Animal Populations

Social Studies Inquiry Project

Compelling Question

Why are there so many adult animals in shelters?

Supporting Questions

How do shelters make decisions about what to do with animals who have been in the shelter for a long time?

What can we do to lower populations in animal shelters?

Background Information

Plan for Teaching

4 Steps of Inquiry

1. Identify the Problem

  • Ask compelling question
  • Introduce supporting questions
  • Begin research

2. Research the Problem

  • Research both sides of problem
  • Investigate multiple solutions
  • FIELD TRIP to a shelter

3. Examine Solutions Using Evidence

  • Examine the soluitons found and choose one or more to support.
  • Make a plan to support these options.
  • soluitons: spay and neuter pets, adopt adult animals, help local shelters.

4. Communicate Solutions & Take Informed Action

  • Create an awareness campaign
  • Start with educating the school community
  • Move into community education by writing letters to community leaders and general community members, raising funds for local shelters, volunteering at local shelters, and helping spread the word about adoption days through flyers and other communications.
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Teaching Materials

"Before You Were Mine" Literature Guide Podcast
animal shelter visit
This video would be an alternative if my class is unable to take a field trip to an animal shelter. She tours the shelter and narrates her trip.

TEKS & Resources

Language Arts

4.18.b Writing/Expository and Procedural Texts. Students write expository and procedural or work-related texts to communicate ideas and information to specific audiences for specific purposes. Students are expected to write letters whose language is tailored to the audience and purpose (e.g., a thank you note to a friend) and that use appropriate conventions (e.g., date, salutation, closing).

4.19 Writing/Persuasive Texts. Students write persuasive texts to influence the attitudes or actions of a specific audience on specific issues. Students are expected to write persuasive essays for appropriate audiences that establish a position and use supporting details.

4.23.a,b Research/Research Plan. Students ask open-ended research questions and develop a plan for answering them. Students are expected to:

(A) generate research topics from personal interests or by brainstorming with others, narrow to one topic, and formulate open-ended questions about the major research topic; and

(B) generate a research plan for gathering relevant information (e.g., surveys, interviews, encyclopedias) about the major research question.

4.24 Research/Gathering Sources. Students determine, locate, and explore the full range of relevant sources addressing a research question and systematically record the information they gather. Students are expected to:

(A) follow the research plan to collect information from multiple sources of information both oral and written, including:

(i) student-initiated surveys, on-site inspections, and interviews;

(ii) data from experts, reference texts, and online searches; and

(iii) visual sources of information (e.g., maps, timelines, graphs) where appropriate;

(B) use skimming and scanning techniques to identify data by looking at text features (e.g., bold print, italics);

(C) take simple notes and sort evidence into provided categories or an organizer;

(D) identify the author, title, publisher, and publication year of sources; and

(E) differentiate between paraphrasing and plagiarism and identify the importance of citing valid and reliable sources.

4.25 Research/Synthesizing Information. Students clarify research questions and evaluate and synthesize collected information. Students are expected to improve the focus of research as a result of consulting expert sources (e.g., reference librarians and local experts on the topic).

4.26 Research/Organizing and Presenting Ideas. Students organize and present their ideas and information according to the purpose of the research and their audience. Students are expected to draw conclusions through a brief written explanation and create a works-cited page from notes, including the author, title, publisher, and publication year for each source used.

Social Studies Skills

4.21Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of valid sources, including electronic technology. The student is expected to:

(A) differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; documents; and artifacts to acquire information about the United States and Texas;

(B) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions;

(C) organize and interpret information in outlines, reports, databases, and visuals, including graphs, charts, timelines, and maps;

(D) identify different points of view about an issue, topic, historical event, or current event; and

(E) use appropriate mathematical skills to interpret social studies information such as maps and graphs.

4.22 Social studies skills. The student communicates in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:

(A) use social studies terminology correctly;

(B) incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication;

(C) express ideas orally based on research and experiences;

(D) create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies; and

(E) use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation.

4.23 Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others, in a variety of settings. The student is expected to:

(A) use a problem-solving process to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution; and

(B) use a decision-making process to identify a situation that requires a decision, gather information, identify options, predict consequences, and take action to implement a decision.


Euthanasia: The Compassionate Option. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2016, from

PETA [Telephone interview]. (2016, April 22).

Pet Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved April 11, 2016, from

University Animal Hospital [Telephone interview]. (2016, April 22).

Van Horne, C. (n.d.). Overcrowded Shelter May Euthanize Healthy Animals. Retrieved April 11, 2016, from

All images are my own. As you move down the smore, you move from adoption to today in my own dog's life; showing her journey towards trusting me and becoming a part of the family.