How big is a robin s nest? How does a robin build its nest? Where do robins build nests and why? These questions are all related to the nesting habits of robins. Encourage students to explain how they grouped questions.

Sort into Categories: Sort questions into the following categories: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? and Other. Students organize the strips of paper by the first word used in the question. Analyze the results: What type of question was asked the most? Least? Invite students to brainstorm additional questions.

Respond to Questions: Place strips in a box. Pull 1-2 questions each day. Have students respond to the questions orally or in writing. If the question is review, use their responses for assessment. If the question is new, invite students to make predictions and ask questions. Encourage them to find the facts on the Journey North website or other resources. Ask students to share their findings.

Create a Concept Map: Create a Concept Map for the species you are studying. Tape a large sheet of chart paper to the wall. Write the name of the species across the top of the chart. Below the topic, write categories for sorting the FAQ strips: Life Cycle, Migration, Habitat, Physical Adaptations, Behavioral Adaptations, etc. As a class read aloud questions and decide where to place the strip on the Concept Map.

Compare and Contrast
Have students compare and contrast more than one species. Print out the FAQ pages from two or more species. Place students in small groups to create Venn diagrams that show the similarities and differences among the species.

Create a Non-fiction Book
Create a classroom nonfiction book about the species you are studying. Invite students to choose two or three related questions. The questions become their focus for writing a page for the class book. For example, one student may choose questions about the physical adaptations of a species for his or her page. Another student may choose to create a page about the behavioral adaptations of a species.

Game Board and Game Cards
Invite students to create a gameboard and game cards using the questions and answers. When players take turns throughout the game they must answer questions correctly in order to move ahead spaces on the board.

Journey North Jeopardy
Have students play "Journey North Jeopardy." Use the FAQ pages to create game show cards. Here are some sample cards: Clue Card: "The tallest bird in North America." Contestant (student) response: "What are whooping cranes?" or Clue Card: "The only mammals with 6 cervical (neck) vertebrae." Response: "What are manatees and sloths?"

FAX the FAQ's
Make an imaginary FAX machine using a box. Show the class sample cover letters people use when sending a FAX. Have students write "Just the FAX" pages using details from the FAQ pages. Each day check the machine for new "FAX" about the species you are studying.

Invite students to work in groups for this activity. Give each group a set of questions. Have them create AlphaBoxes: The ABC s of Learning. The alphabox is a graphic that contains 26 squares for the letters of the alphabet. Students collect facts from the FAQ pages. They write words, phrases, and fact sentences in each box. For example, In the first square labeled A, students may write about the ADAPTIONS of a species. In the square labeled H, they may write facts about the animal s HABITAT.

Have students work in small groups for this activity. Give each group a set of questions with answers. Have them create an AlphaAntics picture book for young readers. Students use the facts to write and illustrate AlphaAntics sentences. For example, P is for manatee because tracking devices are attached to their PEDUNCLE. To build suspense and encourage young readers to make predictions, have your students write the first half of the sentence on one side of a page (P is for manatee because&), and the second half of the sentence on the back of the page (&tracking devices are attached to their PEDUNCLE.)