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The Amazing World of Lobsters

School: Presumpscot Elementary School

City/State: Portland, ME

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Book, Children's book: Alphabet

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Science and Technology, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

Every year, third-grade students at Presumpscot Elementary School in Portland, Maine participate in a learning expedition on lobsters. This year, the expedition included two case studies, one on the life cycle of lobsters and the other on the lobstering industry, including lobstering tools and equipment. Many experts were invited to share their knowledge with the students, including a local lobsterman, graduate biology students from a local university, and a speaker from the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation. The students also ventured out into Casco Bay on a working lobster boat.

The final product has evolved from year to year. During the 2014-15 school year, the product was an ABC book.  Students examined multiple examples of ABC books and then brainstormed to determine topics from A-Z. Production of the book took about three weeks. During this time, students tracked their progress on a large project planner that hung on the wall. Students used rubrics to conduct peer critique conferences where they practiced giving and accepting feedback, and revised and edited both the artwork and the writing.

The book was sold to the school community and at businesses on the Portland waterfront, and proceeds were donated to the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation. The work was also presented as a performance piece to friends and family at a celebration of learning, where each student presented their page to the audience.

Guiding Questions:
1. What does an animal need in order to survive in its habitat?
2. How does an industry impact a community?

Learning Targets:
I can teach a reader about lobsters and lobstering by writing an ABC book
that synthesizes what I’ve learned.
I can create an illustration that supports my page.
I can strengthen my work by planning, revising, and editing.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Beautiful example of engaging students through topic of local importance
  • This book is a striking example of high-quality individual student contribution to a collective class product
  • Vibrant and sophisticated use of multimedia art
  • Excellent model of interdisciplinary project work (science, art, literacy)

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can retell key ideas from an informational text.
  • I can use information from the words to understand informational texts.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to plan, revise and edit my writing.

Additional Standards

  • NGSS 3-LS1-1 I can compare and contrast the life cycle of lobsters to other animals (frogs).
  • NGSS 3-LS1-1 I can explain how lobsters survive at each stage of their life cycle, giving specific examples of their survival skills.
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