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English Detective # 57: Whales and Climate Change, 11-3-15
November 03, 2015

A Reading Comprehension Lesson Plan: Whales as Victims-- and Heroes—of Climate Change

There is some very interesting research suggesting that whales may reduce climate change, as well as being affected by it.

The main link in this issue is to a reading comprehension lesson I designed using parts of two articles about whales and climate change. There were several good articles on the subject, but most are too difficult for English learners.

I chose two of the clearest (only two paragraphs of the second), and include some scaffolding discussion and possible word definitions to make them more accessible. There are some reading comp questions at the end for lesson evaluation. Here is that lesson plan, including links, suggested vocabulary and discussion, questions, and answer key.

(You can also access it from the free lesson plans near the top of the Reading Comprehension Lesson Plans page on EnglishHints.)

This WWF news release is the main reading in the lesson plan. It was written in 2007, but is still referred to by other sites for its information on potential climate change threats to whales.

Click here for another good article, though rather technical, and a great picture. The lesson suggests just using two specific paragraphs from it, but they are the simplest summary I have seen of the way whales benefit the oceans and can help reduce climate change. Feel free to use more of it if you have time!

I’m including the best of the other links I found in case you would choose different ones or would just like to read the articles yourself.

Here’s a British look at whales as ironic heroes.

This is a 6-minute minute TED talk on the subject.(Link is to the transcript, but just scroll up to get the video.)

This is an article I just found, looking at a related question: the earth’s nutrient losses due to the decline in whales and very large (prehistoric) land mammals.

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