I use this activity as an introduction activity with my high school marine biology general science elective. I like this activity because it lets the students start to think about what kinds of animals live (and have lived) in the ocean, and starts to address some of the misconceptions about animals in the ocean.
You may use animals from the enclosed list or find other animals. The goal is to find animals that look “unbelievable” or “monstrous.” Also, you should try to get several pictures of animals that students will not immediately recognize.
For Day 1: We start off with a class discussion on sea monsters – what we know and name as many as we can. I pair the students up in groups of 2. Each groups picks or is assigned one of the photos. I give them about 10 minutes to work with their partner to think about their animal. Their prompt is to assume that they have never seen this animal before, and to try to infer information based on what they can see from their picture. (I mention that some of the pictures may be photoshopped, so to use whatever information they are given in the picture). If time allows, students may bring their pictures up to the ELMO projector and share their ideas. The students should create a well-written, detailed paragraph containing all their ideas and inferences about the picture.
For Day 2: Students get out a computer and are given the official name of their animal. At this point they start to research their animal. They will either have a real animal (currently living or previously living) or they will have a mythical animal. The research instructions have different prompts for each scenario. Students are to find the answers to the research prompt and create a well-written paragraph containing their research information.
Presentations: This depends on the technology level of your students as well as the amount of time that you have to devote to this activity. Some years I’ve had the students create a 1-page poster on a piece of copy paper, and either share it in front of the class or on the ELMO projector. These posters can be hung up in the room if they turn out nice. Another option is to have students create a flyer or some other sort of paper presentation. Some years I’ve had the students use technology in their presentations, and use Powerpoint, Google Slides, or Prezi to create a presentation. In general students have 3 slides – one for day one, one for day two, and one with a picture of the animal. At the end of the activity, students share what they learn with the rest of the class.
You will receive 4 page Word document. 1 page is a student worksheet page with instructions for both days. 1 page is a Rubric for student presentations. 1 page has a list of animals I've used and then starts the teacher note, which continues to the 4th page.