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A Historical Walk through Massachusetts

School: Alice B. Beal Elementary

City/State: Springfield, MA

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Children's book

Subject(s): English Language Arts, Social Studies, Visual Arts

Project Overview

This product was created by 3rd grade students from the Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield, Massachusetts. A Historical Walk through Massachusetts was created as part of a learning expedition on colonial history. Through fieldwork with local experts and text-based information, students researched local aspects of colonial history. Students worked in small groups to produce text and drawings based on their research. Students wrote this book for themselves and for other 3rd graders.

Artwork and text were later enlarged by hand and hung as scenery boards for exhibition night at the school (4 by 6-foot plywood panels). Students attended the exhibition night, standing with their panels and describing their work. The panels became long-term installations in the school, functioning as historical artwork in the school for a number of years. 

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • A creative and effective format to address and deepen content required in most state curriculum frameworks, making the curriculum engaging for students. Uses local events as a window on national historical events and issues.
  • Shows excellent writing for 3rd graders – detailed, well constructed, multi-paragraph entries that went through multiple drafts and were collaboratively written.
  • An intriguing format that allows student interests and understanding of content to shine through.
  • Demonstrates student understanding of content through a more authentic vehicle than a “report”.
  • Artwork shows a notable level of detail.
  • Writing shows creative use of voice – see “Tea in the Harbor” entry, which is written in the first person.
  • An example of the collective power of student work – no one entry tells the whole story – the reader only gets the full picture by looking at each writing/illustration entry.

Relevant Resources

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can write an informative/explanatory text.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to plan, revise and edit my writing.
  • I can choose evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection and research.
  • 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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