Warm up: Students make predictions and connections about the North Atlantic right whale by reviewing images from the documentary.
Key Vocabulary: Students learn key vocabulary words to access the film.
Introducing the Resource: Students review the trailer and research featured organizations.
View Entangled: Students watch feature-length documentary, Entangled, and complete a timestamped viewing guide.
Extension Activities: Students create artwork, research the history of whaling, identify careers in environmental protection and innovation, participate in a class debate, or read other underreported news stories about the environment and climate change.
- Think about a time when you encountered a unique animal. Maybe you saw this animal while camping, at the zoo or an aquarium. Craft a written response or discuss with a partner what you remember about encountering this animal. Where were you? Who were you with? Were you excited? Afraid? Amazed? Curious? Why do you think you still remember this moment?
- Review images from the film Entangled here. Share your responses to the following questions:
- Describe this image. What do you see?
- What do you think is happening in this photograph?
- What does this photograph make you wonder?
(Teacher note: There are about 30 images in this gallery. You can curate a smaller list of images for students to review or ask students to choose at least five striking images to explore with the questions above
- Vessel strikes
- Sound pollution
- Calanus finmarchicus
- Sound pollution
Introducing the resource:
In this lesson plan, students will watch Entangled, a feature-length documentary directed by David Abel and Andy Laub. The film explores how climate change has accelerated a collision between the nation’s most valuable fishery, one of the world’s most endangered species, and a federal agency mandated to protect both. The film chronicles the efforts to protect North Atlantic right whales from extinction, the impacts of those efforts on the lobster industry, and how the National Marine Fisheries Service has struggled to balance the needs of all parties involved.
- Watch the trailer for Entangled (3:19) and respond to the following questions in pairs, small groups, or whole class:
- What predictions can you make about why right whales are endangered?
- What predictions can you make about why fishermen and their families might be opposed to efforts to save right whales?
- Before watching the documentary, it will be helpful to learn more about the different organizations and communities featured in the film. Go online and research the various groups. Document your research with this chart.
Starting April 22, Entangled will be available for free to PBS subscribers for 60 days. You can find the film on PBS here. To screen this film for free after June 22, 2021, contact filmmaker David Abel at email@example.com. You can also watch the film on Vimeo for a small fee.
While watching Entangled, respond to the questions in this student viewing guide.
(Note to educator: This film contains some graphic imagery, including whale dissection. This viewing guide was created to support student comprehension and engagement while watching the feature-length documentary. The film is 75 minutes long. The viewing guide is time-stamped and designed for educators to screen 10- to 20-minute segments of the film at a time. The PBS broadcast is a shorter, 54-minute version of the film and may affect the accuracy of the time-stamps in the student viewing guide.)
- Create artwork celebrating the North Atlantic right whale. Students across the country are spreading awareness about the endangered whale by creating artwork. You can draw, paint, write a poem, song, or short story about the right whale. Your artwork can simply celebrate the whale and the environment, or draw attention to the many ways this animal is endangered by human actions.
- Research the history of whaling. The New Bedford Whaling Museum acknowledges the role that whaling had in decimating the North Atlantic right whale population. Research the history of whaling in North America and craft a five paragraph research essay. Ensure that you are using reputable sources.
- Identify careers in environmental protection and innovation. The task of saving the North Atlantic right whales has inspired the talents and skills of a range of professionals: scientists, politicians, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and community activists. Choose one of the following tasks:
- Develop a list of at least five jobs available for people interested in environmental protection. Present your findings to your class by creating a pamphlet, infographic, or digital presentation.
- Identify a job described in the film that is interesting to you. Go online and research the position. What skills do you need? What are the educational requirements for the job? Would you have to relocate? What technology would you need to know? Using all this information, write a job description for this role.
- Hold a classwide solutions think tank. Throughout the film, the Atlantic Large Whale Take Reduction Team debated and worked to agree on an urgent solution to the North Atlantic right whale extinction issue. Imagine the challenge of working in a team with representation from different communities that are all deeply invested in a solution that works for them. Reconstruct this think tank conference in your classroom by breaking students up into groups and assigning them a different community to represent (you can refer to the research organizations graphic organizer from the warm-up as a starting point). Each group should research the community it is representing and familiarize itself with the organization’s mission, its stance on saving the right whales, and what it would like to accomplish at the think tank.
- Read other Pulitzer Center articles on environmental conservation. Choose from the list of articles below to continue learning about how climate change is affecting our ecosystem:
- The World Without Wildlife—South Asia by Rachel Nuwer
- Stopping the Next One: Scientists Race to Prevent Human Encroachment on Wildlife From Causing the Next Pandemic by Harriet Constable and Jacob Kushner
- Escalator to Extinction by Benjamin von Brackel
- Death of the Pollinators by Mara Régia di Perna, Ana Cristina Moreira dos Santos, and Elizabeth Oliveira
- Cold Comfort: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Miniseries by Amy Martin and Nick Mott
- Cape Cod: At the Edge of a Warming World by Nestor Ramos, Anush Elbakyan, and John Tlumacki
- Mississippi Gulf Fisheries by Eric Shelton and Alex Rozier
- These Trees are Climate Superheroes by Eliza Barclay, Tristan McConnell, Umair Irfan, Christina Animashaun, Sarah Waiswa, Victor Moriyama, and Ardiles Rante
Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
Analyze how a text uses structure to emphasize key points or advance an explanation or analysis.
Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.