Our shark unit began with
the class completing the first two sections of a KWL chart as a
group. That was followed by one of the non fiction read aloud
books about sharks. Next we visited the Enchanted Learning site,
as well as sites recommended by the project coordinators.
Various worksheets from Enchanted Learning and from the project
site were used. Similar books and websites were used on other
days. An excellent site which we use in our school is NetTrekker.
It is a safe search engine, which our school district subscribes
to, which facilitates differentiated instruction. As a primary
teacher, I especially like the fact that it can be set to read
to the child. This is quite a useful site in addressing UDL.
The students then created sharks on drawing paper, with
attention given to including parts of the sharks which we had
labeled before, such as the different kinds of fins, gills and
body shapes. These sharks have been “swimming overhead”
throughout the unit.
During one of our computer lab times, the students used Kid
Pix to draw and write a fact about sharks.
A cooperative learning activity-Round Table-was used to
summarize information learned about sharks. This, like many
other cooperative learning structures, facilitates UDL. Each
child on each of 4 teams was responsible for writing a fact
about sharks. Team members were encouraged to talk with each
other to assure different facts were told and to assist each
other, as necessary. The facts were written on sentence strips.
These facts were then read aloud for the class. I typed the
sentences on Primary Tablet and then cut them apart. The
students then worked as a classroom group to arrange the
sentences into a story. We worked together to group facts
together and to combine any that were the same on different
teams. We edited and proofread as necessary. These were then
hung on a chart for all to read. We read the
story as a group and then each
student took a copy home for reading homework and to share their
shark expertise with family members. The story was then combined
with their Kid Pix pictures and used for a
The unit was concluded with a shark wordsearch, a shark
acrostic poem, a *windowpane
activity and the completion of the KWL chart from the
beginning of the unit.
*I can’t remember where the windowpane activity originated.
The first time I used it was during a course on differentiated
instruction. However, I have used the windowpane format often to
address and assess learning at different ability levels in the