Endangered Species Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

What does it mean when an animal is endangered or extinct? A video lesson lays out the basics for students and an activity gives them the chance to dig deeper. Related lessons and extra activities are also provided for ongoing study.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • define 'extinction'
  • distinguish between extinction and endangerment
  • analyze reasons for classifying species as endangered and/or extinct
  • conduct research and report on one threatened, endangered, or extinct species


  • 1 hour for instruction
  • Up to 1 week for the activity

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; provide an accurate summary of the text distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in a specific scientific or technical context relevant to grades 6-8 texts and topics.


Integrate quantitative or technical information expressed in words in a text with a version of that information expressed visually (e.g., in a flowchart, diagram, model, graph, or table).


Compare and contrast the information gained from experiments, simulations, video, or multimedia sources with that gained from reading a text on the same topic.

Key Vocabulary

  • Extinct
  • Threatened species
  • Endangered species


  • Begin by asking the class to explain what it means for an animal to become extinct, writing key ideas on the board.
  • Now play the video lesson The Endangered Species Act & The World Conservation Strategy: Goals & Purposes, pausing at 00:34.
  • Were the students correct in their ideas about extinction?
  • Next ask them to pair up and brainstorm ideas for why extinction is a bad thing.
  • When each pair has created a list of reasons for why extinction is a bad thing, have them present them to the class.
  • Now play the video lesson again, pausing this time at 3:20.
  • How did the student-provided reasons for why extinction is a bad thing compare to the reasons presented in the video lesson? Discuss this briefly as a class.
  • Ask the students to consider what the differences might be between a threatened species and an endangered species, again discussing these as a class.
  • Play the reminder of the video lesson for the class now.
  • How did the ideas of the class concerning threatened and endangered species measure up to the facts provided in the video lesson? Fill in any blanks on this content now through class discussion.

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