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A Beaver Story

School: McAuliffe Charter School

City/State: Framingham, MA

Grade(s): 6

Format(s): Children's book

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

Project Overview

6th grade students from the McAuliffe Charter School in Framingham, Massachusetts created this children’s book about beavers, and the impact of humans on this animal, as part of a Learning expedition on ecosystems. Because of recent restrictions on trapping laws in Massachusetts, beaver populations had blossomed in the state, causing continual land management problems for towns and cities, making beavers a hot political topic.

In researching beavers, students worked with local experts, including a biologist and water scientist, and were involved in field research at numerous sites.

During the summer prior to this Learning expedition, the teacher was involved in a Fund for Teachers research project, through Expeditionary Learning Schools, during which she went to Isle Royale in Michigan. She was part of a scientific investigation of moose populations, studying the extent to which wolves were praying on moose. Back at school, she incorporated what she learned and helped students apply it to their investigation into the population dynamics of beavers.

Students worked with a children’s book author in the creation of this book. The book follows a unique format: each page has an illustration in the center accompanied on the top of each page with an ongoing narrative telling the fictional story of a beaver in Massachusetts – written in a traditional children’s book style (with beavers talking as people do). On the bottom of each page is explanatory text with nonfiction information that corresponds to the picture and storyline.

At the end of the book is an illustrated acknowledgement page, with descriptions and cartoon drawings of the experts who helped to guide the project.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a unique adaptation of a children’s book format – simultaneously combining a fictionalized story with factual information
  • Addresses an interesting ecological question
  • Showcases a Learning expedition with significant expert guidance and fieldwork
  • The acknowledgement pages are engaging and thoughtful – a good model
  • Shows an engaging layout, with student illustration accompanied by text
  • Demonstrates a format that could easily be applied to many different subject areas
  • Shows upper elementary students creating materials for younger children

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can accurately synthesize information from multiple texts on the same topic.
  • I can explain how the evidence a speaker provides supports the points they’re trying to make.
  • I can write informative/explanatory texts that convey ideas and concepts using relevant information that is carefully selected and organized.
  • I can write narrative texts about real or imagined experiences using relevant details and event sequences that make sense.
  • I can produce clear and coherent writing that is appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to produce clear and coherent writing.
  • I can use evidence from a variety of grade appropriate texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  • I can use a standard format for citation.
  • I can maintain consistency in style and tone when writing and speaking.
  • I can use correct capitalization, punctuation and spelling to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can use correct grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
  • EL has not created long-term learning targets for WHST standards.
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