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Get a Clue

School: Genesee Community Charter School

City/State: Rochester, NY

Grade(s): 1

Format(s): Children's book

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

Project Overview

This nonfiction children’s book was created by 1st grade students at the Genesee Valley Community Charter School in Rochester, New York, as part of a learning expedition on fossils and local geological history.

The expedition consisted of in-depth studies of living and non-living things in prehistory using fossil evidence, including specific local fossil finds. The investigations focused on three time periods of prehistory: Warm Seas, Dinosaur Times, and Ice Ages.

During the expedition, students were involved in hands-on research at five different sites, including two museums and three outdoor locations. Students did observations and scientific drawing in the field, and collected warm sea fossils at two of the collection sites.

Students also worked with outside experts, including a geologist from the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

Students worked with a partner from 1st grade, as well as a 5th grade buddy and a parent assistant to research a living or non-living thing from prehistory. Students then wrote and illustrated a book page highlighting their topic and scientific evidence of its existence.

Shown here is the final product for this expedition, which was also made into a PowerPoint presentation. The book includes information on defenses, habitat, physical characteristics, adaptations and formations. Working with the school’s visual arts teacher, students made a print to visually represent their living or nonliving thing, and created watercolor backgrounds that are evocative of the warm seas environment from which their fossils came.

The classroom teacher who led the expedition received an Expeditionary Learning Fund for Teachers Fellowship in the summer of 2008 to learn skills of paleontological excavation at actual dinosaur excavation site in Montana.

This book, and many others like it, are available for purchase on the schools’ website.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A visually engaging product that nicely combines student artwork and writing
  • Engaged young students in real science – excavating fossils
  • Highlights cross-age partnerships
  • Highlights extensive fieldwork and work with outside experts by young children
  • Combines geology and paleontology
  • The professionally done printing adds to the impact of this product

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can include an ending to my informational text.
  • With support from adults, I can revise my writing by adding details.
  • With support from adults, I can use digital tools to publish my writing.
  • I can use grammar conventions to send a clear message to a reader or listener.
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