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How the Erie Canal Helped Rochester Grow

School: Genesee Community Charter School

City/State: Rochester, NY

Grade(s): 3

Format(s): Children's book: Coloring

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

Project Overview

During this expedition, 3rd-grade students at Genesee Community Charter School were taken on a journey through the development of the Erie Canal. They discovered the need of the canal because of the growing production of flour. Wheat grown at local wheat farms was ground into flour at local grist mills and there was a demand to distribute the flour to consumers more efficiently.  The population of Rochester rapidly increased because of the demand for more flour leading to Rochester becoming the first "Boom Town" in the nation. 

Students were introduced to an object used for work/labor during this time period (i.e. items used by farmers, millers, canallers, shopkeepers, workers/builders, and community jobs around the canal). For their final product, they created a ‘complete the drawing’ coloring book that includes a student created, detailed drawing of their object along with a narrative story of its use, the people who use it, and other environmental features. Each page collectively tells the story of the objects and is organized sequentially to describe the evolution of the Erie Canal and its impact on Rochester.  The audience uses the narrative to complete the respective picture.

The books were given to Corn Hill Navigation, a local organization who operates historical tours of the Erie Canal, for use on the Sam Patch boat.

How This Project Can Be Useful

  • Presented in a unique format that could be used with any subject matter
  • Excellent example of a project with an authentic use
  • Formatted so that the unique contribution of each student is evident
  • Challenges the user to read closely in order to use the product
  • Final product is both fun and educational

Common Core State Standards

Standard Long Term Learning Target
  • I can read 3rd grade level texts accurately and fluently to make meaning.
  • I can answer questions using specific details from literary text.
  • I can identify the main message or lesson of a story using key details from the text.
  • I can explain how a character's actions contribute to the events in the story.
  • I can identify literal and nonliteral language in a story.
  • I can distinguish between a narrator or character's point of view and my own.
  • I can explain how an illustration contributes to the story (e.g., mood, tone, character, setting).
  • I can compare and contrast stories (themes, setting, plots) of stories by the same author (e.g. series books).
  • I can answer questions using specific details from informational text.
  • I can describe steps in a procedure, in the order they should happen.
  • I can craft narrative texts about real or imagined experiences or events.
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use the writing process to plan, revise and edit my writing.
  • I can determine the main idea and supporting details in text that is read aloud to me. I can determine the main idea and supporting details of information that is presented visually and/or numbers.
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