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A Field Guide to Invasive Species of the Boston Harbor Islands

School: Conservatory Lab Charter School

City/State: Boston, MA

Grade(s): 5

Format(s): Field guide: Natural science

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

Project Overview

This field guide was created by the 5th grade class at the Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston, Massachusetts as part of a six month long learning expedition about the ecosystems and invasive species of the Boston Harbor Islands.

Through intensive study and fieldwork at three different locations in the Boston Harbor Islands, students wrote and illustrated the field guide, including a thorough introduction, a glossary, and entries about invasive species in each of the habitats found in the islands. Students focused on improving their scientific observation skills and becoming fluent readers and writers of scientific literature. They also worked with a local artist to improve their illustrations of the invasive species, and consulted with experts about recognizing and photographing the organisms they studied. Each entry in the field guide includes an illustration, the common and scientific names of the species, a description of the species, and an overview of how the species affects the local ecosystem.

This book is professionally designed and printed. You can purchase similar projects from Conservatory Lab at

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Highlights a product that engages students in local environmental problems – ones that can deeply impact the area’s economy
  • Includes excellent information about local invasive plants and animals
  • Exemplifies a product with an authentic audience and one with a real purpose
  • Multiple drafts of writing and illustrations showcase how students can incorporate critiques to improve their work
  • Provides a means for students to investigate a topic while working towards the publication of a useful and needed resource
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