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Field Guide to the Aquatic Gardens at Forest Park

School: Mary O. Pottenger School

City/State: Springfield, MA

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

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

Project Overview

3rd grade students from the Mary O. Pottenger School in Springfield, Massachusetts created this field guide as part of a Learning expedition on ecosystems and pond life.

Students did fieldwork in the city park and worked with local experts, closely examining a specific feature of the park – the ponds. They received guidance from the park officials and naturalist staff. Many students had not previously spent time in this park, though it is the premier park in the city, and is well maintained. The park is used by families and schools, but did not a have a resource such as this guide.

Each entry follows a similar format and contains descriptive information - including habitat, life cycle, diet, behavior, predators and interesting facts - about the animal or plant that was studied.

Students did multiple drafts of their writing and drawings, with formal critique protocols guiding the improvement of their work. They received critique from experts beyond the classroom.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Strong example of a local field guide created by young students that can be of genuine use to other schools and the general public
  • Highlights a simple format that is easy to produce
  • The illustrations are very well done – showing a good level of detail for 3rd graders. In particular see the drawing of the Crayfish and the Mayfly
  • Shows a range of levels of sophistication in student work, with all work meeting a standard for publication
  • Writing is clear and crisp
  • Highlights a study of a local park through fieldwork
  • Creation of a useful product by young children

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • With support from adults, I can produce writing that is appropriate to task and purpose.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to plan, revise and edit my writing.
  • I can sort evidence into provided categories.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
  • I can use conventions to send a clear message to my reader.
  • I can accurately use 3rd grade academic vocabulary to express my ideas.
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