Lifeguard Dogs - to the Rescue

article by Kate Walker , photo courtesy Alamy

Learning intention:

I am learning to investigate subheadings and how they assist readers with making predictions about content.

Success criteria:

  • I can make predictions about the type of information that might be included under specific subheadings.
  • I can compose subheadings to allow readers to predict what content might be included.


Prior to reading Lifeguard Dogs-to the Rescue, display the following subheadings from the article:


Italy’s water rescue dogs

Basic training

Advance training

Coast Guard dogs

Discuss the purposes of subheadings, ensuring students are aware that subheadings do the following:

  • create curiosity
  • allow readers to predict the content that will appear in the article
  • summarise the ideas in the article

Inform students that they will be focusing on how subheadings allow readers’ to predict the content that will appear in an article. Select the first sub-heading, ‘Help!’, and discuss examples of information that might appear under this heading. Sample responses include: information about someone in danger, details of a rescue.

Place students in small groups. Inform them that they will be repeating this activity with their group, identifying information that might appear under each of the remaining subheadings. Tell students’ they will have three minutes to complete this task.

Read Lifeguard Dogs to the Rescue. Discuss students’ predictions and reflect on how the subheadings allowed them to make correct predictions.

Tell students that composing subheadings, that allow readers’ to accurately predict what content will be included, is a specific skill.

Read the article, Italian Dogs Trained as Lifeguards Save 20 Lives Every Year, together with students. Identify information about lifeguard dogs from the website, that wasn’t in the article Lifeguard Dogs-to the rescue, and jot observations on the board. For example, students’ may identify the following quotes from the article:

300 SICS units, consisting of one dog and one trainer, are tasked with watching over approximately 30 of the country’s busiest beaches.

Thanks to their willingness to perform, strength, and fearless exploits—including leaping from helicopters into the surf below to rescue at-risk swimmers—an average of 20-30 lives are saved annually by the doggie guards, and that number continues to climb each year.

Discuss a subheading that might be used to introduce the information. Sample responses include:

  • Lifeguard dogs, who are they?
  • What do lifeguard dogs do all day?
  • Lifeguard dogs on the prowl

Identify further information from the website, such as:

Earlier this month, when several families, including eight children, were imperiled by strong wind and wave conditions while 330 feet from shore, three canine lifeguards and their trainers rushed in to save the day.

With the help of their human companions, dogs Eros, Mya, and Mira pulled everyone to safety in about 15 minutes.

Instruct students to work in their same groups to compose a subheading that introduces this information. Tell students to imagine this additional information is to be added to the article, Lifeguard Dogs to the Rescue, along with the subheading the students compose.

Tell students the goal is to compose a subheading that allows readers to make accurate predictions about the type of information that will be included in that section, while still be catchy and engaging readers’ interest.

Suggestions for subheadings include:

  • A brave rescue
  • Lifeguard dogs save the day
  • Lifeguard dogs in action

Tell students they will be working in their group to independently identify information from Italian Dogs Trained as Lifeguards Save 20 Lives Every Year, and composing a subheading to include with the information they select.

Instruct students to read the remainder of the article with their partner/group. Tell students to select one paragraph. Instruct them to write a subheading for their chosen paragraph.

Allow time for students to compose their subheadings, before pairing the groups with a peer group. Instruct each pair/group to share their subheadings. Set a timer for one minute. Instruct students to work with their partner/group to jot down any information they think will be included under their peer groups’ subheading.

Once the minute is up, instruct students to share their thoughts with their peer group. Discuss responses as a class, commenting on how the subheadings allowed for accurate predictions of content of what would be included in the paragraph.