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Chauncie Mallen

School: Shutesbury Elementary School

City/State: Shutesbury, MA

Grade(s): 5, 6

Format(s): Character file

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

Project Overview

A 5th/6th grade student from the Shutesbury Elementary School, in Shutesbury, Massachusetts created this character file (CF) as part of a Learning expedition on local scientists.

As part of the expedition, students were engaged in a survey-style study of all of the fields that are considered the hard sciences. From this overview, each student chose one scientific area that particularly interested her or him. Corresponding to their interest, students then did a short internship (one to three days) with a local scientist during which they assisted with real research and documented their learning. Upon their return, each student created a short PowerPoint presentation in which they shared their experience with their classmates, explaining the general field of study and the particular area of research of their mentor scientist. 

This internship resulted in two products beyond the class presentation: A book titled “Meet Local Scientists” – Project #262 in this archive; and this product, a life study of a fictional scientist depicted with accuracy. Because of their extensive fieldwork as scientists, students were readily able to create realistic renderings of scientists.

The CF format combines mandatory components that all students must include with optional components that allow for student choice based on interest and pace of work. This student’s CF contains a physical, career, family and personality description, a “life” line, a list of favorites, and artifacts from her life.

Additional components not shown in this CF book include a large family tree, scale blueprints for the home of the character, and a finance portfolio for the character that comprises checking and savings accounts; household finances; bills; federal income taxes. 

Selected blueprints from Character Files from this classroom are indexed in this project archive as separate products: See project #258 and #259.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A project format that combines reading, research, writing, visual arts and (not shown here, but in the finance portfolio and blueprints) math
  • A project format with a variety of mandatory and optional components to engage a range of students who have different interests, talents and work at different paces
  • A project format with a clear measure of quality for many features: it must be realistic, as judged by experts (e.g. a career description must be accurate; finances must be feasible; blueprints must be well-planned, to scale and to code)
  • A unique and engaging way for students to explore a profession, a culture or an historical period and show the depth of their knowledge and understanding
  • Strong model of expressive, descriptive writing and artistic portraiture
  • Compelling combination of writing, artwork and the creation of artifacts
  • Well-crafted artifacts that come across as quite real
  • Demonstrates a format in which individual work can be assessed

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write narrative texts about real or imagined experiences using descriptive details and clearly sequenced events.
  • I can use my knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
  • I can accurately use 5th grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
  • I can maintain consistency in style and tone when writing and speaking.
  • I can use resources to build my vocabulary.
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